This story was originally published on February 19, 2015
One of the biggest Lunar New Year traditions in China — besides the red envelopes and parades — is the house-cleaning ritual, known as da sao chu. Days before the new year, families undertake a total home purge, scrubbing down every nook and cranny in hopes of sweeping out bad luck and welcoming the future with open arms. Everything has to be spotless.
In my own childhood, I dreaded this practice due to all the obligatory housework involved. (Duh, what kid wants to reorganize a bookshelf?) But, as I grew older and moved out, I found myself gravitating toward the tricks my parents learned through word-of-mouth. So many things we just have laying around can be repurposed as cleaning tools. No wonder they were always reminding me how wasteful it is to toss things out.