I’ve always looked for ways to cut corners without sacrificing quality. For the most part, using shortcuts while cleaning my abode has served me well, especially when I used to work full-time outside the home.
My grandmother and mother, as well as many from their generations, never cut corners with anything. It was always Grandma’s belief that if you wanted something done right, it required a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease. I never saw cleaner windows than my grandmother’s, for she washed them with white vinegar and newspapers. Every spring and fall, Grandma would stand on a chair and scrub every last pane of glass in her house until they sparkled.
I never found the time to employ Grandma’s housecleaning tips. Instead, I’d hustle over to Home Depot for a bottle of Windex that attached to my garden hose. Interior windows were cleaned quickly with whatever window cleaner was on sale. My windows were clean, and I didn’t spend countless days toiling over the task. However, I never seemed to derive the same pleasure that my grandmother experienced after a week of what she dubbed “Spring/Fall Cleaning.”
I subscribe to the belief that a wet Swiffer pad will clean almost as well as a scrub mop, especially in a pinch. I can easily go through at least two pads on a bi-weekly basis. It’s become a rather expensive chore, especially when you figure in the cost of the steam cleaning product that is used on a monthly basis in my home. Expensive cleaning products do not figure into our budget, especially when paying for college tuition and parent loans. Something had to give, which meant I would have to revisit Grandma’s way of cleaning house.
While attempting to paint knotty pine paneling this past week, I noticed that I’d spilled paint in a rather conspicuous area of the hallway hardwood floor. (As an aside, one should never paint knotty pine paneling, unless one enjoys frustration and monotony.) As I stepped off the chair to inspect the damage, my heart sank. How would I ever get that spot off the pine planking?
I remembered that Grandma appreciated a good floor scrubbing. She would often kneel on her hands and knees and scrub until one could quite literally eat off of her floors. With this in mind, I grabbed a scouring pad and a bit of dish soap and began to wipe vigorously in concentric circles until the area was spotless. Grandma’s trick worked like a charm, but now I had a markedly clean area amidst what I had previously believed to be clean from a day ago. I couldn’t leave it like that, so I continued to scrub until the entire hallway gleamed with a satin-like glow.
When my husband returned home from work, he noticed the floor right away. He even commented that he thought I might have dragged out the steam cleaner. When I told him that I’d gotten paint all over the floor and had to scrub it out, he remarked, “It looks great.”
Now I’ve been bitten by the “cleaning bug.” I just finished scrubbing the bathroom floor with a new scouring pad, and if I had more energy to spare, I’d knock out the dining room hardwood floor as well.
Now I can understand that feeling of satisfaction that Grandma experienced after a job well done. And now, my floors are so bright, I gotta wear shades. (Apologies to Timbuk 3.)