The Lazy Fox’s guide to cleaning

My idea of superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors.
~Bette Midler

I like keeping my apartment looking neat. By neat, I mean clean. Super clean. I am my mother’s daughter, and she was her mother’s daughter, and my grandmother worked as a maid for a long time.

But I’d rather play video games than mop.

Here’s how I do it:

Declutter. Yep, get rid of the shit. (I’m staring to sound like a parrot.) The less shit you have, the less you have to clean, or move around to clean.

Bare surfaces. It’s much easier to wipe down the counter when you don’t have to dodge shit. Doubly so when you own cats, since the cats don’t have to dodge/knock over shit. And yes, this includes small kitchen appliances. My crock pot and toaster live on the shelf under the bar, not on the counter. My roommate’s rice cooker is about to get the same treatment.

Put shit away. Don’t set it down. Walk in with the mail? Either deal with it immediately, or put it where it needs to be. When you’re done with the movie, put it back on the shelf. Don’t think “Oh, I’ll do it later.” Fuck later. Do it now. This is a habit that you’ll just have to learn. I used to have a cat that pissed on fabric left laying about. He taught you very quickly to put away your clothes.

If shit doesn’t have a home, give it one. If you can’t find it a home, chances are you probably need to get rid of it.

Prevention. My cats like to kick litter all over the damn place. One of these days, when I finally have the spare cash, I’m going to invest in a litter box with a rim. If it doesn’t keep all the litter in, at least it will keep more of it in. Alternatively, I could teach them to use the toilet instead. Don’t put the soda down where you, the cat, the dog, or god will knock it over. Take out the trash before it starts to smell. Get a smaller trash can if you need to.

Clean it now. If you let cat piss dry you’ll never get the smell out. If you don’t clean up the soda, it’s going to stain the carpet. If you don’t vacuum up the dirt from the potted plant your cats knocked over, it’s going to embed itself in your carpet.

Own fewer dishes. Seriously. The fewer dishes you have, the less of a mess your kitchen will be. I’ve seen people with a gazillion pots and pans dirty every one before they bothered doing the dishes. Own one pot and one pan and keep them out of the sink.

Put dirty dishes under the sink. Got this one from FlyLady (you laugh now). Keep a dish pan under the sink to hold your dirty dishes. Works only if you have very few dishes. Otherwise you’ll fill up both the pan and the sink. Don’t do it if you’ll forget to do the dishes if they aren’t in your face.

Air it out. The smell of clean is not the smell of Clorox or Pine-Sol. The smell of clean is the smell of nothing (except the natural odor of your home). Open the windows and air the place out every now and then.

Sometimes you just have to deal. I keep my shoes by the door. I keep two there…the sandals (for leisure) and the sneakers (for work). My roommate, however, thinks this is the repository for all her shoes. All ten. It’s not worth trying to explain or fight. Fuck it.

Sometimes you have to teach yourself not to deal. Get pissed off and annoyed that the counter is dirty. Then you’ll clean it.

You don’t need a bunch of cleaning supplies. I clean my entire apartment with a vacuum cleaner, a rag, dish detergent, baking soda, and vinegar. Everything. Including the floors. A vinegar and water mix to do glass, floors and things that need disinfecting. A paste made of baking soda and water left to set on really nasty spots. Baking soda, followed by some vinegar, finished off with some really hot water, to clean out slow drains. I literally do the linoleum by hand, on the floor, with a squirt bottle and a rag. I don’t have a lot of linoleum, so I don’t need a mop.

Lazy cleaning is cleaning by habit. It’s not a skill you pick up in an hour or a week. If you need help, consider subscribing to FlyLady’s FLYing lessons. Yes, it’s geared toward stressed out homemakers with kids. Yes, it’s hokey. Just do it. Trust me.

One Response to “The Lazy Fox’s guide to cleaning”

  1. Added to that, I’d suggest a microfiber cloth for cleaning. They’re AWESOME. Scrub stuff off easier than any of my rags or shop towels or old face wash rags. (When something can strip off week old bird crap from a wall without removing the paint, I’m impressed. When my MOM agrees and buys some for HER house, you know you have something good…)

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