Things you should know before you spring clean (number one, don’t bother)

By nature, I am a tidy, clean person whose delicate sensibilities are assaulted by dirt, clutter or mess.

I, like William Morris, the famous designer of gaudy wallpaper much loved by the colour-blind and terminally smug, believe that nothing should be in one’s house which is neither useful nor beautiful. Sadly, by transposing this mantra to the contents of my house, not much would be left. The kids would scrape through on the latter clause, perhaps, but I’m not sure I’d meet either of the criteria.

No one else in my house is either clean or tidy. They are slatternly, filthy and strew their detritus over impossibly large surface areas. I know it’s fashionable to say that children should get dirty/lick germs off the floor/surf on landfill sites etc, but in fairness, the people who say this kind of trite nonsense aren’t standing by the washing machine offering to do my laundry. I’m all for a bit of dirt. Just not a huge amount of dirt. Especially if it’s trodden into my bed and discovered at 2am when I’m half-cut and unable to remember my own name, let alone how to operate a vacuum cleaner.

All my lofty ideas about dressing my children in natural fibres so their innocent skin could breathe without being hampered by a layer of chemicals went out of the window when I realised that they were both far too toxic to wear anything hewn from hessian or hemp.  Five minutes in linen and  my children will look as if they’ve just crawled out of a skip, even if you’ve kept them in a hermetically-sealed, empty Perspex box since the moment they got changed.

But still I persevere. And so, it comes to pass that it is time to ‘deep cleanse’ the house, a job that should by rights involve the chemical incident unit from the local fire station, a battalion of obsessive compulsive cleaners and an exorcist, but which in reality involves me with a rag and some Mr Muscle.

I think its healthy for the children to get really dirty. Oh yeah? This is their bathroom in 15 years time. After theyve cleaned it

"I think it's healthy for the children to get really dirty." Oh yeah? This is their bathroom in 15 years time. After they've cleaned it

In the true spirit of one who procrastinates about procrastinating, I have devised a handy 10 point list to help all of you out there who are contemplating a spring clean in the near future. By reading it, you are wasting precious scrubbing time. Read it twice. Read it until it’s summer and therefore illegal to spring clean in all civilised parts of the world.

1)    The custom of an annual spring clean began more than 3,500 years ago when an ancient Jewish tradition involved thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time holiday of Passover. The idea was to remove any leavened foodstuffs (generally breadcrumbs) from the house – ‘bedikat chametz’ involved searching for crumbs by candlelight. In the olden days, this passed as entertainment.

2)    In Britain, the practice was adopted in springtime because, after dusting, the high winds of March would blow away any debris. Or blow it around the house, one or the other.

3)    You know that you are mentally prepared for the mammoth task of cleaning your house from top to bottom when you can answer ‘yes’ to the following question: “Can I cope with whatever horrors might be lurking behind the fridge?” Only the hardcore make it past this particular deal-breaker, fewer still cope with pulling the oven out to have a look at what’s underneath (I believe I may have struck oil behind mine. Other options are too distressing to contemplate). 

4)    Typing ‘spring cleaning’ into Google throws up around 277,000 entries – proof, if ever it were needed, that people will do absolutely anything to avoid getting out the dusters and the window cleaner, including building their own spring cleaning tips websites.

5)    Using ‘fun’ spring cleaning products, like leopardskin-patterned dustpan and brush sets or a hilarious pair of rubber gloves with fake ermine cuffs, will not make the actual task any less miserable, sadly. It will just make it a miserable task you are completing while looking like a total twat.

6)    You don’t have to use industrial amounts of chemicals to clean your house – you can use vinegar for most jobs, instead. Then, in addition to being clean, your house will smell like a pickling factory, a fish and chip shop or a particularly rancid tramp.

Ive cleaned the toilet. I want you to make a real effort not to ever use it again.

"I've cleaned the toilet. I want you to make a real effort to never use it again."

7)    Always clean from top to bottom. If you live in a bungalow or a flat, consider yourself completely exempt from spring cleaning due to circumstances completely out of your control.

8)    Snow White famously spring-cleaned the dwarves’ cottage with the help of her forest friends. Your family pets are highly unlikely to offer anything but a hindrance and are very possibly the reason you need to spring clean in the first place.

