Zombie washcloths & 4 other ways I nerd out cleaning my house

June 27 | Guest post by SLiver of Jade
Exercising with Good Housekeeping © by kevin dooley, used under Creative Commons license.
Sure I could clean, but who wants to clean when you could be CRAFTING instead? Of course, if I never clean, I never get to do anything fun. To prevent the twitchy-eyed need-to-clean monster from taking over my crafting time, I developed these habits to trick my mind into thinking it's not really cleaning.

1. It's dangerous to go alone — take this

If I'm going into the kitchen, I take cups, plates, dishes and any other odds and ends that belong in there. If the kitchen is on my way to, say, the bathroom, I deposit the dishes into the sink and/or dishwasher. I pick up the new tube of toothpaste and stack of towels that were folded and waiting to be put away. On my way back to the living room, I collect the books that made their way to the bathroom over my last couple of visits.

2. There is no spoon

Who else here hates to unload the dishwasher? Do you sneak the item that you need without taking anything else? Stop lying. You know you do it. Everybody does, and that's ok. I take a few dishes out along with the one I need and put them away. If it's just a spoon, then I take a whole handful of silverware.

3. Zombie washcloths

I scrub down the kitchen with my washcloths and then toss them in the laundry. They sit there, waiting, watching, staring, molding and stinking. Then I realize that the laundry should get done. If I used only one or two washcloths at a time, they would gradually accumulate in the dirty clothes pile, which can wait just one more day. By that point, the damage is done. There's an odour that haunts my dreams. The stank of the dead washcloth come back to life. My solution: do the laundry more often, that way I can avoid the reek of zombie rags and hey, clean laundry!

4. Obstacle courses

My blinders are remarkable for blocking something from sight until I trip over it. So to make sure that I remember to do it, I place it deliberately in the way. Folded clothes are stacked on the stairs. In order to pass, I have to take an armful. Think of it as a game, like Calvinball or Ironman Croquet. For added hilarity and bonus points, play it with your partner/roommate… without telling them.

  • Please note that the administration is not responsible for any injuries or trauma, physical or mental.

5. One day at a time

I suffer from anxiety and bipolar disorder, which means that when faced with the daunting prospect of cleaning an extremely messy 2-story/3 bedroom house (because its sole occupant has recovering from a two-week bout of depression) my ability to take on the task becomes non-existent. After 29 years of this, I only recently came to realize that I don't have to clean the whole freaking house at once! Each room can get tackled on a different day of the week, with the bigger and messier rooms assigned to when I have more time in my schedule.

Sure, the living room's still buried in camping gear from last weekend and the current sewing project, but the kitchen is fabulous. That's a clean motherfucking kitchen if you ever saw one.

  1. I also follow the philosophy of not having to clean the whole house at once. It's a good day if I get ONE chore done, such as sorting the recycling or cleaning the toilet. One chore a day is seven chores, and that's a pretty clean two-bedroom apartment!

    6 agree
  2. I'm trying to start doing this with dishes. We drink a lot of water, and eat a lot of popcorn. By Friday or the end of the weekend, our coffee table can look like we've had a hard night of partying with all the glasses and big popcorn bowls. I don't like gathering dishes, but if I take two glasses with me to the kitchen when I go get something, that's two glasses that aren't on the coffee table anymore. I endorse your cleaning strategy, Sliver :)

    1 agrees
  3. Because of the unique situation at our house (daughter is blind and needs to be able to navigate, and I'm a bit obsessive)I developed the 1 hour at night strategy, combined with a sort of this room this night schedule. Seems to work ok, I definitely also believe in taking things to the room your going to.

  4. I like the zombie aspect! Personally though, I prefer to get all the serious cleaning out of the way Saturday morning and have the rest of the week off. Then I feel productive by Saturday afternoon and don't feel guilty the whole week when I'm a bit behind on the rotating room schedule.

    • Yes! THIS! I like to get up early and force my husband to sleep in by pulling down the window shades in the bedroom when I leave and closing the bedroom door (I'm pretty sure he has absolutely no problem with this ;-) ). Then somehow I have no problem cleaning the entire kitchen, etc. I'm guilt-free for the day due to productivity and somehow have some quiet time to reflect. (My husband and I work at the same company so sometimes it feels like we're together 24/7.)

      Somehow when I'm doing it while he's up, it doesn't work as well. I'm all bitchy because he's not helping, but he can't help because it would drive me nuts. :-)

      1 agrees
      • "Somehow when I'm doing it while he's up, it doesn't work as well. I'm all bitchy because he's not helping, but he can't help because it would drive me nuts."

        I'm the same way, except I'm not a morning person and I hate cleaning. I prefer to clean while he's outside doing yard work.

        1 agrees
        • Glad to know I am not alone!! (Indeed – we don't have a yard, but I'm also grateful for his woodworking projects in the basement.)

  5. I especially loved the last bit about not needing to clean the whole house all at once. I suffer from depression + severe anxiety. My partner has bipolar disorder. We both deal with OCD, although this manifests itself in very different ways for each of us. If we try to tackle too large of a cleaning project, the whole day spirals into madness.

    We've learned that I do better with small, specific tasks. He does better tackling a whole room and working until it's done. We do not necessarily do well trying to clean the same room (because we end up always in the other person's way). So, if he is cleaning the kitchen, I typically end up collecting all the dishes throughout the house to bring to him. Then I'll take out the kitchen garbage and recycling. Then I'll collect anything in the kitchen that belongs elsewhere & put those things away. This way we're working together, but not on top of each other. If I finish my "tasks" that relate to the room my partner is in, I'll start something in an adjacent room so we can still chat.

