I find myself in the position this morning of not knowing where to begin on a project, and the project today is cleaning my house. I've never really had "cleaning days" or any systemic cleaning practices that have become second nature. The cleaning I do is more of the "lick and a promise" sort. I thought about asking others who are great housecleaners where I should begin, but I decided before I do that, I would write a blog post to a certain someone who wants to know how to clean their home.
Should I use the internet?
The internet is filled to the brim with "how-to" websites. The search words "how to clean your home" yield 268,000,000 results. So, there's no shortage out there of advice. The best advice I can possibly get, however, comes from my inner wise self. No one else has my home's layout, my particular clutter challenges, my preferences, my tools, my temperament. Looking to my inner wise self will give me a fantastic place to start. Maybe I'll be left with a question or two that I genuinely don't know the answer to. Then I can find out the answer to that specific question.
In the meantime, I have actually noticed quite often that when I give advice to others (either solicited or unsolicited), it is almost always advice to applies to one or more situations in my own life as well. Like the saying, we do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are. Same thing with advice: we give advice that we believe will be helpful to another, but we can't help it being helpful to ourselves as well.
What do I accept about giving advice?
The acceptance piece of giving advice is that I'm really the best person to give myself advice. I think this becomes more true the healthier we are, but I believe that we each have the best solutions within us. Sometimes we just need a good coach to help us access them.
Try it. Think of something you feel stuck about. Look inside and ask your inner wise self how you might proceed. Trust yourself. It's a process of learning to listen to ourselves, to act on our gut instinct, and to be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves." We must also apply critical thinking to this process. Thoughts come and go, and they're not all from our inner wisdom!
Can I see an example?
Here is my letter to my certain someone about the issue facing her today:
You've gotten to the place where it's time to clean and you don't know where to begin? Well, anywhere you start is a fine place, since it means you are actually taking the first step. However, there are a few cleaning principles that may come in handy as you go about your work.
Do clean from top to bottom. There is a reason why that is an actual phrase. As you clean the top, there are items and detritus that waft downward, so you work your way down so as to keep clean the part you have already done.
As you look at the room you are cleaning, think of it in layers. The first layer is the items that do not belong in that room, and the items that are misplaced. Get your laundry baskets and identify them with kitchen, daughter's room, basement and son's room. As you come across things that go in those places, put them into the correct basket. After you finish this step, empty the baskets by putting the items in their proper places.
Set the Time Timer for 15 minutes. Allow yourself to clean for just 15 minutes, but feel free to continue on for another 15 and another, as long as you want. Just get started.
Do a first layer sweep of the room first thing. Have a trash bag attached to your apron so you can throw away trash right away. Have a second trash bag where you can put recyclables.
Express gratitude for each item you pick up or clean. You are tremendously blessed in so many ways. Allow your cleaning to be a reflection of that truth.
Clean your rooms in a counter-clockwise manner by starting with your living room, then master bedroom, bathroom, hall, kepler's room, office, kitchen, family room.
Second layer of the process is cleaning flat surfaces. You will want to have along your cleaning supplies and tools for this step. Purple cleaning cloths, Windex multi-surface spray, Miracle 2 spray, bucket of soapy water, baking soda dispenser as well as barkeeper's friend, drying cloths, furniture oil and cloth, clorox wipes.
Flat surfaces include windowsills, tops of the lower windows, windows, tables, mirrors, hearth and mantel, the piano, countertops, tub, wooden furniture, etc. These will be evident. Having already done the first layer of putting away all the things that do not belong, this layer will go quickly.
Third layer is to clean the floors. Use the rainbow vacuum to vacuum the rooms, again in compass order, and add the basement steps in at the end. After vacuuming and putting the vacuum away and emptying the water basin, clean the ceramic floor in the bathroom and the wood floor in the kitchen.
Completing these three layers will give you a completely different feel in your home. When you think of your mother's home, which is the standard you tend to think of, you will remember that not only is her home actually clean, but it also is beautiful. Allow yourself to focus on the cleanliness portion right now, and once it is clean and you are breathing in the freshness and enjoyment of that, you can look at how you would like to add, subtract or multiply to bring more beauty into your own home.
Next time we'll look at the layers and steps for cleaning the basement storage, bathroom, and living areas.