All over the Midwest, people are celebrating the signs of an early summer. Unseasonably warm temperatures and clear blue skies may have us thinking we’ve skipped spring altogether. However, there is at least one spring custom college students say they won’t be overlooking.
Alongside the welcome smells of fresh green grass and bright blossoming flowers come other scents you may recognize. The aroma of bleach, ammonia and oil soaps tell us time for spring cleaning is here.
Older adults may assume college students spend more time making messes than cleaning them up, but a 2011 survey from the American Cleaning Institute showed that about 82 percent of adults 18 to 29 planned take part in spring cleaning. About 96 percent responded that they felt having a clean home was “very or somewhat important.”
About 74 percent of adults 18 to 29 surveyed in 2011 also agreed that spring cleaning is a “tradition worth keeping.”
During my childhood, spring cleaning was a tradition we kept as a family — everyone took part. Windows were thrown open to let the soft, cool breezes flow though the house. The whole place spelled of lemon and chemicals. The sound of the vacuum traveled from room to room. Footsteps overhead told us Dad was stashing winter clothes in the attic and breaking out the backyard games.
Our family spent the majority of the day doing chores, but it only felt like drudgery some of the time. Some good tunes or a good game on the radio would take my mind off the work.
All of us children learned to clean the “right way.” I grew up hearing my aunts refer to Grandma as the white glove lady (a reference to military housekeeping inspectors) and accepted early on that cleanliness would be a family tradition. I learned about the most efficient cleaning methods and best quality cleaning products. Yes, I even know how to make a bed with “hospital corners. “
Evidently, many other college students must have grown up with somewhat similar experiences, as 78 percent of men and 82 percent of women indicated they planned to do spring cleaning.
The survey also shows most young adults do all their yearly cleaning at once during the spring. The process most often involves sprucing up the house from top to bottom. Routine cleaning would make this stem-to-stern cleaning unnecessary, but classes and work can make for handy excuses to avoid small but important tasks.
In the dorms, spring cleaning could look very different depending on whether one seeing a women’s dorm or a men’s dorm. Men, it seems, still have a greater tolerance for mess.
Women in the American Cleaning Institute survey expressed more motivation than men to clean, and results suggest women clean more routinely than men do. Men in the survey indicated they are most motivated to clean when their living spaces begin to smell, when someone harps on them about cleaning up and when friends bring attention to their messy homes.
Women may be far more thorough in their spring cleaning than men, according to a 2012 survey. These results showed women are more likely than men to disinfect as well as clean, to clean under furniture and to donate clothes to charity.
Whether residing on or off campus, sharing a living space means sharing in its upkeep. No one wants to be the person expected to clean up after someone else unless there is pay involved. Since most young adults indicated they live with at least one other person, many are able to (and should) take on spring cleaning chores together. Like a family, roommates can split the work and time in half if everyone takes part.
When the living space students share is clean and organized, roommates may find they get along better. There is less tension in a room when people can find their personal items without sorting through clutter, and there are fewer fights over who is going to clean up a mess. Regular cleaning can also help to ease the headache of end-of-semester check-offs when students prepare to vacate their dorms.
If spring cleaning isn’t a tradition for young people yet, there is time. Current dorm and apartment dwellers may find more motivation for spring cleaning after they graduate, land their career jobs, and buy their first homes.
People simply have a greater feeling of stewardship and a greater sense of responsibility when they can claim the space they are living: they take better care of something they own than of something they merely occupy for a short time of their lives. In their own houses, then, spring cleaning will become a more valued tradition.