The Honor Girl is a book written by Grace Livingston Hill (1865 – 1946), a Presbyterian pastor’s wife that became a widow at a young age and wrote books to support herself and her two young daughters.
The Honor Girl is about a young lady named Elsie whose aunt and uncle took her into their home after her mother died. She had everything she could ever want but after several years took a visit to her father’s home where he and his two sons lived. This visit changed her life! She found the place in disorder.
Here are a few spring cleaning lessons from this wonderful book:
1. Before you begin cleaning, put away the items in their proper places.
“Elsie collected the newspapers in a pile, swept the coats from the chairs and couch, hanging them on the empty hooks in the closet, and attacked the window-seat. All those books and papers piled in a heap with a collar and a tie on the top, the old green faded silk curtain pinned back so that the mess was plainly visible from the side street! It took but a minute to straighten the books in a row on the little shelf below the hall table, throw the match-ends, cigar-stumps, and bits of paper into the waste-basket, and remove the collar and a few other misplaced articles.”
Please note that this can be done quickly. It is almost pointless to begin cleaning when the house is in disorder. It’s rather challenging to sweep and mop a floor when there are shoes, umbrellas, and coats covering it.
By putting everything away before you begin to clean, you are making your cleaning job considerably easier.
2. She was efficient by making a pile of items to take upstairs rather than taking each individual item separately.
“Doubling her speed, she flew around in the dining-room straightening and dusting, the pile of things to go upstairs growing larger and larger.”
No one has an unlimited amount of time to clean. Therefore, efficiency matters much when you are tidying and cleaning. If you are in a room or a story of your home, you should stay in there as long as possible and make a pile of things that belong in another room. This will keep the flow of work going well and will decrease distractions.
3. In the short term, a bare piece of furniture or part of a home is better than a dirty one.
“Could she leave that dirty tablecloth on? It was stiff with egg and ham gravy, stained with watermelon and peaches and berries, besides being grimy with dust and full of holes. A search in the sideboard revealed two others in like stages of decline. With a sudden set of her lips she bundled them all three together, and put them out in one of the laundry tubs. At least, a bare table was better than dirt.”
Elsie removed the tablecloth from the table because it was not clean. Yes, a table cloth adds color and beauty to a table and room, yet it’s better to have a bare table–until you can launder and dry the table cloth and cover the table once again. 🙂
4. Right before or during spring cleaning is an excellent time to evaluate the state of your linens and towels and replace when necessary.
“There literally was not any way to make that bed respectable with the material at hand. The old plaid blanket shawl was thin, worn, and torn. The old honeycomb spread that served for an upper sheet was gray with age. The pillow was impossible, and the sheet was in actual shreds. It was fit for nothing but a bonfire.”
A pleasant bed is a welcome sight for any child or adult! You may have linens and towels that have seen better days. Why not replace them with newer linens and towels? Depending on the state of the old towels and linens; you can use them as rags, make an apron out of them, make table napkins out of them, or cut them up and use them as dusting cloths.
5. Elsie put duty before pleasure.
Although her aunt and cousins had invited her to a symphony concert later that day, she stayed at her father’s home to make the home as tidy and clean as possible before her father and brothers arrived home from work.
While spring cleaning a home may not be as glamorous as attending a symphony concert, it is not a job that is beneath anyone, and sometimes we postpone or cancel plans in order to make others’ lives more pleasant. Spring cleaning is such a task. While it is hard work, it will pay off greatly for us and for our family members.
6. Elsie recruited help for her spring cleaning project.
She hired two women to help her clean because she knew that she would not be able to do it all herself in the time that she had. Whether you decide to hire help or recruit your family members to help you, it is wise not to do such a big project as spring cleaning alone. When your family helps you with the cleaning, they may be more careful about making a mess after they worked so hard to help you clean.
Often we women think we are a failure when we cannot do a big job alone. However, having capable helps ensures that the job is completed more quickly and that you aren’t as exhausted at the end of a day.
7. Elsie made sure to gather all her cleaning supplies before she began cleaning.
Before you begin spring cleaning, it’s important to have all your supplies. It will slow you down and discourage you to need to run to the store in the middle of a cleaning day because you ran out of cleaner or cleaning rags. Be like Elsie. Make a list, purchase your supplies, and begin cleaning! Be sure you have a broom, a mop, cleaning rags, buckets, dusting cloths, and a gentle biodegradable cleaner. Go here to learn about the side effects of most cleaners sold in stores.
Go here to learn more about the reasons to spring clean.
For more homemaking inspiration, go here, here, and here.
Please share this article with a friend who is preparing to spring clean her home!
Great reminders and I love that book!!!!!
Thank you for reading, Diane! I love that book too. 🙂
I like how these tips encourage intentional cleaning of your home. Caring for your home by cleaning, organizing, and decorating allows your home to take care of you.
Thank you for your kind words, Natalie! Yes, our homes do nourish us if we take time to clean, organize and decorate them. 🙂
Reading this makes me want to read the book again. Grace’s heroines are so inspiring.
Beth, thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, I LOVE Grace’s heroines. Maybe when I grow up, I can be like one of them. 🙂