Five unusual cleaning superstitions from around the world

Here's why you shouldn't do laundry on January 1st or take the trash out at night

modern monochrome kitchen with marble island, glass pentdant lighting and silver tap
(Image credit: Higham Furniture)

Even if we deny being at all superstitious, you'd never catch us putting new shoes on the table. Most of us have inherited the odd superstition we follow subconsciously in our day-to-day lives. 

And it turns out there are many interesting beliefs from around the world surrounding how we clean. So, if you're gearing up for a post-Christmas deep clean, get your best cleaning products ready and take note of these funny superstitions, or 2022 could be unlucky...

cleaning products, towels, pegs and household items on shelving with a money plant

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Cleaning expert Joyce French from HomeHow has shared some of the strangest cleaning superstitions from around the world.

1. Europe - Don't spill salt

The idea that spilt salt brings bad luck comes from ancient Rome, when salt was a precious ingredient. The common superstition in the UK can be reversed by throwing some salt over your shoulder. This will 'blind the devil from taking your soul.' Phew!

2. United States - Don't wash your clothes on New Year's Day

laundry room with shirts hanging

(Image credit: Lifestyle Floors)

This common superstition around doing laundry on January 1st is thought to have come from the southern states. There are many adaptations of this myth - some say it could 'wash a loved one away' or, less melodramatically, 'wash away good luck.'

Others think starting the year with laundry will attract a year of hard work and never-ending chores. Sounds familiar...

2. Brazil - Don't sweep over someone's feet

two brooms by wall with wooden stool and duster

(Image credit: Dunelm)

According to superstitions from South America, if a broom sweeps over your feet, you will be single for the rest of your life, and die a spinster. There is however a way to reverse the spell.

All you need to do to lift the curse is to spit on the broom immediately.

3. Russia - Don't take the bins out at night

integrated kitchen bin

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

Slavic superstition says that you should never take your trash out at night. Why? Because once the sun has set, evil spirits can roam freely.

These evil spirits might use your trash in their rituals. Another version of the superstition says that taking your best kitchen bin out at night makes it look like you're hiding something.

4. Malaysia - Be careful how you store your brooms

A second broom-related superstition originates from Southeast Asia. Your broom cannot touch the ground when it's not in use, according to a Malaysian superstition. 

If it does, it could sweep away the household's good luck. Overlapping or stacked brooms could also cause family disagreements.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.