Sunday, March 6, 2011

Soap scum abatement

Here is a picture of my newly-scrubbed bathtub. In my opinion, it does not look nearly clean enough for the amount of sweat and elbow grease that I just put into it. In the last week I have been to spin class twice, ran two 5-mile runs and swam 2500 yards but let me tell you, I’m pretty sure the most vigorous work-out all week was the bathtub cleaning I just did. What is that foulness that builds up on the tub? And why the hell is so hard to get off? And lest anyone think that I am some super-powered housecleaner, I should add that I only do this on maybe a bi-annual basis. My husband does some cursory cleaning and disinfecting in between so we are not total pigs. But it takes me at least six months to gear up for this job. It requires a lot of pent-up anger and determination.

When I was a kid, I was a little weird about cleaning. As in, I really liked to clean my room and I did it quite often. I even remember a time when I went home with a friend after school “to play,” and do you want to know what we did for fun? We cleaned her room. It was my idea. I would so love to know how exactly I posed that suggestion to her, but for whatever reason, she agreed to it and we did this really excellent job and her mom was all happy about it. Odd, but I don’t recall that she ever invited me over after school again after that. Hmm… that’s interesting.

At my own house, around age 10 or so, I instituted a strict cleaning regimen in my room. Every other week, I would clear off the desks and dressers and wipe the dust off with a wet rag. I had two of each piece of furniture because my sister and I had once shared the bedroom but she had ditched me a while back for her own closet-sized room and left me with all the beautiful, matching furniture that my mom had so painstakingly chosen for us. Maybe I was too clean for her. Anyway, I’d also scrub any pen or pencil marks off the desk, change my sheets and put the dirty ones in the wash, and even fold them and put them away when they were dry. I might even vacuum. It was an all-day kind of project but I was very dedicated. Or compulsive.

I must have burned myself out at some point because the older I get, the less motivation I seem to have for the cleaning. I insist on a clean kitchen every night and scrubbing a toilet doesn’t really take that much time or effort and if I can’t clean that much, then I really am disgusting. Other things, though, I let go a bit. Dust and cobwebs have to reach out and grab me before I rid the house of them. When the dusty-hairballs rolling around on the floor start to threaten the dog I do a little vacuuming. Once a year I may clean a window or two, but never all of them, that’s unheard of. There’s a philosophical part of cleaning that really wears me down. I see the dirt and I think how I should do something about it and then I rapidly follow up with the question “what’s the point?” No one’s going to see it. It’s not like I live in a garbage house. I’m not guilty of hoarding (yet). There are no signs of vermin, unless you count the dog. We’re all healthy. Yes, my house could look a LOT better and sometimes it does. But I feel very strongly about not cleaning something until it feels truly significant to me. Martha Stewart would likely have a problem with my reasoning. I know my mom does. She’s always trying to convince me that I will “feel a lot better” if things get done. Eh… maybe I would. But what if I clean and it turns out to be an empty gesture, wouldn’t I feel a lot better if I had just spent that time doing something more meaningful? Yes, yes I would.

So for a few days, I will really enjoy this clean bathtub and I will savor the peace and serenity its sparkling white surface brings me. I should probably call my mom and tell her the tub is clean. Oh and don’t worry, if you ever come to my house, I promise you will have clean sheets and towels. And don’t worry either about inviting me over to your house. I promise I won’t suggest we tidy up a bit. I am way more fun than that now.

1 comment:

  1. I like this one - the following, dog-related post I can't say I can really get into (not much of a dog fan). I'm a fairly lazy cleaner myself, although I do feel good when I tackle a big job. Just cleaned my stovetop, which had succumbed to a mess of greasy, brownish-orange and black gunk that obscured the beauty of the now shiny and white top accented by the spidery black iron burner rest thingies (what are those called?). Tub/shower stall cleaning is a tougher project. Funny, you'd think because it gets a daily dose of water over everything it would be easier to clean, or would stay clean longer.