Thursday, August 6, 2015

The house that cleans itself

So I read this book:

The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark.

OK, who am I kidding?  I skimmed the book.  Because honestly, who has time to read a book about cleaning when the house is just overflowing with entropy?

Anyway, I found it interesting.  Maybe even helpful.

The main premise of the book is that the reason some people can't keep their homes clean is because it's not convenient.  For example, I have a friend who piles her dishes up on her counter all day long because it's too much work to open the dishwasher, bend down, pull out the rack, load the dishes in, and close the dishwasher.

I'm not poking fun here, because I get it!  I soooo get this.  I, myself, leave the dishwasher open with the bottom rack pulled out pretty much all day to eliminate that open-the-dishwasher step.

So the solution is to make it convenient.  Put all the tools you need for a task in the same place where you do the task.  Put trash cans where you are generating trash.  If you always throw your keys on the counter instead of hanging them on the nifty hook you installed by the door for that purpose, put a basket on the counter for your keys and make that their place.

I recently repurposed a trash can to sit by my desk.  Yes, there is already a trash can in the bathroom nearby, but that's 10 steps away!  And I have to open a cupboard door to get to it!  Guess what I was doing with trash that I generated sitting by my desk?  Was I walking 10 steps, opening the cupboard, bending down, and putting the trash in?  No.  I was throwing it on the floor or on my desk with the intention of getting it later.  This is how hoarding starts, my friends.

{Truthfully, it's still a little too far away.  I mean, I actually have to lean waaaaay over to put things in it.  I need to figure out how to attach it to the side of the desk so all I have to do is reach over... But it's better, for sure}

The author suggests getting multiples of items that you use for more than one purpose or in more than one place.  She says to label them with where they belong, and if necessary, put a leash on them to keep them from walking away--like we did with our dry erase markers in the dorm.  We waste so much time just gathering supplies for a task, and for the house-cleaning impaired, those extra minutes are daunting, and might just be enough to keep us from starting the task.  Keep bathroom cleaning supplies in each bathroom.  Keep kitchen cleaning supplies in the kitchen.  I really should have 2 paper shredders: one in the mud room, where I sort the mail, so I can shred junk right away, and one by my desk, where I pay bills and review financial information.

Ms. Clark also talks about sight lines.  What do you see when you first walk in to a room?  That's the area that you for sure want to keep clean and uncluttered.

All of that is terrific and inspiring and all, but it's not really what I wanted to talk about.   And here I am, how many words later, finally getting to my point?  Are you still with me?

Anyway, another thing Ms. Clark says is that everyone has an area in their home that, if that area is clean, they feel like their whole house is clean, regardless of how the rest of the house looks.  So the trick is to keep that area clean, so you feel less overwhelmed by everything else and are more likely to tackle other areas.

So I've been thinking about it.  What is the one area in my home that, if it's clean, I feel like the house is clean?  I've been trying different areas out.  I start with a messy house, which, thanks to my resident purveyors of entropy, is not difficult.  Then I clean one area and sit with it for a while, while the rest of the house stays messy/gets messier.  I tried the kitchen counters.  I tried the living room.  I tried the top of the fireplace.  I tried the vinyl floor in the kitchen and dining room.  I tried my bedroom.  I tried the bathrooms.  I even tried the mud room, because that's where I most often come in to the house.

And I have come to the conclusion, that my area that when-it's-clean-makes-me-feel-like-the-whole-house-is-clean is ... the whole house.

Anyway, if you are cleaning impaired, like me, you might want to check out this book.  I found it to be inspiring, and worthwhile to at least skim.  And you know it works, because who has time to write a book if her house isn't cleaning itself?

1 comment:

  1. I do a lot of baby-sitting and am amazed by how many people I know who only have trash cans in their kitchen and bathrooms. My house has a trashcan in the kitchen, the bathroom, my bedroom, guest bedroom, and living room. House is still messy, though, but not with trash.


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