Oct 19, 2010

When is your home "clean enough"?

I've just finished reading The Ultimate Accidental Housewife: Your Guide to a Clean-Enough House by Julie Edelman (2008, Hyperion). Although the book has many good points, some great helpful hints, and took a stab at being humorous, there were a few parts that I have to say I really disagree with.

For example, one of Edelman's instructions to prepare your house for company, is to put family photographs on the tabletops so your company doesn't see the dust. Ahemmm... huh? Seriously? Wouldn't it take longer to find the photographs than it would to simply grab a rag or towel and give the table a swipe?

Another instruction I didn't agree with is to stay away from yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores. Her theory is these stores contribute to the clutter in your home. I disagree. These sales are where I find my best organizers! I bought the hassock in my family room which is where I keep my current sewing project when not being used, at an estate sale for $1. I have found dressers and shelving for my quilt room, a cedar chest for my guest room to store extra blankets, and a wonderful wooden chest with drawers to store my threads in. Of course, the trick is to buy only things you can see an immediate use for, and to continuously get rid of things you're no longer using to make up for what you're bringing in.

Besides those silly points, I rather liked the book overall. She has some excellent stain removing tips, lists of household chores that need to be done weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and seasonally. She offers lists of cleaning supplies you need without going overboard and naming every cleaning product out there. She discusses household repairs you can make, with some excellent ideas on how to fix scratched furniture.

Personally, I admit my house has never, ever been "clean enough"... I might be a little obsessed, I guess. I find no matter how much I clean (which probably isn't as much as you think), I always still see more that needs to be done. Do you remember the original "PacMan" where the little circle went around CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP to clean up all the dots, and the big deal was to chomp ALL the dots... so you could get moved to the next identical screen and do it allllll over again. That's pretty much how I feel about housework. It never seems to be done, no matter how much I "chomp"!

Is your house "clean enough"? And what exactly IS "clean enough". For me, it's having a house that unexpected company could walk into without me being embarrassed. And I would be embarassed if I had a sink full of dirty dishes, clutter on my counters and/or floors, an unmade bed, or a dirty bathroom. Oh, and no cobwebs. I really have a thing about cobwebs. I want clean floors, clean countertops, and perhaps a sparkly mirror or window here and there. I don't want old spills on my floor. I don't want noticeable layers of dust. I'd prefer not to have fingerprints anywhere, but with a 4 year old back in the house, that's almost impossible.

But I also want my family and friends to be comfortable to put their feet up on the coffee table, to help themselves to coffee and food, and to not worry if they track in mud on their shoes.

I've been to friends' houses where you couldn't find a place to sit down, or where the dog hair quite literally rolled across the room like tumbleweed. I've stayed overnight at houses that had dead bugs on the floor beside the guest bed, and one where Jeff came out of the bathroom and whispered to me "Don't pick up the toilet seat - I almost threw up." Those houses were NOT "clean enough" for the way I want my home.

Everyone has their own comfort level. Hygiene and your family's physical well being must be taken into consideration, but after that.... YOUR comfort level needs only to be that level where you can walk into your own house and be happy you're home. Anything less is a disservice to you and your family. Anything more is simply a waste of your time. It only needs to be "clean enough" for YOU.


Karen said...

I've got to agree about having your house at a level of cleanliness that makes you feel comfortable. I've been in homes where you can't sit down for the clutter, but I've also been in homes where you are afraid to walk across the pristine floor. I think mine is a happy medium, although some would say it leans toward the "casually clean".

sarah said...

Clean enough...hmm, nope I am not there yet. With 6 dogs in and out plus 7 people in and out with a dirt driveway...nope, not clean enough. My dishes are now done at night before bed, cleaned but not put a way. IT's a start! Laundry on my couch, chew toys everywhere. I'm a work in progress. Thank you for your blogs, encouragement and helpful hints. Love ya!

Brandi said...

Have you checked out flylady.net or her book "Sink Reflections" by Marla Ciley? Really great person and system!! She helps people develope routines to help their homes "hug" them!! :)