Ask UfYH

Ask UfYH: Taking Shortcuts

Q: I am often ill and overexertion makes me worse. When I’m having a bad time, the house gets squalid. Then when I feel better I CAN’T marathon, but slow and steady is slow. Are things like floor wipes and bathroom cleaning wipes really, really awful?

A: It’s really easy for someone to say, “Yes, those things are awful. Never use them.” But that’s not the whole story. It never is. 

Disposable cleaning wipes and other “convenience” cleaning items are bad for the environment. That’s not really a fact that’s in dispute. But a cut-and-dried judgment on using these items doesn’t take into account a lot of factors. Take your situation, for example. You have a limited amount of time and an even more limited amount of energy to expend on cleaning. You need to maximize the time you have when you have it. There’s a reason convenience cleaning items exist: they’re convenient.

I’m of the opinion that there’s no across the board “right” or “wrong” for anything, housekeeping-wise. All of those rules are what make people think they can’t keep a clean house to begin with: You have to vacuum [x often]. Never let clutter accumulate. Everything has to be sorted and labeled. There are so many rules that housekeeping and organizational systems give you that it’s just easier sometimes to say, “Fuck it, I can’t do all of that,” and just do nothing instead. And that’s not helping you one bit.

So here’s my take on convenience cleaning items: If they make life easier for you, use them. Maybe think of a way to offset the environmental impact in another part of your life, or seek out tutorials on DIY cleaning wipes, or come up with a reusable system that’s still convenient for you to use when you have the time and energy. But there’s no sense in beating yourself up for doing what you have to in order to keep yourself healthy and your home clean.

Also, start thinking of things you can still do when you aren’t feeling 100% that won’t overexert you. Sorting and folding laundry in bed. Trash cans or laundry baskets in more places so you don’t have to travel as far to get things put in the right place. Giving the bathroom floor a quick sweep from, ahem, a seated position. Think about the small things you can do, or how you can modify tasks so they aren’t draining you when you’re short on energy. There’s no right way to clean; there’s only what’s right for you.

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6 replies on “Ask UfYH: Taking Shortcuts”

I use cheap, grungy old washcloths to wipe down the bathroom counter and sink after I wash my face and/or brush my teeth. I shared a bathroom with my dad growing up and he had a thing about the counter being left wet and he passed that quirk on to me, dammit. But the water that ends up on the counter means you’re also getting the hair and powder and toothpaste etc, and wiping it twice a day keeps it looking decent between actual cleanings. And I totally grab some toilet paper and wipe up the hair by the tub when, um, seated and flush it all.

I totally use toilet paper to do a quick sink and toilet clean while waiting for my shower to warm up or just after a shower. I keep a spray bottle with Dawn, vinegar and water that I spritz the bowl with and use tp to wipe the rim and underside of the seat, etc. Same with the sink. I scrub the inside of the bowl with the toilet brush and the whole thing take a couple minutes. The tp goes into the toilet and gets flushed. I’m still using paper products but less of them.

I totally use the pre-packaged cleaning wipes. I know they’re bad for the environment, but otherwise I’m terrible about wiping the counters down. In the end, you have to do what will make you take good care of yourself. Keep yourself as healthy as possible, and then worry about the ecosystem.

Clean laundry gets sorted on the bed. Tops are placed on hangers & put away. Then I sit on the bed in order to fold/roll pants, socks, & underthings. This is especially comfortable because of how long it takes & the need for a flat surface. Believe me, folding & rolling twenty pairs of underpants is a -lot- easier when I’m not standing up.

Laundry always gets sorted in front of the tv. I throw it all on the couch, fold while I relax, and sort it out onto the coffee table. When I use the bathroom, I take a stack of clothes and put it in the bedroom on the way through. If I decide to take a break, the pile of clothes isn’t going anywhere.

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