Q and A: Cleaning
Val asked several questions on this theme:
“How do you feel about hand-held vacuums? I kind of want one, but is it something that should be relegated to my parents since I, of course, am a happening gal.”
I would like to own a hand-held vacuum, but I can’t find one that has reliable, consistent reviews. I’ve heard a whole range of positive and negative comments on models of all types, and I don’t understand how that can be. Also, these vacuums are way more expensive than I am willing to pay, so all of this conspires to a general feeling of wistfulness that ends in cheapness.
That said, I don’t think being a happening gal should keep you from taking the plunge, if you want to. There are some non-hideous models out there, and if all else fails, you might be able to hide it behind an end table or something.
Does anyone have a product recommendation (or public service announcement warning) for Val?
- – - – -
“Favorite cleaning supply?”
I love Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I have no idea how they work, and I know they’re not food-safe, but I don’t ask any questions because they really are magical.
- – - – -
“Any secret tips that you have for keeping your house organized?”
I fear that the “secret tips” I’m about to share are actually common sense, so I apologize in advance.
1. Get rid of unnecessary stuff. In his guide for kitchen gear, Alton Brown says to do away with anything you use less than twice a year. For that reason, he uses his pasta maker twice a year. I think this principle applies to clothing, too, and I am a strict observer of the semiannual seasonal purge. Whenever the seasons change, I go through the old stuff and cull a bag of items to go to Goodwill. I also recommend the “limbo box,” which is actually a plastic crate in my library. I put all kinds of things in there that I might not need, but I’m not ready to give up just yet. If anything languishes in limbo for more than a month or two, I know I wouldn’t miss it, and it gets shipped off to charity.
The point here is not to have more stuff than you need, because extra stuff is the harbinger of clutter. Also, I am a firm believer that you don’t know what you have if you can’t see all (or most) of it at once, and purging makes you look at everything at least twice a year.
2. Put the things you use where you can get them. This tip is especially true if you are short, like me. For example, we used to keep spare bedding in a crate at the tippity top of our closet, and when I had to switch the sheets, I’d yank the crate down and stuff would inevitably fall on my face. Not surprisingly, this set-up was not conducive to frequent sheet-changing. Then I realized that JG’s hooded sweatshirts were on the bottom shelf of the closet, which did not make any sense because, if you haven’t heard, JG is really tall. So I switched the sweatshirts and the sheets, and now I am a much more conscientious sheet-changer with much less face injury.
3. Put things back where they live. This is my way of thinking about the “a place for everything, and everything in its place” saying. With that, I am officially My Mother. JG will bear witness that my mantra when picking up around the house is, “Is this where this lives?” Because, no, travel mugs do not live on the buffet, hats do not live on the dining table, and bank statements do not live on the kitchen counter. And who wants vagabond mugs, hats, and statements wandering aimlessly around the house? Not this girl.
4. Always ask, “Does this work?” Sometimes, your best guess is not correct, and you may need to tweak. After we redid the kitchen, I futzed around with the arrangement of things here and there, once I figured out what we used most often. Evaluate your system, and if it doesn’t work for you, change it so that it does.