housework: doing it right will kill you

Martha Stewart at the 2009 premiere of the Met...

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“Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.” ~Erma Bombeck

I have no intention of ever doing housework right.  I’ve never done it right this far so why break a winning streak?

But educating myself in housework is another thing.  That’s why I bought Martha Stewart‘s Homekeeping Handbook.  She starts it out with Cleaning Products 101.

If only there was a periodic table of elements simple enough to understand what exactly goes into cleaning a home.  There’s abrasives, bleaches, builders, enzymes, fragrances, solvents, and surfactants.  This is where I wish I studied for my chemistry final.

Good news: you don’t need bottle upon bottle of toxic cleaners because Martha breaks it down into simple choices. This is essential when enlisting children in the wonderful art and science of cleaning.

This is Martha’s Universal Cleaning Kit: First, get a caddy (I have one, but it needs washing, naturally).  She writes, “For routine cleaning, less is more.”  Only 6 items needed:

1.  “An all-purpose cleaner, such as Mrs. Meyers or a solution of 2 tbsp. mild dishwashing liquid…and 2 cups water in a spray bottle.”  I chose Dawn because it’s blue and my spray bottle looks like the one on the cover of her book.  No, I am NOT anal retentive.

2.  “A mildly abrasive cleanser, such as Bon Ami.”  At Wal-Mart I walked up and down the cleaning aisles to find this Bon Ami to no avail.  Behind a display of something cheap and toxic, I found a slew of Mrs. Meyers cleansers.  I chose Mrs. Meyers Lavender Scented Surface Scrub.  Aaaaaahhhhhh.  I never thought scrubbing the kitchen sink would remind me of a bath.

3.  “Glass cleaner, or a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle.”  I’m all for the cleansing power of vinegar but not the smell.  It reminds me of dying Easter egg and having to open a window.  So, I went with the ever-reliable Windex.

4.  Rubber gloves.  Got ’em!  Who doesn’t have rubbers handy?

5.  Lint-free white cloths.  I have these – old cloth diapers!  Unused, of course.  There was no way I was coming anywhere near my babies with safety pins.

6.  Medium-bristled scrub brush.  I know I have this…somewhere.  I purchased a tile/grout brush because face it,  my husband will find out I’m using his toothbrush to scrub the scum behind the faucets.

So, armed with my ammo, I will tackle this house cleaning thing though I can’t follow Martha’s directions to a tee.  It’s like copying a master artist.  I can’t copy a Picasso no matter how I try.  But if I paint in his style, I take pride in the finished product.  As long as the house smells like lavender.



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