The Self-Cleaning House

I suck at housecleaning. Mostly because I hate it. It’s never finished and it is completely unappreciated. Well, not really unappreciated. It’s just that you don’t get applause when you wash a floor, like you do when you serve a great dinner. (Yes, I have gotten applause. After I ordered my family to do it.)

I remember with great clarity the moment I realized as a new adult that life was not all Do Whatever You Want Because Nobody Will Nag You: it came just five days after I’d meticulously vacuumed, dusted, and scrubbed my eensy first apartment. As I settled down in my favorite TV-watching chair with a big bowl of popcorn, I noticed dust on the coffee table. But…but…but…didn’t I just DO that?! Alarmed, I looked at the kitchen floor. Oh no – small splots of yesterday’s dinner preparation by the kitchen sink! DUST BUNNIES EVERYWHERE!! With the frantic violin screeches from Psycho playing in my head, I realized the First Universal Truth of Adulthood: housework does not stay done. Since that moment, I have spent lots of time and money trying to create a wormhole of Easy through the universe of Hard Work. (No doubt the time would have been better spent actually cleaning the house.)

At first, I tried just not doing it. Just try to picture what my apartment looked like after a month or so of that approach. It was revolting, even to me. So it appeared I had no choice: clean the house, or die from dust bunny asphyxiation, which would happen because I stuck to the floor that I fell on when I tripped over something that I left where it dropped.

The current state of my kitchen table, lest you think I've changed my messy ways.

Then I became obsessed by cleaning gadgets. You know, the things that are supposed to make cleaning A BREEZE! First came the mop that I could wring without getting my hands wet. Awesome! But I still had to mop the floor – twice, actually, to dry up the pools that the Wonder Mop left. Then came the Swiffer Wet Jet™. Awesome! Except that I still had to use it. And mop afterward with the aforementioned Wonder Mop, as the Swiffer Wet Jet™ left a sticky film behind. Then dry up the pools left by the Wonder Mop. This morning, as I steam-cleaned my kitchen floor, I found myself resolving to hit the web when I was finished, in search of a better, more efficient floor steamer. See, the one I have leaves enough wetness behind that I have to follow with a dry cloth (I can’t lie. It’s a ShamWow.) to keep the floor from looking streaked and awful when it’s finished. Certainly a floor cleaner with more steam vents and a thicker cleaning pad would change my life forever! Yes! That’s the answer! And wouldn’t you know, that is exactly what I did. I had one all picked out and in the QVC shopping cart before it dawned on me: no matter what great gadget I bought to clean my house with, I WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO USE IT.

My clean floor. Take a good look - it'll be spotty by this evening.

When I was a kid, I heard my mom talking about a friend who had a central vacuum installed in her house. I remember feeling giddy at the concept: a self-cleaning house! I envisioned a house in which you just flipped a central switch and all the crumbs & pet hair were magically sucked away. (I also wondered how this happened without sucking the actual pet away. I never solved that puzzle.) When we built our house, I had a central vac installed. Guess what? I ACTUALLY HAVE TO USE IT.

So the battle continues. Until someone invents a self-cleaning house, I will continue to search for ways to avoid cleaning. Short of just not doing it, that is. I don’t want my obituary to read “Beloved high school teacher dies from sticking to floor.”


About techlady911

Still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. Pictures are my lifeline, words are my wings.
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47 Responses to The Self-Cleaning House

  1. seeliewood says:

    HAHAHAHA!! Yes….housework…it really should stay done.

  2. I do some housecleaning for the same reason I was taught to wear clean underwear everyday. What if I, and my husband, were both run over by a bus simultaneously—would I want people walking into a pig sty when they had to go into our apartment to look for a will? This fear of what other people will think is well developed enough that I can force myself to clean if we invite people over for dinner—although this technique does not work so well for the closets.

  3. Are you sure you’re not my long-lost (and never before known about, even by my mother) twin? You have described my take on housework perfectly – even down to the lack of appreciation from hubby and kids. In fact, as fast as I clean they seem to make it their life’s work to re-clutter it all up.

