Updated: Sep 13, 2019
"You know how some people have a cleaning agenda?" she said.
"No," I said.
"Yeah, a total monthly blitzing of every nook and cranny of their house."
I get an overwhelming sense of gratitude all of a sudden that I don't live in a mansion. I think I'm an average cleaner - my vacuum is used periodically, I wash my bed sheets once a week (ish) and I have a reasonably tidy home. At least, I think I do. I mean, I've seen hoarding programmes and been pretty certain I don't deserve fame on that count.
Nor has anyone ever wiped their feet on the way out to my knowledge. And I run out of cleaning materials every once in a while so that's a good sign, right? I might not be a domestic goddess, but that's because life is to be lived. Although, I confess I do own an iron and ironing board, they are in the loft. I think.
"Well, you should do that. Organically." she said.
"Like with vinegar and lemon juice and bicarb of soda and stuff."
"Once a day, you have to do some domestic work that you don't ordinarily do, without using any modern cleaning shit."
"Like oven cleaning?"
"Yes, and shower head defuzzing. Sink hole decontaminating. Window cleaning with newspaper."
Utensil drawers and holders.
I don't think I've done them since I moved in. Would be a good place to start. First to make some all purpose cleaner:
Combine: sprigs of rosemary, lemon juice, 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water. Leave to steep. It's very important to do the steeping with one's feet up and a box-set.
1) Remove 4 keys for I know not what and place in bin.
2) Coax out tiny spider.
3) Tip crumbs into sink.
4) (Optional) Resist urge to comment on how gross one's cutlery drawer actually is
5) Spray Homemade Organic Mix Combo liberally and clean
6) Realise home now smells like a chippie
7) Dry off and put everything back as it was, minus spider, keys and crumbs
8) Repeat with utensil holders.
Finally: Bleach coffee cups and undo all organic virtue points.
If there's one appliance in the house that is self-cleaning, it surely has to be the dishwasher.
Apparently not. Apparently, it should be done once a bleedin' month. Like having a period, but more mucky it transpires. And smelly. And icky.
I don't think I have ever cleaned a dishwasher in my life. How I've survived the grease, the germs, and toxic food debris is testament to being a 70s child, I reckon.
Anyway, it was vile. It is now no longer vile. It now smells of vinegar, rosemary and citrus. Revolting, yes. But not vile.
Organic oven cleaning. This required some research because, ahem, I have never actually done this before. I thought that basically blasting food at 200 degrees plus pretty much guarantees that the oven is a sterile environment. Sure, I've wiped around with a cloth here and there, but given it a thorough detox is not my kind of thing.
And it still isn't.
What a jeffing palaver. First to find an organic substances that would scrub clean the cauliflower cheese crematorium that is my oven, it is fair to say there is eons of fossilised gunk to go.
Thankfully someone kindly did a ton of proper research on the stuff, I mean Bren did, with a synopsis and a methodology and a solid conclusion and everything that makes academics proud. And then, unlike academia, she kindly published it on the interweb so idiots like me to learn the innermost workings of organic homemade oven cleaners for free.
3/4 of a tube of Baking Soda,
1/3 of tub of boring water.
Slap around oven.
Bugger off and find something else to do for twenty minutes (I hung up laundry and stripped a bed but each to their own).
Come back and clean.
To be fair, my expectations that my circa 1900 first edition of a cheap electric oven (it's probably 1970s like me but who cares) would come out shiny and new was, perhaps, just a little unrealistic. But impressed I am not.
So I decided that perhaps I should have used Bicarb of Soda rather than Baking Soda. I've never really understood the difference, which is probably why my baking is very hit and miss. For good measure, I put in some potent vinegar, lemon and rosemary homemade stink bomb shite and hoped for the best. It's been a long time since I had a chemistry lesson, so if I die, I've given my last will and testament to my neighbours.
I lived. Although not a jot of difference was made.
I have very few strict home policies, but always buying 'no iron' clothing is mandatory. There's a very good reason for this - life is not to be lived behind an ironing board. Not when there's a sofa, chocolate and Netflix to be endured.
However, as this is a Sadventure, it must be done. First to find the ironing board, which it turns out, was hiding in a shed. Second to remove all traces of cobwebs. The iron was in a downstairs cupboard. Then to set it up, which took some time. I am to iron, I am ordered, the bed linen.
