For millennia, people heated their homes by burning wood or coal; floating smoke particles left household surfaces quite dirty.  The end of the winter season meant it was finally time to wash away all the soot and dirt. In addition, the heavy curtains used for insulation, smelling of smoke and closed-up spaces, would be removed and aired out. The windows would be scrubbed, walls whitewashed, carpets beaten. When warm weather had truly set in, the chimneys would be swept. Today, many do all this and more. They clear the gutters and put away heavier linens, but they’ve also updated – they donate old clothing, sort paper and digital files, and recycle out-of-date technology.

The spring cleaning tradition stems from religious and cultural rituals.