Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back to Basics, Per Requests


Today, in lieu of Manic Cleaning Saturday, and in spite of hellacious food poisoning that has seized my back, I am posting a somewhat remedial description of the core of housekeeping success, my tips, the products I use (by request), and a new and improved sis-boom-bah for 2010, that you might feel inspired. Or at least not crying. Or dousing your place with kerosene. Pardon the tardiness of this post, though, as I am almost completely immobilized by my spine.

Given that all of our homes, habits, energy levels (or lack thereof), routines, needs, standards, stress loads, and every other circumstance on earth differ, all I can really do, for those of you I don't know, whose homes I can't come and attack myself, is try to encourage you to make the most of the time and energy you do have, when to make the extra push, how to prioritize, and most importantly, how to never wake up calling me saying, "Chey my house is such a shit hole I can't even move!" I want your house never to feel insurmountable again.


That said, I will remind you all that I have OCD, so my standard is beyond perfection, and I will scrub things until the finish wears off, or my skin, whichever comes last, generally. If I'm bleeding from the head, profusely, and have just gotten in the car to have it sutured, I will go back to check my flat iron and then put the rogue spoon in the dishwasher, which begets wiping down the kitchen, then putting the bits and pieces of crap which represent my children's happiness into their totes, whereupon I start bleeding onto the counter, which prompts me to get the get it. I could die of blood loss. So it's a disorder. One that serves me well, as I have taught my children excellent hygiene habits while not being freaks like their mom, and we have a good routine that prevents the rampant shit hole syndrome. Make no mistake, I always feel like my house is a shit hole, it just never is. It's small, two bedroom, partially cute, partially permanently mid-remodel, and always cluttered, as we are a family of four. I try to compensate for our lack of space by cleaning things endlessly. I do not recommend this.


In general, I have a low-key routine that keeps the shit hole at bay, but this does involve almost constant movement throughout the day. I am not one to sit still. I've known people who can sit atop 15 feet of clean/dirty/wet laundry with bark chips and dogs and do needlepoint. I can't read a book unless my every spoon has been evicted from the sink, which must be bleached, and every speck of dust chased out. We're all different, so glean and apply from this what you can.

Generally, my daily sequence involves making my bed as I get out of it, grabbing my water, phone, tissues, books, etc., off the nightstand, and placing them on the counter en route to the restroom. I keep my eyes open for dust, spots on the floor, threads and other invaders on my bath mats, empty-ish hand soap dispensers, things of this nature, and I address each and every thing I find. Right then. That is really my key. Do it now. I repeat:


Once I've left the bathroom ship-shape, I start laundry, rotate if necessary, wipe down the washer and dryer, straighten the mats, check the wastebasket, and take my frou-frou air-dry-only Amazonian clothes off their rack and hang them all--on white hangers only, a Moxie mandate--in my closet.

Back in the kitchen I set my kids' lessons out, and write up their chore lists, based upon what needs to be done. Then I weigh the balance of coffee/heart attack vs. no coffee/self-pity. Next up, some hell of boring breakfast that adheres to my brand new dietary restrictions which are longer than The Bible. I typically eat at the computer, though I am not big on prolonged screen time. I check the news, email, facebook, blogs, maybe answer some mail, then I blast iTunes to remind my children that being nocturnal is unlikely to suit them in later life. Once I bring my plate to the sink, I inexplicably scrub down the entire kitchen, even though I will have just done so the night before, so that I have a snowball's chance of sleep.

With bed made, laundry going, and CONSTANTLY rotating, kitchen clean, breakfast served, kids' business laid out, I conjure up 75 reasons not to take a shower. I hate showers you see. Ironic I know, but sadly true. So I invent things to clean/dust/rearrange/re-stack/make anything better looking than it was before.

We are very busy, with activities several days a week, friends with whom to visit, errands to run, things to buy so as to minimize the clutter in my home (I never said I was a genius), Starbucks to patronize, for without Reilly and me they would surely go tits up.

In the evening, I am all over clutter, home work, dinner dishes, the remains of the laundry, and my general sweep through.

