Housecleaning: Decide Your Own Standards

Housecleaning is a major leverage point for reducing one’s footprint while also conserving our precious time, money, and personal energy.

To put it another way, obsessive cleanliness standards (led by the industrial neat-fanatic fussbudget culture of my country, the USA) generate a huge eco footprint, even just for the plastic from all those containers of cleaning products — let alone the various machines and appliances; and the environmental impact of the chemicals themselves.

A few years back, I realized I didn’t need to buy any cleaning products if I didn’t want to. Water, elbow-grease, baking soda, vinegar go a long way. A couple of drops of your favorite essential oil can add a nice touch and even help repel bugs. Personally I favor menthol-y or citrus-y scents.

When you clean your house, do it for yourself and your family, not for other people. (And if you have a nitpicky person under your own roof, feel free to hand THEM the broom or the sponge or the laundry basket!)

What I realized at some point is that many of the so-called “reasonable standards” of cleanliness are being imposed on us by TV, movies, cleaning product advertisers, and manufacturers themselves. Oh, and sometimes, people in your life (either past or present) who just like to nitpick and criticize. One piece of reassurance I always give people is to look inward and decide for yourself what your own standards of cleanliness are. Don’t let anyone else dictate them. Don’t let other people’s critical tapes play in your head!!

My main cleaning tools are a broom, a mop, and a toilet brush. I have rugs on tile floor, rather than carpet, so I don’t ever need to vacuum; just take the rugs outside and shake ’em out. I did inherit a mini handheld vacuum cleaner which I have used a time or two to suck up crumbs or other dry spills from tight spaces, but I could have gotten those with the plain ol’ broom and dustpan if I had had to.

What are your cleaning challenges, if any? Might there be an opportunity to reduce your workload?

PS. We can actually damage our immune systems by striving to make our living environments perfectly clean and germ-free!

PPS. Just because you like or even love someone doesn’t mean you have to invite them inside your house. Covid showed us that!