Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas present from my dad

Today I got a Christmas present from my (late) father: A clean kitchen floor.

After several months of trying to get the housecleaners we use to scrub (not dab at with a damp mop) the damn Marmoleum, I scrubbed the floor myself.

I put on workout clothes, got down on my hands and knees with a Dobie pad, and scrubbed. And I used the special Marmoleum cleaner, not the housecleaners' favorite pseudo-environmental solution that is the same thing as traditional cleansers, but packaged in a sensitive new-age white-and-green bottle with a eucalyptus scent and a high price. Scrubbing only took a few minutes (it's a small kitchen) but what a mess! I guess I'm partially to blame, because I selected a Marmoleum pattern in terracotta that just doesn't show the dirt. But oh, the dirt was down there. Every sticky thing we've spilled for the past few months that our cleaning crews have blithely skimmed over with their cute little damp mops. And, while I was down there, with my eyes at floor level, I got a good look at the recessed kickboards under the cabinets. Well, "good" is hardly the word — I'll spare you any further description. But cleaning them took only a minute or two. Then I took the plastic grill off the bottom of the our (unmovable) fridge, and used the crevice tool on the dustbuster to fish out a what looked like a prehistoric dust bunny.

(Just in case you wonder if I'm not communicating my desires clearly to the cleaners — one of the more memorable discussions began with me saying the kitchen floor wasn't clean enough, and could they do something to get it cleaner. They looked puzzled and said they had no idea how to get it cleaner. I suggested they use a Dobie pad, or other non-abrasive pad, and scrub it. They pointed out they use a dry sponge mop with a little damp cloth wrapped around it. Exasperated, I said "why do you use a damp cloth instead of a wet mop soaked in cleaning solution?" The woman looked at me like I was a dim bulb and spelled it out for me. "Oh, but the cloth on the mop is so much easier." I did not scream "But it doesn't f*cking clean anything!" I just fired that team. And hired a new one that is more reliable — but still of the dust-and-dab-with-eucalyptus school of cleaning.)

So here I sit, post scrubbing. My pants have wet knees, the shoulders of my shirt are grimy, and I suspect I have cleaning liquid in my hair. I look like I've been cleaning — not like I'm on my way out to the grocery store. Yet my cleaners come every week in cute little sweat clothes that  look just as cute and dry and neat when they leave — since all they do is pat at things with soft cloths, avoiding looking at or touching anything below knee level.

My father's hobby was maintaining things: woodwork, appliances, gutters, lawnmowers, cars, electronics. He cleaned and oiled and did all those things that were in the manual. As a result, things looked lovely and functioned well — he generally spotted problems during maintenance and we were able to schedule repairs (or buy replacement items) rather than have exciting household emergencies.

I had my share of emergencies when I bought my first house, so with our second one I've been much more vigilant about maintenance. Like my dad, I have manuals and all the cleaning instructions posted next to our furnace, our generator, and our hot water heater, in plastic zip lock bags, attached to the wall with push pins. Maintenance reminders for major appliances appear as alarms in iCal.

And, thanks to my dad, I have a clean kitchen floor (which I'm now about to glaze with four layers of Marmoleum glaze). And tomorrow morning I plan to cook Christmas breakfast while barefoot!

1 comment:

  1. I have a floor scrubber that I got second-hand years ago. It has 2 speeds: off and on. Two brushes rotate wildly, and the floor gets clean.

    When I got it, I had ancient soft wood floors that just sucked in the grime. I'd spend 10 hours on my hands & knees with a scrub brush to try to get it clean. The floor scrubber did a much better job in under an hour.

    Next time, borrow my floor scrubber. Have the cleaning people use it. They won't even muss their hair.