Tales of a Failed Housewife

I have a lot of education.  None of it is in housework.  For some reason, I figured since I was going to work outside the home, I wouldn’t actually need to know how to clean.  I’m not sure just who I thought was going to be doing the cleaning.  Maybe cleaning fairies.  Or perhaps I’d buy a self-cleaning house.  Degrees in the arts certainly don’t give you the money to hire maids, that’s for certain.

Cleaning fairy, why hast thou forsaken me?

Cleaning fairy, why hast thou forsaken me?

For a short time I was only a housewife.  I stayed home with two small children.  I had a four-year-old and an infant.  When you never get enough sleep and you’re dealing what amounts to a furless screeching cat and a short, insane, drunk person, you just kind of try to survive.  Or at least I did.

I knew women whose houses always sparkled, at least when I was there.  I couldn’t figure out what she did with the children while cleaning.  Kennels?  And what about after?  Did they just stay in the kennels all day?  Does Baby Bjorn make one of those?  Wait, no, you shouldn’t treat your child like a dog no matter how much it acts like one, because, you know, illegal.

Anyway, I no longer have little creatures, but a thirteen-year-old and a nine-year-old.  Conceivably, these kids should not only know how not to make messes, but be able to clean them up at least part of the time.  This hasn’t happened yet.  It might be because I haven’t taught them properly because, and I am ashamed to admit this as part of womankind, but I don’t know how to really clean either.

Devil puppy looks so guilty.  I don't know how to clean either, devil puppy.

Devil puppy looks so guilty. I don’t know how to clean either, devil puppy.

Oh, sure, I get the concept behind putting dishes in a dishwasher and taking out trash and doing laundry and not simply throwing said trash or dishes or laundry on the floor (something that has escaped the children entirely) but as far as real, honest to goodness cleaning with a capital “C”, I don’t have a clue.  I am trying to learn, though, not to get my Martha Stewart I am a real woman badge, but to get healthy.

I have horrible allergies.  I am allergic to anything green including most trees, bushes, weeds, grasses, etc.  I’m also allergic to mold.  I can’t tolerate cigarette smoke and dust, well, do you know what’s in those cute dust bunnies?  Dust MITES which are disgusting little bugs who not only hang out in your pillow (sleep tight) but have the audacity to just poop all over everything.  Even the children now know how to go poop in the toilet.  But these mites just consider the world their toilet and all of us get to breathe in their feces.

This is in your pillow.  And your sheets.  And your mattress.  Ain't he cute?

Billions of these guys are in your pillow. And your sheets. And your mattress. Cute, isn’t he?

That was your science lesson for today. You are welcome.

So since I’m allergic to life inside and out, I figured I would start trying to combat it.  Um, the allergies, not life, since the allergies are already doing a swell job of combating my life.  I get sick all the time, and it’s starting to not be fun anymore.  Last year, as anyone who has read my blog for a long period of time knows, I had pneumonia.  I wrote, under the influence of fever and various pharmaceuticals, about my journey to mucusland, starting with this (LINK DROP) post, which caused me to miss an entire month of work and weakened me for some time after that.  That kind of sucked.

Nom, nom, nom, pneumonia germs!

Nom, nom, nom, pneumonia germs!

All this to say I’m trying to clean my house and I don’t know how.  I decided to get natural cleaners like vinegar (not on chips, although it’s in the food aisle turns out) and bleach added to water.  But how much bleach or vinegar to water?  I wasted a good chunk of time today trying to figure that out. If it’s ¾ cup to one gallon, and I have a bottle that is 32 ounces, and the train is coming at 80 miles per hour, how long until I say I give up and go eat salt and vinegar chips?  Not long.

I also bought a steam vacuum.  It has a million attachments and blows out steam all over the place.  You can burn yourself on this if you’re stupid, or you know, me.  Also I have a vacuum cleaner with fun attachments on order since I’m not too keen on dragging the a50 year old, 200 pound Kirby my husband loves like a family member with me all over the house.  I spent a LOT of time picking out vacuums.  I even employed friends to help, friends who thought it couldn’t get worse than the yoga obsession I had a few months back.

I see this in my future.

I see this in my future.

So I have cleaning supplies and contraptions, if I can figure out how to work them.  But I’m so tired just from all the research and from looking at my house which has at least 5 years worth of deep cleaning needed due to my utter lack of a Martha Stewart gene.  Maybe I’ll just go take a nap.

So, guys, how do you clean?

47 responses

  1. Growing up with an OCD parent, I know how to clean, despite the fact it is my natural inclination to keep the dust mites employed. I really dig a book called Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond. I’ve learned not to go nuts, especially since I have a child, husband and cats. Bathrooms and kitchen cleaned thoroughly once a week, everything else, dusted, vacuumed or swept once a week (keeps allergens down), thoroughly cleaned once a month. And I yell at my family of barbarians a lot to pick up their own crap. What am I?! A maid?

