Although many of us may not view housecleaning as particularly enjoyable, it is a
necessary and inescapable task. As I witness others struggle in this area, I have
come to appreciate the blessing of a mother who taught me rudimentary housekeeping
skills from an early age. It is due to her efforts that I have acquired sufficient
knowledge to manage a functioning household, albeit imperfectly.
For those who are learning these skills later in life, there are many wonderful resources
at your disposal. I encourage you to look into them, as I do not claim any special
cleaning expertise. I am likewise not as detail oriented as some are in doing their
chores. Even so, I hope to impart a bit of useful advice on a few of the basics. As
you read on, please keep in mind that not everyone performs these tasks in exactly
the same manner. You may well discover much more creative and fun ways of doing them
as you learn.
Washing Dishes by Hand
In an age of dishwashers, it is still a requirement for many to wash dishes by hand
at least occasionally.
First and foremost, it is best to clean any used dishes at least once a day to avoid
a pile-up. Although you may routinely use only a few dishes, it will prove less time
consuming if you take a few minutes daily to wash them. If your sink is near a window,
dirty dishes can attract ants and other undesirable insects into your home.
There are various ways to go about washing your dishes. If you have a double sink,
it is recommended that you fill one side with hot, soapy water and the other with
clean water for rinsing. Although I agree with soaking dishes for a short while before
scrubbing, I have had problems with the aforementioned way of rinsing. Rinsing your
dishes in the clean water inevitably makes it soapy and ineffective for its original
purpose. However, feel free to test this method for yourself. I rinse my dishes under
running water, although I am fully aware of the potential for water waste. Needless
to say, years of practice have helped me wash them much more quickly!
A washcloth or sponge may be used for cleaning your dishes, although I find that a
washcloth is too soft to remove caked-on food. I purchase scrub sponges, since they
have a soft side for easier jobs and an abrasive side for harder-to-remove debris.
I occasionally use SOS pads for extra difficult dishwashing tasks.
In regard to dish soap, I recommend investing in a higher quality brand, if at all
possible. Cheaper soaps may not produce many suds and you require more of it to get
your dishes clean. You will notice that a better brand of soap lasts much longer,
since you do not need to use as much of it.
Another good (and inexpensive) investment is a dish rack. It enables you to drip dry
your dishes, thus saving you from having to hand dry them with a towel before putting
Laundry is best done once a week. Aside from your clothes, you will need to wash your
bedroom sheets, bathroom linens, and kitchen towels.
Before placing your clothes in the washing machine, separate them into piles: whites,
bright colors, and darks. Mixing whites with colors may leave you with an interesting
shade of underclothes!
You may also need to check your labels to determine which clothes belong in the "delicate"
pile. These are items that need to be washed in the delicate/gentle cycle, such as
sheer fabrics and sweaters. If there is any lingering confusion in your mind, do not
hesitate to enlist the help of a friend or relative.
Make sure to empty all pockets and close all zippers to avoid potential snagging.
Temperatures, cycles, and load sizes
There are generally three temperature settings on a washing machine: hot, cold, and
warm. I generally use the cold cycle to avoid shrinkage (this also saves energy.)
For cotton fabrics like your whites, warm or hot water is recommended, as this will
help keep them white.
On our washing machine, there are three cycles: Regular wash, delicate wash, and super
wash. I frequently use the first for darks and colors and resort to super wash for
whites (although you can use the regular wash cycle for these if you'd like.) For
delicates, use the delicate/gentle cycle.
Similar to the temperature and cycle settings, there are three options for load sizes:
small, medium, and large. At times there will be some type of indicator on your washing
machine showing you what constitutes each size. Generally speaking, a medium load
setting will suffice for most laundry needs, unless you are only washing several items
or have three weeks' worth of clothing to wash.
After you have determined your size, temperature and cycle settings, begin the washing
machine. As the water is running, pour your detergent in (check the detergent's label
for the amount needed.) A capful is usually all that is required for a medium load.
If you are using liquid fabric softener, pour that in as well before adding your clothes
and closing the lid. The washing machine will do the rest.
Tips: Adding bleach can keep your whites whiter. Allow the detergent
and fabric softener to dissolve before adding it. A capful is enough.
If you have a small rug and/or toilet seat cover in your bathroom, wash them in cold
water in the delicate cycle. Set your load size to small and do not wash anything
else with them. When the cycle has concluded, lay them on a flat surface to dry.
Drying your clothes
After the cycle is complete, place your clothes (and a dryer sheet, if desired) into
the dryer. Before beginning, check the lint tray to remove any excess lint. This is
very important. Not only will your clothes take longer to dry if there is excess lint,
but it can also be a fire hazard.
A dryer will customarily have three temperature settings: Low (or delicate/fluff air),
medium, and high/automatic heat. Low is generally used for delicates that do not need
to be hung or laid flat to dry. Medium heat can be used for most fabrics and high
heat is generally reserved for cotton. Again, check your clothing labels to guide
After you put your laundry in, close the lid. A cycle may take anywhere from twenty
minutes to over an hour, depending upon your temperature setting. The dryer will automatically
shut off when the cycle is complete and many even have a buzzer or ringer indicating
as much. If your clothes are still not dry after the cycle is over, put them to dry
Cleaning Your Bathroom
This is one of my least favorite tasks. Even so, there are few things within a house
more revolting than a filthy bathroom. (Bachelors: women will not be impressed and
may write you off altogether!)
You will need a toilet brush, paper towels, Windex, a bathroom cleaning agent, a sponge,
and a washcloth.
Clear all of the items around your sink. Spray the counter and inside of the sink
with the cleaning agent and scrub with a sponge. Take the washcloth, run it under
some hot water, and wipe down the counter. Rinse the sink. Afterward, take a paper
towel and dry the counter.
Spray Windex on your mirrors and faucets. Wipe with a paper towel.
Cleaning agent in hand, spray the inside and outside areas of your toilet. For the
inside, scrub with a toilet brush if you wish to avoid placing your hand in it (although
you can use rubber gloves.) Wipe down the outside with the washcloth, making certain
to clean the seat and back of the toilet.
To clean your shower and/or bathtub, apply the cleaning agent and scrub with a sponge.
Take a disposable cup and rinse with hot water.
Remember to sweep and mop your floor, as well as empty your bathroom trash.
While reading these instructions may in and of itself prove tiresome, I hope they
will benefit you in some way. One thing that helps me when I discover myself begrudgingly
doing chores (a frequent struggle) is to contemplate the blessing of having a home
to clean. I also play music on occasion and sing along, which makes the time much
more enjoyable. There are many ways to make your housecleaning a fun endeavor and
not merely a chore.