    • techlady911 says:

      Hmmmm…well, as a child I always felt like I was missing a twin (I just *knew* they were lying to me about being an only) so – maybe! And as much as I adore having my kids visit, their habits of “leaving it for Mom” which they have not grown out of send me into orbit.!

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Neita says:

    I laughed when I read the title of the post when it dropped in my email. And I laughed the entire read. I could’ve written it – its my thoughts exactly. Except at some point, it seemed pointless to me to keep buying gadgets. Now I’m back to basics.

  5. Add dishes and laundry to the list of things that don’t stay done! Nice post!

  6. puddleglum1 says:

    So true! I wish I had a magic wand to make everything tidy like in a disney film, but today at least I have organised the cupboards in my kitchen and bathroom and thouroughly cleaned both room, so that’s something, just a shame it doesn’t last!

  7. Figments Island says:

    Arh yes housework. I even gave up work to help keep it under control with the rest of my hectic life taking over. Guess what – its still a tip. I tidy one room and the kids kindly mess another while I’m doing it. Non stop… great fun 🙂

  8. Omg I LOVE your writing! I get a big smile on my face every time I get an email notifying me you’ve posted a new hilarious and colorful blog. Thank you for all the laughs. (out loud, I might add, much to the interest of the bored baristas of Second Cup)
    You rock!!!!

    • techlady911 says:

      Desiree, you have made. my. DAY! Thank you so much for sharing your joy with me! It will help motivate me when the words are stuck (but not to the floor).

      Sent from my iPhone

  9. Oh yes! I had that same moment of realization in my own little apartment one day. I have thought about getting one of those robots that vacuum for you, but I don’t know if they do a good job or not?

  10. Anna says:

    The dust bunnies are the worst! I am just about to move into my new house and have made myself swear (at knife-point) that I will NOT clean more than once every two weeks… my OCD will go into overdrive otherwise! 😀

    • techlady911 says:

      I am trying to visualize how one would hold oneself at knife-point.
      But here’s an idea: if you should get the irresistible urge to clean more than every two weeks, CALL ME. I would be happy to provide you with an outlet for your Cleaning Frenzy.

  11. wildstar84 says:

    “wormhole of Easy through the universe of Hard Work” – Love it!! For some reason I’m interested in that dark purple, blue, & black glass just left of center in the 1st pic. What is it, where’d u get it, would love to see a larger pic of it!

  12. techlady911 says:

    Thanks! I was thinking about Farscape last night, which and wormholes were central to the plot, so the metphor just kinda made itself. The glass which you’re referring to is one of my oldest and favorite votive candleholders. It was one of my very first independent purchases as a kid. I got it at a little gift shop in downtown Steubenville, Ohio (which is where I was raised) in the late ’60’s. I’ll send you a better photo of it tomorrow, if that’s okay. 🙂

  13. irishsignora says:

    YES! I have four kids under the age of 5, plus a Saint Bernard mix puppy and an ancient wonderdog. The smartest thing I ever did was to invent a “game” in which each of the kids who are capable of doing so grabs a handful of wipes and starts washing the floor with them. Whoever can present me with the dirtiest wipe gets a custard cup of M&Ms 🙂 We’re heard a lot of talk about “smart houses,” but from what I understand, they STILL can’t clean themselves!

    Thanks for another huge belly laugh!

    • techlady911 says:

      I am now convinced that you are the smartest woman alive. I used to invent “clean-up” games for my kids, but *nothing* so imaginative and actually productive!
      I have a Scottish Terrier, a 100-pound German Shepherd, and two cats. So the hair is pretty much in control of my house, too.
      Your house sounds like a kaleidoscope of happy chaos. Wish I could visit ~

  14. zainubjaved says:

    hahaha…sympathies! 😀

  15. HollyD says:

    New follower here!

    I have tried the approach of “if I don’t clean it, it will magically go away”. Didn’t work. I spent 11 hours cleaning the most revolting house known to man (and that’s not exactly a good thing to admit!). But now it is clean and wonderful. Then I realized I would have to clean it again.

