Reasons for spring (or other) cleaning

Did anyone make a New Year’s Resolution this year to keep their house, office or computer files cleaner or tidier?  I don’t want to discourage you if you have.

As everyone who visits my house probably guesses, I have been conducting a scientific experiment for some years now. I am trying to discover How little house cleaning can one get away with, without one’s family actually dying?

So far, the results are promising – very little indeed.  Admittedly the number of test households is small (one).

Some TV guru once said she did not understand why people complained that they did not have time to clean in their busy lives.  After all, she pointed out, they found time to do other things they wanted to do.

A more spectacular example of missing the point would be hard to find.  Yes, when people come home after a busy day, I hope they do find time for what they want to do.  This is rarely dusting the piano.

But of course one can’t get away with no cleaning.  There are a host of reasons (list alert!) for cleaning and tidying…

The main ones are surely:

  1. Hygiene and safety. It is not wise to eat off mouldy plates, to be operated on by a grubby surgeon, or to block all fire exits with boxes.
  2. Appearance.  For most people, things look (and smell) much nicer when they are clean and tidy.  Of course, the aesthetic standard here will vary from family to family, and within families.
  3. Convenience.  It is always a good idea to know where one’s passport has been put.  This includes other people’s convenience, as when one moves stuff off the guest’s bed, or tidies up for the cleaner.

If you are doing what you need to satisfy your household’s agreed standards in these areas, you are doing enough.

Other reasons may be:

  1. Because one wants to please or impress others, eg guests, potential house purchasers, one’s late father-in-law, the neighbours who have to look at one’s garden.
  2. Because one is employed to clean to a certain standard, and therefore has a duty.
  3. Because one wants to contribute to the local economy by employing a cleaner (vicarious cleaning).
  4. Because one enjoys cleaning, gardening, or physical labour generally, or wants the exercise, or is looking for something mindless to do while pondering the meaning of life.
  5. Because one believes that the top of the wardrobe is still there.
  6. Because one gets a sexual kick out of doing menial tasks, or being ordered to do them by someone else…
  7. As a means of procrastination.
  8. Because one needs to clear off the blood, or other evidence of crime or guilt. (There is a Ruth Rendell novel about this reason for obsessive housework.)

All of these, except the last two, are perfectly legitimate reasons, but will not apply to all, certainly not to all in equal degree.  And very few of them require anyone to sweep under the bed or dust on top of the door-frame.  So, since my own aesthetic standards are low, and my family is still alive (see above), I continue to blog and mess about with church rotas without feeling too guilty.

But let’s face it, I’m just lazy.

The Idle, Partial, Prejudiced and Ignorant Blogger



1 Comment
  • Malachi Malagowther

    4th March 2016 at 5:50 pm Reply

    This is a common attitude towards cleaning in some parts of Scotland. As one Elsie McGregor said, “Dust isn’t a problem as long as you don’t disturb it”.

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