Monday, March 1, 2010

A Sjoggie's Version of Housecleaning

In my previous life, Saturdays were the days to grab a cup of coffee and then dive into weekly cleaning chores. Sjogren's syndrome has changed this and so many other weekly routines of my life.

Still, in my little fuzzy brain - foggy world, I like to imagine that visitors stopping by the house think, Hmm. Autoimmune disease, yes...but such an immaculately tidy home. How DOES she do it?

Snort. Sometimes my delusions are pretty entertaining.

In the real world, these days my house....ah, my house.......well, let's just say it's not immaculate. We all know why. Autoimmune fatigue changes everything, including the point at which I'm willing to pull the trigger on the vacuum cleaner. I do what I can, usually in small chunks of time interspersed with rest periods, and John is easily persuaded to pitch in. We get by.

But then there's those times when things have gotten somewhat out of control, and I find out that we're having guests. Meaning that lots of cleaning has to be done in a short period of time. In response, I have developed a process that I've called the white tornado routine, and because of autoimmune disease and it's accompanying fatigue, I've become an expert at this modified cleaning method over the last eight years.

This white tornado cleaning routine really doesn't involve cleaning at all. It's actually more of a now you see it now you don't kind of a trick. I'll share my tornado secrets here if you promise not to tell anyone. Or if you come over, don't be looking too closely in my closets.

Here's my non-cleaning cleaning tip number one:

Grab anything unsightly and stash it somewhere else. I love, love, love my garage for these instances. Thanks to John, our garage is actually organized enough to keep cars in it PLUS stuff. With room to spare. For example - my laundry room is not the most scenic room in the house. I can't just close the door because the guest bathroom adjoins it. It's pretty handy to stuff everything in a few laundry baskets and throw it all out in the garage. Preferably not somewhere directly behind the cars. Tire tracks are really hard to launder out of clothes. Don't ask me how I know this. 

Anything is fair game to be tossed into the garage: laundry, furniture, dog toys, dogs, decorations from two seasons ago, that knee - high stack of stupid catalogues, those blankets that were thrown over the couch covered in gross dog hair, well, you get the idea.

It all magically migrates back into the house eventually. I'm not sure how.

Be creative with tip number one. Closets, basements, under the pool table, doghouses, china hutches, back porches, neighbor's homes...think outside of the box for potential stash spots, people.

Non-cleaning cleaning tip number two:

Tip number two is actually a variation on tip number one. It involves the kitchen, a regularly disastrous area of my house. Don't despair, however: the dishwasher is a valuable tool. Yes, for washing dishes, of course. But it's also a fairly roomy rectangular storage space with a door that closes. Even when fully loaded, there's still plenty of room in which one could jam all that junk sitting on the kitchen counters. I wouldn't recommend using the dishwasher version of tip number two if you stack your unpaid bills on your kitchen counters, however. Bills are hard to read when saturated with spaghetti sauce. Or cereal milk. I would recommend that paper products such as the telephone bill get stuffed in the pantry. Definitely the pantry. Much safer.

Speaking from personal experience, I would also not recommend using your oven as a potential grab and stash locale. Think melted Tupperware congealing permanently around metal oven racks. See non-cleaning cleaning tip number five for a more appropriate use of  your oven.

Non-cleaning cleaning tip number three:

Kleenex + spit = magic. 'Nuff said. Used very infrequently now that I don't have small children's faces to clean these days. And the fact that I make considerably less spit thanks to Sjogren's. Prospective guests needn't worry - there's not saliva spread all over my house. Anymore.

Non-cleaning cleaning tip number four:

Never underestimate the cleaning value of the clothing that you are currently wearing. My washable wool socks are a great example of tip number four: They're not only good for my feet, but they also are invaluable dog-hair-in-the-corner dust mops. Or for visible furnace grates that are covered with dust, a quick swipe with one foot with the other firmly planted on the floor (remember to always non-clean clean safely, folks) works wonders.

I love to wear cotton sweatshirts around the house - they're so warm and comfy and versatile. A cotton sweatshirt sleeve can easily trap an entire entertainment center's worth of dust. Wowsers. If time is at a premium, you can also turn the sweatshirt inside out and presto! A clean shirt to wear while greeting your guests. How efficient is that?

Non-cleaning cleaning tip number five:

Burn or bake something.

As in a candle or pie, for heaven's sake. A scented candle adds real ambiance, plus masks the scent of the old pizza cardboards hidden in the microwave. I have sold two homes in the past, and each time, I stocked up on cheap brownie mixes and frozen pies. Nothing says welcome to my home and disregard the dust like the delightful fragrance of a freshly baked apple pie. Tip number five also has the added benefit of providing guests a snack, if they hang around for awhile.

Now it's your turn. I know you have more strategies to add to the non-cleaning cleaning list. C'mon. 'Fess up. I won't tell a soul.....