11 September 2008

Zen and the Art of Household Maintenance

I find few things more mentally satisfying than housework. Maybe it's the proper Greek upbringing (doing housework makes girls prettier, don't ya know! Thanks, mom...) Maybe it's my natural tendency to organize (ahem, this is also known as being anal). Maybe it has to do with being easily grossed out. Whatever it is, I love watching order emerge from chaos.

I'm not particularly efficient at it. Because I (mostly) enjoy it, I tend to turn it into a zen experience, pondering life's deeper meanings as I wash dishes (or as a former manager at a restaurant I worked at put it, "make love to the dishes") and fold laundry.

A male friend of mine once told me that if you have a clean house, you have too much time on your hands (um, thanks). There's also a whole segment of the younger population who brag about being useless at housework (not sure what that's about--why brag about being incompetent at basic skills?) Okay, so maybe cleaning the house isn't on the scale of writing the Great Canadian/American Novel (working on that too, fwiw), but as Cheryl Mendelson said in Home Comforts (see "Book-tastic", to the right), a clean home is a safe, healthy, and comfortable home. I'm all about comfort (safety and health are all right too).

Random Housekeeping Tips

  • I do try to stick to the environmentally friendly cleaning products (I like Seventh Generation quite a bit). They smell nice too, and won't harm your health.
  • Sticky rollers work better than the vacuum at getting rid of cat hair on upholstery. If you're working on velvety material, a damp paper towel (or hand) rubbed with the grain works great.
  • Squeegeeing the shower walls when you're done keeps things shiny and mildew-free.
  • Newspapers do not clean glass better than microfibre cloths or paper towels (they just get your hands--and the window frames--really dirty).
  • Using the self-cleaning feature on your oven may use extra electricity, but have you smelled those chemical oven cleaners? I'll take a little energy inefficiency over lung damage any day.
  • Running a full load of dishes in the dishwasher is more energy efficient than handwashing--and more sanitary too.
  • As Cheryl Mendelson taught me, don't put anything in the kitchen sink you wouldn't want touching your food (including water from cut flowers and from pet dishes). Also, don't put anything on your counters that you wouldn't want touching your food (where has your purse been, anyway?)
  • Mini blinds are the devil's work.
What are some of your tips?


rebelhousewife said...

You're a strange little girl. You can come clean my house if you like. My tip is if you clean your shower while showering you save money and time :)

Aspasia said...

Yeah, but then you risk running out of hot water and that's no fun.

Will clean house for barrettes and t-shirts? :)

bella said...

I have always wondered why some people rave about newspapers for cleaning glass when my results match your own. It's not worth it. You include so many of my own tips, I don't know what's left. I would suggest sweeping the wooden floors before one vacuums, so that one doesn't sweep dust onto a clean carpet. (I'd also suggest having a garage and workshop that is NOT attached to the house to keep down sawdust tracked in and other debris, but that's much harder to implement.)

Aspasia said...

I think the lint-free aspect is what makes people rave, but you know what? Newspaper gets soft and leaves linty bits anyway.

I feel for your sawdust tracking. That's got to be frustrating.