When I get home from work, all I want to do is sit on the couch, watch TV and stuff my face full of pie.
It’s tempting to let things slide in the cleaning department, but I can’t do it. For one thing, Mr. Min likes to invite our friends to come over at the drop of a hat. He likes to spoil them with brunch and pizza parties almost every weekend. And if someone is comes to town, loses his apartment, breaks up with a girlfriend or otherwise falls on hard times... Well then! Our door is wide open.
He always thinks that our place is clean enough, and he doesn’t know or remember that there are dirty dishes in the sink, dust on the entertainment center and (his) socks on the floor. When we meet with friends, it’s me that flies around, picking up the apartment while simultaneously trying to put on my clothes.
Even if we’re meeting in a restaurant, Mr. Min will find a way. He’ll get creative, like telling them about a new purchase they just have to see, or urging them to come over for coffee and dessert. And when he does, I can’t say no because that would make me mean, and our friends might think that our place is in a worse state than it actually is.
Then, there’s the camera crew that comes, once or twice a week, to use our place as a set for a video shoot. The director is a family friend, and we trust him to take care of our stuff. (Plus, we earn some extra cash.) But since we’re so close, he doesn’t give me more than a day or two of notice. There have been times when I’m forced to ask which rooms he’s using, since I don’t want to clean the whole apartment.
For these reasons, I feel like I always have to be on top of my game when it comes to housecleaning. But it’s getting to be a real drag lately, especially since my hands have gotten chapped and raw from the dry winter air and too much hand washing. So, I’ve decided to let go a little. I’ve been toying with the idea of a “cleaning diet,” and this seems like a good time to put it into practice.
For me, this means being able to put off having hour-long cleaning sessions while still being able to invite people over. It also means carving small chunks of time out of my day in order to get my place “clean enough.” Are you convinced yet? Let me show you how I do it.
I multi-task while brushing my teeth.
The recommended amount of time for brushing your teeth is two minutes, twice a day. Since I’m super-talented, I can do it with one hand while simultaneously toeing my bath mats into place, rearranging my toiletries and slinging laundry and towels into a basket. Now, my bathroom is clutter-free pretty much all of the time.
I pick up as I go.
When I’m home, I use this trick of making sure that my hands are always full of stuff when I leave a room. If I’m in the living room but need to go to the bedroom, I’ll look around for stuff that doesn’t belong. A good example is my purse, which I’ll want to hang in the bedroom closet. Once I’m there, I might stop to read a book or watch a movie, but eventually, I’ll want to go to the bathroom.
Before I do, I’ll look around for something to take with me, such as dirty clothes for the laundry basket. It’s like a chain reaction. If my hands are always full of stuff when I just happen to go from room to room, I know that I will pick up everything in my apartment... eventually.
I take advantage of commercial breaks.
I enjoy watching TV, but that doesn’t mean that I have to sit through every commercial. I can use those two to three minutes to do small chores like sort the mail, hang up my purse and jacket, make the bed, put dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, wipe down the stove or clear away things that don’t belong in the living room.
I take out the garbage ASAP.
An overflowing trash can is something I don’t want to touch once I’m comfortable. So, I’ve figured out the best time to do it. It’s in between the time I come home from work and before I take off my shoes and outerwear. Now, I try to remember to check the trash bin when I walk in the door. If it’s full or smells bad, I take it out immediately. If not, I can leave it or take out the recyclables instead.
I use vinegar to clean.
I could write a poem about how much I love this stuff. A spray bottle filled with one part vinegar and one part water is great for cleaning the kitchen counter* and the stove. I save so much time because I don’t need to rinse it off and it dries up really fast. Since it’s non-toxic, I don’t need to clear the kitchen counter or be careful about spraying it around food. Vinegar is also great for cleaning the bathroom. It’s really effective at blasting away toothpaste stains and soap scum from places like the sink, shower and even your toothbrush.
I don’t let dry cleaning pile up.
I used to keep my clothes in a bag, then go to the cleaners when it was full. (I also bring my hangers for recycling). But this wasn’t great because I’d forget about it, my stuff would pile up, and stains would set before I could get it out of the house. My current solution is to go to the cleaner’s even when it’s only one or two items. I also keep my stuff in plain sight. That way, I can get it out the door the next time I go to work, the grocery store or the gym.
I let dishes come first.
Some people are really good about washing their dishes. I’m not one of them, so I have to push myself to do it daily. If I haven’t already done it during the course of the evening, I’ll fit it into my bedtime routine. I don’t go to bed until I’ve done the dishes, brushed my teeth and washed my face, in that order.
I use dish mats... creatively.
I hate waiting for my dishes to dry before I put them away. Once I leave the kitchen, I know that I’ll probably forget about them, and end up using clean forks out of the rack. So, I’ve adopted this lazy-girl trick. I have these super-thick and absorbent dish drying mats that I’ve cut up to fit the bottom of my kitchen cabinets. If I leave the door open, it works as extra drying space when my dish rack is full. Also, it lets me put my cups away while they’re still wet.
I find time to wipe down the fridge.
If I need to clean the fridge, I do it right before I shop for groceries. That is when the fridge is at its emptiest. Since it can get pretty cold in there, I find that it helps to open the fuse box and switch off the power until I’m finished.
I stop before I wash my hands.
When I feel the urge to wash my hands, I’ve resolved to stop, breathe and take a look around the house. It takes two minutes to pick up nasty, dirty things like socks and shoes. It also helps save my hands by cutting down on the number of times I need to wash them in one day.
I visualize ahead of time.
There are times when I really, really don’t want to get up, let alone clean. Since the hardest part is getting started, I like to spend a few minutes visualizing myself going through the motions. That way, I have some time to get over the ick factor and plot a course before having to do anything. This works most of the time but if I’m having an off day, I let it go. There’s always tomorrow, right?
Talk to me! I’m on Twitter @minjams
*Vinegar works on most surfaces, but it isn’t safe for marble