Operation “Autumn Changeover”

Spring cleaning is big where I come from. Everyone talks about it, but I’m not sure if anyone really does it any more. Here, on the other hand, the big annual “turn the house inside out” season seems to be autumn. And it is taken very seriously. I have a couple of theories for this. First of all, most Spanish women I know are obsessive about hygiene. Either they clean and their house is spotless, or they have someone who cleans, and the house is spotless. All year, day in and day out, not a corner is left unturned, not a bottle of bleach left unopened. They take clean to such levels of sparkling perfection; the traditional spring cleaning wouldn’t really make any sense. Second, autumn is really the time when a Spanish home seems to need most attention. After a long hot summer, the family returns from holidays to an empty pantry with suitcases full of summer gear that won’t see the light of day till next summer. Everyone has been running around for months on end, enjoying the sunshine and the nightlife. So, it’s time to pull everything out of the closets, weed out as much as possible and re-organise. Enter the autumn home improvement campaigns that take over the press every year at this time. It seems that every other advertisement is selling shelving, baskets, storage boxes and closet organisation systems – everything imaginable to organise the home. And because our Spanish friends generally prefer to live in flats, space is often at a premium and must be carefully guarded. Therefore, making a strategic change over after summer is essential if everyone is to comfortably settle in before winter. I’ve been amazed by the lengths some of my Spanish friends, family and acquaintances go to when making this changeover. Everything not needed is meticulously stored away. One woman told me she uses cases of perfumed soaps to pack into every box of clothing or linens to ensure they smell clean and fresh when unpacked next year. Another seems quite obsessed with clear plastic storage bags which are bought especially to fit each blanket or batch of items to be stored. Yet another proudly showed me her closets – that looked like they came out of a department store advertisement. Now don’t get me wrong. I love to have my things organised and clean as well, but I’ll admit I haven’t developed the art to such a state as that which I find here. One thing I have learned is that it is truly best to do like the Spaniards and set about making the big autumn changeover like everyone else. If you go with the flow and do it now, you’ll probably find great discounts on whatever you need to get organised. As to whether or not we foreigners can skip the spring cleaning – that depends on how well we can compete with those sparkling, over-scrubbed, Spanish hygiene standards!
Blog published on 14 September 2009