Why is it so much better cleaning someone else’s house than cleaning your own? Maybe it’s because you discover things about that person that you didn’t know before. For example, you can find out what they’ve been reading this week. You can also find out what they read last week, and also what they read six months ago, as well as many other interesting things that get swept under couches and forgotten.
There is also a purer joy that comes from the act of cleaning. You can enjoy the interesting tinkling sounds that foreign objects make as they get sucked up through the vacuum cleaner hose. It’s music if you listen in the right way. Far better than this, you can breathe in the intoxicating smell of fresh, warm laundry as it comes out of the hot dryer. You can stack similar dishes up in towers and enjoy their pleasant similarity of colour, size and shape. You can wonder at the Zen physics of things – like how you can actually remove more cat hair from a pillow if you hover gently above the surface than if you scrub with fierce ineffectiveness.
The pièce de résistance is when you tackle a dull, grey, tarnished candlestick, and it comes up proud and gleaming after you’ve worked it over with silver polish. When you put a lovely white taper in it, your entire tidy room glows with a rich sense of accomplishment; you can sit back and enjoy a job well done.
It seems that in recent years the art of cooking has taken on such a fashionable position, that it is high time we glorified cleaning to the same degree. Should there not be the equivalent of the high concept cookbook, but written by cleaning gurus on cleaning topics? Several volumes of Cleanbooks could be competing on bookstore shelves. Could there be regional cleanbooks, say “The art of Italian Cleanery” or locally grown product cleanbooks? Seasonal cleanbooks? Eco cleanbooks? The mind boggles at the marketing potential.
Above all, it is a very nice feeling to clean house for someone you love when you know they have a lot more important things to do.

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4 Responses to The Joy of Cleaning

  1. Mary Gillmeister says:

    This is nice – you are welcome to come and clean my house any time! 😀 But I know what you mean, it is somehow very satisfying to help out by giving a spit and polish in someone else’s house, I know I’d much rather do that than tend to my own clutter.

  2. Kathy Hughey says:

    I think you should write the book Steph… cleaning has never been so eloquently articulated and so emotionally shared. It made me feel grateful for the simple things somehow…

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