    I was always one of those kids who never kept a clean room and when Mom said to clean it, I shoved it all in my closets and hoped no one would dare open them.

    Growing up is the pits!

    • techlady911 says:

      Thank you for following my blog! I’ll try to make it worth your time 🙂
      You sound like a kindred spirit. My room was always a disaster. My mom was a MANIC housekeeper. I think my messiness was a revolt against her need to keep such meticulous order. However, I have no excuse as a seasoned adult. Just don’t wanna.

      • 1stjoeyanna says:

        So funny, my Mom was OCD when it came to cleaning! On vacation in California, she kept stopping and picking up litter from the beach, now that”s bad! But I don’t like to clean, but I hate the mess, and everyone else who lives with me are just fine with it! Go figure! Thanks for your kind comments. I thrive off of them! LOL

      • HollyD says:

        If only I had taken photos of my room. I’d be so ashamed!

        My Mom, however, was not a manic housekeeper. She’d clean the house but it wasn’t anything over the top. My Grandmother on the other hand….I used to have to clean it top to bottom. Every other day. I think that’s where my detest for cleaning came from.

        To the person below me…my other Grandmother used to take us on walks where we cleaned up the sides of the road for fun. Yes, for fun. No orange jumpsuits, no chain gang type singing; good clean fun. I now always have an urge to pick things up along roads and throw them out. I’m sure the earth thanks me, but it still doesn’t get my dishes clean! lol.

  16. Shira says:

    I also started chortling about your post! My approach to housekeeping has gotten a lot more laissez-faire over the years. Now that the kids are out of the house, we do not *have* to clean once a week, so sometimes the floors don’t get vacuumed for two weeks. But at least my husband and I share the chores. (Actually, he does way more… Maybe because he’s got even more of a thing about it than I do). I
    I just decided at some point that there are so many things that are more important to me than having everything spic and span that I’m going to do them first, and if there’s time left over, yeah, I’ll clean.
    My mother was so obsessive-compulsive about cleaning (and still is) and I inherited that to a certain extent. But I no longer feel like living up to it! Yay!
    Btw, I was so taken with your “Worst. Sleigh Ride. Ever” post that I linked to it from my blog ( on Jan. 18. Too dumb that this was the blackout day and I also blacked out my site. But then my evil twin Beth, who also writes for the site, put up a YouTube video of Sleigh Ride on Jan. 21. to celebrate that there is finally snow here!

    • techlady911 says:

      I, too, decided that there were far more important things in life than cleaning. Then I had dog fur tumbleweeds rolling through my hallway. So back to putting cleaning higher up on the to-do list. But I do wish I were just a little more fastidious.
      Thanks for the link! I shall go there right now. I don’t have enough music in my life these days. I’ve been thinking about re-enrolling with voice coaching…but afraid I’m too old & too much disuse has done damage. But we’ll see.

  17. At the risk of enabling your gadget habit (I’ve got a raging habit myself) you may want to try the roomba and the scooba. Does it replace housework? No, I wish it would. BUT, they are little robots that do some of the work for you. I run them everyday, and I only have to vac and mop once a week now, whereas (with pups and whatnot) I was doing it everyday/every other day.

    It’s a nasty habit, gadgetry, but it’s so much fun!

    • techlady911 says:

      Thank you so much for the suggestion, but I’m way ahead of you! My husband gifted me with a roomba a few years ago for Christmas. I named it Elwood and asked it to pick up the dog & cat hair in my living & family rooms daily. Elwood served me well for about two years. Then, after many surgical interventions, the house finally got the better of him and he went toes up for the last time. My house killed him.

      I have entertained the notion of buying another one. I might have to start saving for it.

