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Last week I shamefacedly checked in after a long absence. I promised to do so regularly and to cut my snark-time on Twitter down to fifteen minutes a day. Front Seat Cat’s observation — about Twitter being nothing but a contribution “to the volume of nothingness” and “a waste of your talent and soul” — seemed right to me. I took it to heart. So in the comments, I made this resolution:
I find my fingers itching to hit that button — and I don’t even know why. Habit, perhaps. I’m going to try sweeping the floor whenever I’m tempted to see if I can break the association between “mild restlessness” and “filling the void with Twitter.”
I’m pleased to say that I kept my vow! I expanded the replacement activity from “sweeping the floor” to “housework, generally.” Here’s the result, after a week: I have no idea what’s happening in the world, but my apartment is sparkling clean. Thus today I’ll check in by opening a thread for sharing our best housekeeping tips (seeing as I have nothing else to talk about).
I’ve been a sucker for housekeeping hints since childhood, which is particularly strange because I was a thoroughly slovenly kid who had to be coerced into cleaning her room. But I always spent the week in eager anticipation of Heloise’s Hints, which I read diligently every Sunday morning when the paper arrived. (Anyone else remember the Sunday paper and what a big deal its arrival was?) To this day, I’m the target customer for infomercials that peddle magical cleaning devices. I watch them, transfixed, eagerly envisioning the arrival of my new Turbo Scrub, my Hurricane Spin Mop, my Fur Wizard, my Dutch Glow Cleaning Tonic. I fantasize about how my apartment will look just like the “after” pictures as soon as I open the box and point my new device at the mess. Needless to say, few of these products ever live up to the hype. The spin broom is only the latest crushing disappointment.
So, I have to be realistic. I live with seven cats in a small apartment in an old, dusty, moldy building in an old, dusty, moldy city. The only thing that works — the only thing that keeps this place from degenerating into outright piggishness — is non-stop housework. The fur, dust, kitty litter, and shredded cat toys fall on the floor so fast that by the time I finish sweeping , it’s time to start again. And despite all my labors, the best I can ever achieve is “not so horrifying.”
That said, replacing Twitter with housework really helped. And since I can’t comment on Russia — because I’m not keeping track of the Kremlin on Twitter — here instead are my top five tips for keeping a really old, dusty Parisian apartment with seven cats in it “not so horrifying,” instead.
1. In between moppings, you can keep the dust and fur to a tolerable level by safety-pinning a clean rag to the broom and sweeping with it. It’s way easier to throw the rags in the washing machine (with bleach and a bit of tea-tree oil, to disinfect) than it is to clean the mop in a bucket, which never seems to get the mop truly clean. So every morning, after sweeping, I go over the floors with my broom-rag combo.
2. After years of experimenting with every floor cleaner on the market, I have concluded that this is the best: a mix of vinegar, dishwashing detergent (not too much), and lavender oil. It’s less expensive than anything else I’ve tried, and it works better, not only at picking up the dust and fur, but at neutralizing cat smells.
3. One of the few cleaning products I’ve ever discovered that genuinely approaches magic is Mr. Clean Wonder Gum. I used to think nothing but repainting the apartment would ever get the walls really white. I don’t have a “before” picture, but from the “after” picture, above, you can see that there’s no need to repaint. The cleaning gum picks up everything.
4. The litter genie was worth every Euro, too, especially since to take out the trash, I have to go the basement, which is six flights of stairs down–and I don’t have an elevator. Also, the basement is creepy and scary, so it’s easy to get lazy. The genie holds a week’s worth of cat litter, and it really does trap the odor. Mind you, it doesn’t work unless the used litter’s in the genie. So you’ve just got to scoop the boxes as soon as they’re used. (In a seven-cat household, this means scooping approximately 28 times a day.)
5. Marie Kondo is right about how to fold clothes. There is only one correct way. Every other way is factually incorrect and morally wrong. If you do it so that the clothes stand up, though, as she demonstrates below, the clutter in your closet disappears. You never have to search for anything again.
So there you go — that’s my top five!
Please share yours, especially if you have pets. I’m eager to learn how other people on Ricochet get black cat fur and vomit stains off of their white and cream-colored furniture. (Beg pardon, you say? White and cream-colored furniture? What kind of insanity was that, Claire? Well, admittedly, it was quixotic. In my defense, I have both black and white cats — as well as brown, orange, and grey ones — so no matter what color it was, the fur and the barf were going to show. But basically, yes, I made the willing choice to live on the edge.)