Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: Spring Cleaning


Gordon B. Hinckley
From an April 1996 general conference address.

Spring Cleaning

President Hinckley invites us to know the joy of being clean.

When I was a boy living in Salt Lake City, most homes were heated with coal stoves. Black smoke belched forth from almost every chimney. As winter came to a close, black soot and grime were everywhere, both inside and outside of the house.

There was a ritual through which we passed each year—not a very pleasant one, as we viewed it. It involved every member of the family. It was known as spring cleaning. When the weather warmed after the long winter, a week or so was [declared to be] cleanup time. It was usually when there was a holiday and included two Saturdays.

My mother ran the show. All of the curtains were taken down and laundered. Then they were carefully ironed. The windows were washed inside and out, and oh, what a job that was in that big two-story house.

Wallpaper was on all of the walls, and Father would bring home numerous cans of wallpaper cleaner. It was like bread dough, but it was a pretty pink in color when the container was opened. It had an interesting smell, a pleasant, refreshing kind of smell. We all pitched in. We would knead some of the cleaning dough in our hands, climb a ladder, and begin on the high ceiling, and then work down the walls. The dough was soon black from the dirt it lifted from the paper. It was a terrible task, very tiring, but the results were like magic. We would stand back and compare the dirty surface with the clean surface. It was amazing to us how much better the clean walls looked.

All of the carpets were taken up and dragged out to the backyard, where they were hung over the clothesline, one by one. Each of us boys would have what we called a carpet beater, a device made of light steel rods with a wooden handle. As we beat the carpet, the dust would fly, and we would have to keep going until there was no dust left.

We detested that work. But when all of it was done, and everything was back in place, the result was wonderful. The house was clean, our spirits renewed. The whole world looked better.

This is what some of us need to do with our lives. Isaiah said: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes” (Isa. 1:16).

Our bodies are sacred. They were created in the image of God. They are marvelous, the crowning creation of Deity. I cannot understand why anyone would knowingly wish to injure his body. And yet it happens around us every day as [people] drink alcoholic beverages and use illegal drugs. What a scourge these are.

Stay away from alcohol. Do not get entrapped with illegal drugs. They could destroy you.

Be clean in mind, and then you will have greater control over your bodies. Unclean thoughts lead to unclean acts.

The Lord has said, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” And with this He has given a promise: “Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45).

You cannot, you must not, be led into the vicious trap of immoral behavior.

Be clean in language. There is so much of filthy, sleazy talk these days.

Be clean in dress and manner.

I urge you to be courteous, to be respectful, to be honest, to be young [people] of integrity.

God bless us to walk with clean hands and pure hearts and be worthy of His smile.

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann

[illustration] Beside Still Waters, by Simon Dewey, courtesy of Altus Fine Art, American Fork, Utah