Spring is definitely in the air as I sit writing this. There is a beautiful blue sky, I can hear birds singing through the open window and the crocuses that I planted in the autumn are appearing in the garden.
As a child in the 70’s, this was the season when my mum would be throwing open all the windows and cleaning everything in sight. It was the season for ‘Spring Cleaning’. I’m not so sure that we have this yearly ritual as much now, but I understand the feeling that the change in the season, from the dark cold short days of winter to the bright cheerfulness of emerging spring days, brings a new surge of energy and optimism. This year even more so, with renewed hope for less restrictions by the summer and a return to some normality.
The monthly periodicals of the National British Women’s Temperance Association often included household tips and recipe’s alongside temperance news for its members. A copy from early 1914 from our archive, provides Spring Cleaning tips in a regular feature called the Housewife’s Column.
The article talks about ‘how necessary sunlight was to spring cleaning. Let the sunshine into every cupboard and recess.’ It provides useful tips on the cleaning and drying of curtains, so that ‘If these directions are carefully carried out, ironing is not necessary.’ Blankets, we are told ‘should be left till later in the year, when the sun is more powerful, and they can dry quickly.’
Daily cleaning was still an intensive chore in this era, without the modern labour saving devices that we use today, so any tips to lighten the load must have been gratefully received.
Unfortunately it was still the women and ‘housewives’ of the day who had the main responsibility for running the home, looking after the children, cooking and cleaning. It was only just over 100 years ago, a short time relatively, but attitudes to our roles in society were very different from today.
The White Ribbon magazine was distributed amongst the women members of the NBWTA. I wonder if any other members of their households, including the men had a read and picked up any household tips? I’m sure they probably wouldn’t have admitted to it even if they had!
I’m pleased to say that in my household we do our best to share household responsibilities to the best of our abilities, so any spring cleaning tips from today or 1914, will definitely be shared around!
(None of the spring cleaning tips in the Housewife’s Column of 1914 have been tried or tested by the White Ribbon Association)