January 2012- Where white tornadoes go to die

My house is messy.

Well, that depends on who you ask. I am perfectly fine with the state of my house. My grandmother would probably be appalled, however. Her house was always immaculate.

I don’t clean with any kind of frequency. As long as my feet don’t stick to the floor too badly, I’m fine. So far, no one has really complained, probably because I don’t invite anyone to my house. It’s just easier that way. Plus, I don’t like most people.

I usually start cleaning when I come home and realize I’d be embarrassed to see my home on an episode of COPS. This is something I’ve only developed in my recent adult years; in college, I only cleaned when I moved. Sometimes, I cleaned when I moved in, which just goes to show there are some people out there worse than I am (I once used a putty knife to clean the wall beside the toilet in an apartment I rented. Because it’s true – men have trouble aiming). I usually stop cleaning when I’ve achieved a level of sufficient cleanliness that if anyone does stop by, I can say, “Oh excuse the mess, I didn’t have time to clean!”

In my own defense, I’m not a dirty person, really. No more than anyone else, I think. Or maybe I’m just accustomed to my own filth and can’t see it any more. I do have a bad habit of generating clutter and not allocating enough time to eradicate the collected detritus. I tend to stack things, and when the stacks get out of hand, I put the stacks in boxes; and when the boxes get out of hand, I put the boxes in storage. I have boxes in storage that I have not looked at since I moved six years ago. I was too busy cleaning to unpack them. Empty houses are easier to clean. Except for those people moving out, apparently.

These days, I don’t always have enough time to clean. With my schedule, I’m lucky to find time to run the dishwasher when the dishes pile in the sink high enough that I can’t reach the faucet to get water for the coffee maker. This is known as an emergency. In an emergency situation such as this, the tub can be used to fill the coffee machine, and the jelly jars in the back of the cupboard can be used for the coffee.

Like you’ve never done that.

What’s strange is that I love cleaning products. A different kind of spray cleanser or scrub brush makes me actually look forward to cleaning, but the novelty wears off quickly. The solution for my lack of excitement for cleaning is probably to always start with a brand new, different kind of mop. Or to have my grandmother move in. She’d like that; there are lots of different cleaning products from which to choose. All barely used.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to get a day off, usually (maybe) on a major holiday. Frequently, this will coincide with my home being in a reality-show state of disarray, and so I will start at one end of the house and clean until I reach the other end, usually becoming progressively less thorough as the day passes and I become more tired and less interested in the latest neon-colored bottle of goo (Chemicals clean better when they look like nuclear waste, apparently). These cleaning sprees mostly involve wiping off surfaces and shuffling around stacks and boxes in a bizarre floral-scented game of mancala. There have been times when my home has ended the day cleaner, but even messier than it was before. And I can’t find anything.

The cat enjoys these days, because I also often go on marathon laundry sprees as well, meaning he can sleep on one of his favorite locations – the top of the running clothes dryer. It’s warm, and gently vibrates, and lulls him into a sleep deep enough that one can almost pet his tummy without feeling pain. Almost. He probably just doesn’t want me to use him to dust.

I’ve made some discoveries over the years, like how well toilet bowl cleaner removes black soap scum from bathtubs; that sprinkle-powder carpet cleaner never really vacuums up all the way; that streak-free shines only matter to TV commercial people; and that freshly mopped floors can be explosively nauseating to dogs. And they don’t care which end explodes.

I’ve also discovered that the more likely an item is to be either machine washable or dishwasher safe, the happier I am and the more frequently it will be cleaned. Surprisingly, there are many, many things that are dishwasher safe that aren’t advertised as such. I really think marketing companies are missing out by not addressing the very important demographic of Busy Bachelors.

I’ve put car parts through the dishwasher as well as trim from my house; computer cases and lamp shades; hand tools and shaving razors. Heck, even my toilet seat is detachable for cleaning, and it’s the perfect size to fit in my dishwasher. If only the selling company had had the foresight to market this much-used household item as dishwasher safe, I’d feel less guilty when the time comes and I finally do run it through my machine.

Because, someday, I know that I will. No matter how hard I fight this urge, I will inevitably succumb.

And I’ll use the pots and pans setting, no less.

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