Growing up, I knew my mom cleaned a lot. I don’t think I helped much.
It wasn’t until when I later had an apartment of my own that I became more interested in cleaning.
I didn’t realize how many of my ideas about cleaning actually came from television commercials, especially the ones showing how dishwashing liquid can cut grease, bubbles can scrub the tub, lightweight sponge mops can glide across floors, and germs will get zapped.
While I watched my favorite cartoons and sit-coms, I learned:
- that you need a different spray bottle of cleaner for different parts of your home.
- that regular soap is bad.
- that everything needs to be sanitized.
Over the past few years I’ve found myself unlearning some of those cleaning habits that I picked up from watching TV. It occurred to me that the more a cleaning product needs to be advertised, the less I probably need it. I started asking questions:
How did people clean up spills before paper towels? Oh, a rag!
What did people use before dustbusters? Oh yeah, a dust pan!
Do bathroom cleaners need to be so harsh that the fumes make me choke? Last year we were talking about “Housekeeping Learned the Hard Way” here on Small Notebook, and Sandra commented, “Once the shower door closed behind me when I was scrubbing the shower walls. I almost passed out from the Tilex fumes. Death by Tilex is not how I want to go.” Me too, Sandra.
Those cleaning commercials have been filed away in the memory of my youth, in the category “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time,” along with Lunchables and Little Debbies.
What’s left is the sound advice to make my bed, the helpfulness of routines (from my mom’s 1981 paperback copy of Sidetracked Home Executives), a healthy appreciation for baking soda, the strong urge to get rid of stuff, and my eternal love for a good makeover.