10 Spring Cleaning Lessons I Learned From My Japanese Mother-In-Law
A clean home invites positivity and clarity
Valuable lessons from my Japanese mother-in-law on spring cleaning that will make any home a place of peace and positivity.
If there’s one life lesson I’m grateful to my Japanese mother-in-law for teaching me, it would be about cleanliness. No matter how busy she is with work and family, she always finds the time to keep her home clean. Each corner serves a purpose, every bathroom tile scrubbed meticulously, and every book and file neatly stacked and organized. For her, cleaning is more than just a habit; it’s a therapeutic experience.
For her, cleaning is more than just a habit; it’s a therapeutic experience.
She believes that the best time to clean the entire house is before the year ends or just before spring. In the West, spring cleaning is quite common, and it is slowly gaining popularity in Japan as well. That’s the time when the weather gets warmer, energy levels rise, and work gets done more quickly. Every carpet, showpiece and furniture item goes through a deep cleaning process.
She also incorporates color trends of the season into the bedsheets, curtains, pillowcases and table mats. For those looking to give their home a fresh makeover, here are a few spring cleaning tips that my Japanese mother-in-law shared with me, and I am now sharing them with you. Let us make our homes a place of positivity and calmness, shall we?
1. Keep a new pair of slippers in each room
I find it quite interesting that my Japanese mother-in-law keeps a pair of house slippers for each room. You will usually find them neatly kept on the balcony, the restroom and the bedrooms (except the tatami room). She believes that this prevents dirt from spreading between rooms. Having a pair of slippers dedicated to each room may sound like a lot of work, but once you get into the habit, you’ll sweep less and save time.
My mother-in-law recommends these cool dual-purpose mop slippers. You can walk around the house and clean the floor at the same time!
2. Toss an old item after buying a new one
My mother-in-law taught me to discard an old outfit or item every time I buy a new one. As we accumulate more clothes and furniture in the house, we invite more clutter, which indirectly contributes to stress and anxiety. After implementing this new rule, my home and mind feel calmer and more relaxed.
3. Get your windows squeaky clean
In winter and autumn, we keep our windows closed to keep out the cold and dust. You’ll want to do the opposite for spring. The sunshine, pink cherry blossom trees and pleasant temperature will tempt you to keep your windows open. Before you open them, wash the window panes and clean the window screen from dirt and pollen. By doing so, fresh air will enter your house and fill your room with positive energy.
4. Wash the pans immediately after cooking
If you wish to save precious time in the kitchen, follow my mother-in-law’s genius tip on cleanliness. It involves quickly washing the dishes and pans soon after cooking. That way, you won’t have the kitchen in a mess or allow the dirty dishes to sit in the sink for long hours.
5. Do a little laundry every day
Laundry is one household chore many find overwhelming. Even though the washing machine does most of the work, folding and ironing the clothes still need to be done manually. I asked my mother-in-law for advice on this, and she suggested doing the laundry in small batches. Instead of washing all the clothes in one go, try washing them in smaller batches two-three times a week. It will be less exhausting and give you time to focus on other tasks.
My mother-in-law is obsessed with these detergent capsules. The fun-looking product works well for removing stubborn stains from clothing.
6. Check your fridge for spoiled food once a week
Each ingredient in your refrigerator comes with an expiry date. Whether it’s meat, vegetables, milk, juices or fruits, weekly checkups will allow you to keep tabs on the freshness. My mother-in-law also recommends purchasing a few food ingredients at a time to prevent unnecessary splurging and wasting.
7. Clean your room the first thing in the morning
Avoid reaching out for your phone the first thing in the morning. Make your bed, clean your room and meditate for a few minutes instead. According to my mother-in-law, this cleaning habit will make you feel organized, disciplined and accomplished. Not to mention that cleaning your room can also improve your mental health and mood.
8. Spray antibacterial fabric spray on your clothes
Covid-19 has taught us to sanitize almost everything our fingers touch today. However, my mother-in-law takes it up the notch by spraying everyone’s clothes with an antibacterial fabric spray before entering the house. She believes germs are less likely to spread from your clothes to furniture and other parts of the home when you do this.
My mother-in-law enjoys using this antibacterial spray for the couch and clothes. It doesn’t give off that unpleasant alcohol scent, nor does it stain the fabric.
9. Avoid getting attached to material things
My mother-in-law once told me people let go of material things once they realize they only provide temporary happiness. When something has served its purpose, one must thank it and part ways with it for good. Anything that weighs heavily on our emotions needs to go. This goes for old letters, boxes, gift wrapping paper, obsolete gadgets and antiques.
10. Add a splash of color to your home
In Japan, it’s common for people to change their wardrobe and house decorating style depending on the season. In contrast to winter’s deep color palette, my mother-in-law recommends light pastels for spring. She suggests keeping an eye out for house decor items in cheerful colors such as lemon yellow, powder blue, creamy mint, lilac mulberry and baby pink.
I know my Japanese mother-in-law’s spring cleaning tips may feel like a lot to take in. However, it gets better with practice and patience. Once regular house cleaning becomes a habit, you’ll experience higher energy levels, improved concentration and better sleep. In time, cleaning will seem less of a chore and more of a second nature to you.