    If I'm cleaning by myself, I do small tasks in between loads of laundry. On days where all I can manage is a couple loads of laundry, I watch TV on Netflix between loads. This is a double-bonus, because my washer & dryer seem to take 45min to get anything done. So I know at the end of each episode, it's time to move laundry/put things away. Nothing gets forgotten in the laundry room, and I'm able to chill out & not freak out over anything because I have time to sit, breathe, and zone out.

    5 agree
  6. The tumblr Unfuck Your Habitat has totally changed the way I clean. No more marathon cleaning sessions that leave me exhausted and hating the thought of ever seeing a scrub brush again. No more stressing out before visitors come over, trying to get things looking as nice as possible with no advanced notice. No more nasty, moldy dishes piling up in the sink! I love the challenges that are posted each day–from the simple (Make your bed! Excuses are boring!) to the more complex challenges that happen once a month or so, like clean out all the old food in your refrigerator and wipe down all the shelves. I'm not always able to do the larger challenges on the day they're assigned, but I like the feeling of accomplishment I get whenever I complete one. The daily reminders coming across my tumblr dashboard really help get me motivated, and the before and afters that are posted by other readers are super inspiring!

    3 agree
  7. I love this, especially tip #1; I try to do the same thing. I'm a marathon cleaner, as is my husband, but when I get clean I try hard to stay there. We're making slow progress.

    One thing I've learned is to fix a root cause of a problem. I hated my living room for weeks; I felt all blocked and anxious. Then one day I realized I felt like I was drowning in furniture. So instead I rearranged and moved stuff to rooms that were more barren.

    I'm still not a great cleaner, but it helps.

    1 agrees
  8. I try to make a point of cleaning something in the kitchen while I'm microwaving something to eat. Bec. that's about 4 minutes of waiting which isn't long enough to do anything else useful (& do I really need to check Facebook again? no I do not). But I can put away a few dishes in the dishdrain (we don't have a dishwasher, but same deal, put away a couple dishes). Or wash a couple dishes (even if you have a washer, there's always a few delicate wine glasses or fancy knives or a cutting board that need hand-washing). Or give the front of the fridge or top of the stove a quick wipe down, they're always gross. Or sweep the floor real fast (esp. if you have pets/kids, the floor needs it).

    Those 4-minute cleaning efforts add up over the course of the day (ok, so I do a lot of microwaving, I hate to cook real food!). Same if you toast s'thing, bake s'thing, boil s'thing. Use the time you're already in the room.

    2 agree
  9. I've started doing some of the five minute pick-ups as well. I drink a lot of tea, and waiting for the kettle to boil or tea to steep is a perfect time to clean a few things out of the fridge. I also love to bake, but hate the clean-up. Turns out that if you wash while the cake is in the oven, you get to enjoy it without the mess. Who knew!?
    Another ground-breaking move: organizing dirty things. It sounds crazy, but organizing my dirty clothes into a large hamper for "really dirty" and a small hamper for "worn once, can be worn again" type things means fewer clothes scattered all over the floor. I also try to organize dirty dishes. I have a plastic basket thing (from Target?) that sits in the sink. If I put dishes in it, it's easier to lift them out when it's time to wash them, or when I need to fill my water filter or something. Making it seem less daunting means it's more likely I'll do it.

    2 agree
    • I do a similar thing with the "can be worn again" stuff, only I put them on hangers and push them to the other side of my closet, with a few empty hangers in between as a separator.

      1 agrees
      • This is a great idea. I'm single but I have a lovely queen size bed. I end up with a ginormous pile of "I can wear this again" laundry at the foot of the passenger side. It looks terrible and keeps me from making the bed. I don't know why it never occurred to me to just hang that sh*t back up. :-/

    • Even just stacking up dirty dishes on the counter top helps. If I can't quite bring myself to actually load the dishwasher (I'm sure this seems absolutely pathetic to people without a dishwasher and it probably is – sorry!), I can usually bring myself to stack up the dishes neatly. Then, next time I have a moment, putting the dishes INTO the dishwasher doesn't seem so daunting and the dishes somehow don't seem so gross*. :-)

      *Our dishwasher (the "Ladyplus72" – guess it's even better than a lady??) is a veritable brick house of dishwashers and requires absolutely no pre-rinsing (just loads of energy, probably).

  10. I use the obstacle course tactic ALL THE TIME.

    On a related note, it's also helpful if you're a forgetful person. If I need to bring something to work, I put it on top of my purse. If I need to bring food from the fridge to a party or leftovers home from my dad's house, I actually put my keys in the fridge, right on top of the container. Because I can't leave without my keys! Works like a charm.

    • OMG. I am SO glad I'm not the only one who does this! I put my car keys directly on top of whatever I need to bring with me, or hang the bag of stuff on the front door knob. My husband mocks me, but no more! I have company. :)

      1 agrees
  11. I used to be a messy, messy child. At 26, I'm still learning to reform my ways without going totally neurotic (I have super-clean relatives–we have the obsessive tendency in my family!). 'little bit at a time' is kind of my mantra. Otherwise I get crazy because I clean the whole place and then it's a pit in two days and I'm all "WHY DID I BOTHER!?!?!?"
    My mom's a big advocate of the "keys on a thing" method of remembering things. I'm a big fan of the "there is no spoon" dish-management–I totally do that! And usually after then handful of spoons i just empty the whole rack cuz why not.

  12. I follow the blog A Slob Comes Clean — it's motivation to at least do the dishes or vacuum.

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