Let Me Tell You about My Awesome Day of Domesticity! No Wait, Really! Where Are You Going?

I certainly did not mean to leave that silly political post (the one where it’s all about me, me me me — which is differentiable from my other posts only in the political bent) at the top of the page for so long, but I have been either too busy or too tired to update for what feels like forever.

It’s the season of midterm grading and essay grading and job applications, none of which I am particularly eager to complete, but all of which are pressing, pressing, pressing the fuck down on me and my schedule with the weight of a thousand cartoon anvils. In order to ease the stress, I have been procrastinating, deflecting responsibility, and generally dilly-dallying in every way possible. This method of coping with stress has the dubious side effect, however, of actually increasing the stress and urgency I experience, so I cannot say that I would recommend it.

One procrastination technique I employed with great success this weekend involved what I like to call an Awesome Day of Domesticity. Who can work in a messy home, I ask you?  All of the neglected little corners of the house had to be tended to: not only was my bedroom being slowly buried beneath piles of laundry, but so was my living room.  Draped on every piece of furniture was a discarded sweater or jacket; beside the front door was a pile of heels (kicked off at the first opportunity) and under the couch was a pile of sneakers (have to be unlaced while sitting); stacked on the end tables I had piles and piles of mail; stacked on my night table I had at least eight novels; stacked on every horizontal surface I had approximately forty-seven empty glasses.

Any good anthropologist would be able to reconstruct my after-work activities — step one: disrobe; step two: pour a drink; step three: read a book.  Unfortunately, no one likely to enter my apartment is a detached, academic, anthropological observer who might find the mess intellectually intriguing.  Instead, at the rate I was going, the next person likely to be entering my apartment would have been the coroner come to collect my body after I finally died of sloth and slovenliness.  Let’s face it, no one wants to be the deceased person about whom all the crime-scene investigators have to ask in disbelief, “how could she live like this?”

Fine, fine, I may be exaggerating just a wee little bit, but the important message is this: the place was a mess.  It needed to be fixed with a quickness. The only problem with an Awesome Day of Domesticity like the one I was about to embark on happens when you realize you have simultaneously run out of seventeen different types of cleaning supplies.  This means you must travel far and away to the magical land of Target, which you will be allowed to leave only after amassing dozens of bags of stuff and paying them approximately $116.00.  Or, you know, exactly that much.

[Sidebar: Sweet pickle relish, but shit is expensive right now!  Damned “economy.” Can’t we get Krugman on this? What is that Nobel prize of his for, anyway?]

In addition to the downer of spending all of your discretionary “fun” budget on a whole bunch of distinctly non-fun items, there is the subsequent downer of arriving at home with your purchases only to realize that just buying cleaning products does not lead directly to a clean house.  You must actually use the products to clean the house.  Woe. And THEN, to add insult, you do not have any fun purchases to brag about: no new albums, book, or movies to review; no new shoes or dresses to debut. What are you going to do, bore your friends with tales of house cleaning and then boast about the awesomely fresh citrus scent left behind by your new Swiffer sweeper pads?

Hey, have I told you about my new Swiffer sweeper pads?


  1. Are you like me? Do you accumulate those little sticky spots on the kitchen floor in front of your fridge and stove, which then attract dust and the tinier pet hairs? And when they are almost black it is time to clean?

    It feels so good to mop these away.

    Getting dust off the tops of window, door, and picture frames is also the business.


  2. Oh, dude, I totally get those stupid sticky spots. They are probably seventeen different layers (Diet Coke, crumbs, pet hair, plus fourteen other mystery ingredients). Yech. I do find it very satisfying to clean them up with the scrubby edge of the mop!

    Also, I love cleaning the drip marks off of the fronts of the kitchen cabinets. The Magic Eraser is very good for this.


  3. In my ex-household, we only allowed ourselves to clean with lemon juice, baking soda, recycled underpants, and superannuated toothbrushes. We were strong with the tadpole, sure, but a single act of de-mildewing the bathroom was equivalent to my entire year’s worth of exercise.


  4. That sounds either wonderful or awful and I can’t decide! Very eco-friendly, but also very much involving recycled undies!

    You’ll be correct in assuming that none of my purchases were lemon juice or baking soda — I’m a Febreeze*, Tide, Downy, and Cascade-type household. I WANT MORE CHEMICALS!

    [*I don’t even know if you guys have these same brands, but you get the picture.]

    Is your current house the same?


  5. I like the really neatly packaged, good smelling stuff that Target sells (the method brand almond smelling wood cleaning stuff is my very very favorite). The problem I find is that because all of these good smelling things have different good smells, when I do get a big clean on, I have many many good smells competing for attention, and in turn my home smells either good, or like a cheap parfumerie.

    When I mop the kitchen floor with the rosemary floor cleaner and the wood floor with the almond smelling wood floor cleaner and the windows with the rose geranium window cleaner, that’s not so bad. But if I happen to use the minty window cleaner, it’s not so very good.

    Oh, bother. Maybe I should just use cocktail mix and lacy panties.

    And OH MY SWEET BEJEEBIES, the total on my grocery shop at the Kroger was a heart stopping 239. And that was with the Kroger plus discount in place. And I bought such glamourous things. Bread. Kale. Beans. Oatmeal.


