The other day I was blog hopping and stumbled upon 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. Curious, I clicked a few links and found out the premise: Following a detailed plan to do some REALLY detailed cleaning in your house, a little every day.
I must admit, I felt a little enthusiastic at first. I’m picturing my house at the end of the 31 days, gleaming all over, and no trace of cobwebs under the dining room table or pawprints on the living room windows. I’m hosting a party in late October, and the “new and improved” version of my house would be a pleasure to show off in such a state.
I looked a little closer. At first thought, this sounded like a really great idea. I peeked at the calendar like it was the Holy Grail.
Day 3: Dust the top of the refrigerator, cabinets and shelves. Clean and shine outside of cabinets. OK, I can do that.
Day 9: Sweep, vacuum, and mop kitchen floors. Add some fresh flowers to brighten your day. Sounds great.
Day 15: Wash bedroom mirrors, walls, and insides of windows. Wash window treatments. Dust ceilings. Huh? Dust ceilings??
Day 24: Clean out desk. Clean out and update files. Organize office supplies and drawers. Clean out files? Can’t I just get another file cabinet??
But it all sounded reasonable, so I started thinking about when I could kick off my house cleaning binge effort. It was about that time that I realized this plan was a couple-hour-a-day plan. When was I supposed to do all the stuff I already do every day? Between buying fresh flowers and dusting ceilings, when was I supposed to do laundry, clean toilets, make beds, cook meals, feed the dog, water the plants, and all the other stuff I try to get to every day but manage to fall short?? The last thing I need is another plan to make me feel even less adequate than I already do.
These steps amounted to about 2 hours a day. Now, if I cleaned my house for 62 hours – with or without a plan – it would be spotless. So this idea was a total scam.
As I pondered the mission over a glass of wine for a few minutes, I came up with an alternate plan: 31 Minutes to Clean: How a Real Woman Gets It All Done.
Supplies needed: a couple of garbage bags, scented all-purpose cleaner, toilet brush, vacuum cleaner, Swiffer cloths, cleaning wipes, and a scented candle.
Step 1 (5 minutes) – Collect garbage. Nothing screams neglect like garbage cans that are spilling over. Empty all the trash cans, and roam through the house checking for garbage. Pay extra attention to the space behind teenagers’ beds. This is where they like to hide the trash from the snacks they’re not supposed to be eating in their rooms.
While you’re at it, pick up all the dirty clothes they left on the floor and toss them in a hamper.
Step 2 (5-7 minutes, depending on how many bathrooms you have and the gender of your children) – Splash some scented cleaner in the toilets. Swish it around and flush. If you have male children, wipe the areas around the toilet, because they can’t aim.
Step 3 (6 minutes) – Pull the covers up on all beds. You have about 2 minutes per room for this step, so make ‘em count. Smooth the covers and place the pillows at the top of the bed. If you have decorative pillows, toss them on, too.
Step 4 (3 minutes) – Pick up the clutter in the living and dining room. Keep a few decorative baskets around so you can toss things in and make it look like it’s supposed to be there. Grab a Swiffer and give the horizontal surfaces a quick wipe.
Step 5 (5 minutes) – Run the vacuum cleaner through the traffic paths. Make sure you go in one direction so the carpet will stand up in a pattern, and visitors will know you vacuumed.
Step 6 (3 minutes) – Throw dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Rinse the coffee pot.
Step 7 (3 minutes) – Wipe the counters with a scented wipe. Don’t buy the cheap ones, they leave streaks and cause more work. I like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Wipes. They’re pricey, but they smell good. And a house that smells good must be clean, right??
Step 8 (5 minutes) – Run a vacuum over tile and wood floors. Spritz tile with a little scented all-purpose cleaner to make it smell clean.
Step 9 (1 minute) – Light a scented candle. (Using the same scent will help you pull off the illusion.) A good scented candle can make up for a lot of neglect.
For those of you inclined to check my math, that’s about 36 minutes. But you get my point.
Real women don’t have time to do dust ceilings or update files. We’ve got kids to raise, parents to tend to, meals to cook, and some of us even have jobs. And helping with homework. Don’t get me started on the homework.
So take my advice. Forget about having a perfect house while your kids are little. If there’s no dust under your refrigerator, then you probably missed out on something.
Well I am the super clean freak, so I understand the dusty ceilings. My kids must hate me, because I made them clean their rooms and do their own laundry and do chores before they could do anything in their lives outside of the house. Remember I live with a MARINE. So everything in it’s place!! I don’t work now, so it was a lot harder to be neurotic when I was working now it’s simple, I just clean every single day. Even the garage is straight. If you need me you know how to reach me. I love cleaning and I am free.
