I work in an office filled with women who are over the age of fifty. I most certainly am not complaining about this, as they are fastidious and relatively drama-free. But, as you might expect, they all are trying to find the perfect yin/yang combination between cleanliness and chaos. Between kids, yoga, Zumba, and aging husbands, they are at their wits end trying to find practical ways to keep the pounds off.
I know it may be presumptuous for me to say as a 24-year-old, but I do believe I have a simple solution to this age-old problem:
I don't mean light dusting and tossing out the cat litter. I mean getting up and down on your knees and legs and wiping the ceiling fan. Working your arm muscles to reach the cobwebs in the corner and wiping the bathroom sink. Exercising your mind by finding a task to be done and accomplishing it.
Now, as a preface, I must say that I am neither a household or exercise expert,but I have seen a marked difference in both my physical stamina and mental clarity since I started a cleaning cleanse a few weeks ago. Years of dust, grease, and clutter are being wiped away and that sense of accomplishment stays for hours and hours. I love nothing more than starting with a mess and organizing the chaos into something you can bring out into the daylight.
As I was excavating the Jurassic tar pit that was our junk drawer, I started to muse on the specifics of the art of cleaning. What makes an effective cleaner and what can I do to improve the physicality of my tasks? I've thought long and hard, and I've decided to share my Top Five Tips for Effective Physical Cleaning!
1. Organize, Organize, Organize!
We all have that relative whose idea of cleaning is shoving the mess into a corner and hoping it will somehow disappear. As much as we'd all love to live in that fairy dream, it's not reality. When it comes to cleaning, Organization has a two-fold meaning. The first is that, before setting out on your cleaning journey, write down the main areas of your dwelling and what specific tasks need to be done in each. Keep this sheet handy and always remember to put the date you last cleaned the area. (See tip #5 for more on this.) The second is that, if you organize as you go along, the clutter will remain in check. Get storage bins (which you can find for a reasonable price at Target) and collapsible storage cubes (which can now get for a DOLLAR at Dollar Tree stores!) These simple organization ideas will help keep the clutter out of your home and out of your cranium.
2. Transfer basic exercise principles to your cleaning routine
Why do squats by themselves when you can do them while cleaning the dirt off your walls? Why do stretches when there's a whole colony of spiders living in the corner of your bedroom? Why not do sit ups as you clean under the kitchen sink? What I'm saying is take the exercises you like (or, let's be honest, dislike) and add them to your cleaning regimen. Not only with the exercises be done, but you will be left with a sparkling home to boot!
3. Just like at the gym, don't push yourself.
You should not attempt to clean your entire house in one day. Not only will it becoming extremely discouraging when you're not done at 9pm, but it will also wear your body out and will lead to substandard cleaning. Do a little bit each day and pace yourself, instead of acting like The Tazmanian Devil and tearing up your sanity.
4. Be efficient, in both the way your clean and the way you organize
Research what cleaners work on what, what gets mold out of your shower curtain (and won't kill you), and seek out areas where the clutter seems to be spilling out and find a better way to keep it in check. Think rationally, simply, and efficiently and you'll be well on your way to success. Remember, cleaning is a puzzle with many solutions, so do what works best for you.
5. Remember that, once a section of the house is done, it is not a free ticket to let it sit for a year!
I have been guilty of this many many times in my life. You get done cleaning a section of the house and you feel so accomplished that you forget to keep it up. I suggest making a checklist and writing when the last time you completed cleaning that area, so you neither clean it again too soon or put it off for too long.
Follow these simple tips and, I promise you, your sinks will be gleaming and your minds will be as clear as the porcelain of your toilet bowl!