Are You Choosing a Dirty House?



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Are You Choosing a Dirty House?

Sometimes, we create our own cleaning and organizing problems when we refuse to change old habits and try something different. Often our habits create stress and steal valuable time, without really improving out lives. If we can identify and change these obsolete habits, we can make life a lot more pleasant for ourselves. Here are some examples from people I know of habits that created more trouble than they solved. After you read through them, think about the areas in your own life where you feel overwhelmed. Would it help to change your thinking in that area and change the way you do something?

A woman with four children under the age of six decides she wants beige carpet throughout her house. She then spends the next few years nagging her family to be careful. A portion of every day is spent cleaning spots off the carpet. Then she complains to a friend that her husband and children are slobs because they make a mess of her carpet every day.

The reality is that her family is unusually careful when it comes to making messes and if she had a twill type darker carpet with a small pattern you wouldn’t be able to see any spots.

A friend of my daughter’s was complaining about how many loads of wash she had to do every day for her small family. When my daughter suggested that she have her family wear the same pair of jeans a second time if they were clean, her friend became angry at the very thought.

The reality is that if clothes still appear clean and don’t smell, there is no harm in wearing them again. I have never heard of anyone dying or getting some exotic disease from wearing their jeans a second or third time or even for a week, but I have known of children who have been needlessly mistreated by grumpy, angry and overworked moms.

Do you insist that everyone get a clean towel every time he takes a bath? Why? Assign each person a towel and have him use it two or three times. When you get out of the bath, your body has just been scrubbed down and cleaned (we hope!). You’re getting less dirt and germs on that towel than you are on the sheets that you have slept on for a week or more.

One interesting observation about people who are obsessive about one use washing: It’s not really about the dirt. I have noticed that women who insist on washing everything after one use often allow their children to wear their winter coats and tennis shoes until they are so grungy that you aren’t sure what color they once were.

We knew a woman whose children would come in from their swimming pool every day all summer long and drip pool water on her good hardwood floors. Each time it happened (several times a day), she would scold them and then mop up the floor. The bathroom where the children changed out of their swim suits was against an exterior wall right next to the back yard patio. The reality was that for a small amount of money– which this family could easily afford, she could have put a door leading from the pool to the tiled bathroom, but she refused to have it done because she insisted that they learn not to walk inside while dripping.

In case you think I exclude my own habits, I too have had this problem. I used to iron everything. With my first child, I even ironed my baby’s little t-shirts and pajamas. (note from Tawra: I knew something went wrong in my childhood :-) ) When my second baby came, he had very bad colic followed by pneumonia. (It took many weeks and four pediatricians to find out what was wrong.) I had walking pneumonia for three months, but I was still trying to iron everything. There were days I would only get up long enough to take care of the kids and then would collapse on the floor because I didn’t have the strength to make it to bed. Well, one day a little light bulb went off in my head– Maybe I should stop ironing (at least for this season in my life). Duh!

Don’t get me wrong– If having beige or white carpet inspires you to clean, puts a song in your heart and gives you warm fuzzies then by all means choose the beige carpet. Carpet your walls if it makes you feel that good. The same goes with the laundry. If it fills your heart with pride to see your children in freshly washed clothes, then let them change their clothes every hour.

The easiest way to keep your sanity is to reduce the things you do to the simplest process that gets the job done. If you want to be especially picky about one thing and you don’t mind spending the extra time, go ahead and do it. Just don’t neglect maintaining your home by becoming obsessed with it and, most importantly, do not blame your family for the extra work it causes you. It is not fair to them for you to take your anger out on them because you choose to do more work than necessary.

There is a verse in the Bible that says “Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1) Measure everything you say and do by asking yourself this question: “Is it going to be for the good of my family and build it up or is it just the way I want things done even if it tears down my family?”

Here are some quick tips to start saving time and energy by changing habits:

  • If clothes are clean, hang them up and wear them again.
  • Spot clean clothes – If they have just one dirty spot, take a wash rag and wash it off. Then wear it again.
  • Let each family member use one towel per week.
  • When remodeling or replacing items, get things that will make cleaning easier. Get carpet that will conceal dirt. Don’t put in tile — The grout is horrible to clean.
  • Put down inexpensive throw rugs under tables if a vinyl floor is not possible in the dining area.
  • Allow the family to eat only at the table to avoid food messes in the rest of the house.
  • Make toddlers wear a bib or oversized t-shirt when eating.
  • Serve only light colored drinks if you have light colored carpet such as white grape juice, lemonade and of course water.
  • Don’t overdo when buying clothes. A four week supply of clothes isn’t necessary for every member of the family. Ten days worth of clothing is plenty for most people. Unless you work outside the home, five dresses for church, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of dress pants and some blouses are more than enough.
  • Buy clothes that don’t need to be taken to the dry cleaners.
  • Don’t clean if it doesn’t need it. Who says you have to vacuum everything every week? For a seldom used room like a guest room, don’t waste time vacuuming it every week.
  • Don’t dust until you see dust.
  • If there is something that continually frustrates you, fix it. If you can’t find you keys, hang them by the door. Put them there as soon as you walk in and you will know right where they are when you leave. If the door knob doesn’t work properly, fix it. Sometimes we think that we are too busy to take care of these things, but eventually the hassle of working around something exceeds the time necessary to fix it. I once heard someone refer to this as being “too busy driving to stop for gas”.

