This rumination on cleaning came about after my experience with a new housekeeper. I had a three year old, a lovable, sloppy husband, and a puppy in my household all at one time. I couldn’t do it on my own. In stepped the cleaning woman. We’ll call her “Rhonda” for the sake of anonymity. After having met her and walking her through my house, I decided to hire her for the afternoon to clean up. She did, after all, come highly recommended by my mother’s friend and my mother too. That’s two recommendations from two trusted sources. To my delight, the house exceeded expectations even with the endorsements! Furniture was moved and the carpet underneath vacuumed, fixtures had been polished, she even used a small toothbrush to remove the gunk that accumulates in the window tracks. I was squealing her praises! This wonderful arrangement went on for a month and I was quick to show off her spectacular cleaning and attention to detail to anyone that gave me the time of day.
It was the second month when problems showed up. Rhonda was late. She was a no-show. She had to bring her kids with her. I tolerated this difficulty because I’d never seen anyone clean like her. The phone rang one evening after Rhonda left the house sparking clean and smelling fresh. I was home from work, enjoying dinner with my family. It was Rhonda telling me she forgot her purse upstairs in the bathroom and asking me to put it aside for her to pick-up later. “Okaaaay!”
I made it upstairs and in the bathroom, on the counter, was a peculiar looking glass instrument, a slightly filled Ziplock baggie, and other paraphernalia spilling out of a cosmetic bag. After I got over the fact that she was doing junk in my child’s bathroom and left it within reach, I gathered it up and took it to the outside garbage bin. Ironically, all I could think, was, “Damn, there goes the best cleaning woman I’ve ever had.”* Immediately, my husband and I got on the phone and sacked her. True to form, she denied culpability and blamed a friend for stashing the quizzical items in her purse. “Uh Huh!” Needless to say those weren’t her words, exactly. Her words were colorful and bandied about madly like a moth sprayed with Raid.
So now my place is often unkempt, but a crack house it is not. I clean up by myself when I get the time, and when I do, I do quite well thank you very much.
*For those of you new to this, one of the symptoms of crack addiction is heightened focus, akin to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Sometimes addicts focus on detailed tasks with extreme concentration. That was the case with Rhonda. Violent behavior or deep depression usually follows once the drug wears-off. The addict will go to great lengths to get high again. This is usually where we see crime linked to addiction. I now see why Rhonda’s behavior was erratic and in the end volatile. So I’m sharing my knowledge through experience with you, and if ever you have to clean house yourself, here are a few tips…
Clean-up Clean and Sober
Even cleaning under the benign influence of a glass of wine can slow your efficiency. Save it for relaxing after you’ve completed your work.
Organize Your Cleaning Routine
- An important first step to cleaning is to organize a cleaning routine, setting a date so you know when to clean an area of the house.
- Develop a list of all tasks that need to be done during the year and put them under frequency headings.
- It is a good idea to plan to accomplish household tasks on a regular schedule.
- What you clean and how often you clean it depends on your personal preferences and tolerances.
- If everything is kept organized, it will be easier for you to work in the space and you won’t have to waste time looking for something when you need it.
- Keep cleaning equipment as clean and dry as possible, so that it is ready for the next use.
- Brooms and brushes should not lie on their bristles because it causes premature wear.
- Avoid cluttering a cleaning closet with rarely used supplies and equipment.
- Keep a supply of paper vacuum cleaner dust bags on hand. Use the brand that is recommended for your particular vacuum.
- You might want to stock spare sponges in the cleaning cabinet.
- One obvious way to escape housecleaning is to hire a house-keeping service.
- The best cleaning item is the toothbrush. Use an old toothbrush to clean anything.
- Good dust cloths can be made of cast-off soft cotton garments and bedding.
- Cloths will hold dust better if they are pretreated with lemon oil.
Facts about Phosphorous Detergents
- All dishwasher detergents contain phosphorous.
- Phosphorous helps dishwasher detergents do their jobs better, especially in hard water.
- Phosphorous harms the environment because it promotes the growth of algae in streams and lakes.
- Manufacturers have tried to reduce the amount of phosphorous in their detergents, but haven’t gotten rid of all the phosphorous.
- Use WD40 to get the initial baked-on grime from surfaces. Spray it on and let it sit for a few seconds, then wipe.
- Follow up with a stove cleaner like Easy Off for anything that the WD40 could not remove.
- Liquid dishwasher detergents may be convenient but they don’t do a stellar job of cleaning.
- New “liquid gel” detergents are more convenient than the old liquid dishwashing detergents.
- The gels are respectable cleaners and some are comparable with the best powders.
- Store brand powders tend to be less expensive. Liquids and gels tend to be more expensive detergents.
- If a dishwasher is working there is no need to pre-rinse the dishes.
- Most dishwashers have several different wash modes (for example: china, normal, heavy, and pots and pans).
- Fine china or ceramic may become chipped in the dishwasher if the dishwasher is not on the china or light mode.
- Pots, pans, or greasy dishes may not get a full clean if the dishwasher is not on heavy or pots and pans mode.
- If the dishwasher is not giving as good a clean as it used to, scrub greasy dishes with soap and water before putting them in the dishwasher with extra detergent.
- Fancy dishwashing electronics do not necessarily translate to better cleaning.
- Keep in mind that a dishwasher uses just about as much running water as you would use if you were hand washing the dishes yourself.
- You should not open a dishwasher in mid-cycle. Although some dishwashers have safety latches that will prevent you from being splashed, some still don’t.
- It is a good idea to put knives in blade first while loading the dishwasher.
- Before putting clothes in the washing machine pre-treat stains.
- Make sure not to get Clorox on the colored clothing.
- In order to get fresh blood off of something, pour hydrogen peroxide on the blood, gently scrub, then put the item in the washing machine.
- Sometimes the best way to get a stain off something is to pour hot water and soap on the stain, then scrub with your fingernail.
Cleaning your Bathroom
- Work your way down cleaning the bathroom.
- Keep a useful all-purpose cleaner like 409 handy.
- Start cleaning the mirror, spray it with some 409 or Windex and use a paper towel to wipe it off.
- If you happen to smear the mirror, wipe it off with clean water and dry paper towels.
- Clean out the medicine cabinet or drawers.
- Take everything out of the medicine cabinet and wipe the area out with a wet rag.
- Clean the sink area — it is the next thing down.
- Clean the sink and the area surrounding it with a wet rag.
- The best way to clear a drain is to push or pull the clog.
- Clean the toilet and then the floor last.
- Get some Clorox. If you let the Clorox sit in the bowl, it will kill germs and loosen debris.
- Wipe off the toilet with a wet rag to remove bacteria and dried urine splatters.
- Get the toilet scrubber and scrub the bowl.
- Flush the toilet to rinse the bowl.
- Clean the floor by wiping thoroughly.