The great New Year’s clean

Most people know about spring cleaning, but fewer have heard of New Year’s cleaning.
The turn of the year is celebrated by us all, but in Japan, the beginning of a new year has further meaning and significance- significance that is held greater than that of Christmas. People will have been preparing for this pivotal point of change throughout the whole duration of December. Namely with a thorough New Year’s clean involving the clear-out of old materials.



In Japan, this cleaning event is called “Susuharai” and translates to ‘soot sweeping’. Since the beginning of the 16th century, temples, houses and stores have traditionally been cleaned of the dust that has gathered in the past year. This ritual usually takes place on the 13th of December. However, “Susuharai” can also take place on other days of December and remains an integral part of New Year preparations.

The cleansing nature of this preparatory tradition sounds both comforting and efficient, right? Personally, I can’t think of anything better than starting the year with a clean and orderly house, knowing that it is no longer dirty nor cluttered with useless items.

But before you begin the task of cleaning, first of all, you must sort out. This is because, over the year, things accumulate and our attitudes toward certain items may have changed from when we first acquired them.

So, it is useful to use some large laundry baskets and go room to room, decluttering things methodically:

1.Closet
Usually, we can identify at least a few pieces of clothing that we simply no longer wish to wear. So, why does it remain in the closet? At the turn of the year, we can say goodbye to our unloved clothes. This way, we will only have clothes in our closet that we look forward to wearing in the new year.

2.Children’s room
In just a year, our kids grow immensely fast. This is why you should keep track of clothes that are too small or that have been damaged. These items can then be cleared out as they only take up space unnecessarily. If they are no longer worn, they are most probably no longer required.

3.Bathroom
We are all familiar with the empty bottles and old make-up, right? Along with many more items, these can be found cluttering most households. If you can’t remember when you bought a lotion, then it has probably been too long. Sometimes we forget that it is not just food with an expiry date! Beauty and toiletry products also have best-before dates which can usually be found on the back of the product. For example, ‘6M’ would recommend disposal of the product 6 months after it was originally opened.

4.Kitchen
Cups seem to multiply like little gremlins (in the same pesky way that pens do). Whether they were gifted by your mother-in-law or panic bought in the sales, inconsistent mugs can detract from overall aesthetic, and let’s be honest, no one needs that many mugs!
However, before you sort out your collection, ensure that you have talked to your housemates first. This way, you are preventing any arguments that may arise if you were to accidentally dispose of their favourite mug.

5.Empty packaging
Whether it is empty shoe boxes, DVD cases or boxes for games, you can often find empty packaging that has either been forgotten about or is being kept for some reason that will probably never occur. That is why you should take a sceptical approach to any packaging lying around – because it is probably empty, and the box is just taking up valuable space.

The list could go on, but in the same way that every home is different, there will always be different items and areas to clear out.

The most important thing is to go from room to room and check through every closet and drawer, parting with all the items that no longer have any use to you. Useless things do not need to be taken with us into the new year. It is a time for cleaning, cleansing, refreshing and preparation. 

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