Tag Archives: cleaning

Philosophy of Clean

It seems to me that there are “truisms” about cleaning. Some of these I’ve discussed:

  1. Clutter is usually made of “stuff.”
  2. “Stuff” is frequently made up of pieces you can pick up with your hand.
  3. Hard surfaces are easier to clean than soft ones.
  4. The only way to get an area clean and keep it that way is to keep cleaning.

My new one is related to #4. That people who manage to get and keep areas clean don’t see cluttered or untidy as acceptable.

For someone in their 60s who’s trying to learn to live differently, that last piece is not easy. Even when I clean regularly, I just don’t have that muscle. I’m so used to mess and clutter that I often just don’t see it.

This creates an all-too familiar situation for me: that I clean/cull an area and within a week or so, it’s a mess again.

I noticed this because of yard work. I’ve been working on raking out the beds, specifically, the bulb bed. For weeks I’ve had piles of leaves in the yard. I’ve been pulling them up and taking them to the dump, when I can get to the dump, at a rate of about 8 bags a trip. The piles aren’t there forever, and I finally have one more trip and that’s it to finish picking up those leaves. (It will be 4 trips when I finish.)

I’ve restricted myself. I’ve been slowly, but surely cleaning out the leaves in the other areas, and piling the leaves into neat piles. If I keep it up, it will still be another month or so before I manage to clean up most of the yard. This is an acre and I’ve never done this before; we’ve lived here 20+ years. Lots of dried leaves!

My neighbor’s yard always looks neat. Both of them work on it, instead of one person. And, whatever yard work they do is entirely cleaned up, before they quit. It occurred to me that there are some reasons for this: they have more storage than I do (a garage and a basement) also, they ALWAYS clean up and put away whatever accumulated mess and tools before they quit.

Also, in this neighborhood, we almost all have wood piles. There’s a neighbor who has a wood-fired, exterior furnace, with large wood sheds, as you might imagine. His wood piles, even when it’s a grapple load, are rarely messy. The wood is almost always cut to size and stacked in the sheds. The neighbors with a garage and basement have a small pile of wood for power outages, it’s tidy. Us? We have the end of two cords in a pile in front of the porch — which just looks messy.

The difference is that the large pile and the mess is something we live with, and the others won’t, for whatever reason.

I’ve been pecking away at that pile, a log or two here or there. I’m very aware of my weakened elbow and the potential for permanent injury if I’m not careful. Otherwise, I would have tackled it long since . . . .

But my observations are what got me to item #5.

5.  Keeping an area clean requires the attitude that a hodge podge isn’t visually acceptable.

J

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My Spring Cleaning

Well, so far, what have I done?

  • Kitchen: cabinet fronts on the stove side and counters, except the 3′ x 10′ peninsula. I need to tackle inside the cabinets etc. or the appliances next.
  • Cleaned the out of season blanket storage basket. Cleaned (ran thru the dryer on air) the blankets which had been stored there and not used to remove any accumulated dust. Need to wash/get dry cleaned the blankets which were used and store them too. I’m not prepared to do that today, so I’ll “air” them as well, until I clean them.
  • The entire laundry room floor was cleaned (the machines were moved.) This had a lot to do with the fact that we got a new to us dryer, but it’s something I rarely do. I normally just clean the area we walk on. The alien ecosystem that exists behind the washer and dryer is normally left untouched, far too much! (Probably should be cleaned quarterly or so?)
  • I have been slowly but surely removing items from the porch and sweeping the revealed space. When it’s cleared enough, I have this delusion I may power wash it, but don’t hold your breath!
  • I have been raking/bagging leaves, pulling rotwood, and twigs for kindling for weeks. It will take me at least as long as I’ve worked on it again to finish the job — at the rate I’m going. It’s getting done, but slowly.
  • I cleaned the part of the closet where the hat boxes had been.

clean-wordpress-database

So, it goes. Nibble, nibble, nibble.

5/7: Finished raking the bulb bed. Scrubbed at cooked on spots, etc. both the stew pot and the largest mixing bowl. Swept the deck/platform, more of the porch and the front stoop.

Stress Fest

So, the “I’ve won” post? Well, it triggered me, of course. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, full panic attacks: heart pounding, palms sweating, shaking, the whole bit, every night since.  The trauma had to work itself out somewhere, ‘eh?

So, the only thing I know to fight this is well, there’s 2 things:

  1.  Stop doing whatever it is which is making me stressed.
  2. Go to sleep so late that I literally sleep through this. Works when it isn’t a full blown panic attack like these have been, and works sometimes with them.

So, I’ve been binge reading, playing games online, watching youtube, because any or all of those will keep me up/engaged way past being simply “tired” till I get to exhausted. Exhausted is the only way I can sleep through a full panic attack. Or, if I don’t sleep through it, I’ll wake up, roll over and go back to sleep.

Otherwise? All that adrenaline dumped into my system causes me to be instantly awake, really awake. When this first started, I woke up full-blown attack, ONE HOUR after I’d gone to sleep.

Several hours later, when I finally went to sleep again, I was so tired I slept through the night.

The first option, stopping what I was doing that caused the panic? Well that’s dishes, laundry, making the bed, and cleaning the bathroom counter. I haven’t entirely stopped, but I slowed down. The dishes aren’t all done now when I go to bed. The laundry isn’t all downstairs either in the washer or dryer, etc. I stopped being on top of it — I’ve let it slide, but I haven’t quit entirely — that’s the best I can do right now.

And that’s good enough — it has to be good enough because it’s all I can do.

Don’t know what I’m referring to? Here.

 

To See . . . .

