Some helpful tips for people who are unfamiliar with the term “clean” and it’s ramifications. Particularly my husband and my kids, all of whom seem to think it means pushing things off the bed and putting the shoes in lines on the floor.
When you set out to clean a room you should:
- Put everything in the room away. That means that you actually pick up the items and put them where they belong. Pushing the items to the edge of the room does not qualify as putting those items away. Neither does putting them under the bed or in a pile near the bed. Similarly, gathering them in a stack and putting that stack in another room doesn’t count as putting things away. Even if the things belong in that room, they aren’t put away until they are back where they belong. Inside drawers, shelves, cabinets, closets, boxes, buckets, or magic treehouses. Nothing belongs in a pile on the floor or in a pile on the bed. Nothing.
- Throw away any trash. It’s not ridiculous. Stop laughing. You have to gather up any used packaging, papers you no longer want, and other items that no longer serve any purpose. Then you have to put those items in the trash. You also have to take the trash out and put it wherever trash goes – like the big rolling trash can outside. Then you have to wipe off the trash can – inside and out. That way there won’t be leftover shampoo slime stuck on the side of the trash can in your clean room when you’re done.
- Dust. Dusting is when you run a duster or wipe over a surface to remove the constantly-building layer of fine particles that land everywhere. Dust gets everywhere. It isn’t because you’re living filthy, unless you leave it so long that it organizes itself into bunny colonies. That only happens if you’re the kind of slob whose kids only see you dust in the summer. Not that I speak from experience or anything. Anyway, you have to dust. You have to do it before you do the floors or any wet wiping because if you do it after you end up with dust on the places you just vacuumed, wiped, mopped, or swept. If you do a half-assed job dusting, it will be even more obvious than not dusting at all. You have to dust everywhere – the tops of door frames; the bottoms of panels in doors; the tops, bottoms, and fronts of pictures on the wall; the tops, sides, and holes in knick knacks; the tops of shelves, furniture, cabinets, baseboards, and chair rails; the legs and braces on chairs and furniture; the tops and sides of fixtures and features; windowsills; everything.
- Disinfect. This means that you use some kind of disinfectant to wipe down any fixtures, appliances, and countertops. This includes stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, and anything else you find. You have to wipe it enough to scrub off any spots or blobs of gunk on there. Cabinet fronts may not need to be disinfected, but they definitely need to be cleaned. Otherwise you end up with trails of gunk and goo stuck on them that show you up as a poor housekeeper. We all know what horror that strikes into your soul.
- Vacuum and/or sweep. Back in the day we were taught that vacuums have no business on floor surfaces except for carpet. They would damage the floor beyond repair and probably make you go blind one day. Or something. If you are hanging onto those ideas, you can sweep the hard floors. Whatever. It’s faster and avoids the dustpan to vacuum, though. This is your shot at any bunnies who escaped your dusting, too. By the way, if you run the vac over the carpet and stuff stays on there, you have to pick it up. Like that plastic bag you were gonna just vac out of there. You’re gonna have to pick it up and put it in the trash. See step 2.
- Clean glass. Use an actual glass cleaner and an actual clean cloth to wipe down the glass in windows, mirrors, pictures, and knick-knacks. You have to touch every bit. Really, you do. And if your cloth leaves lint all over the glass, you have to wipe that off, too. Use something lintless, like a woven dishcloth. Not the nasty one you’ve been using to wipe your boots. A clean one.
- Mop. In this process you use some kind of cleanser in hot water and a mop to go over all of the hard floors in a room. If there are spots, you have to scrub them to get them off the floor. The up side of mopping is that you get to keep everyone out of the room until it’s dry. That means that you have longer before it’s messy again.
Sounds pretty complicated. Maybe we should all just have a Scotch and relax. Maybe we can talk the bunnies into putting on a show later.