The minimalist’s approach to housecleaning

by Heather

I nearly said ‘the lazy girl’s approach,’ but in fact I am far from lazy. It’s just that housecleaning doesn’t exactly have me in its thrall.

As a child I’m pretty sure I was considered free and highly effective household labor from a young age. I folded laundry and vacuumed the apartment daily from the age of 3 (my mother moved the pumpkin, which was too heavy for me). I was also regularly assigned to dust things on which I could perceive no dust.

This approach did not stick, probably because it never made any sense to me. I never could understand why one would dust something that wasn’t dusty. These days, when I dust, I make an impact. There is before, and then there is after, and I am going for a dramatic difference. My black lacquer tables are especially great for this. If there’s dust accumulated on them, it shows–no pretending necessary.

My washer, dryer, and dishwasher are my favorite household appliances–I love the way they do all the work. I’m happy to load them up, feed them detergent (Mrs Meyers aromatherapy laundry detergent in basil, lavender, or geranium makes the task even more pleasant), and press all the appropriate buttons. It’s the least I can do.

But perhaps my most important theory of housecleaning is to work first on whatever’s bothering me most, thus guaranteeing the greatest possible payoff. Spot a grungy fixture? Just grab the basket of cleaning supplies, and in 5 or 10 minutes, problem solved. How many of life’s problems can be solved that quickly?

The vacuum is pretty amazing too–it really knows how to make a mess disappear. So does a good rag, especially the gold standard of rags–the microfiber cloth. They’re the best way to get beautiful streak-free glass, and microfiber picks up dust (the kind you can see) in an amazingly effective way.

Here’s to the dramatic difference a strategic expenditure of effort can make … and to not worrying about flaws that can barely be seen with the naked eye.

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