Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cleaning Up

I cleaned my apartment the other day. Not that that is an unusual occurrence, I clean it on a regular basis.

I sweep and hit the high spots as needed or when I'm expecting company. I do a more thorough cleaning every two weeks. That means getting out the rags, cleaners and pail. I sweep, dust, clean the mirrors and glass surfaces, then clean the bathroom and wash the floor with a rag on my hands and knees. I do own a mop, but it just doesn't get into corners the way you can with you hand and a rag. Generally, it takes me about an hour and a half from the time I take out the broom till everything is back in its' place. It isn't like I have a huge home to clean as it is just under 500 sq. ft. - or that I'm a slob - I just don't look forward to doing it.

Then again, who except the Bree Van de Kamp's and Felix Unger's of the world really do look forward to cleaning?

If I lived with other people, had pets or entertained a lot - then I would have to clean more often. Since I live alone, I can wait till the dust bunnies start to build condos under the coffee table or draw smiley faces and write "Dust me" on the shelves if I want to!

When I was a kid, I'd help my mom clean the house every Saturday . My job was to clean my bedroom and the one bathroom in the house. It wasn't much fun but it had to be done. It is one thing to clean up your own mess, but having to clean up other peoples messes can be really disgusting. Why is it, that other people's messes and dirt always seem more gross than your own?

Let's get something straight here. I'm not a neat freak - but I'm also not a slob. Granted, my place wouldn't pass a white glove test, but I pick up after myself, rinse the dishes after I use them and wipe my feet before entering a building. In my younger years, I had roommates who fit both categories and neither one were fun to live with. The neat freak would clean my desk to the point that I couldn't find anything when I came back into the room five minutes later. The slob, on the other hand, had no concept of what hangers or a laundry hampers were for, let alone how to rinse a dish!

Cleaning is one of those necessary evils - I mean chores! We do it so that we aren't living in pig pens. We do it to present a good image to those who come to call. Most of all we do it for our own sanity.

There is a satisfied feeling you get after the home is cleaned. If you are lucky, it will last for more than five minutes. If you are really lucky, you have a housekeeper that does the cleaning for you!

Speaking of which, weren't we supposed to be living in self cleaning homes by the millennium? At least that is what I remember hearing back in the 1960's. We were all supposed to have our own Rosie the Robot by now. We were supposed to be able to press a button or give a command and the home would automatically start a self cleaning process. Sweeping, mopping, dusting, scrubbing and so on. I guess the great predictors kind of blew that one. Okay, so they have come up with the "roomba" that little vacuum that maneuvers on it's own BUT it can't get into nooks and crannies or handle stairs, so there is still some cleaning that has to be done by a human. It does only half the job, so doesn't seem like a great deal to me. Granted, we also have dishwashers, but you have to rinse the stuff before you load it and then put everything away after it is done. Shouldn't the dishes put themselves away? I don't even own a vacuum or a dishwasher!

Oh well, back to the drawing board - I mean cleaning.

There have been a few times in the past that I have had to have a cleaning person come in and do the work for me due to post surgery restrictions. As much as I appreciated having someone else do it for me, it still felt a little weird to have someone else cleaning my mess. I can't help but wonder what they really think, as they dust your stuff or clean your bathroom. I actually know several people who have admitted to doing some "cleaning up" before the cleaning service arrives so that the place doesn't look so bad. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? I mean, really - if you're going to pay someone to actually come to your home and clean - then make them work for it!

Over the years, I have known several people who have done cleaning as a profession. The stories they could tell! Made me feel like my little corner of the world was impeccably clean even before I cleaned!

One of the reasons that I dislike cleaning is that I have to be really careful with what products I use. I am very sensitive to chemicals and scents that are often found in these products. I had to wear a mask and gloves for awhile and also did hire someone to clean for me for a year or so. I left while she cleaned so that the smells wouldn't bother me.

It took me a long time to find products that I could use that didn't make me wheeze, sneeze and gasp for fresh air.

For several years, I used the products from Orange Clean. They did a fantastic job of cleaning and left my apartment smelling like oranges! The super concentrate of the Orange Clean has become next to impossible to find here in Canada though. There are a lot of imitators out there that claim to do the same as Orange Clean, but they are either laced with chemicals or are ridiculously expensive and not nearly as concentrated or effective as the original. So for a year or so I was using only Oxi Clean for my general cleaning.

Oxi Clean is one of the best products I have ever found for multi purpose use. You can use it instead of bleach and it doesn't leave that horrible smell or damage fabrics the way regular bleaches can. Just add a scoop to every load of laundry. I dilute a scoop of it in about 2 litres of hot tap water, then pour slowly into the toilet bowl. Let it stand for about 15-20 minutes, then scrub and flush as with other products. Works like a charm! I've used it as an all purpose surface cleaner and also to wash the floor when I'm out of other products.

For glass surfaces, mirrors and windows, I use a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. I keep it in a spray bottle so it is always at the ready. For dusting a damp cloth works as well as anything. I've also used old sweat socks - yes, I washed them first! Dampen them, then put one on each hand to dust twice as fast! Try it - it works great!

For cleaning the bathroom and washing the floors, I can always use Oxi Clean. There are lots of environmentally friendly products available nowadays, but a lot of them are also outrageously expensive. For the last year or so, I have been using Ecover All Purpose Cleaner. It has a nice light lemon fragrance. A 33.8 ounce bottle is about $6 at a local organic market. It isn't the cheapest on the market but considering that you only use a cap full (a bit more than an ounce) for 4 litres of water (which is enough to do my bathroom and floors), it really isn't too bad. I don't think it cleans quite as well as the Orange Clean, but it is the best I've found so far.

So, that is how I clean. A self cleaning apartment would be really nice, but short of a miracle or finding a guy who likes to clean, I guess I'm on my own. Oh well, I can dream......


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