Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Housekeeping epiphanies
In Sandra Felton's book, The Messies Manual, she says that one type of Messie is the Old-Fashioned Messie, who insists, for example, that floors must be cleaned on hands and knees with a scrub brush. Not that she ever gets around to actually cleaning her floors, it being such a difficult and time-consuming thing, but if she ever does clean it, by golly it'll be done right. Now I wouldn't call myself an Old-Fashioned Messy, but when I got married my idea of Cleaning the Bathroom was that you should remove every item from the bathroom and then start cleaning at the stop and work your way down to the floor, ending by cleaning all the items you'd removed earlier - soap dish, knick knacks - and putting them back in their proper places. Needless to say, this was such a daunting task that I only got around to it once a month or so, or more often if we were having company. Then, one day, after we'd been married a year and a half or two, Mike said to me, "You know, if you take a piece of a baby wipe, you can wipe off that part of the toilet behind the seat and it makes the whole bathroom look cleaner."

What? Wouldn't that be cheating? Trying to make the bathroom look cleaner without actually cleaning the whole thing?

I went along with it, including in my daily wipedown the toilet's seat, rim, and base, as well as the floor around the base, but I still felt badly that I wasn't doing it The Right Way, until I read a housecleaning newsletter that suggested something very similar to this. The idea was that, once you get your whole bathroom clean, you can use a spray-on-wipe-off cleaner on the sink and toilet every day to keep them clean, which only takes a few minutes each day, and then your monthly deep cleaning job won't be awful. Nowadays I use disposable sanitary bathroom cleaning wipes, and the kids generally take turns helping me look after the bathrooms. Even though this felt like a lowering of standards, my bathrooms are consistently cleaner than they were before.

The other day I had another one of these epiphanies. Baby Princess had spilt an abandoned cup of (very sugary) tea on the counter, and as it ran down her stool and onto the floor, the first thing I thought was, "Great. Now I have to sweep the whole floor, find the mop bucket, and mop the whole floor," which of course, is the right way to clean a kitchen floor. But then I remembered I'd just bought one of those quick mops with disposable cleaning wipes. Man, that made the job so much easier.

I'm learning to like these shortcuts that actually make the house cleaner.

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