The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Cleaning

How to do the impossible without even trying.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

I swear to God if I read one more article about how my kitchen sink is dirtier than my toilet, I’m going to go full-on Howard Hughes and start wearing Kleenex boxes as shoes.

I’m a tiny bit of a germaphobe, and yet I hate to clean. Correction — I loathe cleaning. I don’t even have the patience to fold a T-shirt.

Hello, my name is Bev, and I’m a wadder. I’ve never owned a piece of clothing I couldn’t shove in a drawer — out of sight, out of mind. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll think about the wrinkles tomorrow. Marie Kondo? Fuggedaboutit.

I was raised to believe that housecleaning was something you have to do all at once, like tequila shooters. It might be unpleasant for a moment, but you’ll feel better afterward.

Remember that scene in Requiem For a Dream where Ellen Burstyn is all tweaked out on uppers and she cleans her entire apartment? That’s how I’ve always thought you were supposed to clean.

Exhausting, right? Who wants to do that? And without drugs??

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to clean, if not for ourselves, then for the people who insist, often against our will, on being our friends and family. After a while, they start to ask uncomfortable questions like, “Why do you never invite us over? Are you a serial killer? Do you have heads in your freezer?”

Haha. Of course not. My freezer is full of nothing but freezer-burned pizza. There’s room for maybe, maybe, one human head.

But I’ve discovered the key to house cleaning, and pretty much everything else.

It’s baby steps.

The hardest part of any large task is surmounting the mental hurdle of, “OMG, this thing I have to do is so freakin’ BIG. It makes me feel an irresistible urge to sleep. If I close my eyes, I can’t see the big thing I’m supposed to be doing.”

So break it down.

Keep cleaning supplies where you need them

And I don’t just mean the toilet bowl cleaner next to the toilet bowl. Personally, I hate to dust more than going to the dentist. Actually, I love going to the dentist. Free toothpaste! Barbie-doll sized floss! It’s like getting Sephora samples, but healthier.

Sometimes you just have to sneak up on yourself. I scatter dusting cloths around my house so that when I’m staring mindlessly at the TV, I can grab a cloth and dust at least one nearby surface.

See, was that so hard?

You only have to do one small thing at a time

I love to cook, but I hate gathering all of the ingredients, bowls, cups, spoons, etc. etc. that will make my delicious oatmeal cookies a reality.

My answer is to set one thing out on the counter every time I pass through the kitchen. It sounds insane, but pretty soon I have everything laid out and measured just like the cooks on TV who have kitchen serfs to prep everything for them ahead of time.

Maybe fold one thing. Just one. And then later, when you have recovered sufficiently from this burst of activity, fold something else. Pretty soon your floor closet will be just a plain ol’ floor again.

Buy cleaning tools that you will actually use

I have three (count ’em) three vacuums: a standard upright for when I’m feeling particularly energetic, and then two smaller models, one of which is cordless.

Cordless cleaning tools are vital to my method. Being follicly blessed(i.e. long hair and lots of it), as well as having fur babies, means I need to vacuum pretty often unless my guests are okay with wearing self-adhering hair slippers the second they step out of the shower.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with it, but some people have standards.

I almost never use the Big Bertha vacuum. So much effort. So much upper-body strength. But I’ll grab the cordless and go to town in a heartbeat.

For some tasks, there is no easy answer.

My bathroom counter. This is the hill I will die on.

If anyone has any ideas about how I can clean my bathroom counter without moving all of this stuff item by item, I’m open to suggestions. Right now my system combines equal parts ignoring the problem and pushing stuff around to clean tiny bits of acreage at a time.

I use the baby steps method at work, too. If I can pick up and finish one small task, I congratulate myself and read something online for the next two hours as a reward.

I’m not breaking any records, but somehow everything gets done.

Legal secretary by day, insomniac by night. BA, MA. The Haven, Tenderly, The Junction, @pointsincase, The Funny Times. Twitter: @blade_funner

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