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Cleaning For The Cleaning Lady

Cleaning For The Cleaning Lady

Gotta warn you. This entry will be uncharacteristically short.

Can’t help it. I’m exhausted. 

Monday was Cleaning Day. Rather, Cleaning For The Cleaning Lady Day. And those of you who hire pros to clean your house know what that means: Rising around dawn to throw yourself into a frenzy of tidying up so a crew of sponge-wielding strangers won’t think you’re a slob.

Also so they can find the floors that need to be mopped.

In the past two decades I’ve gone through at least a dozen cleaning services. Some were too expensive. Others cut corners. Some were unreliable. Most started off swell and began to slack off as time went by. My latest service is good. But it’s a small outfit and they've been with me less than a year. Ask me again in 12 months.

Over the years I’ve shed most of the guilt I once felt about paying someone else to clean my house. I realized this was just silly female shame at work. 

Do you know any guys who’d be embarrassed to hire someone to clean their bathrooms and kitchens?

Neither do I. 

Hey, I worked full-time, raised two kids and realized I was a nicer mother when I wasn't cranky from scrubbing toilets at midnight. 

On Monday morning, as I was dashing up and down stairs with my arms full of detritus to be stuffed temporarily into already crowded closets, one of my pals called to see if she could stop by. 

“Sure,” I said, “But I’m cleaning for the cleaning lady.”

“I do the same thing!” she exclaimed, noting that her husband thinks she’s crazy.

As she pitched in, we agreed that the best way to ensure that your cleaning ladies do a good job is to clear the way for them.

First, I pick up every bit of clutter. I know we’re supposed to be living in a paperless society but my weekly junk mail haul is huge. Sometimes it forms a landfill on my desk. So I gather it all up and dump it in a paper grocery bag that I stick in a closet and try to remember to retrieve it later in the day. Truth is, sometimes I'll find a sack of unopened Christmas cards in July.

Next I scour the house for errant socks, shoes, books. They also go into closets.

Then I roll up small bathroom rugs and put them in still other closets, so the floors will be washed in their entirety. Not just the parts of the floor around the rugs. I empty all the trash cans and take everything off my bathroom shelves.

Finally, I run the dishwasher. If I see a coffee-stained mug at the last minute, I’ll stick it in the refrigerator till the cleaners are gone. Don’t judge.

Dirty clothes, like those sweaty gym shorts and tees drying on door knobs in the bedroom are tossed in the hamper or stuffed in the washing machine. 

Shoot, I even hide my dogs. The two little yappers and their food bowls are banished to the screened-in porch while the cleaning ladies work their magic.

Once they've gone, I bring the dogs in and the three of us pause for a moment, sniffing the air, happily inhaling the aroma of clean.

The mutts settle down in their beds, while I set about returning the closeted clutter to the freshly scrubbed surfaces where it belongs.

Then I need a nap.

There She Goes, Miss America.

There She Goes, Miss America.

Nope. Not Running For City Council.

Nope. Not Running For City Council.