Thankfully I have just washed the bed linen so this is helpful. The scrunched up stuff at the back of the airing cupboard, a warm dingy place at the best of times, less so.
And with that I got underway. And if I had balls, it would be adequately described as a ball ache. I even got myself an ironing blister, and not even from burning myself. I also got myself a foot cramp from standing up too long.
So the pros and cons of ironing:
One probably burns more calories ironing than sitting down. And secondly, one's airing cupboard does look substantially tidier.
That said, standing for long periods is rumoured to give one varicose veins. On balance, therefore, ironing is definitely a health risk.
One can go for a pleasant walk rather than hunched over an ironing board. Collapsing the damned thing also needs a health and safety protocol.
Shoving things in the airing cupboard is time efficient. Having bundles of laundry all over the place is a trip risk.
Ironed sheets or unironed sheets have no impact on the palaver of making a bed, with one notable exception: Putting on a duvet cover is infinitely easier if the duvet cover is inside out to begin with. When ironing, aesthetics demand the cover is the right side out. Thus, generating yet more work.
In conclusion: Put the iron and ironing board in the bin. It is the best place for it.
On close inspection, I see that they are harbingers of terror looking at the cobwebs that are strung around the place.
I've been meaning to change the lightbulb in the futility room for about eighteen months. I changed it once but only had a very low wattage bulb and thus it creates gloom rather than light. Today, there shall be light. Although I need to go shopping first and I'm not sure I can afford it.
And, I've have also been meaning to swap my bedroom lightshade, which is the wrong kind of blue, for one in another room which is the right shade of plum since I moved in and put them up.
What I'm dreading most is the bathroom light cover, a plastic thing with a white rim, that houses the dead bodies of the dearly departed bathroom insect dwellers. I think they've been there since the house was built back in 1870 or something when insects were less evolved.
What is it about doing these kind of tasks which then morph into one hundred DIY jobs - I realise that my chairs need tightening up if I hope to stand on them and survive. Then I see that most of my ceilings need a good brushing, the top of my door frames are despicable, and in fact, the walls need a new lick of paint. Before you know it, the whole house needs razing to the ground and starting again.
And curiously, I found three pairs of knickers, one odd sock, one pair of tracksuit bottoms and a bra atop my wardrobe. Thankfully they are all mine, but still how the hell did they get up there?
It seems logical as my next chore to persecute every top corner of the house to erase the critters that made the lightshades so filthy to begin with.
There is absolutely nothing abut this chore that is remotely interesting. Except I did it to Kate Bush's Cloudbusting. Handmaid's Tale fans will understand.
I removed quite a few dead bodies, which weren't necessarily dead when I started.
And it is good for tackling one's bingo wings.
I checked out homemade window cleaning recipes and discovered that all contain two essential ingredients: washing up liquid and vinegar. I am so over the house smelling of vinegar. I opted for the water and Fairy.
There is absolutely nothing interesting about this task. Laborious, full of spiders, involves defying death (step ladders) and no less than 146 separate sodding panes if one includes the cat flap. I live in a small house, not a jeffing mansion.
I shall spend the next week being the window inspector - yours, my neighbours', and any house that I pass along the way. I shall be smug about it too.
I bounded out of bed, hopped down the stairs, skipped to the kitchen and jumped with joy: today's chore:
skirting boards and door frames
Well, I would have if I was a domestic goddess. In reality I only got out of bed because the bladder could contain no more, shlepped down the stairs, and only really got a hurry on when the kettled was boiled, racing myself to the sofa. Whereupon I manifested getting the skirting boards cleaned. A second coffee had me capable of a chat with the cat. A third coffee had me capable of having a human conversation on the telephone. I could sit here and drink coffee all day, quite frankly but I've run out of conversation with myself.
It's another weekend spent on my knees.
The thing I'm learning with these chores is that they expand. Before you know it, I've to move every piece of furniture to get behind, which then means getting the vacuum cleaner out. Each door frame, then requires the whole door to be wiped down, and each light switch to be carefully scrubbed. Then, of course, since one is moving the furniture one ends up thinking 'I wonder if this would look better there?'. And before you know it, you might as well move house.
The worst part - the regular house work still needs doing. And the lawn is still overgrown, and it's already 1pm and I've not even started. This chore sucks.
