I subscribe to many newsletters and magazines, so I read housekeeping tips all the time. In my case, that’s kind of like ordering Diet Coke with a Big Mac. The thinking is that Diet Cokes will keep you thin no matter what you eat, so reading housecleaning tips will keep your house tidy no matter how often you clean.
Rarely, though, have I run across a tip as useful as the one my friend Sue passed along recently. The tip suggested a person should always keep several Get Well cards on the mantle so if unexpected guests arrive, you can claim you’ve been sick and unable to clean.
As one who is occasionally intimidated by cleaning for certain house guests, I found it inspiring. So inspiring I drove straight to Hallmark and stocked up. It seemed a more sane solution to cleaning for company than what I’d been doing.
For days, I’d been struggling to thin out the junk herd at my house, but instead of ruthlessly loading up trash bins, I mostly relocated things from one room to the next. Upstairs junk moved downstairs. Downstairs junk shifted to the garage. I carted a selection of clothes up to Mom’s. She sent a load back that was bigger than mine.
With renewed determination and resolve, I attacked (The clutter. Not Mom.). I designated my under-stair closet as the temporary collection area for items that needed to go, and then set forth to fill it. Just as it seemed I was making some ground, my house pitched dangerously starboard and I had to rapidly redistribute the clutter lest it capsize completely.
Time was running short. My company would soon be arriving. I needed more tips – tips as golden as putting Get-Well cards on my mantle. I combed the Internet, hoping for more words of wisdom. I found a few I was able to use.
One tipster alerted me to the nine cubic feet of hidden stash space found inside most ovens. “Washers, dryers and car trucks can provide even more space for those times when you need a quick hiding place for your mess.”
Another suggested replacing high wattage bulbs with a combination of 20-watt and candles. “Dim lighting not only provides ambiance, but also hides dust and cobwebs.”
I found one housecleaning site with tips just for men. Under instructions for cleaning the toilet, it said, “Close the lid.” For messy bedrooms, “Close the door.”
The site also alerted men to the subtle signs of a house that needs cleaning. “One way to know the bathroom floor needs sweeping is to drop your hairbrush. If there’s twice as much hair on the brush when you pick it back up than when it fell, get a broom.”
And “If you lose a shoe because it stuck to the linoleum while you were walking across the kitchen floor, it’s time to mop.”
There were even instructions telling men how to make their house smell freshly cleaned with the absolute minimum of effort. “Simply mix one-quarter cup of pine-scented household cleaner with two cups of water, pour into spray bottle and mist the air.”
I found another site that listed reasons why people should avoid cleaning “for humanitarian reasons.” For instance, birds apparently fly into clean windows far more often than dirty windows. Not only that, but “Layers of dirty film on windows can provide a helpful filter against harmful rays from the sun that can fade furniture, drapes and carpet.”
The site also called attention to how “Vacuuming can weaken carpet fibers, thus shortening the lifespan of the carpet.” Makes sense to me. Why risk it?
I printed the environmentally friendly suggestions on recycled paper and taped it to my refrigerator so my guests would be aware of my cleaning philosophy.
They coordinated nicely with the Get Well cards on my mantle.