Help me clean my house

I don’t mean I want you to come over and clean my house — although it’d be cool if somebody WOULD do that — I mean I need help figuring out how/what to clean.

I have family coming to visit next week. I love my family. And I love* when they come over to my house because then I have to do the things I’ve been putting off for *cough cough* awhile. Today, I touched up the white paint in my kitchen, trim and front porch. It was a learning experience in a couple ways.

1. Now I better understand the phrase “whitewash” wherein you quickly, thinly, and with mixed results cover up your sins with satin kitchen enamel.

2. In the future, I will paint my entire house in a more natural and pragmatic shade of spilled-coffee-splashed-spaghetti-sauce-newspaper-fingerprint-dog-snot. I’m not exactly sure what color that would be. Some hue of brownish-grayish with a warm undertone, I think.

I’m actually kind of happy with the illusion of cleanliness the white paint has given me. Sadly, I’ve decided XY and the dog will have to sleep outside until after the family departs. I’ve also replaced all the light bulbs with low wattage bulbs to cast any remaining sins in a romantic light.

This is the romantic sunset I was watching while I was supposed to be painting the front porch:


Here’s my basic problem with housekeeping: In general, I take no pleasure in it. I know some people like to clean house. They say it’s a sort of moving meditation. Other people say they like the results. But I really don’t care that much about either stage. I’d rather walk the dog to clear my head, and once I’m back in writing groove, I don’t even notice that the house is dirty. Until, of course, we have visitors. (Cue sinister music.)

So I’m looking for quick tricks to give the impression of a clean house. And if you are a fellow crafty person, I’d love to hear your tips for keeping your hobby under control. My books and beads get out of control sometimes (SOMEtimes, ha!) but having them around is non negotiable.

And what do you do about other things that you like but don’t necessarily need? I have funny sayings and inspirational quotes and knickknacks and memory triggers and whatnot; how do you decide what to do with those?

I blame my mom (don’t we always?) for my inability to clean. She was just TOO good a mom so I assumed she had magical powers I would never be able to match. Actually, that seems to be pretty much the case. I think that will be the excuse I give her when she gets here.

Dust bunnies, unite (into dust behemoths)!

* By love, of course, I mean love/dread.

9 thoughts on “Help me clean my house

  1. Blast your favorite dance party music and make it a game like the dwarves who whistled while they worked.
    Go through everywhere with a vacuum – even behind the toilet. Then a wash/wipe down and call it good.

  2. I hate housework too, but with a husband and 5 kids I can’t just ignore it.

    What makes the biggest difference the fastest:
    Wash windows – they don’t have to be perfect, but it’s amazing how much cleaner a house looks. Just do the important/prominent ones if you’re short on time. I have a squeegee and bucket to make this go fast. I can do my whole (tiny) home in 20 minutes tops.

    Go through the house with a big garbage bag and throw out all the trash you can find. It doesn’t take long, but it does wonders. 10 to 15 minutes to do this tops, often less.

    Stack stuff – just stack stuff as neatly as you can where it is. Have baskets to put any clutter from the floor in. I love baskets. Trust me, once everything is stacked or basketed it’ll look quaint and comfortable. If there is A LOT of stuff on teh floor, I literally just sweep it up with a broom and dump it in a basket for later sorting, usually a laundry basket. No more than 5 minutes per room tops.

    Vacuum. Vacuum everything you can possibly vacuum. If you’re short on time just do the major areas. 20-30 minutes to do the whole house.

    Finally, get microfiber cloths and a bucket of soapy water (hand soap, dish soap whatver) and start making your way through the house wiping down whatever looks dirty. Walls, door jambs, desk tops, counters, cabinets. Wipe around your neat stacks if you need to. 20-30 minutes to hit all the worst spots.

    I never minded looking cluttered, but I was always embarassed of being dirty. So these are the techniques I use to get rid of the grimey dirt. People are impressed with clean windows and wiped surfaces even if you have stacks of papers and books and baskets of junk all over the place 🙂

    • Quaint & comfortable is EXACTLY what I aspire to! I have an old farmhouse anyway, so it’s never going to look McMansion-y anyway. This is a great cleaning short list, Lara. It’s much better than those cleaning guru list that are just intimidating. Thanks!

    • Hey im looking for a job im 16 just had a baby boy and i need a way to make a lil money for my family and i would love to help you do that clean all that, seems like a lot of cleaning.

  3. One trick to making things look cleaner than they might actually be is to clean the floors. Sweep, mop, vacuum, whatever; and pick stuff up. Makes a huge difference, at least mentally, when we get all of kiddo’s toys and detritus up off the floor. Also helps to have tidy/clear spots for one’s gaze to land on — a cleared end table, for example.

    I second Lara’s tip about windows. A dishpan with warm water, a splash of vinegar, a squeegee, and you’re good to go. Use vertical swipes on one side of the glass and horizontal on the other, so in the event of a streak you’ll know which side it’s on.

    • Ooh, the vertical/horizontal trick is genius! You know, I usually avoid the windows because the last homeowners left lots of paint streaks so even after I clean it looks bad. Maybe I just need to finally scrape the glass so that I can have the advantage of clean windows when guests come.

  4. What Lara said – and I have those baskets for you! On knick knacks, since I seem to have acquired more treasures lately, I’m going with the rotation method – some will just have to be packed up for a while and refreshed at a later date. Just think of them as pieces in a mini art gallery.
    One other thing you might want to consider is taking out or moving a piece of furniture here or there and moving lamps – btw, love the ‘romantic lighting’ idea.

    An artfully placed piece of fabric – say over an end table – can hide the stack of whatever is under the table.

    And don’t forget those baskets.


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