Spring Cleaning: Declutter to Destress

By Sage Thee

The days are getting a little longer, the weather a little warmer, allergies are kicking up a notch; Spring is finally on its way! We can all agree the past year has been wild, to say the least, with a strange winter to boot. With spring and warmer weather finally on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning. Whether you look forward to spring cleaning, you dread the very thought of it, or you’ve never done it; after everything we’ve been through in the past year, it’s something we can all benefit from doing now.

This year, the idea of spring cleaning feels more important and meaningful to me than ever before. Across the board, it has been a challenging, frustrating, and even harrowing year; and this round of spring cleaning is about far more than just cleaning our homes. This is a time to let go of that which has been weighing us down (mentally, emotionally, and literally), to say goodbye to bad or unhealthy habits that are holding us back, and to set our goals and intentions for the future.

This is the perfect time to take stock of your life: What brings you joy and fulfillment? What things are causing you unnecessary stress or sadness? What do you want to keep? What do you want to change? I like to envision myself a tulip bud, getting ready to bloom right alongside all the daffodils and pansies. 

I cannot stress enough the impact a clean home can have on our mental and physical well-being. There is so much fear and uncertainty in the world, especially right now. Having a clean space to relax and unwind is not merely beneficial, but something we all need and deserve.

Not only does a clean home just feel good, a study done in 2010 by Indiana University found that there is a significant link between the cleanliness of our home and our physical health. As we all try to stay healthy and safe, a clean home is critical. The healthier we can be, the sooner we can go back to normal, once and for all.

We are rapidly approaching the one-year mark of this pandemic (the Panniversary, if you will), and things are as strange as ever. Many of us are suffering from higher than usual levels of anxiety and stress — and understandably so. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that not only does a clean home reduce anxiety and stress, but the physical act of cleaning itself reduces anxiety and stress as well. When our homes are cluttered, chances are, our minds are too.

Speaking of clean homes — spring cleaning is a wonderful time to assess how we treat the Earth and all the beauty it offers us. With life beginning to bloom all around us, there has never been a better time to ask ourselves, “What am I doing to keep the Earth clean? What can I do better?” This beautiful planet is our home. While we clean away the dust and grime from our own lives, we can also do things to help keep our Earth home healthy and happy, such as:

  • Conserving energy by turning off lights when they aren’t needed.
  • Carpooling whenever possible to lower our carbon emissions (and save on gas!)
  • Recycling paper, metal, plastic, and glass waste.
  • Repurposing items we might have otherwise thrown away.
  • Donating items we are no longer using.

Here at Spaces, we love eco-friendly options. They are good for our planet, our bodies, and our wallets! A great way to repurpose some of those old, empty (or nearly empty) cleaner bottles that live under the kitchen sink in perpetuity is to make your own cleaning products.

Thanks to its natural antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar is the perfect ingredient for making your own all-purpose household cleaner, and it’s quick and easy to make — much quicker and easier than playing the Olympic sport of Trying to Buy Cleaning Products in the Middle of a Pandemic. If you are anything like me and you cannot stand the smell of vinegar, even with its apple cider counterpart, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s) to the mixture. My go-to scents are lavender and eucalyptus — their soothing aroma is a must-have in my home.  

Art by Oliver Harrington

Apple cider vinegar is safe to use on all surfaces, saving you time and money.

As you clean your home, you are sure to come across many items you no longer use, and I urge you to donate them instead of sending them to the landfill. You never know what someone may need: from old books to puzzles, coloring pages to clothes, you never know what might brighten someone’s day. It feels good to help others, and doing kind things can help lessen some of the stress and fear we feel.

There are many places to donate in Utah, and this list barely scratches the surface. If you know of more great places to donate, I would love to hear about them to recommend them to others and help our community thrive — you can reach me at sthee@sltrib.com.

The Road Home

Men’s Resource Center

3380 S 1000 W, South Salt Lake City, UT | 8 AM-7 PM | Mon.-Sun.

Gail Miller Resource Center

242 Paramount Ave., Salt Lake City, UT | 8 AM-7 PM | Mon.-Sun.

Midvale Family Center

529 W 7300 S (9th Ave.), Midvale, UT | 8 AM-7 PM | Mon.-Sun.

For questions please contact volunteer@theroadhome.org or visit theroadhome.org/give/in-kind-donations

Rescue Mission of Salt Lake

Men’s Facility

463 S 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT | 7 AM-7 PM | Mon.-Sun.

Women’s Center

1165 S State St., Salt Lake City, UT | 7 AM-7 PM | Mon.-Sun.

Ogden Rescue Mission

2775 Wall Ave., Ogden, UT | 7 AM-7 PM | Mon.-Sun.

* All locations offer contactless donation. Visit rescuesaltlake.org/donate-food-clothing for list of needs.

Catholic Community Services

Salt Lake Location

437 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT | 8 AM-4 PM | Mon.-Fri.

Ogden Location

2504 F Ave., Ogden, UT | 7 AM-3 PM | Mon.-Fri.

Migration & Refugee Services

440 S 400 W, Suite D&E, Salt Lake City, UT

* Contact William Maloy to schedule a donation appointment at: 801.916.7382 or wmaloy@ccsutah.org. Visit ccsutah.org/get-involved/in-kind-donations for more information.

We are all just doing the best we can to get through a stressful and, honestly, traumatic time as unscathed as possible. We can all use a little more kindness in our lives, to ourselves and others. Utah is a beautiful state, full of lovely people and big hearts. Times may be scary, but I know that we will come out of this stronger than before. Now is the time to revolutionize the way we clean our homes and our community. These are just a few small steps we can take to help us to live healthier, kinder, and more mindful lives — steps we will take together as a community. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for the future, whatever it may bring. The only way through these unprecedented times is together.