Friday, April 10, 2015

7 Housekeeping Things I Didn't Learn from My Mother and One Thing I did

Soon we will  be moving into our own house.  We did get the house we liked and put an offer on...so as long as everything goes well with the inspection, we will be moving in about a month. 

Which sorta scares me.

I'm not a good housekeeper.  And, I don't come from a line of good housekeepers.  As far as I know, no one in my family has ever uttered the following...

I love to clean. 
No one.  To be fair. My mother is a half-way decent housekeeper.  And, it's not that she didn't try to teach me.  I just was never interested in learning.   Truthfully, I'm still not.  I don't get giddy over the thought of a trip to Ikea. Organizing does nothing for me.  And, I find cleaning to be exceptionally boring and not very satisfying.  My spice rack will never be organized alphabetically and my shirts will never be arranged by color. 

Nonetheless,  I have found that I do have to clean and organize stuff. It's a sad, sad fact of life.

When I first got married,  I was an absolutely terrible housekeeper.  I've since graduated to mediocre status.

I would love to move up to half-way decent status.  

I know I'll never be house beautiful status.  But, I'll settle for half-way decent, can have people over anytime status. 

Here are some of the things I've learned that helped me move from terrible to mediocre status.





1. Soaking clothes in oxy powder gets out tough stains, and brightens whites and colors.

I don't know that oxy powder was as popular when I was a kid.  I tend to think not.  However, I have learned that a good soak in oxy-powder can do wonders for removing stains and brightening colors and making clothes last longer.  Or at least making them look nicer longer.

2. You have to clean out your vacuum cleaner.

When I was growing up, we never had wall to wall carpet.  So, I never learned how to properly vacuum.  Which means I never learned that if you don't regularly clean our your vacuum cleaner, it gets all clogged up and loses suction and isn't efficient.  Sadly, it took me YEARS to figure this out.  I could never figure out why our vacuum cleaners would lose suction and stop working well.  

I'm not smart when it comes to housekeeping stuff. 

3.  Sometimes chemicals are needed. 

Normally, I hate chemicals.  I'm all about the crunchy, natural stuff.  But sometimes, you just need chemicals.

When we lived in Virginia, we were constantly getting mold in the bathroom. Humid climate with no bathroom fan was a disaster.  And that utterly toxic, horrid stuff was the only thing that got rid of it.

Now, we live in a house with well water...which means that the tub and toilet and sink turns a horrible yellow and you have to use that super strong lime remover on it. Nothing else works. 

4. Corners and edges get dirty, so once in awhile you have to crawl on the floor with the vacuum.

Sad to say, it actually took me years to figure out that vacuum and brooms don't really get edges and corners well, so sometimes you have to take the hose on the vacuum and crawl on your hands and knees and do them.  Ugh.  Did I mention that I hate cleaning?

5.  You are supposed to vacuum your floors instead of sweeping them. 

I actually just learned this one recently.  Apparently vacuuming hard floors removes the dirt better than sweeping (which just throws the dirt around).  Who knew?  And why did it never occur to me to vacuum hard floors before?

6. Less stuff is better.

The easier it is for me to keep a house clean is inversely proportional to the amount of stuff it has in it in relation to its size.  The emptier a house is, the easier it is to clean.  When we move, we will be going from about 860 square feet to about 2800 square feet.  That will be a lot of empty space.  I'm hoping to keep it that way.   

7. You are supposed to dust your blinds and ceiling fans and baseboards and clean the grout in your tiles. 

Again, these are things which would NOT occur to me to do.  I can do major stuff.  Sweep up crumbs.  Wash dishes.  Do laundry. Vacuum. Wash windows. But this little detail stuff...would not occur to me.  Never in a million years.  It's not until I heard someone talking about it and I was all... People do that?? Really? People clean the grout in their tiles? Dusting baseboards? Is that a thing? I didn't know you were supposed to do that?  No wonder my baseboards are so dusty. 

Now, the one trick I did learn from my mother. 

1. It's easier to hide dirt than to constantly clean it up.  

My mother picked out her kitchen floor and paint design and cabinets to hide dirt the best.  

That woman is a genius.  

I have a vivid memory of her throwing cheerio crumbs on vinyl tile samples to see which ones hid the the crumbs the best when they were building the house I grew up in.  Genius.

I've lived in a lot of different houses, because we've moved so much, and some houses are much easier to clean than others, because some floors and walls hide the dirt so much better. 

Right now we have white vinyl on our kitchen.  That is bad. I have to mop constantly and the floor never looks clean because it is stained (was stained before we moved here). 

In Virginia, we had this tan, marbled vinyl on the kitchen.  That was good.  It hid dirt fantastically and I only had to mop like once a week. 

However in Virginia we had white walls.  White walls are bad, bad, bad things. 

Here, we have these ugly, orange walls.  But they do hide the dirt, super well. 

We were recently at a chess tournament that had glass tables.  And I was remarking how they showed every.single.fingerprint.  I mean, you touch the thing, and it looks dirty. That would drive me crazy.  Another women there overheard and was all 


"Yes, but that's great, because then you know when it is really clean and it makes you wonder if those wood tables are ever really clean. ."

See..this demonstrates a fundamental difference in philosophy between me and other people.  I just want something to look clean. I don't care if it actually is clean, as long as it looks clean.  It's all about the appearance, people.

On the bright side though....my kids are all fairly healthy and don't suffer from any known allergies (not even seasonal allergies) or asthma or breathing difficulties or eczema and they all
 have strong immune systems. I attribute that to my poor housekeeping skills. 
 Apparently dirt is good for you.  

Still, I don't like to be a total slob.  So, I'm trying to get a handle on this housekeeping thing.  It's a slow, slow process.

Do you have any housekeeping things you recently or not so recently learned.  Any tips or tricks??

(See Kelly for more Quick Takes).
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