18 - 2009

How Do You Clean?

This morning, I came home and found that my house could use a bit of sprucing up. I try to keep things orderly, but as anyone who lives anywhere probably knows, I’m fighting a losing battle.

In the past, I’ve tried a variety of methods to keep the house clean. Some worked very well; others were not so productive. At one point, Mr. Cheap and I posted a chart of chores on the wall so we could see what had been done, which was a good tool when we first began living together, to help us learn what needed to be done.

Typically, now, the whole family chips in for a while on Saturday mornings to get things done. Some Saturdays, however, this habit falls by the wayside, and by midweek, shabbiness sets in. Then I turn to the techniques of the FlyLady to get ‘er done.

If you’re familiar with the FlyLady, you know that one of her major premises is that you can do anything for 15 minutes. (I love this idea — periodically, I try to keep my life peaceful by subscribing to the related theory of kaizen, or making small, easy, gradual improvements. Both principles share the idea that a little bit of effort makes a big difference.) Sometimes it’s easy to imagine that 15 minutes won’t get you anywhere, especially if you’re looking at a huge mess. But here’s what I did this morning in 15 minutes:

  • Scooped the dog poo in the backyard and put the trash bag in the trash can for pickup next week (this is my new plastic-saving method — I scoop directly into a nearly full trash bag instead of using a fresh bag — but it’s not for the faint of heart. Thus, the stronghearted inherit the poop-scooping duty).
  • Refilled the bird feeder.
  • Put away boots, 2 coats, snow pants and a pair of gloves, as well as a roll of unused insulation that was sitting in the dining room, in the closet. (None of those garments were mine … but I’m a neatnik living with two packrats, and I sometimes break down instead of making the rats family members put their own things away.)
  • Swept and swiffered the kitchen.
  • Swept the living room, dining room and hallway.
  • Hit “cancel” on the dishwasher to stop the cycle before drying began. (Even though I turn off the “heat dry” feature on our dishwasher, it still does some sort of drying. When I can catch it, I cancel it and let the dishes dry with the door ajar — it saves energy and helps me by humidifying the house a little.)
  • Threw yesterday’s newspaper in the recycling bin.

I took another 5 minutes to swiffer the living room, dining room and hallway, throw out the big bag of garbage that has been accumulating in my laundry room for 6 months, and toss a load of sheets into the washer. (In fact, these tasks took less than 5 minutes.)

I remember, in the past, realizing that the dreaded chore of cleaning the bathroom only takes 10 minutes or less, and that I probably spent more time worrying about it than doing it. Today’s effort was a good reminder that it is so worth it to just jump in and do something.

How do you clean? Do you have tricks to make it faster and easier to keep things nice?

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