What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Cleaning (1)

Note: This is one of a series of three on the importance of spring cleaning followed by both chemical and natural pest control.

I started spring cleaning today. I'm a bit behind what with being away waiting for the birth of our newest grandbaby. From my earliest memories, spring cleaning was a family ritual. This was nothing like the spit & polish cleaning because company is coming by any stretch of the imagination. My Mom would watch the gardens. The first crocus blooms signaled the cleaning frenzy. It started in the attics with everything hauled out, floors swept and contents gone through. Mothballs were replaced then the boxes and trunks rearranged. Next was the upper floor consisting of two bedrooms. Cleaning began at the ceiling and worked its way down. There wasn't so much as a corner left untouched. Unused and too small clothing was cleaned out during the process. Following that was the main floor that housed the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and two living rooms separated by an arch. Once again it was from ceiling to floor with all cabinets emptied, everything cleaned. Windows sparkled greeting the sun and promise of warm weather. Finally we were onto to the basement. I dreaded that! It was a dirt floor basement full of spiders and the occasional snake or mice. We lived on the water so also had muskrats and snapping turtles get in along with skunks and raccoons. My job was always to remove the jars from the canning shelves so they could be dusted down (although heaven knows why), the jars wiped down again then replaced where they belonged. Invariably a mouse would skittle across my hands or feet and that just wasn't a good thing!

When I got married I continued the ritual spring cleaning and to a lesser degree the fall cleaning never really understanding why just knowing that's what needs to be done. Now thanks to my genealogy research I understand why spring cleaning came about and because of my scientific background I understand why spring cleaning is a good habit. If you look back as to how our ancestors lived spring cleaning accomplished a lot more than making the house sparkle. It was a practical solution to the living conditions our ancestors had to endure. It was a way to rid the house of the dirt and grim accumulated over the winter but more importantly it was a way to rid houses of rodent droppings and insects both that could mean sickness and disease. Our ancestors knew a bit more about keeping homes clean than some give them credit for!

Fast forward to 2009, spring cleaning is an eco-friendly approach to pest control as well as providing the opportunity to find air leaks or ports of entry. This is a good time to find any leaks and seal them! Insects that over winter in the house become active in the spring and begin laying eggs. That is the time to take action! Do a thorough vacuuming to remove any insect eggs, manually remove any adults you see and if necessary do an complete kill. Insects are attracted to cool drafts (spiders), moisture (centipedes, millipedes, sow bugs, pill bugs), wood rot (carpenter ants) and other desirable habitats. Spring cleaning is one way to be able to troubleshoot any of these types of conditions, remove any insects and correct the problem. Generally this means sealing them out and killing off what is left indoors. It is very, very important after any kill off to vacuum up any carcasses otherwise they will attract other scavenger insects. Rodents can be another huge problem and remember if you see droppings they have urinated somewhere as well which is one good reason to wash your walls and baseboards down.

Spring cleaning also gives you the opportunity to create a check list of what needs being done around your house. If you find an insect, rodent or moisture problem while spring cleaning that means you need to take action immediately to prevent further damage to your home. If you find even the smallest air leak you need to seal to help with energy conservation. Spring cleaning means you are on top of home maintenance so you can catch problems before they cost you money! It also means you are protecting your investment.

next: spring cleaning using chemical pest control

Garden Gnome