      -Jill

For more easy cleaning tips to make your life easier, check out our Keeping It Clean e-books.

 

Comments

  1. rose says

    this is a great article and i glad you posted it…

    tonight i was talking to one of our neighbors (she happens to be a friend of my son’s)… i was telling her that i really need to get my house in order… i just have no time with working 2 jobs at the moment … this sweet girl offered to help me for free! … well, i told her i appreciated her offer but i would never let her work for free… and she told me it not be a problem bc she said she knew that when things got better with our finances, i would pay her then…
    i told my hubby this and he said “rose we can sqeeze at least $10 to give her a week to help you… our house isnt that bad… and you only want help with the little mounds of clutter (thats what he calls it but it really is mounds of stuff packed away for whatever reason!) that you intend to go thru and get rid of”… i agreed…
    i know i can squeeze this our of my budget somehow, some way! … just to finally get those clutters of stuff that is packed away finally to disappear (until those horrible gnomes come back with more!)… heehehe :D…
    it might take all summer to do this but it is worth it! …
    yes jill and tawra, thanks for posting this timely reminder for not only me but others as well… :D
    and yes i agree about wearing ur pants/jeans/shorts another day if they arent dirty! …
    my sis in law used to go thru so many towels every day bc of her 4 boys always taking a new towel for when they got out of the shower or when they got out of the pool and then later on went back into the pool and then came out again and “needed” a new towel to dry off.. she finally got soooo mad she actually hid the excess towels and gave each one 2 for the week and said if they didnt like it they could wash their own towels by hand and dry them on the fence and for needing a new towel to dry off after coming out of the pool, well they lived in florida so she told them to dry off in the sun…
    hehehe :D… and yes it did cut down her laundry time… altho another time she told them all to take their allowance money and go to the laundromat and wash all their clothes and towels bc she was just fed up and tired of having to wash clean clothes that was put away in their drawers and they made a huge mess adn the clean clothes ended up with the dirtly clothes (how that happened we still dont know) … and all those towels being used! … this lasted about a week and when she made them pay and do their own laundry, those boys made sure after to make sure they didnt mix clean and dirty clothes again… :D…
    they were little too… they were like 8-14 yrs of age… or something like that… the oldest one at that time had already moved out of the house so it really was the other 3 still at home…
    yes, again, sorry soooo long… ugh.. hehehhehee :D

  2. Judith says

    Thanks for the article. It is down to earth and a good reminder that we really are in control of a lot of what happens or doesn’t happen as homemakers.
    I remember one summer, 4 kids plus friends at home all day. I would go into the kitchen to make lunch and find nearly every glass, used, on the counter, as they had helped themselves to water, koolaid, etc. all morning. I had to do dishes just to have counter space to make lunch. Nagging didn’t help (does it ever?) So I bought ONE plastic glass for each person in the family (Mom and Dad included) and labeled it with their name. And I removed ALL the other glasses to a box in the basement. End of problem; they rinsed out their glass during the day and all glasses got washed in the dishwasher each evening. And I was a much happier Mom.
    Someone told me something valuable when the kids were small: find ways to avoid having to say NO to your kids. The example was this: if you say NO to your toddler about taking a glass cup outside because they might drop it and shatter it on the sidewalk, GIVE THEM A PLASTIC CUP and there will b no argument and no tears. In other words, structure the environment to make things run smoothly. So, for instance, if mountains of laundry is a problem, only buy the kids 2 pairs of shorts each and tell them to wear them again if they’re not stained. Then you won’t yell about having to do huge loads of laundry every 2 weeks; you can manage smaller loads, less frequently because there are limits to the numbers of items and the times worn.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  3. says

    As the mother of 2 young boys I got extra ‘brilliant’ (or lazy depending upon how you look at it). I discovered we went through several outfits a day in the summer (only salavageable by a trip through the washing machine). I bought soft shorts (the jogging suit kind) and started putting the boys to bed in clean clothes at night…skipping pj’s and one extra set of clothes to wash. At least one outfit was clean for more than 10 hours. Frequently by 10 the next morning we were onto the next outfit anyway….

