The Dirty Truth

Today I want to make a practical post…about cleaning (okay, I hear the groans now), but really, it’s something that takes a good amount of time so I’ve been thinking about the best way to tackle it. One of the things in life that I really strive for is making everything I do honoring to God and respectful of people and the world at large (but I certainly don’t have all this figured out; that’s why it’s a process). Cleaning has really been a spiritual thing for me. When I first got married I think I thought that we would split everything 50/50, and he would always do his part and I would always do my part. And he would notice when there are dirty dishes and just do them…I was wrong, and I was angry because I would end up doing a lot of things that I thought he should be doing. So cleaning became an angry time for me. Why do I have to spend my time wiping cat hair off the base of the toilet? Why do I have to cook all the food and then clean all the dishes, wipe down the counters, clean the table, scrub the oven, etc.?

Maybe two years into our marriage I realized that this couldn’t continue. I couldn’t stay angry, and the house needed to be cleaned. Also, my husband began doing the majority of the work for our business (to make money, you know), so I took over a lot of the housework. So I have tried every method. I tried doing all the housework in 2-4 crazy hours on a Saturday morning. I tried the FlyLady approach. I read lots of books about how to clean…quickly, how to keep order in your home. I prayed when I scrubbed bathroom floors. I plugged my earbuds in my ears and cranked up the Relevant podcast as I swept. I have thought often of Brother Andrew, praying and enjoying God’s presence while washing dishes. I learned that I do better cleaning in the mornings than at night (because by 4 or 5 p.m. I’m exhausted).

So right now here’s what I do…a little bit every week day:

  • Mondays I vacuum couches, chairs and rugs; I wipe down the doors and switchplates; I dust and put everything that got out of place over the weekend away; and I do the “quick bathroom clean up” wiping down the mirrors, countertops, sinks, and outside of the toilets
  • Tuesdays I empty and clean out the trashcans; I vacuum the vents if they need it; and I sweep
  • Wednesdays I do another quick bathroom clean-up, I vacuum everything again (I’m not obsessive – I just have 3 dogs); I change the sheets; and scrub the bathroom floors (I put the floors off until Wednesday because I don’t have any Right Start groups this day)
  • Thursdays I sweep (again the dog hair necessitates it); I clean off the coffee cabinets; I wipe down the outside of the kitchen cabinets; and I do something off my “once a season” list (this includes cleaning windows, sweeping under furniture, cleaning out the fridge, cleaning out closets, etc.)
  • Fridays I do a quick bathroom cleanup again; I vacuum (again – dang dogs); and I look at the kitchen floor and say “I don’t need to clean that this week” 🙂
  • Saturdays and Sundays when I notice dirty corners I tell myself that God has given us time for rest too and that I don’t need to clean it now. I will do it Monday. This too is a very spiritual exercise for me.

It seems to be working. The house stays pretty organized and clean, but I’m always looking for better, faster ways. I’ve realized that some things just don’t work for me. For example, FlyLady recommends that you never leave dishes to dry in your sink and you should always wipe it down every time you use it. This is ridiculous for me because I use my sink probably once every 15 minutes. And I really just can never seem to get around to drying the dishes by hand. Perhaps when I have kids and they are older I will give them this task (oh yes, my kids will have chores). Also, I make an effort to have the kitchen clean when I go to bed, but I also have learned to give myself grace. I try to judge how tired I am (I am not a night person at all and if I have to do something I don’t want to at night I get super cranky). So I try to determine if I have the energy to do it now or need to wait until morning. I’m learning that it’s okay to let things wait until later.

As far as cleaning materials go, I use Method spray cleaners for wood and granite (for the table and counters respectively) and I use a homemade cleaner (a mixture of dish soap, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, and water) for the bathroom surfaces. I use rags from Brad’s old shirts, and other cloths that I wash and reuse later. We’re trying to cut down our paper towel use by a ton, but I do keep some around for when the puppies (usually Finnegan) have accidents.

I’d love to hear how you approach house work. I’m always looking for new ideas. How do you clean?


2 Responses to “The Dirty Truth”

  1. Emily Says:

    Your house is MUCH cleaner than mine!! But I also only have one doggie and she’s staying outside so I can keep vacuuming once a week and occasionally doing other chores too….

  2. Julia Says:

    We still try to split the household chores 50/50, but what seems to work best for us is if we set aside time to both do it at the same time. For us it’s usually done on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It’s satisfying to get it all done and then be able to relax together and not feel like we need to nag the other one to do their part. I am not doing as much deep cleaning as I would like, especially in the kitchen, I’d like to be on a schedule for that, otherwise it sits for far too long and gets hard to clean. My gigantic Martha Stewart Housekeeping Handbook is a wealth of information to turn to when I have a cleaning question! I got it for free from an online friend and I’m so grateful for it! (and that I didn’t spend $50 on it!)

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