Wirth Watching - Remembering Utah's Spring Cleaning Army

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - So, how did you spend this weekend of amazingly beautiful weather? 70 years ago, a state campaign said you had better spent it doing spring cleaning.

The idea was to shame you into fixing up your house and yard. It was a real war against grime. The film, produced by the state says, “If our state is not to be cheapened by these signs of indifference and neglect, the counter attack must be well planned and wide spread. It must be an all-out effort.” Wow, they were serious. Know thy enemy.

“Within a few yards of fine pubic buildings, counters this decrepit old nuisance, why?” And the state asked is this your house, you bad Utah person?

The Utah state Spring Cleaning Army goes back nearly a century. They gathered with rakes and brooms and cleaned the gravel and dirt highways. Others spruced up the sides of the road. Later, the city's street cleaners lined up as soon as the snow melted. The army of neatly uniformed men cleaned the streets of grime

Hundreds of brooms and giant dust pans were a rite of spring. One spring, Salt Lake City showed off its new combination garbage truck and incinerator

In the old days the use of coal heat made a mess of things inside and out. And spring's warm weather allowed people the opportunity to finally open windows clean the walls. They then would haul their furniture and carpets outdoors to scrub everything. And finally clean the yard for a new garden.

But it was the post-war Utah, neat, clean and new, that prompted the state film that was shown all around Utah. “If houses aren't kept in repair. If yards are neglected, well-groomed residences are marred by eyesores like these. Would you like to live next to this?”

But spring cleaning can be fun. “Fences can be neat and painted and painting is just as fun as when tom sawyer got his start in the contracting business.”

And post war TV showed that spring cleaning was easy and elegant. Especially when you wear high heels to polish the floor. Yep, TV ads made spring cleaning look like the easiest task around.

Well, all I got to say is I am glad my office wasn't around in the 40’s when the mean man did the movie was around. He would have come in here and he would have said this is deplorable why.


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