Cleaning our homes-31st Mar 2022

Always ready to go

I mentioned not long ago that I was putting off the Spring Cleaning. I was, I did, but I can do so no longer. The Spring light has finally pushed me into action.

The problem with me is that, as with most other things I do, my Type A personality needs to do things in a certain way. I can also swing, like the pendulum on one of of our beloved clocks, from one extreme to another. I can let the cleaning slide for quite a bit but when the time comes…I could clean for the Queen. So, either slob or neat freak, I feel the need to do these things well and thoroughly.

Cleaning, as most of us know, is still mostly a women’s job. Of course, some men do clean and, in fact, some of my favourite cleaning books are written by men. Books? Yes, books. Plural. I have a small collection of cleaning books.

Why?

I look at it this way. I don’t suppose that cleaning is anyone’s favourite thing and the more efficiently I can get the job done, the sooner I am back doing something I really love. And I believe that cleaning is a science. I am fascinated to read about how others do things to pick up ideas that I have not thought out for myself. Time and motion studies of cleaning are a real thing.

So, why clean at all?

We are all different but, for me, cleaning is about energy. Dirt has a very heavy energy and because it can accumulate in a gradual way if not dealt with on a regular basis, the heaviness it can cast over our homes, and over us, can pull everything down. And that’s just on an energetic basis. The actual problems dust and dirt in our homes can cause to our health are well documented.

So, where do I start?

I have spoken to many people about how they clean and it seems to me that home cleaning is another of the domestic sciences, like cooking, that has fallen off the radar of necessary life skills for many younger people. It’s easy to imagine that in households where both parents go out to work, it is faster and easier for the person who already has the needed skills to just crack on and get it done. Teaching takes times, energy and HEAD SPACE. Many overworked parents are lacking all of these things and I know that being a single parent must make it all even harder. So we are raising generations of people of all genders who literally don’t know where to start with cleaning.

Surely, it’s common sense?

Yes, it feels like that once you know how it is done but, you still need to learn how it is done in the first place. I am going to recommend some books that I have found to be helpful but the one thing they seem to have in common is the need for a system. Rules make for consistency and save time and effort. Sounds good to me. See my post for the 25th Feb 2022 about cleaning windows and other glass with only water.

Cleaning 101:

Always start at the top. Either upstairs or just at the top of the ceiling, it doesn’t matter. Start there.

Work around the room in one direction. The common knowledge that I have gleaned is to go clockwise. Works for me as I am right-handed. I suspect that lefty people may want to go the other way. Explains why my sister and I used to crash into each other a lot as we were cleaning our bedroom.

Do one section before moving on and try not to backtrack. So, top to bottom on one wall say, cleaning everything you come to in that bit, then move on to the next section of the room. Remember that dust falls so get all of the dust off of everything and onto the floor and vacuum last.

Gather your cleaning bits and pieces into a suitable container (as photo above) and wear an apron with pockets. The pockets are handy storage as you pick up small things that belong somewhere else in the house. Have a bucket/container for wet/dirty cloths as you have finished with them as you may need several. Gather all necessary equipment and supplies to where you are cleaning before you start. Try to keep the supplies bucket close to hand. You want to save time and energy by not needing to constantly go into another room to fetch things you have forgotten.

Invest in good cleaning products as and when you can. By this, I am speaking of the big things, like a vacuum cleaner. Buying a cheap one is a false economy. I have several different types, for different reasons. Henry Hoover is for heavy-duty jobs but he is a heavy so-and-so and is challenging for my hands on a daily basis. I do wish I had bought a Hetty Hoover…

The Henry Vacuum Range

I also invested in a G-tech cordless rechargeable floor sweeper for everyday cleaning and a very small G-tech hand-held that came as part of the special offer with the bigger G-tech. Love both of those for smaller, daily jobs and they are much kinder to my hands.

https://www.gtech.co.uk/

You do not need to buy expensive bottles of cleaning products. They are mostly full of nasty chemicals and indoor pollution is enough of a problem already without adding to it further. As you use up what you have already, do some research into greener cleaning products that you can make yourself very cheaply. See my post for the 25th Feb 2022 about cleaning windows and other glass with only water.

