Spring has sprung! Or at least it’s on its way, even if the weather where you are isn’t quite perfect yet. It’s time for Spring Cleaning Tips for Singers— actual cleaning and organizing hacks to make your singing environment happier and healthier. But second, and maybe even more importantly— Spring Cleaning Tips for the inside of you as well— kind of like New Year’s Resolutions, but a lot more productive, and with none of the guilt if they don’t happen right away (or at all)!
Spring Cleaning for a Healthy Voice
Being a great singer starts with a home environment that supports you in every way! Your home is your sanctuary, both physically and psychologically. It’s also your practice space and Command Central for your personal and professional life. Let’s take a look at some of the main rooms in your home and how to improve them to support your singing…
Cleaning Tips for Your Bedroom
Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount if you want to sing well! You spend at least a third of your life sleeping, so why not make it work for your singing? Is it time to turn your mattress (or buy a new one)? Do you need new pillows? Having a bed and pillows that support your body comfortably for sleeping is critical to getting quality rest! See my earlier post:
It also helps greatly if they are allergen-proof— dust mites are the enemy of a healthy voice! At the very least, encase your mattress with an allergen-proof mattress cover, and your pillows with allergen-proof pillowcases as well. Maybe you need new sheets, blankets or a fresh bedspread or comforter? Maybe you just need to WASH them more often? 130 degrees Fahrenheit will do it, or 15 minutes in the dryer on the same high heat setting. Being able to breathe easily while sleeping is HUGE for singers— no more stuffy nose and breathing through your mouth all night, waking up with dry, stiff, swollen vocal cords!
Also, add some leafy green plants to your bedroom. They produce oxygen, and introduce moisture to your bedroom. Your entire vocal tract loves moisture! Keep a hygrometer in your room to measure the humidity. The Environmental Protection Agency states that 30%-50% humidity is ideal, although some studies say even 40%-60% is more comfortable. Some suggestions for helpful plants in your bedroom and throughout your home: spider plant, pothos, bamboo, aloe vera, snake plant, areca palm, and gerbera daisy are just a few. According to NASA’s Clean Air Study, English Ivy is effective at cleansing benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air as well.
Speaking of cleaner air, I am a big proponent of air cleaners with HEPA filters, as well as ionizers and Himalayan rock salt lamps (which also ionize the air and bring pollutants and allergens down to the ground). As part of your Spring Cleaning, now would be a great time to add one to your bedroom, and also to your singing practice area! But don’t let fans, air-conditioning or heat blow directly on you while you sleep or sing. It will dry out your vocal cords, sinuses and throat! And lastly, don’t forget to vacuum and dust the entire room regularly!
For more information on allergies and singing, visit my post: https://nadiasmelser.com/take-care-of-your-allergies/
Cleaning Tips for Your Bathroom
Unlike your bedroom, your bathroom can get TOO wet! So my next Spring Cleaning Tip for singers is to clean and disinfect your bathroom regularly, to avoid it developing mold. Mold can trigger asthma, coughing, allergies, and a a host of other symptoms that will make you feel tired and sick, and will adversely affect your singing. How to clean it? While there are many commercial products designed to clean mold, I think it’s safer to use natural means. Lemon juice, white vinegar, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide are all effective at killing mold, usually mixed with a small amount of water. Try a spot that is not easily visible first, to make sure you are not damaging or discoloring the surface you are trying to clean! And, natural methods or not, it’s a good idea to wear a mask, and even goggles or glasses, when cleaning or dusting. Goodness knows that we all have masks in the house now!
On another note, organize your self-care products and prescriptions, throwing away anything expired! And, make a shopping list for replacements, as well as for that fabulous new face cream or vitamin supplement you’ve been wanting to try! A friend of mine always used say that there was nothing like a new red lipstick to boost your mood! Guys, for you it could be that new spicy brand of aftershave…
Cleaning Tips for Your Kitchen (and You!)
Spring Cleaning the kitchen certainly has a double-meaning for me as a singer. First, from a purely external standpoint—yes, disinfect it, keep it neat, organize the drawers and shelves for easy access to what you need when you need it. Make it cheerful and inviting, since we all spend so much time there. But, what’s even more important to your Spring Cleaning “resolutions”? Clean up the food that’s in the kitchen, and what you put in you!
So, what is good “singer food”, and what should you be throwing away (or at least moving to the back of the cabinets or the fridge, out of plain sight?). The first and foremost item you should always have is water. LOTS of water! Whether you buy it commercially, or drink it straight from the tap, have water bottles always filled and on the kitchen counter, so that you are hydrating frequently during the day. Remember that I said vocal cords love moisture? You need to get it in IN you, as well as having humidity in the air around you.
Also, keep fruit and veggie bowls on the counter, and be sure to eat them for snacks, as well as including them at every meal. Besides all the fiber and nutrition they provide, they introduce moisture into the body in a different way, as the water is contained in the cell structure of the food, and is therefore much more slowly absorbed by the body. This keeps you hydrated for much longer! Some suggestions for water-rich foods: melons, berries, peaches, pineapples, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes.
Lastly, you know the drill. Get rid of as much unhealthy food in your kitchen as possible— processed foods, high-sugar content foods, and fatty foods. And, many of us have food sensitivities that are not an obvious allergy, but we may feel a bit “off” or experience other negative symptoms, either immediately, or within hours of eating a certain food. (I can guarantee you that I’ll wake up with a stuffy nose and a dull headache the day after having even just a few sips of red wine). Dairy is often cited as a no-no for singers because it may cause excess production of mucous. Everyone is different, though, so it may or may not be true for you. Pay attention to your diet and observe your reactions carefully. What food(s) do you eat that you can connect with a digestive or breathing problem, or other symptoms that could get in the way of your vocal health and best singing?
Cleaning Tips for Your Practice Space
Ah, now we’re talking about your special spot where the magic happens– where you finally get to practice your singing! If you’re one of the lucky singers who has a room dedicated solely to musical pursuits, I congratulate you, and am a little jealous! For the rest of us mere mortals, the walk-in closet, the garage, the laundry room, or even the bathroom may be doing double-duty! Whatever your situation, Spring Cleaning still applies! Get rid of dust and mold, vacuum, and keep an air purifier going. Try to add some plants and even some standing bowls of water if the hygrometer shows low humidity. And make sure that nothing is blowing on you and drying out your vocal tract!
Cleaning Tips for Your Car
Yes, Spring Cleaning for Singers may even include your car, because I know that for some of us, that’s the only time, place or solitude that allows us the privacy to actually sing. But please try NOT to drive and sing! Studies show that when we do anything else while driving– eating, texting, talking on the phone or with other passengers, or singing– our concentration drops, and we are much more likely to have an accident, hurting ourselves or others. If you MUST sing in the car, pull over to a safe spot and park! Having said that, keep your car as clean as possible inside– vacuum, clean and disinfect it regularly (following your car manufacturer’s specifications). Avoid the use of scented sprays and car deodorizers as well, which can be irritating to your nose,throat and lungs, especially when you’re breathing deeply to sing. If you still want to use something, again, natural is better. A spritz of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball in your cup holder can freshen your vehicle nicely for singing. (A favorite of mine is orange oil– so fresh and citrus-y!).
Whew! That was a lot of Spring Cleaning! But I hope it inspires you to make a fresh start this season! With a little home care and some better sleep and nutrition, you’ll be ready to make leaps and bounds in your singing this Spring, and all year through!
For more tips on Spring Cleaning, visit: https://www.livingwellspendingless.com/spring-cleaning-101/