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"Reality Cleaning" Instructions

You want real cleaning instructions, like "How do I remove the stain that ______ left on my floor, when it went way past the fuzzy smelly stage?"

Is that right?

If so, start small, and start basic. Garbage first - anything that can, could, or did breed bacteria has priority over all else.

Squalor Recovery Tools

You may want:

  • rubber gloves
  • a mask to cover your nose and mouth (especially if the yuck has dried and is likely to go airborne and be inhaled)
  • a putty knife to remove seriously stuck-on items (You can probably get cheap plastic scrapers at your local hardware store - those will work nicely.*)

You'll need:

  • sturdy plastic trash bags (I prefer the huge green bags, since they are fairly thick, and I needn't see what I've discarded afterwards)
  • paper bags for holding broken glass

You might need:

  • string, bins, and bags for recycling (those large lawn and leaf bags are fantastic for paper recycling, but be careful not to overfill them) However, don't worry too much about recycling at this point.
General AngelinaHedgehog, declaring war on squalor! Squalor promptly surrenders, trembling, certain it doesn't stand a chance.

At ease, troops! If you can recycle, great. If you can't, if you find that sorting things out for recycling takes too long, be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission not to recycle. Once you have dealt with the bulk of the mess, you can start recycling.

Further reading:

Is There Life After Housework? by Don Aslett

Mmmmmm.... What else.....? Well...

You'll probably need:

  • water
  • soap (ordinary dish detergent works wonders)
  • buckets
  • sponges (I like dobies (sponges wrapped in a fairly sturdy mesh, for those unfamiliar with them), but whatever you like is fine)
  • a mop
  • a broom
  • a dustpan
  • a vacuum cleaner
  • chlorine bleach (for sanitizing any really gross areas (if they can be bleached, of course))
  • some music (perhaps) (I prefer CDs, since station breaks on the radio distract me)
  • water at the ready for your breaks
  • a positive attitude

Protect your health while you clean

Decluttering will have exposed dust and dirt on the surfaces underneath and around the clutter. Moving your stuff around causes dust to rise into the air and can trigger allergies or headaches. Your motivation to clean and your focus on the task can be reduced as a consequence. Try to have as many windows open as possible. Use the cleaning supplies to remove dirt and dust from shelves, cabinets, drawers and other storage areas as soon as they are cleared - do not wait until the whole room is cleared. For areas you know will be very dusty, use a mask to cover your mouth and nose during cleanup.

Dust is not the only issue raised by shifting clutter. Dangerous items like tacks, pins, staples or broken glass can become exposed. Wearing shoes will protect your feet, and you can further reduce the risk of injuries by vacuuming newly uncovered floor space immediately.

Wash and dry your hands thouroughly after each area is cleaned. This will help prevent the spread of airborne or foodborne illness.

1 minute and 1 piece of trash

Start with one minute and one piece of trash. The awesome thing is that there is no wrong way to do this. It doesn't really matter if you start in your kitchen, your bedroom, your bathroom, the messiest area, the smallest area, the sunniest area, the shadiest area. Anything! Where you start is less important than starting.

So take a deep breath, look around, and see what you can do.... one item at a time.

Cleaning sites:

Cleaning up after pets
Speed Cleaning Rules & More
The Clean Team
The Queen of Clean
Linda Cobb
Clothing care and storage fact sheet
House interior

Animal messes

Start with:

  • gloves
  • mask
  • lots of water
  • a wee bit of dish detergent
  • scraper (putty knife)
  • heaps of paper towels
  • big green trash bag to hold the paper towels afterwards
  • fan (if you have one)
  • possibly an enzyme neutralizer sort of beastie to help with the odor that will likely arise when you start working on this

Soak the mess in water that's had a very little soap added (better to omit than overdo), to soften it up. Then start scraping with the putty knife (the very cheapest you can find!), and blotting/wiping up with the paper towels. Go slowly, since you don't really want to soak too large an area, and have this spread.

Once you're done with the worst of it, then put any carpet treatments on, and point the fan at the area.

Take care!


*I've also seen these putty knives used as spatulas to remove cookies from baking sheets. However, I wouldn't recommend multitasking your Squalor Recovery Tools as food prep utensils..... (Well, except for the music and the positive attitude, of course!)

The Four Stages of Clean

Stage ONE:

Surfaces are neat; the centre of the room is free; piles are on perimeters. No rotting food, but current meal remnants allowed. Current craft projects, current books/magazines ditto. Perhaps some de-cluttering still to do; also smallish dust bunnies lurking UNDER furniture. But in general room looks nice. You feel ok about things. Unexpected Company would be welcome...especially at night!

Stage TWO:

No piles. No dust, even under furniture. No food at all. Insides of drawers/cupboards/shelves: neat and clean: even if no one can see! You are elated! There is now a GLOW to the room, a lovely welcoming feeling. Company encouraged: even in daylight!

Stage THREE:

Now we're into serious stuff: fresh flowers; rugs shampoo'd; chandeliers washed; windows sparkling. No dust (of course); no fingerprints on walls; company stunned by beauty! As for you---this is beyond your wildest dreams!

Stage FOUR:

This requires $$$$ and/or TIME and/or ENERGY: time for redecorating, renewing, replacing. New paint, wallpaper if needed. New carpet/flooring if needed. You are now finished: "House & Garden TV" is filming the room! This perhaps is just a dream.......

Tongue-in-cheek luv from Script