9 of the Most Interesting Cleaning Superstitions from Around the World

published Nov 26, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Everybody has their own, unique cleaning habits. I, for example, can’t remember the last time I made my bed, but I religiously unpack my suitcase as soon as I arrive home from an overnight trip. And while I can’t stand visible clutter, I don’t rush to organize my stuff when it’s behind closed doors. 

Even though I prefer my ways of doing (or not doing) those things, my habits are totally based on my own preferences, nothing more. For some people, though, making the bed or doing the laundry feels far higher stakes — somehow linked to greater consequences than the benefit of the chore itself. Curious to learn more? Here are some interesting cleaning superstitions from all around the world.

Sweeping at night is bad luck. 

Nitish, a lifestyle and fitness blogger and personal trainer from India, says sweeping at night can bring bad luck. “In ancient times, when there was no electricity, brooming at night with minimal lighting might also sweep away expensive items like rings, earrings, and chains out of the house,” he says.

Don’t sweep over someone’s feet.

TV host and lifestyle expert Michelle Madison, who grew up in a Jamaican household, says one of the worst things you can do when you’re sweeping is run the broom over someone’s foot. “It either means they’ll go to jail or won’t get married,” she says.

Credit: Solis Images/Shutterstock

Don’t bring an old broom into a new house. 

Another sweeping-related superstition: Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy, doesn’t believe in bringing an old broom with him when he moves. “If you bring the old broom into your new house, you will bring bad luck with it,” he says.

Don’t sweep on New Year’s Eve.

Scott Hasting, co-founder of BetWorthy, picked up on some superstitions when he lived in the Philippines. One of the cleaning traditions he follows to this day is to never sweep or throw anything away on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to avoid driving luck away from the rest of the year. “If you need to clean, make sure to clean and throw things away before the end of the year,” he says.

Don’t clean on Friday the 13th.

Craig Miller, co-founder of Academia Labs, follows a superstition he learned from his wife: Never clean anything on Friday the 13th, a day many people consider to be unlucky. Like Hasting’s superstition, Miller says this one is rooted in the belief that cleaning on an unlucky day will drive away good luck. Once, Miller says, he didn’t follow his wife’s advice and decided to take out the trash. “I ended up tripping in the front yard and injuring my knee,” he says. “So from then on, I just followed my wife’s superstitions.”

Cleaning on New Year’s Day keeps the house clean the whole year.

While some folks steer clear of cleaning on certain days, others swear by it. Real estate broker Jordan Scarpino says his parents taught him that not cleaning the entire house on New Year’s Day would make people lazy for the rest of the year. “My mom used to say, if we don’t clean the house on the first day of the year, we’re not going to feel like keeping it clean for the rest of the year.”

Be careful how you store your brooms.

Jonie Toh, assistant secretary at Pohernsi in Malaysia, says she grew up with two superstitions about brooms. First, never let a broom touch the ground when you’re not using it, because it’ll sweep away luck in a household, even if it’s just sitting in the corner. “I heard my parents telling me this one day when I left a broom leaning against the wall without hanging it up like I usually do because I got distracted with another chore and left it like that overnight,” Toh says.

Her parents also taught her that brooms shouldn’t be stacked together when they’re hung up, because it’ll cause quarrels in the family. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Don’t take out garbage after sunset.

If you can’t take out your garbage before it gets dark, then Bryan McKenzie, co-founder of Bumper Crop Times, says it’s better to wait until sunrise the next day. His mom believed that taking trash out after sunset not only brought bad luck, but caused family members to argue. To this day, he still follows the family rule!

Don’t spill salt. 

Matthew Baratta, vice president of operations at Daimer Industries, says he grew up hearing from relatives that spilling salt invites evil spirits to perform evil deeds in the house and cause the spiller bad luck. If you do spill salt, he says, throw it over your left shoulder to prevent spirits from getting the upper hand. “This superstition is rooted in salt being a precious commodity in ancient history and that spilling it is a big waste,” Baratta says. “The carelessness of spilling salt eventually grew into a warning that it would bring bad luck.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 9 of the Most Interesting Cleaning Superstitions from Around the World