Later, when my kids should probably be in bed but aren't because I like being with them, I fold all the laundry, and frequently wake up on top of it, to see them on the floor, at which point I am temporarily consumed with guilt for their tender bodies being on the floor and not on their shi-shi pillow-top mattresses, until I realize I slept on 900 floors as a kid and fall back asleep.

Next day, same tune.


Now, when I have surgery (about once a year), or have been gone, or whatever, and it's starting to feel like the shit hole demon is upon me, my formula looks something like this:

-Music music music!

-Get the washing machine running, first load is always every mat in the house. That commits you to washing them and opens the floors for sweeping/mopping later.

-Get the dishwasher going too. If you have more than one load, migrate all your unwashed dishes (trick reference, as there shouldn't be any) towards the sink, soaking and crusty things in the left side and scouring counter tops and stove tops.

-Sprinkle Ajax in all sinks/tubs/toilets that are not in immediate use. Again, it's a commitment. Tip: Leave one toilet un-cleansered until you're ready to clean it. Invariably, everyone in your family will have to use the bathroom constantly before you clean the toilets, and even more so afterward. Because they are selfish.

-I start getting serious in the kitchen, scrubbing, wiping, dusting, sweeping, Swiffering, straightening magnets/pictures/coupons on the refrigerator, dusting the top (very important). I also take a toothpick, or, since Dyan sent my domestic salvation, the Sonic Scrubber, to the cracks between the baseboard and the linoleum. I also remove the grill from the refrigerator, and soak or run it. Then I pull the drawer out from the stove and rearrange everything until I'm blind, and clean underneath the stove (major psychic rewards here folks). When the voices tell me to, I bleach the sinks, using a rubber stopper I've featured here before. I recently purchased a second one so I can bleach two sinks simultaneously. Maybe I am a genius.

-A glistening kitchen is highly motivating. Mostly it motivates me not to kill myself and never to cook, but it also gives me a boost for the rest of the house.

-Coffee, music, and food are vital here.

-Rotate laundry/dishes, as necessary. Have children put dishes away when possible.

-Next I check everyone's beds, which leads to changing sheets, dusting the few knick-knacks I allow, wiping down window tracks, straightening posters, throwing away debris, checking more wastebaskets...

-The layout of our house leads me thus to the dual vanity and the back bathroom, which has been remodeled eight times, the last of which we were swindled, left without a door, a dangling shower head, shitty paint job, but at a glance it looks really nice. Unless you're the one in there and someone comes sauntering in to ask if there are any Honey Bunches of Oats while you're exposed with no door. I'm just saying. I incorporate re-stocking things like t.p., paper towels, napkins, printer paper, and the like, as I clean. Once you're moving, you may as well be moving, you know? You can achieve twice as much as you think you can in the same amount of time. I promise.

-So beds, kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, sinks, check. Time for floors. Leave no floor unswept, and then implement whatever form of mopping/wiping/Swiffering you prefer. But be thorough, lest corners and crevices haunt you later. None of us is too good for hands and knees, and if I can do it, so can you. I often bleach my linoleum once I'm down there because damn. May as well have a picnic once you're down there. So floors.

-Rotate dishes/laundry.

-Venture out into living rooms, dining rooms, with an eye out for trash, dirty dishes, me scowling if you have either of those, surface clutter, blankets you can fold, etc. Clean, polished surfaces are extremely pleasing.

-Next up: Vacuum all carpeting.

-Final sweep through the house. Set your timer for 20 minutes. Start at one end and work your way to the other, grabbing any garments, odd paperwork, magazines, whatever you may have missed, and put it all away. NOW. Remember now?

-You might want to wipe down end tables, computer desks, lamps, floorboards, oh oh oh! And the cords under your computers and tvs. Major gratification.

-That's about it. Sit and fold your laundry while watching "____________________" and noshing your Bon-Bon of choice. You deserve it.


-Do it now.

-Always be looking for things that are out of order and then fix them.

