Men Vs. Cleaning

Certain things just don't mix. Oil and water. Yankee and Red Sox fans. Men and cleaning.  Especially men and cleaning -- a source of household strife as old as the broom.  I am a man and most of us (if I may aim broadly here) simply do not possess the cleaning gene. It's nature and >>OUCH!<< Which one of you readers threw that?

OK, OK, this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and I am a male of the species who pitches in around the house. But I know there are lots of others out there who don't. So if you live with someone who treats household cleaning like a foreign language that he (or she) doesn't speak, here is my advice for indoctrinating them.  You just have to go slowly:

  1. Start small. Insist not on an entire house to clean, but rather a tiny portion thereof. Like a bookcase. Or the sink in the guest bathroom. Cleaning it will seem not so bad. It might even be fast and painless. After this initial foray into the domain of disinfection, gradually scale up your efforts to entire rooms. Go slowly enough, and eventually (s)he'll clean the entire house before (s)he knows it.
  2. Don't overload them with your full arsenal of cleaning supplies; this could cause a short-circuit. Start by handing them a roll of recycled paper towels and a spray bottle of Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner
  3. Don't let them clean in silence. Blast their favorite album or turn the radio on.
  4. Offer to work alongside them, and see if you can get the older kids to help pitch in, too. It's always more fun to share the labor.

That should do the trick. If not, immediately begin spending the entire household entertainment budget on a housekeeper and re-order your Netflix queue with all your favorites at the top. After a few showings of a genre you love and they hate, they'll be reaching for the scrub brush like it was a life preserver. Just ask my wife…

Seriously, how do you encourage your significant other to help clean?

photo: Miika Niemelä

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the Inkslinger

The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!

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