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Leaning Toward Cleaning

April 14, 2014 - Diane Laney Fitzpatrick

Five years ago, I blogged that I didn't do much spring cleaning because around the time that other people would notice that their walls needed to be washed and there was a layer of dust on the ceiling fan, I would abandon the filth and move to another house. Preferably one that had been cared for by a better woman than I.

In that blog, I also said I cleaned my own house every week top to bottom myself without the aid of a house cleaner and had been doing so for 26 years.

Oh, boy, 2009 Diane was so cute.

Things changed. And then they changed back again. Shortly after I wrote about my DIY house cleaning, I hired a cleaning service. It took some effort for me to wrap my head around sitting on the porch banging out blogs, Facebooking and laughing at funny cat videos while other women cleaned up my family's messes. But once it got wrapped, it grabbed on like an octopus with Double-D suction cups. I was extremely fine with having help. Surprisingly, extremely fine. I couldn't see the point of wiping off a countertop or picking a piece of lint off the couch. I was so over cleaning.

Then I moved to California, where cleaning services wanted four times what I was paying in Florida. We had already overextended ourselves with this big, 100-year-old house, which was full of wood floors, leaded glass and other stuff that insisted on being cleaned every few weeks.

It was time to bring back one of my old personae, one who spent more time on Swiffering than on social media.

I've been doing spring cleaning. And winter cleaning. And last October I did some fall cleaning. In between, I did some regular cleaning. And while I clean, I don't watch TV, I don't listen to music I think about cleaning.

1. Why would anyone put tile on a countertop? Why tile at all, anywhere? With space-age materials, why are we still cleaning grout with a toothbrush? It makes about as much sense as having a bed that has four layers of covers arranged just so and 50 throw pillows in color coordinated order.

2. Someone needs to invent a way to clean the bathroom before you get a shower, but not have to dirty the shower afterward. When I'm spending a day cleaning, I like to do it in my sweats and then get a shower after I'm all done, put makeup on and do my hair, so I look as good as my house. But after Windexing the shower stall, I loathe the idea of getting in there and using it. Portable rented shower stalls delivered to your house on cleaning day would be nice. Or a discount spa day for cleaning day would be nice.

3. The best floor surface is one with patterns of coffee stains on it. The best bathroom floor tile is one with pee spatters. Designers need to do more of this.

4. Who was the first person who said, "Let's make towels out of paper so that whoever is cleaning windows will keep running out of towels and the process will go on for weeks." A man, I'm sure.

5. What does hoarder mean exactly? I mean technically? Is there a standard like a certain number of rats, empty shampoo bottles and collectible dolls that puts you over the edge from just messy to full-blown Collyer Brothers? Just asking. No reason.

6. Someone needs to come up with new scents for cleaning products. I myself love the smell of Murphy's Oil Soap, because it reminds me of my mom. And when I smell it in my house it tells me that my floors are clean, which is sweet. But all of my other cleaning products have smells that are either citrus or some variation of a rainy day. A real Rainshower smells like worms. A real Spring Rain smells like melting piles of snow that reveal a lot of parking lot nastiness from the previous early winter. Can't we come up with Bruschetta's-in-the-Broiler or I-Just-Came-From-the-Salon-Where-She-Used-That-Expensive-Conditioner smells for cleaners?

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Diane Laney Fitzpatrick is the author of Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves. Her Just Humor Me column runs here on her website at


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