-Make the most of every action. Like, if you're walking through the house, gather things strewn about in haste in thoughtlessness by the savages with whom you share your dwelling.

-Stop thinking about your entire house. That is a mental sinking ship. One room at a time, or one task at a time (like rounding up laundry, dishes, etc.).

-Do not let things fester. Especially dishes. You will be sooo sorry. It is easier to toss pots and pans into sudsy water as you serve dinner than it is to get up on Saturday and wield your sword to slay the encrusted sauces and cheeses that will most assuredly make you want to move/die/kill/speak in tongues.

-Implement better habits in husbands (or wives, Dobby) and kids. Put laundry baskets in their rooms, threaten starvation, Google lice and make everyone look at it, whatever, but it all starts with habits.

-Post here to get copious accolades for jobs (big or small) well done.

-Your best is good enough.

-You will be pleased with much less effort than what I require, lol.

-Lastly, I will come clean it for you. I've done it for everyone I know.


-I'm no environmental saviour when it comes to domestic warfare. I am hardcore. I do kind things in other capacities, but when it comes to my house, I have to kick ass, not spank it. You know?

I use:

-Clorox bleach.

-Lemon-scented Lysol spray for general purposes.

-Kirkland wipes and only Kirkland.

-My new Sonic Scrubber, thank you thank you thank you Dyan!


-Brilo pads for the drip pans on the stove I never use.

-Windex for mirrors and windows. I mostly use paper towels but I also have a squeegie for some of the exterior windows.

-Febreze following spills which I thoroughly scour with soapy water.

-Swiffer Wet Jets rock my socks!

-Bath & Body hand soap and anti-bacterial gel, scattered like easter eggs all over our lives.

-A fairly worthless feather duster for framed photographs and such that will tip over and piss you off if you actually wipe them.

Not that you'll need or want it, but I took a picture of my supplies in a post a few months ago. Not for my sake, but because it brings me happiness to see them and think of all of you rushing out to buy my colourful, chemically collection.

So there's that. A day late and a dollar short, but cut me some slack, as my back is completely immobilized, on a Saturday no less, and I'm straining to write this rant of questionable usefulness with a laptop pretty much on my head.

I hope this is what you four were looking for. If not, call me. I'm throwing this effing computer across the room. And then doing the Army slither to go get it because I'll be damned if some laptop is all shattered across a clean floor.


  1. Thanks for this post! I should write "Do It Now" on my monitor with a sharpie.

    Hope you feel better soon...

  2. Damn...see I thought I was on top of things until I read your post and realised...I suck. Like big toes and shit. Respect woman!

    oh my god, if you could see what Christmas and having my kids home from school for two weeks has done to my house you'd I am screaming and just about ready to pay someone to come clean it for me. Seriously, I am not looking forward to tomorrow when Manic Mesina Monday kicks in and I wipe badassness all over my house. Tomorrow I will do it in tears as I JUST CLEANED THE FRIGGIN PLACE DAMNIT ALL TO HELL! The reality is, having them home has totally pushed out my priorities and having Maurice home more often (and early most days in between Christmas and New Year) totally made me like sit on my butt and enjoy their company. But now I'm paying for it.
    I'll check in tomorrow to let you know I lived.....

  3. i lurve the new color scheme. and rogue spoons.

  4. First: I might be in love with you. And when I say might I mean am. Deal with that.

    Second: Do you have a cleaning schedule you use? I feel like I wake up everyday and get tackled my the reality of my not so clean house. Hate that.

  5. Jen--Yeah that really helps. Putting things off just gnaws at your brain and makes it feel insurmountable. DO IT NOW! :)

    Mes--I can't believe you blame the baby Jesus for your sloth. Sacrilege. I love you.

    Debe--Nice diversion. Just think how clean the apartment will be. Omg omg omg.

    Joy--You're in love with the idea that cleaning is possible. Actually loving me is excruciating and short-lived from what I hear. But if I can afford any motivation and/or humour, then my time is well spent.

    Much luck to all of you in our mutual endeavor to defeat the shit hole.