    • says

      We are doing this with the baby now. We put him in clean onsies for bed then I just have to change the diaper in the morning and add shorts!

    • getforfree says

      I let my kids sleep in their at-home clothes. They change into at home clothes as soon as they get home from school. I check if there is any stains on the clothes before they take it off, and if it’s dirty, they take it to the hamper, if not they will wear it the next day. Sometimes my kids end up wearing the same pants for like ten days. Shirts get dirty more often. Also with younger kids, I learned quickly that keeping their hands clean, keeps furniture, doors and other things clean too.

  4. Karen says

    Love the ideas. I trained my husband to wash his own clothes at the beginning of our marriage and the kids to start washing their clothes in late elementry or early junior high so we don’t have issues on the laundry. I subscribe to the wear clothes more than once rule — what I put on at the end of the day after work for a couple of hours before I go to bed, gets worn a number of days. My daughter doesn’t subscribe to that theory but it doesn’t both me since I’m not doing her laundry!

    A tip on the grout, when I had tile put in (I prefer it to carpet that collects dog hairs), I specifically chose chocolate brown grout because you don’t have to keep it clean like you do white grout. I highly recommend some color of brown or black grout!

  5. Jean says

    Put a hook on the back of each bedroom door so that everyones towel is in their own bedroom and not cluttering up the washroom. And yes, use them for
    week.

  6. says

    I see someone beat me to the grout suggestion. I have just a very small area of tile, but it has dark grout, and looks lovely after years. Also, make sure you get your grout SEALED. It’s amazing to me how many people put in tile without sealing the grout, which is just asking for it…like having unfinished wood on the floor! Interior concrete also must be sealed, or you will never get done sweeping it. Those kinds of mistakes are poor BUILDING, not poor maintenance! Make your *house* do the housework. :) There’s a good book by Don Aslett with that name.

  7. says

    I also wanted to say that I am so glad to see you recommend towel re-use and re-wearing clothes. We have always done that and it simply amazes me how many people won’t do it. And your bare essentials wardrobe is an eye-opener! How many of us can truly say that we don’t have too many clothes?

  8. says

    Very interesting that you posted this. I am currently reading “Daring to be yourself” by Alexandra Stoddard http://www.alexandrastoddard.com/book.asp?ID=16 and in reading the last chapter it is making me re-think some of the systems that I have, whether for the house, work or life.

    Example: I take the clean towels out of the laundry room, take them to my bedroom to fold, then walk back by the laundry room to the linen closet and put them on the shelves. Mean while the linen closet is tiny and its always needing to be reorganized to fit the towels.
    What happens? – Half the time I fold the towel and leave them on my dresser.
    Solution- Fold the towels right there on the dryer and put them on the shelves right in front of me in the laundry room.
    Well DUH! I wish I would have thought of this years ago.
    -As for what I am now using the linen closet for? I have storage for all of our personal items (shampoo, soap, medicine, first aide) that I have stock of, that were purchased on sale with coupons, in easy to see organized bins!

  9. Amy says

    I am soon to be a mother of 4 this August my oldest will be 6. I am looking for all the tips I can find to have a clean house and still have a song in my heart.

  10. Sheri says

    My grout and carpet solution is to get the color that matches the dirt in your yard. Dark grout is not always the right color. I put in sandy rose colored carpet and tile with grout at our last house. At this house, we have a sandy yard. Beige might be the right color, whenever we have to money to replace things. A friend of ours has carpet she doesn’t like and wants to replace. I told her to think of me when she was getting rid of it! It’s the right color to match the dirt in my yard!

    Yes, I’m tired of washing clean clothes and tons of towels too! Still working on that…

  11. says

    here are a few tricks that worked for me when my little ones really were little ones.
    Put on the children cds for music. They are fast moving and happy stuff.
    Then enlist your children by making games of the work.
    I would tell them to pick up the toys in the living room but I would say that I have to make the beds. Then it was race time. How many toys could they put away by the time I had made the 3 beds. They loved to come into the room I was in and tell me they won the race.
    Then it was clearing off the table. Could they get the dishes to the counter before I got all the food put away. (Don’t do this one with the company best china)
    Even the ones who are too little to move dishes can put the salt and pepper and salad dressings away.
    My sons hated top sheets. They ended up scrunched at the foot of the bed every morning. I finally decided to buy them light comforters which would fit in the washer and drier and I used the top sheets to make curtains for their windows. Sheets were used so the big blankets didn’t have to be washed as often when washing machines were non existent or primitive. The comforters made it easier for them to make their own beds in the morning. I have yet to have someone go into their rooms and check to see if the sheets were nice and neat.
    Music games and hugs of thanks work wonders on housework and family life.