9)    If you simply can’t motivate yourself to spring clean, make a point of seeing the positive side of living in impenetrable filth. Those cobwebs are a ready-made Halloween decoration, and if you spray them with a little glitter they’ll look a treat at Christmas.

10) Ardent spring cleaners won’t just stop when the house is sparkling. With the merest encouragement they will also start zealously spring cleaning their finances, their relationship and their entire lives. These people must be avoided at all costs unless you are amongst their number or enjoy feeling deeply insecure, worthless and desperate.

 Thus far, I have cleaned out one drawer, and I am utterly exhausted. Next stop: dusting the Tequila bottle.


18 Responses to “Things you should know before you spring clean (number one, don’t bother)”

  1. 1 Prisoner 42219635468
    March 25, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Where I live we have an annual spring prison riot.

    The guys destroy anything not bolted to the floor – then burn our mattresses, pillows and the occasional guard. It’s fun and a fast way of cleaning house.

    Plus, when the riot squad comes in with the water canons, everything gets a nice wash.

    Not sure if that will work for you.

  2. March 26, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Make like Snow White and put that Hamster of yours to work. Or at the very least use it as a scrub brush. Hammy’s vacation is over!

  3. March 26, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Oh look! You did the happy face 8 again. I seem to remember a promise to never let that happen.

    In America, we have a special tool for cleaning our houses. They are called “Mexicans”. (Are racial slurs allowed on your blog? If not, replace “Mexicans” with “Brits”. It will make you feel better.)

  4. March 26, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Prisoner, let me get this straight – I commit a crime AND get my house cleaned? Because that is like totally a win-win situation.
    Alantru – that little bastard needs to earn his keep. Salt licks do not grow on trees.
    TL: That mother freakin smiley is dogging me. And if you had Brits cleaning your house, it’d look as shitty as mine. History has it that we make a big mess and let the Americans come in and clear it up – that’s fact. Look at WW2.

  5. March 26, 2009 at 6:25 am

    i’m mostly interested in this rancid tramp you speak of.

  6. March 26, 2009 at 6:46 am

    What you call impenetrable filth, we call “dust bunnies.” And they are easier to live with if called by that name. Also, how did you get a photo of Damien Hirst’s toilet?

  7. March 26, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Is that one drawer you’ve cleaned the third drawer down in the kitchen? the one that contains all the odd things that don’t go anywhere else?

    If so – well done! Drink the remains of the tequila bottle before attempting any more spring cleaning

  8. March 26, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Over here in Dominica we don’t have spring so I guess that means I never have to spring clean…yipeee!!!
    WIB, Your blog just cracks me up.

  9. March 26, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Over here in Dominica we don’t have spring so I guess that means I never have to spring clean…yipeee!!!
    WIB, Your blog just cracks me up.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  10. March 26, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    How does the Tequila bottle sit long enough to get dusty?

  11. March 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I have found the best way to keep my house clean is to be out campaigning all the time. If I’m not home to mess it up, it doesn’t get dirty.

    Name your hamster “Ahmnodt”

  12. March 26, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Spring is a really mucky season.

    What with all that mating going on in the animal world…. rutting, bonking, shagging etc.; they’re at it like rabbits.

    I bet even the rabbits try that bit harder in spring.

    It’s filth – that’s what it is – filth!

    …and it could do with a damn good cleaning if you ask me.

  13. March 26, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I try to clean as rarely as possible without getting my children taken from me (although…). I have guests coming tomorrow. Guess what my plans are tonight? Sometimes I just feel like throwing everything away… or burning the house down. So much easier.

  14. March 27, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Using the “fun spring cleaning products” as you described will also (at least in the U.S. will make you eligible for a trailer park and get you a discount on a painting of Elvis on velvet.

    Long hair cats make excellent counter dusters.

  15. March 27, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Which raises the question… What do salt licks grow on?

    Let me think on this and get back to you.

  16. March 27, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Since posting, I have successfully managed to clean two light switches. Rome was not built in a day, and I think that likening the construction of a huge city is easily akin to scrubbing my kitchen floor. The floor is a more daunting task, if anything.

    Much love to you all, my beloved readers. May your houses be clean and your spring be springy.

  17. March 28, 2009 at 1:44 am

    David Sedaris cleans light switches by licking them. How do you clean yours?

  18. April 1, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Man, I gotta get me one of those toilets. Does the plunger come free?

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