I actually DO get things done, daily. The house is still overwhelming. Here’s what I did yesterday:

  • Worked on raking the lawn (not finished)
  • Cleaned my car (exterior) and waxed the hood
  • Peaches cleaned and peeled
  • Cleared ugly food (leftovers which have become science projects or are about to) from fridge
  • Two loads of construction debris taken to the dump
  • Three loads of laundry started, two completed
  • Work on the cleaning plan
  • Regular household trash taken to the dump.
  • I did two loads of dishes, DH did another. (The fridge cleanout generated a lot of things to wash!)
  • Cleaned the toilet, sink and tub
  • Bought more freezer containers
  • Figured out a way to store the 2nd hose on the boat steering wheel I’d kept for the purpose, though I’d never actually done that.

Here’s what I’ve done today, so far (10 a.m.):

  • Swept and mopped the kitchen floor.
  • Started the load of laundry (3rd load from yesterday) in the dryer.
  • Started the first load of laundry in the washer.
  • Culled melons and cut them prepatory to freezing.
  • Went through the peppers, prepatory to dealing with them
  • Cleaned the broom, bucket and mop, although I haven’t gotten them put away, yet.
  • Dealt with the dirty, wet rags.

As of 11, you can add: dealt with the peaches, blueberries, and melon (cut, labeled & stored). Dishes washed from that effort.

Also, I can see myself sliding down the fanatic scale: from hoarder to OCD. Some of that I want to encourage, some if it, as I’ve said before, I really want to avoid!

  • I vac’d the end of the broom after I swept the floor to get the dust bunnies off of it.
  • I asked DH yesterday to shut off the hose for me when I was done washing my car, but told him to not put the hose away as I didn’t like the way he coils it. (True.)
  • Found a place to put the bucket away yesterday with the soap, shop towels, car wax, etc. inside of it so that all the car washing tools are in one place, and it looks tidy (all in the bucket).
  • Told DH this morning that the little vac needed to be cleaned very soon, because I’d cleaned up a wet mess and it would not be good to let the remains dry in the vac. (He does this most of the time; I’m allergic to dust mites!)
  • Found a place for one of the bigger flashlights to be stored when not in use. It has been clutter  — as it floated. It had no designated place to be put away. (There are many things like this in our home. Too many!)

After 5 Days

Cleaning up and Clearing every day? There is still too much stuff here. Still it isn’t as clean as I’d like.

So, I think I’ll ask some folks over for a meal this week and see if I can’t get through another spate of culling and cleaning beforehand? I have plans over the weekend, which makes this idea more difficult.

We’ll see?

By Friday last week I was pretty well burnt out. I spent 5 days intensely cleaning and culling, six if you count the flea market on Saturday and the purge after that. Then just cleaning Sunday – Thursday, and by Friday I really didn’t want to do anything more at all.

This past Saturday (2 days ago) we didn’t do as well at the flea market as we had the first week, but we still did it AND donated a batch o’ stuff to the Salvation Army afterwards.  Then I stopped at the market and bought the groceries for our lunch company the next day.

Sunday DH did a dump run early, which was good: the bins were full, there were 2 bags of garbage (our usual is 1) and things to donate.

 

Trying to Avoid Becoming a Clean-Freak Minimalist

I have a tendency, and have since I was a kid. I go from one extreme to the other, then find the happy medium. I’m trying to avoid that with transforming from being a hoarder.

book hoarder

I worked more on the cleaning plan today and “discovered” some new ideas: mostly, that the more often you use something, the more frequently it needs to be cleaned and/or maintained. Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

But because I’ve never seriously “let” myself think about cleaning up except as an intellectual exercise (It was dangerous. Remember the reason I became a hoarder wasn’t to keep things, complete collections, or perceived value — it was the safety I felt in the mess, and the panic I felt when my space was neat.) this is a newish concept.

Accordingly, floors need to be cleaned more than anything else. Even if you only walk through a space, like in a model home at a real estate development say, the floor gets used more often than anything else. So, they need cleaning more often. The other thing which needs to be dealt with every day is stuff, things you can pick up in your hand: food, books, papers, clothing, bedding, towels, etc. It’s stuff which makes up clutter. (The notion that clutter is made up of things we pick up and put down — was the last big AHA! I found.)

So, I modified my ideas about what has to be dealt with/how often. I’d figured the kitchen floor needed daily maintenance, but not other floors. I changed that.

Now I have a mental list of the areas in my home which need routine maintenance. Maybe not “deep cleaning” but maintenance seven days a week, or Monday – Friday. Some chores can be put off over the weekends, others can’t.

I swept from the entry to the hall this morning because of this. And then the stairs. [I kept finding more to do.] I swept the hearth, [twice]. I started to go into the kitchen, [but did the hall, again] — and made myself stop.

Then I cleaned the dustpan and the brushes (didn’t wax them, had done that last weekend) and the broom. [And started again, made myself stop.] Put everything away, twice.

See the flip side of the hoarding peeking out? Definitely one of the first times the idea that hoarding/OCD is a spectrum really became obvious in me. Intellectually, I’ve known this for a long time, but I always thought, “I’ll never have that problem!”

Sigh.

empty room

In my old age I  will need to monitor not only my stress levels (because of the PTSD) but keep myself from tipping over the edge from hoarder to OCD/minimalist/clean-freak.

Oh joy.

J

Slow, Snowy Day

except that I think I was rather busy!

Not only did I make soup (see the last post) but I cleared out the top shelf of the freezer, mopped the kitchen floor, made marmalade, kept the fire going and worked on a knitting design.

The yield today is: cleaner and more usable freezer, cleaner kitchen floor, better knowledge of what’s in the freezer, a design idea for the knitting, 1 pt of orange marmalade, less wood, and more warmth.

Much better than my yield for Storm Sandy. (You can read about that here.)