I had a cleaning gig a few weeks ago to prepare a house for renting. There I met a young man who was wonderfully curious about what cleaning products I used for various parts of the house. For example, I told him I use powdered bleaching cleanser for toilets; cheaper than commercial products and very effective. Lestoil is still my go-to chemical for cutting through grease and grime. And don’t bother buying cheap window cleaning spray; it leave streaks.
What is the Man’s Coach doing worrying about house cleaning? He lives alone and was raised by a first generation Italian American momma! Enough said? Even my dad kept the house clean, something all GI’s learned in the army.
Nowadays a lot of people have had little or no experience in housecleaning aside from putting the dirty plates in the dishwasher and maybe doing their laundry. For a lot of reasons outside cleaners are being hired to maintain the space, which is a pity since free labor in the form of children is frequently available (but mom doesn’t want to cajole them to do their chores). So here’s a list of housekeeping activities with which all young men ought to be familiar for the sake of their health, well-being and self-respect (not included is a whole host of fun projects associated with having children, including the changing of diapers…think twice boys and girls!). And no, it’s not alright to leave all this stuff to a girlfriend whom you’ve suckered into feeling sorry for you!
- Starting at the top, get out a stepladder once a year and clean the coverings of ceiling light fixtures. It’s amazing the grime and bugs you’ll remove.
- And while you’re on the ladder, run a dust mop around the perimeter of the room at the junction of the ceiling and walls…a good place to find cobwebs (you’d be surprised at how many spiders call your house “home”.
- In the kitchen it would be great to remove the food from cabinets and clean inside with a solution of detergent (such as Lysol) and hot water at least yearly. Never thought bottles and boxes could make such a mess, huh?
- Do the same for the outside surfaces of the cabinets. It’s amazing how many people redo kitchens instead of just cleaning them of the grease and grime that accumulate in cooking.
- Make it a habit to sweep the kitchen floor daily. Food, dust, pet hair and tracked-in dirt accumulate in high-traffic areas. And actually wash the floor weekly.
- Did you know how many really bad germs are in your sink, especially if you cook with any kind of raw meats and poultry? Get out that scrubbing pad and scrub!
- The refrigerator? Unlike your oven, it is not self-cleaning. Take everything out of it once a month and scrub the shelves and the interior surfaces of dried up food.
- Your stove top is not self-cleaning, even if your oven is. I discovered the hard way that black surfaces show all the streaks. If your stove burners come apart, it’s for a purpose. To clean each part. I have to use stainless steel pads and a lot of elbow grease.
- The same for your range hood…inside and out.
- Notice I’ve said nothing about the dishes? Dishwashers are actually the best and most efficient way of cleaning dishes and silverware. Pots and pans are another matter requiring getting your hands wet.
- Do you know how rugs were cleaned before vacuums were invented? Someone would have to roll them up, drag them outside, hang them on the clothes line, and beat them with a rug beater, so the dust would blow away. No wonder even the middle class had servants. Think of that next time you kvetch about vacuuming.
- It’s a great idea to get a rag and hot water and, on hands and knees, run that damp (not wet) rag on all hard floor surfaces, even wood. You’ll be amazed at what you pick up and how black the water gets. Rinse, wring out, repeat.
- Though I don’t always follow this advice, learn to dust your furniture weekly. If you can’t see the tops of your furniture because of “stuff” maybe it’s a sign to get a bit more organized (I won’t address organization of “stuff” in this column. Hire someone if you’re really desperate).
- Ah, windows and mirrors. Everybody’s fav! Once a year I wash them, including taking out the storm windows (if you have them) and cleaning inside and out. Mirrors more often, depending upon location.
- Are venetian blinds still in style? Um, they too have to be cleaned slat by slat, unless you take them down and soak them in a strong detergent in the bath tub (maybe that’s why they’re no longer in style?).
- Wonder why you keep catching your roommates’ colds? Get those disinfectant wipes. They’re great for killing the germs on remote controls, key boards, telephones, door knobs, telephone receivers (are these still in use?), and toilet seats, anywhere where skin touches surface (I won’t get into how many germs from the toilet end up on the coffee table remote).
- Laundry is laundry…enough said. But please change your beds weekly. Again, I won’t go into details as to what you would find there. And don’t forget to get the blankets cleaned. Ever sleep as a guest on the same bed Fido used? Ugh!
- Speaking of laundry, not everything is no-iron. You can avoid a lot of ironing by taking your clothes out of a warm dryer before the end of the cycle and hanging or folding them immediately. Otherwise, make ironing a Zen experience. My mother did. It always seemed to calm her.
- And don’t forget your computer and TV screens.
- Bathroom tile and tubs actually need a good scrub. Just because they get wet doesn’t mean they get clean. Scrubbing bubbles actually work well for tubs and shower doors.
I’m sure you can come up with much more if you look around. Coaching involves every aspect of life and perhaps you could use a few sessions on the subject of housecleaning, especially if it’s become a bone of contention between you and your partner. A clean environment is a sign of maturity and respect for what we own and use while we’re staying on this planet. Unless you hoard; that’s an entirely different issue for a good psychotherapist.
Contact the Man’s Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org