When it comes to housework, ‘clean enough’ is fine for me
A friend of mine recently told me she cleans her home in stilettos. She says that, paired with 90s pop music, it transforms arduous tasks into almost sexy ones – an irresistible opportunity to strut, sashay and use a broom like a mic. I tried this, but I’m not used to being tall in my kitchen, so my “living la vida loca” quickly descended into “living la vida lockdown,” – smashing my head into the corners of cupboards I had forgotten were open.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been asking around for cleaning shortcuts. In lockdown, without distraction from the outside world, it’s felt never-ending.
I search for efficiency tips online, finding myself bingeing on clean-influencer videos. I try not to think of the feminist implications of this latest craze (“mould-free grout now, feminism later,” I tell myself), nor of Betty Friedan’s famous line that “no woman gets an orgasm from cleaning the floor” (although she hadn’t met my friend in the stilettos). I pick up some tips. But I also pick up anxieties, hearing about countless other jobs I hadn’t countenanced: that gap between the fridge and worktop; overnight soaks of the chopping boards.
I come across a study that says modern households spend as much time cleaning as they did in 1900 – even though the true drudgery has been eliminated by machines, and men pick up more of the slack; instead of filling that collective extra spare time with money- or art-making, we fill it with more housework. Our homes are probably nicer now – finessed – but we’re hardly freer from them.
And so I realise the only cleaning lesson worth learning is to ignore half of it, to accept “clean enough” and step away, ideally with a strut, and sashay. I already have the heels for it.