As winter comes to a close and sunshine and blue skies show some hint of warm days to come, it may be time for spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning refers to a thorough cleaning of your house, top to bottom, to usher in the warmer months. Pragmatically, this makes sense. During the winter months, per Quartz, you’re more likely to spend time at home on your couch than you are to be going outside.

All the time inside can mean that dishes pile up a little bit more or clothes aren’t put away swiftly. Whatever the case is, spending a day or two cleaning can have positive impacts on your mental health and be transformative going forward.

Here’s a look at the origin of spring cleaning, how spring cleaning can benefit your mental health and a step-by-step guide on how to thoroughly clean your home (from baseboards to behind the oven).

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The origin of spring cleaning

Although popular today, spring cleaning is associated with ancient traditions.

The Persian New Year holiday, known as Nowruz (“new day”), involves cleaning the house on the first day of spring. This holiday is considered to be a potential origin of spring cleaning, according to Country Living.

It’s been practiced for over 3,000 years, per NPR, and has a close connection with the Zoroastrian religion and with Babylonian tradition. It’s celebrated with food, dancing and other forms of celebration, but is also known as the time when a thorough spring cleaning is conducted.

Spring cleaning origins are also connected to Passover. Country Living reported that ancient Jewish people began preparing for Passover by doing a general cleaning of the home to remove any yeast bread. Passover celebrates the Israelites being freed from slavery.

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How cleaning can benefit your mental health

Cleaning has a wide range of positive mental health benefits. Removing clutter from your home can improve your focus, regulate your emotions, release endorphins and provide some consistency, Forbes reported.

Your overall mood may improve as a result of cleaning. According to Healthline, cleaning can help to decrease depression and stress. It can also help strengthen your immune system and prevent illness, since you are minimizing the spread of bacteria.

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How to do a thorough spring cleaning

  1. Make a plan. The best way to get something done in an orderly fashion is to have a plan ahead of time. A good plan to tackle cleaning is to start with what takes the most energy and then work your way down. For me, this looks like 1) scrubbing the bathroom tiles, toilet and shower, 2) cleaning all the mirrors and windows, 3) cleaning the fridge and pantry, 4) cleaning the oven (and behind the oven), 5) dusting all baseboards, 6) washing and putting away clothes, sheets and towels, 7) wiping off counters, 8) sweeping, mopping and vacuuming floors and 9) rearranging furniture. This way, tasks like dusting baseboards are done before vacuuming, but all the intense scrubbing is done at the beginning.
  2. Have everything ready when you start. When I start cleaning, I like to have all my supplies at the ready. If I have rags, cleaners, a mop, vacuum and anything else I need already pulled out and in front of me, it helps me to be more efficient. I don’t have to spend time looking for the supplies that I need.
  3. Think about organizing. I like to make a plan both for cleaning and for organizing (and I write them down). When it comes to organization, consider making what you most frequently use or wear the most accessible, and think about removing clutter. There are ways to declutter your space while still having items accessible, such as using different shelves to organize things. Make a plan ahead of time for where you will put things, so that cleaning will go seamlessly.
  4. When spring cleaning, clean everything. Partway through cleaning, it can be tempting to see the progress you’ve made and then decide you have cleaned everything well enough — but that might lead to more build-up and grime over time. Take this time to make sure you’re removing dust in living spaces, cleaning the microwave, polishing the furniture and doing everything you may have wanted to do, but didn’t have time to do. You’ll be happy you did it in the long run.
  5. Listen to music while cleaning. If you would like to keep an upbeat tempo while you are cleaning, listening to music can help you to stay on task and boost your energy.
  6. Form new habits after cleaning. Make a plan so that you can keep your clean house clean. Life happens, and there will be plenty of times when you can’t keep things as tidy as you would like to, but making a cycle of places to clean daily can help you stay on track. When your home is thoroughly cleaned, you have the chance to keep it up at minimal effort. Make a schedule where one day you vacuum the house, another day you clean mirrors, etc. Get in the habit of putting things away and cleaning up after meals.