If you ever move back to NOLA, please move close to me. I’ll cook every night if you’ll clean!
I love to cook too! So I could do both, you just work and come home to a clean house and dinner on the table.
Will you marry me?
Well considering I am married to one Lucky guy, don’t think that is an option. But if I moved back to NOLA I would gladly help you. That’s what friends are for, right.
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Ha! Yeah, forget dusting ceilings! If there is a glaring cobweb, MAYBE. I like the 36 minute idea. (Thanks for linking this up over at #findingthefunny last week!)
Dusting ceilings… isn’t gravity supposed to take care of that for me? Ahhh.
Certainly, a goal to strive for if you don’t have adult ADHD. I’ll have to add in breaks between tasks to check my email, obsess about my web stats, comment on Facebook status updates and blogs I subscribe to, take the dog out, answer the daily call about who is on Dr. Oz from my mother…Impossible to understand why I never get anything done.
Exactly. That’s why it must all be kept in perspective. We do our best. Therefore, it’s perfect!
Chris, thanks for the comment. It made me think. 🙂
It prompted me to actually (for the first time) read the labels on the products I use. (I use a lot of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products.) I was pleased to learn that the counter-top/general purpose spray and wipes I use are 98% derived from natural sources and essential oils.
I do keep some chemical products on hand, usually for the hard-core messes my boys sometimes leave me, and for when the dog barfs in the house.
My house is clean for exactly 4 hours every two weeks: The time between when the cleaning lady leaves and when me and Hubs and kids get home from work and school. She came yesterday and my kitchen floor is already crunchy. I could be sweeping it right now, but instead I’m reading your blog. How’s that for a dedicated reader?
Woo hoo!! Thanks for your dedication!
I sure do miss that 4 hours of clean. I’d light a candle and put it on the coffee table, something I NEVER do when the kids are home. (And my kids aren’t little any more!)
Step 5 is genius! Most of my cleaning involves smoke and mirrors. I have never in 10 years of living here cleaned on top of the fridge. And I ain’t about to start now. 🙂
Why thank you!! My housekeeping skills are rarely complimented!
I use the Scent Ports from Bath & Body Works. They smell great, then when I’m done cleaning, I light a complimentary candle. It helps hide the stink of boy feet, fermenting snacks hiding in the couch, and Husband.
Right now all our playroom stuff is in my dining room, since the recent hurricane caused us to have to gut the basement. I’m lucky to not go insane, never mind reorganize my files.
Oh, my friend, you have no idea how much I understand.
We got hit by Katrina in 2005. I gutted my whole downstairs. Had a tv, some patio furniture, a microwave and toaster oven downstairs. Upstairs had no carpet, just wood subfloors.
But our insurance company was good to us, and now my home is lovely. Just not very clean. 🙂
Our insurance just now decided to be good to us, so hopefully we’ll have a lovely basement once again very soon.
Clean? No comment.
But definitely lovely.
Wait, what? I’m supposed to dust the top of the fridge? You know what? If you are looking at the top of my fridge, you deserve to see dust 🙂
I’m with ya, sister! I’m a stately 5′ 2″ tall, so I have NO IDEA what the top of a refrigerator looks like. My BFF’s husband is tall, so occasionally when they come over I ask him to clean up there for me. 🙂
I’m just sure to have friends who don’t care.
And you’re like some kind of super freak if you can get dishes in the dishwasher that fast! But I think I might actually try this. Awesome post.
Wow! I haven’t been called a Super Freak since college – in the 80’s – but that’s a story for another day.
Soon after the birth of my first child, I stumbled across a random poem about dust and “cobwebs go to sleep; I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.” My house has pretty much been a mess ever since, but hey, I have happy kids. It’s all about priorities.
I, too, am happy that my legacy will not be a clean house. 🙂
A little-known but very handy use for a Suburban is to stash dirty pots and pans in it when company is coming. Closed doors are good too, especially the one on the laundry room that you stuff everything into that isn’t where it belongs. Office? Forget it–it will never be clean. When all else fails, hire a housekeeper. Which reminds me, I have to go write her check before I leave…..
Oh, wow! I can hide mountains of clutter in my car. I’m saaaaved!
Lol! I love this! I actually think I should give your plan a try! Can’t hurt right! Oh and my fav cleaning trick…shutting doors! (hides LOTS!) 🙂
I like the shutting of the doors, too. When I’m really desperate, I stash things in the dryer. 😉
LOL – that is awesome!
I love the part that excuses people who have little kids! It’s so hard to keep the house and especially the cars spotless. Great post!
It was a great day in my house when I declared the kids old enough to have all of their toys upstairs! Until that day arrives for you, just go with the flow!