So, the theory is that after each room is thoroughly cleaned in the Spring Clean, they are then maintained by a regular, general clean on a weekly basis. Some things need doing daily and, when I am in the groove with it all, that can take about 20 minutes and include: bed made and bedside tables cleared and dusted, kitchen tidied and floor swept (sink cleaned and work surfaces cleaned after each meal), duster run over the main horizontal surfaces that are most seen, middle of floors run over with G tech sweeper, toilets spruced and sinks cleaned. This keeps it all what my Grandmother would call “presentable”. “You never know when unexpected company might knock at the door.”

However, my reality is not always up to this mark. In the time table in my head, I try and deep clean each room in the house at least 4 times a year. Over the Covid period, that just hasn’t happened. I am human and, as with most of us, we do the very best that we can for most of the time, which is NOT ALWAYS PERFECT. That sort of perfection is a construct and unattainable, to my way of thinking. And really not necessary. So, my house isn’t perfectly clean. Is anyone going to die because of that? Probably not. And tomorrow is another day. A clean home does feel lovely though and it improves my mental health tremendously.

Suggested books:

“Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping Home” by Cheryl Mendelson. The bible of housecleaning, in my opinion.

“Clean House, Clean Planet” by Karen Logan. This is the one I return to time and again for recipes for cleaning products that are cheap to make and really do work.

“Is there life after house work?” by Don Aslett- his books are quite old now and can be picked up second-hand for pennies. They can also be found on Kindle. He has a laugh-out-loud way of writing and his methods are sound.

“Speed Cleaning” by Jeff Campbell. Again, quite old now but terrific advice.

“The Housewife’s Handbook: How to run the modern home” by Rachel Simhon. A more modern British book, first published in 2007, bought not because I didn’t have enough books on the subject already, but because I fell in love with the feel of the book itself. A proper book, properly bound. Beautifully laid out and intelligently written, it talks not only about the specifics of housekeeping but about social history, how we got here from there, in terms of housework. I love this passage from the introduction to the book,

“Coming to housework late and of my own free will, I had no trouble in approaching it in the same way as I would any job. No professional person starts a new job knowing everything-we expect to tackle new things, and we are expected to do them properly.”

I could have written that, but I didn’t. So, whoever you are reading this, where ever you are in your life, housework needs to be done. It needs to be done regularly. It needs to be done intelligently and thoroughly. It is work, that’s why it’s not called houseplay. ANYONE can do it and from quite an early age. It is most definitely not gender specific. If you live on your own, do it because it makes you feel good. If you live with others, make sure you do your fair share, then you will all feel good.

And yes, I am just off to repair the little ding in that book now…

SOME of my favourite cleaning books

What? What’s in my bucket? Really? Oh, okay…

  • Feather duster- knocks the dust off of high places. You are doing that first and it will have settled on the floor before you vacuum.
  • Spray bottle of “Alice’s Wonder Spray”-see book by Karen Logan
  • Spray bottle of “Sal Suds” mixture-see same book as above
  • Barkeeper’s Friend
  • Bicarb
  • Plastic bottle of vinegar
  • Spray bottle of Method Touch Wood
  • “Upstairs” Henry tools (buy spares cheaply online-this is a life enhancing purchase)
  • Spare Henry bag
  • Small bottle of Dr Bronner’s liquid soap
  • A blue microfiber duster which I hate because it is microfiber. I also love it because it makes dusting so easy.
  • A container (see photo below) to capture the following: 1.) a selection of old toothbrushes for cleaning around taps and other small places, 2.) two old spoons (one for measuring and one for using as a sticky gunk scraper), 3.) a pair of scissors, 4.) a multi-head screwdriver, 5.) an old crochet hook (hair out of shower drain anyone?), 6.) a hairbrush cleaner- for getting the built up crap out of the rotating brushes of your upright vacuum. You will wonder quite how your life functioned before you had one,

(https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kent-Brushes-Hairbrush-Comb-Cleaner/dp/B08ZNPC1D6/ref=sr_1_22?crid=1QA85WMQUWQR8&keywords=hair+brush+cleaner+tool&qid=1648721774&sprefix=Hair+burish+cleaner%2Caps%2C65&sr=8-22)

7.) these brushes which I use a lot and which are sometimes just the only thing for the job,

https://www.labourandwait.co.uk/products/sink-cleaning-brush-set?_pos=2&_sid=674e323a2&_ss=r

8.) a blue nylon scrubber.

There you are. Glad you asked? As Mom always said, “there is method in my madness…”

I know it’s in here somewhere…

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