    • says

      One thing too which I talk about in our kids e book besides comforters is to use a sleeping bag on a kids bed in place of a comforter. That way they have a sleeping bag for sleep overs, nights at grandmas or for camping trips. It does double duty.

  12. Laura S. says

    I have 7 kids and picking up the house daily is a hugh chore. I have a small laundry basket for each bedroom that I leave on my first floor landing. As if pick-up during the day, I toss the items in the appropriate basket. Just before bedtime, I take the baskets to each room and dump the contents on the beds for the kids to sort and put away before bedtime. This saves me A LOT of trips up and down the stairs and I don’t have to yell all the time for kids to put their stuff away–they have to in order to get in bed! Thanks for the great web site!

  13. Tracy says

    I can totally relate to the laundry thing. But didn’t even realize how much laundry I was doing until we started having drain problems. We started getting water in the basement every time I did laundry. We live in a rural area and the closest town with a laundromat is 45 minutes away, so not really a feasible option every week. So I purchased a washboard and wringer and had at it. Anyway, that’s when I really noticed how many clothes my 2 teenage boys were going thru every week. So I put rules in place as far as laundry goes. Jeans/shorts need to be worn at least 3 times unless they are very obviously dirty, shirts worn at least 2 times. My husband works out of town and is gone usually 2 months at a time. I prefer for him to be home to tackle the drain problem so it is still messed up. I have been doing laundry by hand since probably August or September, and it has come to actually seem like a sort of therapy for me. And just my 2 cents, I think our clothes are much cleaner this way, especially socks!!

  14. says

    I really like this post, because it causes me, at least, to look at the other side of the things I complain about, when it comes to the house ;) :) I pray that I’m the kind of woman who builds up her home, and doesn’t tear it down :) :) Thanks for the wisdom today :) Love andhugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  15. Christy says

    Thanks for all the common sense (that I never thought of) advice. Sometimes it’s just something simple that we can do to “fix” our attitudes and give us more energy.

    I have to tell you that I work with a lady who uses two towels every time she bathes. One has to be used for her face and the other for her body. She never reuses a towel (because she can’t remember which towel was used for the lower end and which was used for the upper). We went on a trip together once and she had to wash 3-4 loads of clothes a day and it was just her and her husband. I was shocked. We always use towels more than once. I wouldn’t do anything but laundry otherwise.

    Thanks again.

    • snb says

      I can understand her desire to use two towels-I do one for “private” area and one for the rest. You can use two different sizes or colors to help remember which is which.

  16. rose says

    since moving to the apt, our house is less than half the size of the rental house we were in ..
    for laundry, i gave everyone a small basket for their dirty clothes and when it fills up its time to do laundry .. since my son works outside and sweats alot he has to do his own laundry at least 2 x’s/week (sometimes 3) .. and bc we dont have a washer/dryer for each apt, the washers/dryers here cost $1.00 to wash and $1.00 to dry (for 45 mins) .. so it is very affordable .. and the small baskets are big enuff for one load for the machine (the machines arent very large) ..
    b4 that i would do laundry in the warmer months at home and hang them out on the fence and in the colder months i just went to the laundromat at least once a week ..

  17. Jeanne T. says

    FTA: “The reality was that for a small amount of money……she could have put a door leading from the pool to the tiled bathroom, but she refused to have it done because she insisted that they learn not to walk inside while dripping.”

    That sounds a bit abusive and tyrannical, very controlling. At the very least is is totally unreasonable, intolerant, and I would even say unkind. It is this sort of unreasonableness that often causes children to resent a parent for their entire lives.

  18. says

    Hey ladies- I recall on every shopping trip with my mom being annoyed b/c she would always want to check the tags of each garment to see how to wash it before she would buy it. This drove me insane. I couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal! Now, however, I am the same- does it need to be dry-cleaned? hand-washed? cold or warm wash? low or high heat? I always check anything and everything, and if it seems it will take time or extra money, then it goes back on the rack! Little did I know that I would one day become my mother… :D

  19. Mary Jane says

    I use and enjoy having small scatter rugs at my kitchen sink, under the towel rack in the bathroom, and at my entry way. To save time and energy, I always buy or make cotton rugs. After a week or two they start looking like they need a wash, even with being shaken out or vacuumed. One day I realized that I could shake the rug out, and just turn it over, to use for another week or two before laundering it. The underside would still look clean and fresh. Twice as much wear and time before they need to be washed.

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