    1. Oh yes, I’ve uttered that a time or too. I’ve started going into the girls’ rooms and bagging stuff on the floor after I give them warnings. I actually took most of it to goodwill and they never noticed (I didn’t throw out the few really treasured items but most was junk). I am finally motivated to clean cause of allergies, so I hope it works. Of course I’m the one who has to do it, so on with the dust mask.

  2. Please give me a sign when you have found the self cleaning house. That’s the MUST HAVE. I bought such a steam thingy too, I still have the burn scar on my calf LOL

    1. I injure myself so much at work the secretary gave me my own bandaids. I LOVE my steam mop though. You can aim it like a rifle.

  3. My cleaning regime is quite strict. Every 6 months when the woman from the letting agency comes round to check I haven’t broken anything I give the flat a quick vacuum.
    Job done.

    1. You sound a lot like me, draliman.

  4. I bribe my child with caffeinated drinks and/or xBox game updates.

    1. There is almost nothing I can bribe my kids with – except they do dislike having the computers ripped away. So it’s take away rather than give. They wouldn’t even work for money.

  5. My ex really liked the Rainbow vacuum he suckered me into dropping nearly $2000 on. It used water to filter the stuff it sucked up so when you emptied it you didn’t get a face full of dust and cat hair. You just dumped the dirty water down the toilet, rinsed the reservoir thing, and that was that. I liked that I never had to use it.

    As for the rest of the cleaning stuff, I run laundry once a week – including washing the bedding and towels – clean the bathroom, and do a quick run over the floors.

    1. Ha, I think a friend of mine had that rainbow thing. I can’t imagine that much on a vacuum, but then again, I wouldn’t have imagined a lot of the stuff I’ve bought. Better 2,000 on a vacuum than a hospital bill, I guess.

      1. My mom has one of those, but I’m always afraid I’ll get electrocuted if I try to use it!

  6. I make my kids clean up after themselves. And then every other weekend we spend an hour or so dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms. They don’t have a choice. No fun until it’s done.

    1. I keep saying that to my kids but somehow . . . it doesn’t work. You have to say on them 24/7 and, whine, I’m tired.

      1. Tell them that my kids clean. Maybe they’ll be jealous.

        1. Oh, I’m sure they will. (sarcasm)

          1. Sigh, it’s worth a try.

  7. The kids had their assigned “chores” They had to help with light cleaning around the house and pick up after themselves. Come the weekend if they hadn’t done their “chores” for the week they couldn’t go out.

    Sam (9) LOVES to clean. The child BEGS to vacuum, mop, dust. Except her room, that looks like an explosion took place. As long as you don’t need toys picked up you may borrow her for all other cleaning if you’d like!

    1. I would love to – you can have my little messes.

  8. Your post reminds me it’s time to scrub down all my kitchen and bathroom cabinets again. Terrific…

    I used to clean a Wendy’s restaurant, so I know about cleaning. There are some bathroom images I’ll never get out of my mind.

    1. Oh, the horror. I can only imagine.

  9. I wait for the cleaning fairy to show up. Failing that (and it has yet to happen, sigh), I’ll bribe my little sister to do some cleaning while she checks up on the cats anytime I’m away….

    1. Where does your little sister live?

      1. In the same town as I do. I don’t even get a family discount, so she has to be bribed pretty well to do cleaning…

  10. I love to clean and as you know did it for awhile to keep myself and child fed. That being said, I would say every 2-3 months a really good deep down clean should be done, between then just everyday maintenance and a spit and a polish. If I was closer to you and still spry I would clean your house for you Wonder Twin.

    1. Aw, I know you would WT. If you could just come and tell me how to organize, that would be fantastic. Wouldn’t have to lift a finger!

  11. I mostly let my dogs lick the floor clean. It’s a pathetic system, but it gets the job done. 😉

    1. Works for me. Too bad I’m allergic to dogs.

  12. I sweep the kitchen and the cat’s area (around their litter boxes) every day. I vaccuum at least twice a week. I scrub down the bathrooms once a week. The queen dusts every other week, and mops our tile floors once a month or so, along with deep cleanings of the kitchen about once a month too.
    We clean a lot.
    But, we don’t really fuss with cleaning all our windows, or making sure our backyard is spick and span, or wiping down the sidewalk and front steps, or any of those other outside projects. So, we do less than some.

    1. I got tired just reading that.

      1. I got tired writing it.

  13. This may sound bad and have people thinking I am manly, but my wife does most of the cleaning. *ducks all of the things people are throwing at me*

    I do help her, but she is a clean freak and her standards are very high! I do the dishes everyday, help with laundry, and vacuum occasionally. I also dust for her since she is allergic. We have a dust mite bag on our bed and pillows, and it seems to be helping her. (Even if it sounds like we are in a toddler bed with waterproof sheets every time we move – it’s worth it!)

