When mother earth summons the stirring winds to help clear away the dead leaves and winter litter for the coming grass and flowers, every housekeeper has a feeling of sympathy, and begins to talk of house-cleaning. The first bright sunshine of spring reveals unsuspected dust and cobwebs, and to her imagination even the scrubbing-brushes and brooms seem anxious to begin the campaign. In northern latitudes it is best, however, not to begin too soon. Do not trust entirely to appearances, for spring is almost certain to break her promises of pleasant weather, and give us a good many days when it will be any thing but pleasant to sit shivering in a tireless room, while the children become unmanageable and husband growls. So for the sake of health, peace, and comfort, do not remove the stoves before the middle of May.
Devote a week, at least, to preparations. See that all needed repairs are made about the house, and have all necessary tools on hand and in good order. Provide lime for whitewashing, carpet-tacks, good soap, sawdust, carbolic acid, copperas, and spirits of ammonia. Have closets, bureau drawers, etc., all thoroughly renovated. Reorganize sewing table, arrange bags for the odds and ends that have accumulated during the winter, having different ones for each article, and marking the outside in some way; for instance, for the button-bag, sew one on the outside, and so on. Put pieces of ribbon, velvet, lace, flowers, etc., in a box, and have it in readiness for the spring " fixing up." While this renovating is being done, have "the boys" cleaning the yard of the winter rubbish and debris, as this is far more important in a sanitary point of view than inside house-cleaning. When you begin, do not upset all the house at once, driving your husband to distraction, and the children to the neighbors. By cleaning one or two rooms at a time, and using a little womanly tact, the whole house may be renovated with little inconvenience.
If you are a "lone woman" you will need the help of one stout girl at the least, unless you are stouter than the average American woman, or your house is very small. Hire her at least the week before, so that she can get accustomed to the house and your way of doing work. Be sure you wash and iron every thing you can find that is soiled. Then, on Saturday, do an extra large baking, so you will have sufficient bread, cakes, etc., to do you the most of the next week. (Make Sunday truly a day of rest.) Then, on Monday, be up early; after breakfast leave the girl to wash the dishes, sweep, and put things in order up stairs, and you take a man and go to the cellar; first have every thing taken out of the cellar that does not actually belong there. The reason for cleaning the cellar first is, that it is generally left to the last when all are tired and nearly worn out, and is apt to get what is called a " lick and a promise." The cellar should be one of the most particular places about the house; therefore, do it first while fresh and strong. After all the surplus things are taken out, move the rest to one end, then give the end a good sweeping overhead, down the sides and under foot. Every particle of vegetable remnants should be removed, and the spot which may have been moistened by their presence thoroughly swept, and, if necessary, it should be scrubbed or sprinkled over with copperas water to sweeten it and to prevent malarial exhalations. Boxes, barrels, etc., should be removed into fresh localities in the cellar, so that the places which have gathered dampness beneath them may become dry. All the gatherings of earth from stored vegetables, and all the bits and shreds of things that grow, must be cleared away, or they will become dangerous enemies when exhalations that always rise from such things upon heated days shall find their way up into sleeping apartments to poison the family with malarial gases. (The cellar should always be aired as early as possible after the intense cold is gone, and all summer long too much fresh air can not reach its dim recesses.)
Now wash the windows, and then whitewash every nook and corner with common whitewash made yellow with copperas. Don't be saving, and all vermin will bid your cellar a long "good-bye." Now move the things back to that end and treat the other end the same way; when all is done, dust or wash out all boxes, barrels, etc., and return to their places, which should be arranged as handily as possible. Carry out all trash, wash down the steps, and you are ready to leave the door and windows open and go to the garret. Open the windows, gather up all papers and place in a box; next, if rags are lying around, pick them up and sort them, putting in sacks (paper sacks are best for woolen; if not torn, will keep out moths), tie each sack with a strip like the rags it contains, clean up all other trash and take down to burn, if of no other account. Now sweep good overhead, hang up sacks and other articles, sweep floor, moving all boxes, trunks, and bundles, then wash floor up lightly, just to remove the dust. If you have seen any signs of moths they must be attended to, as they will be in the cracks of the floor; it is no use to try to get rid of them down stairs while the garret is kept for a breeding house. Benzine is sure death to moths, but do not use it if there is fire in the house near, for it is very dangerous. If no fire, sprinkle the floor freely with it. The odor will soon escape at the open windows. Or take common lamp-oil and wash the floor all over; it "smells loud," but will all be gone in about two days and so will the moths. Now wash down the steps (other wood-work and windows should have been washed before the floor was), and you are done. The time taken will be in accordance with the size of the rooms and number of things to handle. Now for the bed-rooms. If there is a hall, move all the furniture out in it from the rooms, and put the bed out to sun. (Never clean house except in sunny weather; if cloudy in the morning, try to put it off till clear weather.)