Is Cleaning on New Year’s Day Unlucky? (Unraveling the Superstition)

The turn of the year is a time marked by celebration, reflection, and for many, superstitions. One belief that has intrigued many for centuries is that cleaning on New Year’s Day is terrible luck.

But how much truth does this superstition hold?

This article attempts to demystify this belief, exploring its origins, possible reasons for its existence, the various interpretations across cultures, and its basis in reality.

Delving into the Past: The Origin of the Superstition

Many traditions, beliefs, and superstitions are deeply rooted in cultural history, and this one is no exception.

Believed to have originated in China, this superstition cautions against sweeping or washing on New Year’s Day, as it is feared that such activities could sweep away or wash away one’s good luck for the new year.

Also read: Is it Good Luck to Eat Black-Eyed Peas on New Years?

In Chinese culture, sweeping is traditionally viewed as removing lousy luck. Thus, sweeping on New Year’s Day could be perceived as sweeping away the good luck accrued in the previous year.

Over time, this belief spread and was assimilated into the cultural fabric of many other societies across the globe.

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Cultural Interpretations and Specific Beliefs:

While the core of the superstition remains consistent across cultures, its interpretation and application exhibit some variance.

Some societies have a more specific understanding of this superstition. For instance, in some cultures, washing clothes on New Year’s Day is also thought to wash away good luck.

Is Cleaning on New Years Day Unlucky

Possible Explanations for the Superstition:

Even within the sphere of superstition, there’s often an underlying logic that lends them staying power. In the case of the New Year’s cleaning superstition, there are a couple of possibilities.

First, both sweeping and washing symbolize the act of removal. Given the context of New Year’s Day – a time for fresh beginnings and good fortune – this could be interpreted as clearing away one’s luck for the upcoming year.

Secondly, cleaning is commonly associated with laborious chores and hard work, things most people prefer to avoid as they enter a new year. Engaging in cleaning activities is a burdensome start to the new year, a sentiment contrasting with the general desire for positivity and relaxation.

Reality Check: Is There Any Scientific Basis?

On an empirical level, there is no scientific basis for the superstition that cleaning on New Year’s Day brings bad luck.

The belief remains in the realm of folklore, not fact. However, some proponents argue that superstition has roots in real-world events.

They cite natural disasters such as floods or fires, where those who had to clean their homes after such calamities encountered terrible luck in the subsequent year.

Is Cleaning on New Year’s Day Unlucky?

Ultimately, the decision to clean or avoid cleaning on New Year’s Day is personal, rooted in individual beliefs.

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For those who believe in superstition, avoiding any form of cleaning on this day may make sense.

However, if you see the new year as just another day and do not hold any particular belief in this superstition, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t clean.


The superstition that cleaning on New Year’s Day is a harbinger of bad luck is a centuries-old tradition in many cultures worldwide.

While there’s no scientific basis, its existence in various cultures hints at a deep-rooted psychological significance.

The choice to adhere to this superstition is profoundly personal, dependent on cultural background, personal belief systems, and individual experiences.

While the belief continues to be upheld by some, it’s also important to note that the transition to a new year is a time of renewal and fresh beginnings.

Therefore, if cleaning or decluttering helps imbue a sense of freshness and newness, it could arguably be seen as a positive way to ring in the new year, regardless of old superstitions.

Also read other articles regarding new year’s good luck


Does this superstition apply to all forms of cleaning?

The superstition primarily concerns sweeping and washing, but its interpretation can vary across cultures and individuals. Some may extend it to all forms of cleaning, including dusting and vacuuming. Others might interpret it more narrowly, restricting it to sweeping or washing clothes.

Is this superstition universally accepted?

No, acceptance of this superstition varies widely across different cultures and individuals. While it’s prevalent in some societies, others do not acknowledge it. Personal belief systems also play a substantial role in determining adherence to this superstition.

Can I do preparatory cleaning on New Year’s Eve?

Most proponents of this superstition would advise thoroughly cleaning and tidying your home on New Year’s Eve. This way, you can start the new year with a clean slate, both metaphorically and literally, without worrying about bad luck.

What if I accidentally clean on New Year’s Day?

Superstitions primarily rely on intent. If you inadvertently engage in cleaning on New Year’s Day, most superstitious people would argue that it doesn’t count as you didn’t consciously intend to violate the belief. That said, the influence of such a mishap on your luck largely depends on your belief in superstition.

My name is Sandra, and I am the head content creator of We created this website to share our thoughts and experiences on the topic of luck and to explore the many different ways people think about and talk about luck in their lives.

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