    So I don’t do a lot of the cleaning, but only because my beautiful wife is so much better at it and enjoys doing it 🙂

    1. I need a wife like yours . . .

      1. Haha! Sorry! 🙂 She’s allllll mine 🙂

  14. I don’t. I need to get a real job and hire a nanny/housekeeper. Twelves years as a SAHM and my baseboards and blinds are still filthy.

    1. Baseboards? I have a strong feeling mine would be as well, had I stayed home. Still, I’d reallllly like to be home right now.

  15. Alice, are we sisters? I can’t clean worth a crap either. I hate that cleaning is repetitive and lasts for about 3 minutes…and there’s never any LEFT OVER CLEAN. What the F is up with that? My MIL keeps a calendar of the major cleaning she has to do (she loves cleaning; I always wonder if she cringes in my house…except my kitchen that’s always sanitary…everything else is up for grabs). It baffles me that people think about cleaning the OUTSIDE of their windows on a regular basis. I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the inside of the windows – which is why we have curtains….

    Here’s my helpful hint, if you wear glasses – don’t wear them in the house, it makes things look much cleaner. I put them on inside and WHAT A MISTAKE.

    in reality – bleach should be a 10% solution – and vinegar rocks. My favorite cleaning item is baking soda, there’s nothing it can’t do. I also put vinegar and water in my shark cleaner – I get headaches from commercial stuff – and there’s my helpful hints for the day.

    1. Yes, why doesn’t it stay clean, at least for a day? I mean, one freaking day. I don’t understand the window thing either, nor do I understand cleaning schedules. I’m guessing she doesn’t work outside the home? Not that I got much done when I didn’t, but still. Even my kitchen isn’t that sanitary – we keep waiting for the dish fairy.

      So, um, 10 percent of 36 oz would be 3.6 oz? Which equals how many tablespoons? Oh, crap, see this is why I wasn’t a math major.

      1. Well 4 oz is 1/2 a cup – so I’d say just under 1/2 a cup…
        1 TBL = 1/4 Cup
        2 TBL = 1/2 Cup

        And there you go – : )

        Not a math major but a baker ~ and restaurant employee for many years – it’s all about the 10% solution.

        1. Ohh, that makes sense. I really never had a very good Math teacher . . . and I’m certainly not a cook by any means.

  16. PhotoGrrl Pictures | Reply

    A few years ago I felt overwhelmed by my house and found the Fly Lady website. It’s very helpful for tackling a large job and having fun with it. There is an app now that helps me from loosing track of my life. It is a bit, cutesy, and seems designed for people who don’t work full-time, which I do. I took the principals and adapted them to my life. I too have allergies, so I feel your pain. I also have a cat, who I think sheds just to see if she can. Good luck!

  17. PhotoGrrl Pictures | Reply

    A few years ago I felt overwhelmed by my house and found the Fly Lady website. It’s really good at helping tackle the immense task of cleaning a dirty home. There is an app now that helps. It’s a bit, cutsey, and seems designed for people who don’t work full-time, which I do. I just take the principals and adopt them to fit my crazy life. I have allergies, too, so I feel your pain. Good luck!

  18. “So, guys, how do you clean?”… How do I what? “Clean”?…oh…OH!!! This must be that thing that I’m supposed to do with my apartment!!!

    1. I know, right? I’m just figuring all this out myself.

      1. I’m thinking of training my cat to do the cleaning. She spend a lot of time linking her fur, so now I just need to make her think that the floor is an extension of her fur – well, it’s close enough already.

  19. Yeah – the beginning of the post sounded like me – eg: I’m going to work outside the home so there will be someone else to do all the cooking and cleaning stuff, right? Right?!

    Reality sucks. I generally do 20 minute “bursts” of cleaning throughout the week – eg: I’m gonna pick stuff up for the duration of the next two songs on the radio and when they’re done, I’m done and that’s it! That tends to keep basic clutter at bay – even with my two pre-school cleaning “un do” buttons. Then about two hours over the weekend every two weeks (or so) for the deeper cleaning.

    Despite the fact that scrubbing my floors is how I most enjoy to spend my very limited down time, my long term economic plan includes investing in a housekeeper. We just aren’t quite there yet… Good luck figuring it all out!

  20. A sensible suggestion here is don’t use a duster to dust, use the vacuum cleaner wherever possible to not throw more dust into the air.

    Wash pillows and duvets and blankets on as hot a wash as possible. If you can’t find a big enough machine, then hang them in the sunshine because I think that kills off the dust mites. Or you could try freezing the pillows and duvets and then hanging them out. Or just get a giant cauldron and hang it over a bonfire and boil up your laundry in that. Halloween is coming up after all. 😉 😀

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