Friday, March 11, 2011

Confessions of an Emergency Cleaner

My husband calls me an Emergency Cleaner. When I hang up the phone and immediately start throwing things in closets and stuffing the dishes into the oven, his eyes roll. A friend once summed up the difference between men and women like this: “When the doorbell rings unexpectedly, a woman immediately thinks about the cleanliness of her house. A man wonders who is on the other side of the door.”

Once a friend’s home security alarm went off while she was out, and the police department came and searched her home for intruders. When she found out, her first reaction was, “Thank goodness the house was clean.” Ever since then, I clean using this method: Imagine someone walking through your house and assess the level of grossness they will experience.

Priority number one: Areas where waste is produced (by man or beast). This includes bathrooms, litter boxes, and piles on the back lawn. Do these first.

Priority number two: Anything rotten or heading in that direction. This includes the frig, sink, and kitchen in general. Laundry may fall into this category.

Priority number three: Floors. You can have papers and toys thrown everywhere, but if your guest looks down at a spotless floor, she’ll never think you’re a real slob.

Priority number four:
Clutter, aka “Am I the ONLY one around here that picks anything up?” I had to really stop and think about the amount of complaining I do in this department when my 6-year-old was learning about Abraham Lincoln in school and defined a slave as “when your mom has to pick things up because you’re too lazy to do it yourself.”

Priority number five: Dust and general grime such as marks on the wall and fingerprints on doors. Get real. That’s what kids on summer vacation are for. Flopping on the couch for 10 minutes is way more important to your well-being than this. Don’t bother. Your friends couldn’t care less.

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