As a land devoid of seasons, there’s not really much of a “spring cleaning” movement in Malaysia, but the approach of Chinese New Year is the local version for motivating people to tidy up their homes!
Part of embracing Chinese New Year includes diving into the tradition of a thorough pre-holiday house-cleaning. As the annual festivities approach, seizing the opportunity to declutter becomes a meaningful way to usher in the Year of the Dragon.
Rooted in Chinese customs and superstitions, this pre-New Year clean-up, known as 扫年 (sǎo nián) in Mandarin, extends beyond mere cleaning. It involves repairing or discarding broken items, completing home projects, and decluttering spaces.
As the Chinese customs and superstition dictate, homes must be cleaned before the start of the new year, sweeping the house free of all the bad luck and misfortune of the past, and opening up spaces for all the new, good luck to enter and infuse your life.
Regardless of one’s cultural background, adopting this annual habit is unquestionably worthwhile. Here are insightful tips for getting your living space in optimal shape for the upcoming celebrations – and a word to the wise: When embarking on this level of cleaning and decluttering, you’ll need to be pretty ruthless, so de-couple your emotions, set aside your tendency to get attached to things, and set forth to get your house ready for the Year of the Dragon!
Here are 10 great ways to get started!
Clothes and shoes: Take a thoughtful and dispassionate tour of your closet, bidding farewell to garments that no longer fit your size or style. Consider donating them to a nearby shelter or nonprofit to benefit someone else.
Expired food from the pantry: Dig through your cupboards and discard anything more than a handful of months beyond its expiration or “best by” date. Toss suspect canned goods and clear out half-empty containers of lingering items.
Unused kitchen gadgets and cookware: Has it been years since you’ve used that panini maker or waffle iron? If certain kitchen appliances or cookware have been gathering dust, consider donating them to a resale shop, friends or neighbours, or your local community shelter.
Ratty old towels and bed linens: Get rid of shabby towels and sheets. Instead of discarding them, however, repurpose them or donate to a local animal rescue or shelter where such items are often in genuine demand.
Duplicates of tools: Nobody needs four flathead screwdrivers! Streamline your toolbox by getting rid of extra or identical tools. Pass them along to someone who may find them useful.
The junk drawer: Every household seems to have one – now is the time to declutter it. Dispose of items you can’t recall using and consider using dividers or baskets for better organization.
Condiments: Review your kitchen condiments, discarding any that are nearly empty, show signs of serious age, or simply don’t get used. Check both the fridge and pantry.
Freezer contents: Similar to the pantry, assess your freezer for items that are freezer-burned or unappealing. Not a bad idea to rummage through the fridge, too, pulling out old food that’s gotten pushed to the back. Discard anything you won’t realistically use.
Old phone chargers and cords: Collect and recycle old phone chargers, cables, and cords at an electronics store, or inquire about proper disposal options. This also applies to remote controls that… well, don’t control anything any longer.
Unused toys: After the holidays, kids often end up with more toys than needed, as the old toys get pushed aside in favour of the new. Involve them in sorting through their toys, identifying ones no longer played with for donation or passing them along to other families whose kids can help breathe new life into them.
With a decluttered house, you can put on the finishing touches with a thorough dusting, sweeping, and mopping – even cleaning curtains and upholstery if you’re feeling super-motivated – and when the new lunar year arrives on February 10th, you’ll be sitting pretty in a house that’s cleaner and more organized than it’s been in months!
Remember though, to be truly in line with Chinese traditions, be sure not to sweep your newly cleaned floors or take out the trash for the first few days of the lunar new year – after all, you don’t want to sweep away all your fresh new luck!
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