The idea that someone could write a book about cleaning techniques was a revelation to me. I bought Is There Life after Housework in the local used bookstore because I couldn’t resist the title. The author, Don Aslett, explains everything you need to about cleaning your house. If you are thinking about becoming a professional cleaner (apropos recent comments on Orthonomics), Aslett tells you how.
My sister-in-law once bought another of his books, Clutter’s Last Stand, only to discover that she already owned a copy.)
Aslett advocates “going with the flow” and tackling chores when you have the most energy. He doesn’t believe in cleaning things when they aren’t dirty, as opposed to SHE’s Pam and Peggy, who rely on a strict schedule. This might be an example of Pam and Peggy’s claim that most books on home organization are not deisgned for people who really need them.
Strict schedules don’t work for me for more than a limited time, so I prefer a combination of the two approaches.
Aslett focuses on specific cleaning techniques, some of which require specialized equipment. Here are the tips I found most helpful:
- Arrange your house to make it easy to clean. Built-in furniture is easiest to maintain because you don’t need to move it. I had a friend who was always complaining about things that rolled under the sofa. I used to tell her that you don’t think about those things when you buy a sofa, but maybe you should.
- Use the 4-step method for cleaning flat surfaces like floors and counters: a) Sweep or brush away dirt; b) Wet the surface with soapy water and let it soak a bit. If necessary, scrape sticky areas with a brush or “scotch-brite” pad. c) Squeegee the dirty water into a dustpan or drain. d) Wipe the area once more with a clean damp cloth. This is exactly how Israelis do “sponja,” that method of cleaning floors that baffles us Americans.
- Use a sprayer (recipe included) and cleaning cloth (made from an old towel) for the bathroom and kitchen; you can easily maintain a bathroom by spraying, waiting for three minutes, and wiping. A sponge and bucket of soapy water means that the first time you dip the dirty rag into the water to rinse it out, your water is already dirty and you are spreading it.
- When using a squeegee to clean windows, wipe the blade with a damp cloth in between swipes to prevent streaks.
Aslett explains the challenge of homemakers with hard water. When water evaporates, the minerals in the water remain. That is the source of hard-to-remove “crust” around a faucet. Drying fixtures after use prevents this problem. I think hard water is the reason Israeli bathrooms are renovated so frequently.
Those anxious to hear about Flylady will have to wait a bit longer.