Normally, I have a wrestling match with my vacuum cleaner. I rarely win. In part because it's carpeted, in part because it's narrow and steep, and angled sharply twice. Today, I'm going to exercises my upper limbs only.
Learnt two things:
1) It dusts up one's newly cleaned skirting boards <sob>
2) It *may* actually be more efficient than my Dyson.
What a glorious sunny wonderfully warm, I need more adjectives day. The perfect day for getting out the sun lounger and just basking. So really not a great day to be a domestic goddess.
I google 'things you should clean but never do' and discover that I live, albeit until today blissfully ignorant, in a germ-infested world. Various websites have implored me to tackle this impending doom. I settle on washing pillows. That way I can mostly lounge.
As I lounged watching my pillows dry, all I could think of was 'Looks like Fierce Fanny's SanPro...'
I've been googling for things to do this week as part of this Sadventure. That's one way of putting one's week into auto bad mood! Especially when one website started "Okay ladies...". Grr, grr and grr.
Then had an epiphany...I can get McAfee to scan and clean my laptop, and my phone. I've even selected "Deep Clean" for the tougher hidden files. Genius!
My phone and laptop look 'Great' I'm told.
The washing machine
Apparently it is paradise for germs. I read a five minute blog on how to clean it, with a toothbrush and a micro-cloth I was informed. Alas it omitted to mention exactly what detergent I needed. Small oversight, I'd say.
It did mention that one needed to take out the filter. Who knew? It also failed to mention that when one does that gallons of smelly old water cascades all over one's feet. Larger oversight, I'd say.
Next I found an idiot proof guide. Four cups of white vinegar, shove the machine on to the highest setting, press pause for an hour, and then resume. If I end up smelling like I work in a Chip Shop there is going to be hell to pay.
As I went to pause the machine I realised there was an odd sock floating around. The instructions failed to mention thoroughly check the drum before switching on. Ginormous oversight, I'd say.
Remote controls, phones and laptop
...are objects of toxicity, I'm told. So some cotton buds, a damp cloth, a small bowl of soapy water and a cat to blame are essential requirements for this task.
The laptop, granted, yielded four black cotton buds of grime. That'll learn me for snacking and working.
The phone, with its absence of buttons, was a quick glide and a polish. Then someone rang and it ruined the glistening effect. Bastards.
The remote control quite obviously protested loudly by switching the TV on and channel hopping around the place. Twas like having a poltergeist only less exciting.
I have been the owner, not especially a proud one, of a fridge ever since I can remember, even as a child I was the beneficiary owner of several. Not once did I ever recall anyone ever cleaning the coils at the back. Ever. Not even when I have had cleaners.
And yet almost all the websites I've been checking out have commanded this a household imperative. Who knew? One even had pictures showing how to put a knife in a cloth and slice one's way through the dusty coils.
I vacuumed and granted evidence of dust remained. I then resorted to the knife in a cloth trick. Realised life really is too short and used a duster. If my fridge's life is shortened by x years because of a bit of dust, then really one must compare how many years it would take to clean the damned things. Bad use of years if you ask me.
The wheelie bin
This was meant to be Tuesday's task as that, according to my council's website is supposed to be bin day. I checked. Giving me a nanosecond to get it done before it refills. They came Wednesday.
If there is one thing that never needs cleaning it is the wheelie bin, surely? It's fine that is smells - there are NO BLOODY HOUSEWORK POLICE. No one, in the history of ever, has been arrested for being drunk in charge of a stinking wheelie bin, nor harbouring fugitive dead flies.
Although, interestingly, my wheelie bin is the only place in my home that critters do not dwell. But first, I got prepared with protective clothing.
Alas, I own no Hazmat Clothing so had to make do with extra thick tracksuit bottoms and top.
Shower screen & taps cleaning
Twas meant to be Wednesday's task but discovered I was requiring Cream of Tartar. I thought I had some. Transpires I don't. Not to worry, I was going shopping that day so I decided to buy some then. Alas I forgot I had a middle-aged brain. I forgot several other things as well, which was a bit inconvenient. So it took me til Friday to find a shop that sold what I needed. Albeit, no mung beans.
1/2 cup of Cream of Tartar
2 cups of white jeffing vinegar
I could only buy 6x40g sachets of Tartar. Lobbed the lot into a ramekin and filled with white jeffing vinegar. Stinks just the same.