  6. Oh, I love that Method stuff. I am a big fan of the cucumber hand soap.

    Also! Damn, Kroger! They also raped my bank account. The grocery prices are ridiculous. Some items have jumped in price by, like 50%. It’s really unconscionable.


  7. Lemon juice and baking soda? You’re using acid/base chemistry with small, inorganic molecules to clean up stuff that’s well solvated by organic solvents? No wonder it’s taking forever. Seriously, ethyl alcohol is the business for that. Isopropyl will work too, also reasonably eco-friendly, and if you’re going to use weak acids to clean things try vinegar.

    Really, though, I’m with Vague on this – MORE CHEMICALS. If I could get my hands on some acetone and not have the EPA down my throat about it going into my drain I’d be all over that. Acetone is the shizzle for cleaning up organic spills. Like food.


  8. My two current favorite cleaners are Liquid Comet Bathroom and Barkeeper’s Friend. The active ingredient in both is a hefty dose of acid — in the Comet it’s simple citric, and in Barkeeper’s Friend it’s oxalic.

    Notwithstanding Timothy’s chemistry lesson, the Comet managed to bring a shine to our 38-year-old (est.) toilet bowl that it has not had at least since we moved in, despite repeated scrubbings with powdered Comet, which I believe is chloride-based. And the Barkeeper’s Friend went to freakin’ TOWN on my beloved stainless steel skillet. Got it all polished up like the mirror that mirrors check themselves out in, better than soaped steel wool ever done.

    So I don’t know. I dig toxic chemicals, but acid has never let me down. (Ahem.)

    Now baking soda doesn’t seem to me to do a DAMN thing.

    Vague, did you ever expect such a vigorous response to a post about housecleaning?


  9. Liquid Comet is good stuff — when I lived in a place with an older bathtub I used that a lot. These days, a few squirts of Scrubbing Bubbles will do the trick, with very little scrubbing on my part.

    You know what I need? Something that prevents that horrible ring of mold and/or mildew around the toilet bowl. That is my MOST HATED household dirt. The fucker can form in, like, 48 hours. I hate it SO MUCH. Anyone have any tips on that?

    And no, I did not expect such a response to a housecleaning post! I guess household dirt is the great equalizer. (Unless, like John McCain, you have seven houses, then you have seven times as much dirt. And someone to clean it for you. Heh.)


  10. I think 2000 Flushes is good for ring suppression, if you don’t have dogs that drink out of the toilet and a cat who is always trying to climb into it.


  11. Getting a water bowl and closing the lid helps with that…but I have that same toilet ring problem! I have tried the bleach tablets, I have tried the blue stuff, I have tried that new scrubbing bubbles toilet bowl gel…I think that the gel seemed to work best. I will have to try the liquid Comet. I have also found that if you scrub the bowl every day a little that helps.

    My water is so damned hard that I have a big problem keeping the shower door any semblance of clean. Vinegar works pretty well. As for detergents/soaps – dude, don’t even get me started on how cool soap is. The chemistry behind how soaps work is really, really cool…anyway, Dan, acids have their place but lemon juice is very low concentration even compared to something still relatively low concentration like vinegar and also full of sugars and flavor compounds that’ll just get sticky. Also, the Barkeeper’s Friend website tells me that its active ingredient is oxalic acid, which is a pretty good acid all things considered.


  12. I do keep the lid closed (otherwise my cat, who doesn’t actually drink out of the bowl or anything, makes trouble — she’ll get on the counter or the back of the tank and swipe my stuff into the toilet. I can’t tell you how much make-up she ruined before I finally got it into my thick skull that I had to close the effing lid already. She once caused a huge problem by swiping a hair comb in there and the toilet didn’t flush right for weeks…until the comb resurfaced. HORRORS.) but I still get the ring. What’s a water bowl?

    I’ve tried the blue drop ins (which I really like generally but they don’t stop the ring from forming, they just dye it blue). I’ll try that gel stuff next time.


  13. After 30+ years of living together, where as a typical male I didn’t put the lid down, a new cat who prefers to drink out iof “exotic” places has cured me. She will barely touch the fresh water in her stainless steel bowl, and would rather drink the “magic” water in the moldy bowl on the front porch.


  14. Vague – Oh, I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t write that very clearly. I was telling Dan that closing the lid and getting a water bowl helps keep the dogs and cat from drinking from the toilet. My bad, G.


  15. Timothy,

    Toilet … lid … down? Wha?

    Somehow, even bein’ married and everything, we leave the lid up about 50% of the time. And 3 out of 4 pets seem to prefer the toilet to their various water bowls. It’s fresher maybe? Should I change all the pet’s waters every time I flush?

    I agree, I would not use lemon juice to clean anything other than a whiskey and coke.


  16. I have found the Kaboom Never Scrub quite handy at preventing the nasty grody toilet ring. It’s a little bleachy/filtery contraption you put on the feed tube for the tank, and the water smells vaguely of chlorine, but I don’t have to scrub for a long long time. So it’s nice. And, when I do have to scrub, it’s never as bad as it used to be. Refill the cartridge when you see the ring coming back. It says like a month or something, but I’ve gone as long as 4 months. Yeah, that’s right, FOUR MONTHS without scrubbin’ the bowl. The seat and other parts sure, but not the bowl.


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