Thursday, October 18, 2007

Politics of clean

What is clean? It's almost become a political issue. My house is not clean these days. It is neat, because I ruthlessly and recklessly trash everything that irritates me. I once threw a functioning blender into the garbage. Indeed, even now, the bundt pan my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas several years ago is in the trash, awaiting collection because I realized the other day that I never have, nor will I ever want to bake a bundt cake. (I donate to charity things that are useful, but this pan is in a somewhat dented, not to mention dirty and disgusting state, so it is not Salvation Army-worthy.) But now you can see why I say cleaning is political.

Some people drink alcohol to excess, or douse their pain with pills. I throw things away. But “neat” and “clean” are not the same thing, as is becoming obvious to me because the crud on top of the baseboards is spreading and there are food stains on the wall of the room that, before our addition was the dining room, and that we now call “the old dining room” for lack of a better name. Today I realized that the applesauce Mad Scientist lobbed at the living room ceiling nigh on two years ago is still there.

I've considered hiring a cleaning lady. Friends were telling us about their wonderful cleaning lady, and how she is looking for more clients, and it was on the tip of my tongue to get her phone number. But then my friend said, “I just tell her what to do, and she does it.” Therein lies the problem, because I would have no idea what to tell the cleaning lady to do. What would I say? “Please clean the applesauce off the ceiling,” ? And why should that be necessary? Isn't the meaning of cleaning understood?

Then there's the matter of products. One must provide products and a vacuum for one's cleaning lady. I am lost when it comes to cleaning products. Out of a sense of environmental responsibility, I buy one environmentally friendly brand of all-purpose spray and use it for everything. I suspect this is not correct. For years, I resisted buying toilet bowl cleaner, because of my earth-friendly proclivities. I poured silly things like baking soda into my toilets, and as you can imagine, they got themselves into a shocking state. Now I do buy toilet bowl cleaner, but justify it by the fact that I clean my toilets so seldom, I'm probably not making much of an impact.

Today after school I executed a mini cleaning frenzy. I used my environmentally friendly spray on the bathroom vanity. I dusted the bathroom shelves and threw things away. I cleaned the stovetop, and a particularly dirty section of baseboard in the kitchen. I wiped the dog paw prints off the front door and cleaned the food off the wall of the old dining room. The applesauce on the ceiling remains.


  1. I've paused long enough from my ruthless attack on my kitchen mess (largely invisible -- we have mice in there, and other than their nasty little mouse-turds, it's the sheen of horrible mousiness that must be scrubbed clean) to provide this: Amen.

  2. My sole cleaning mode is frenzy. Suddenly I will be seized by a desire to get the front of the stove really really really clean. I will spray and scrub and get an old toothbrush and get in the crevices and so forth. Meanwhile the dust bunnies multiply and the dishes pile up. Or I will clean the whole house from top to bottom, and not touch the vacuum or dust rag again for six weeks. It's nuts.

    And also, Amen.

  3. I get some of our cleaning stuff from Whole Foods and some from Target, which carries the Method line. Usually, a bucket of warm water and Murphy Oil Soap (organic) will do wonders when applied with a rag.

    You know, just in case you do get the cleaning lady and need to give her some suggestions...