When the temperature hits 70 degrees in March in Chicago, spring can’t be far away. Most homeowners think of spring in terms of lawn maintenance. That includes picking up sticks and tree branches on the lawn, repairing sod torn up by the snow plow, spreading fertilizer, and attacking Creeping Charley once again.

Inside the house, spring is a good time to clean up, throw out, give away, and recycle. Housewives in the 50’s had a routine called Spring Cleaning. They took heavy blankets off of the beds, took the pictures off the walls and cleaned the glass, washed the curtains, scrubbed and waxed floors, cleaned the carpets, and MORE.

Before polyester fabrics were invented, lace curtains were made of cotton. The housewife washed the curtains and then attached them to curtain stretchers. Each edge of the curtain had to be hooked over nails on the frame of the curtain stretcher. Then the curtain was left on the curtain stretcher until the curtain was dry.

Did you know that the best way to clean wallpaper is to vacuum it with a soft brush? Be careful not to pull the cobwebs along the surface. That may leave a streak. Instead, wrap a white pillowcase or undershirt around a broom, and use it to remove cobwebs.

Some of the 50’s cleaning methods must have been left over from another era. An old woman and her husband lived in a new house. Their house had wool carpeting in the dining room and living room. To clean it, it, she sprinkled salt all over the carpet. Then she used a broom to sweep the salt from the carpet. When she did laundry, she did not use bleach. Instead, she would lay the white tea towels on the grass to dry in the sun.

Today, spring is a good time for throwing out old bills and bank statements. Remember to shred any materials containing personal or financial information. That includes old income tax returns, investment statements, canceled checks, paycheck stubs, ATM receipts, credit card statements, and insurance policies.

Before you start cleaning out your financial papers, check the requirements/suggestions for saving documents and supporting documents. For example, keep income tax returns for three to ten years as required. Keep all supporting documents in case of an audit.

Remember that spring is the time for people sixty-five and older to apply for rebates on the municipal tax on gas and electric bills. You will need copies of your gas and electric bills to apply for the rebates. Save the gas and electric bills. Then call your municipality to see if you are eligible for the rebates.

Some people like to clean out their closets as a part of Spring Cleaning. If you do this, remember that organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army welcome donations.

To see a video about the Grand Opening of a Goodwill Store in Skokie on October 28, 2016, go to Skokie Goodwill Store and Donation Center, Grand Opening at

—By Karen Centowski