Okay, this was impressive. I mean really, really impressive. I live in a water area that is extremely hard or soft (I can't remember) but anyway, it's chalk infested. Badly chalk infested. As such, limescale is a huge problem.
The next time I have visitors and they don't mention on how gleaming my taps and shower screen are, I shall throw them out. Pronto.
Top of the Kitchen Units.
I'm glad I learnt how to climb walls recently. The top of the kitchen units are now devoid of grime. Take that Housework Police!
"What are you up to this afternoon?" my friend asked.
"Cleaning sinkholes," I said.
Turns out they are called plugholes. I think that satisfies my credentials as a domestic goofball.
This morning I happened upon the biggest spider in the UK's directory of big spiders. No idea what species it was, but it was freaking large. I took this as a sign from the heavens that this was a sign that NOW would be a good time to properly dismantle and clean my sofa, and I'm told that a damp cloth and a stiff handbrush reaches levels of cleaning that my Animal II dyson failed to reach. I was skeptical.
First, a 10k walk had to be completed. Then lunch, then a coffee or ten, and the cat, the cause of so much dirt in my home, had to be petted and fed. I also needed to make some phone calls and generally procrastinate.
Then the brush had to be located. And with that I carelessly but fully brushed each sofa cushion, all jeffing twelve of them, then dismantle the two halves of the sofa and bring to mind every person who has ever upset me in order to batter out every trace of jeffing cat hair.
Found: one pen, one raisin, three large spiders and no money.
I have told the cat the the sofa has been decommissioned from his use from now on. Realised it might be easier to rehome the jeffing cat, then remembered he is the reason I am not a domestic goddess. Thankfully!
Very dangerous territory this one. To be honest it is more of a bin than a fashion accessory. But as chores go, not a bad one - I get to sit on the sofa and watch TV. It's a bit like doing a treasure hunt discovering pens not seen since the dark ages, coins that have gone out of circulation and other unknown quantities. On the plus, a £2.60 winning lottery ticket.
Am I the only person in Britain that didn't know that toasters have drawers? A crumb drawer. Theoretically one empties it from time to time. I say, theoretically because many of my crumbs don't fall through the holes at the bottom.
That aside, I bet I am the only person in Britain who has vacuumed their toaster. Don't bother, that doesn't work either.
I am running out of things to clean...and my internet searches are getting more and more bizarre. One suggested I dust my windowsills - apparently these are one of the most overlooked things in the home. Not in mine, they aren't. They are one of my not exactly favourite, but not exactly hated chore when doing housework. Although, they've dropped down the charts this week as I've been using vinegar rather than homely furniture polish.
So, anyway, today: de-fuzzing the porch
It was painted last year, and I have some vague notion of doing it a while back, but whether it was this year, or last, I simply cannot remember. Either which way, it is fuzzed up with a gazillion cobwebs again.
Not any more. Bit stupid really because it's hallowe'en next month, and they'd be trendy then.
Another one of those 'that people forget to clean but should do it weekly' things. I don't think I've ever mindfully cleaned a door handle. Certainly not weekly. I'm surprised that every house guest I have ever had hasn't left with some strain of the black plague.
Not this week though.
Many years ago, I read one of those "housewives' top tips" of using old, or unwanted, perfume on radiators. With the nights getting colder, this seemed like a good idea to use some scent I've had rattling around for yonks, right after I'd wiped them down. I'm not sure how "organic" this is, but recycling is definitely, surely, approved of.
I also noticed my bathroom radiator had lost its sparkle. I'm not sure it ever had one, but today it was the day to concoct up another pot of magic potion using Cream of Tartar and Vinegar. This stuff stinks. Like rotting manure but less fresh.
I have a friend who has synesthesia - People's names conjure up smells in her brain. I smell of bleach apparently. Not today I don't. Today I smell of decaying jasmine with pig poo.
Are bungable in the dishwasher. Who knew? All of them: Dustpan brushes, Dyson's attachment brushes, hairbrushes and cat brushes all lobbed in and put on a cycle. Came out gleaming.
What impressed me most was this was a low calories burning act of domestic goddessery. Perfect for having a cold and wanting to be a splat on the sofa. The downside - my dishwasher is not big enough for my yard brush. Nor was I willing to put the bog brush in there, nor my toothbrush.