The time of year is upon us when the world starts to wake up from its winter slumber. As the colours of spring grace the outdoors, you might be contemplating when to start the all important ‘spring clean’. Taking inspiration from our Nordic neighbours, Emily Crocker has compiled some hints and tips for taking a fresh approach to cleaning your home this season. Daily habits and rituals that Scandinavians swear by all year round to achieve that much sought after minimalist, clean and ever-tidy aesthetic that Scandinavian style so effortlessly achieves.
A Scandinavian philosophy to cleaning
Norwegian journalist and owner of interiors blog, That Scandinavian Feeling, Ingrid Opstad describes her approach to cleaning and home organisation as an ongoing pursuit of ‘Lagom’. A Swedish word which means ‘just the right amount.’ “Lagom is all about creating a happier and more balanced everyday life, and a big part of this is to create daily habits that work for you and your home,” says Ingrid.
Every year Ingrid takes on her own version of a spring clean and has a decluttering session, sorting through the items in her home to either sell, donate or keep and refresh any storage she has. “My rule is that if it hasn’t been worn or used in six months it should probably go,” she says. For the things you decide to keep, Ingrid recommends investing in lots of clever storage.
“In the bedroom, make sure you have space to put seasonal items to minimise the clothes visible in your closet. I have under-bed storage and larger boxes on top of my wardrobe where I keep what I do not need at the moment,” says Ingrid.
For the rest of the year, Ingrid suggests adopting some daily habits, this is her secret to keeping her home always looking spotless and organised. Ingrid’s habits include making sure she does one load of laundry every day and always trying to ‘clean as you go.’ “I have a little dust glove which I love – it is perfect for walking around the home and quickly getting dust off while I go!”
Finally, she sets aside 20 minutes a day to keep on top of the cleaning. “This way it will not be too much at once and it feels more doable. I try to have designated days for different things that need to be done during the week. Make a list with what you need to achieve and spread it out so that you can easily get an overview and tick off once it’s done,” explains Ingrid.
Simplicity the Scandinavian way
Rikke, a Danish journalist and owner of design blog, That Nordic Feeling, describes a similar Scandinavian ritual to the British tradition of spring cleaning.
“After a long and dark winter, it feels so good to clean out all cupboards and say goodbye to things no longer needed, to clean all the dirt off the windows to let the sun shine through and to scrub the floors,” she says. However Rikke says that the spring clean can’t be “stand alone,” instead she takes a year round approach to keeping a tidy house, citing simplicity as a key factor in her approach. “Be critical about what you bring into your home. Sometimes we tend to buy things we don’t need, or receive them as gifts. Unnecessary things like this can quickly fill up your cupboards and shelves. Try to look at each item you bring into your home and be honest about if you need it and love it,” she suggests.
By taking a day-to-day approach to cleaning and only keeping things in her home that she needs, Rikke’s home embodies that simple, Scandinavian aesthetic design lovers pine after. “I can’t thrive or think straight if I’m surrounded by clutter or too much stuff. So I prefer to keep a tidy house and airy space without too many pieces of furniture crammed into each room. My secret – if you can call it that – is to always finish one project at a time and clean up before starting something else. That way the house is always pretty tidy and easy to get back into shape,” she adds.
A Minimalist approach
Author of My Scandinavian Home, Niki Brantmark, agrees that ‘less is more’ when it comes to keeping your house tidy.
“I am a firm believer that Scandinavians, in general, simply acquire less stuff. Scandinavian design is very ‘clean’ – and centred around straight lines and minimalism. There’s nothing fussy or over the top about it, and it’s easy to blend with different styles. This helps to give the home a less cluttered and more together appearance.”
The ‘less is more’ approach is coupled with a fix it, mend it, make it attitude inherent in Scandinavian culture, says Niki. “Scandinavians tend to be fairly practical people, historically doing a lot of their own DIY and maintenance. As a result, I would say that the majority of homes I visit are in excellent working order,” she explains.
Niki also describes her fellow Scandinavians as very ‘house proud’, and suggests that this is linked to the large amount of time spent at home in Scandinavian culture. “Traditionally eating out has been expensive due to high taxes etc, so people tend to meet at home more. I believe this is one of the reasons people put such an effort into creating an aesthetically beautiful home.”
And there are some simple customs you can adopt which demonstrate this, says Niki. “You never wear shoes indoors – children learn this from a very young age both at home and at nursery. This really helps to keep dirt from coming indoors.”
She also recommends trying to adopt a minimalist aesthetic. “There is nothing like a big declutter. Every single thing in your home should have a place. Try grouping things together and follow the style rule of 3-5-7 leaving empty space between groups. This will automatically create a light and airy room and help focus the eye.”
Keep it green
Aside from aesthetics, Scandinavians have long been advocates of all things natural – opting to fill their homes with items that are ethical, organic and kind to our planet. Cleaning products are no exception to this rule and in recent years we have seen a growing consumer trend towards non-toxic cleaning products and materials which are better for the environment and our health.
London-based Tincture has a stunning collection of cleaning products which come packaged in reusable glass apothecary jars designed for every type of surface in your home. All of Tincture London’s products are non-toxic, vegan and derived from essentials oils and botanical extracts and are made to be both high performance and pleasing on the eye and nose.
Another champion for natural, chemical-free cleaning are We Are Spruce, known for their Instagram-worthy pastel hued packaging and commitment to a zero-waste business model. They operate a no-plastic policy, instead providing customers with two ‘eternity,’ bottles and refillable sachets of non-toxic and cruelty-free cleaning solutions for the home.
Both brands offer subscription services so you can take your cleaning game to whole new levels of organisation, a very Scandinavian approach in itself!
So don those rubber gloves, get out your polish and start spring cleaning the Scandi way this season.