      Thanks for the comment ~ what other gadgets are you using/eyeing these days? (Like I NEED any help in that department…you should see my wish list…)

      • If I were to go into my kitchen gadgets, I’d be here ALL day literally, but housecleaning gadgets: The roomba and scoobs, of course, I’ve also got a steam/vac but I’m hesitant to use that on my new hardwood floors (bamboo). I’ve got a full size steamer which is great for spring cleaning and cleaning walls, deep cleaning etc. I don’t use it often but when I do, it really does the job. I’ve got my wonderful HE washer/dryer, which I love but I DID hear they are coming out with one that you can control via your iphone. I’ve NO idea what the benefit of that is, but it sounded cool anyway LOL

        I have dyson, and I can say that the single best investment I made for that thing was the big hardwood floor wand thing. It really helps with the sweeping, since I hate sweeping. Covers a large area of floor and quickly too!

  18. 1stjoeyanna says:

    I absolutely loved reading this! So, absolutely true. I always want to tell people when they stop by,’Why didn’t you come yesterday, when my house was so freshly clean?’. I feel your agony! LOL!

    • techlady911 says:

      Thank you very much! My friends are well aware of my 24 hour notice rule – if you want to come by, you must give me 24 hours notice. Otherwise I might not let you in. 🙂

  19. Becca says:

    Loved the post. Last year, as I did the year before, I asked my husband for a year of maid service for Christmas. Instead I got a new vacuum. Granted it is a nice one, but I still have to do all the cleaning. My house is a dust magnet and it doesn’t help that Jake, my 80 lb puppy, likes to drag in dirt and branches from outside. Oh my! If there is a mud puddle out in the back yard he will find it. By the way I loved your comment about the closet. I just cleaned out one of mine and was shocked about all I had piled up in there LOL! I even blogged about it on Saturday. Figured that when he learns to keep the garage clean, I’ll keep the house spotless. Or at least as spotless as I can with a dog we call the mess maker.

  20. nmaha says:

    Hahahaha……I’m sorry that totally cracked me up. What in the world is a central vaccum? Here we have to dust, sweep and mop everyday.

  21. The crayon post caught my eye and that’s why I am here…and I do have an almost unused 64 count box of Crayola crayons at are all mine and my 5 year old cannot touch them. Mine, mine, mine!

    But regarding cleaning, I gave up on most gadgets ages ago. Basics work best for me, though I still have to USE even the basics to keep the house clean, of course. The one cleaning chore that gets me the most is washing dishes, usually because as soon as all of the pots and pans are washed I need to use them again and make another mess in the kitchen while baking or cooking. Dish washing has to occur much more often than vacuuming or dusting or dry mopping. I can ignore those for a while, but it’s hard to fill the water pitcher or wash hands when there is a heaping pile of cookie pans and mixing bowls taking up the sink.

    Thanks for the laughs.

    • techlady911 says:

      You’ve made me smile in recognition of that overflowing sink. Hate it! But not enough to actually wash & dry the dishes, of course.
      Thanks for the comment ~ and you’re welcome!

  22. brendamarroy says:

    I so relate to your story. I have blond laminate floors and keeping them clean and free of dust is impossible. I would love a self-cleaning house and if ever you decide to invent something of the kind, put me at the top of your mailing list please.

  23. cowgirliz says:

    Great post. Periodically I quit cleaning. Currently I haven’t dusted any time in recent memory. What’s the point, there will be more, almost as thick, before I get from one end of the house to the other.
    The thing that kills me though is cleaning up after other people. The dogs I can handle, they are just dogs and don’t know any better. But, another person who leaves crumbs all over my kitchen so I have to clean before I can cook and make another mess that I have to clean up again.

  24. Raye says:

    Two women* sitting on a park bench, coffee in hand, talking:
    1st W: “I haven’t washed my kitchen floor since June, 2011…when I moved into my apartment.”
    2nd W: “That’s nothing…I’ve never washed a kitchen floor regardless if I’ve moved…or not.”
    1st W: “You win.”

    *Actually, a girlfriend and myself….confessing. Clean kitchens….not so much. Clean souls? Yes.

  25. Pingback: Favorite Things: Cleaning Products & Other Household Stuff | Cotton Ridge Homeschool

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