A few weeks ago I wrote about how I hated spring cleaning as a kid. Well, now I’m an adult – or supposed to be at least – and sadly, little has changed. Very rarely do I look forward to cleaning and I can still throw a quality fit when threatened with chores (just ask my girlfriend). With that said, as much as I dislike cleaning, I’ve matured enough to realize that living in filth is not a good look either. Eventually there comes a time when I must “man-up” and get the job done. Friends, that day was yesterday.
And I’ve yet to recover.
To preface, I live in New York City – home of the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and wildly expensive apartments that are essentially glorified storage closets. So I never have a lot of space to clean. But because it’s such a small area, it get messy fast. If I don’t pick up a little each day, before long I need a Sherpa to navigate from the bathroom to the couch.
I went out of town last weekend and despite the apartment being admittedly messy when I left, somehow it felt even grosser when I returned – like the Dirty Dish and Weird Smell Fairies visited while I was away. I knew I had to do something drastic.
So I started in the area that my realtor had generously referred to as “the kitchen.” I scrubbed hundreds (well, probably more like dozens) of dirty dishes, wiped down countertops, threw away the trash and recycled plastics, swept the floor and used a bottle-and-a-half of Febreze® to exorcise the odor demons. It was intense. Usually I throw on some relaxing music while cleaning, easy listening stuff like James Taylor or Van Morrison. Not this day. This was a Metallica-type clean – fast, furious, and a little frightening.
I was in the zone. I even think I blacked-out momentarily.
By the time I snapped out of it, my apartment was sparkling. I’ve never been happier to be a member of the affresh™ team and have access to all of the brand’s wonderful cleaning products. With the help of affresh™, my Sherpa, and Metallica, I survived another massive cleaning project – the likes of which I can only hope I’ll never encounter again.
Affresh Cooktop Cleaner
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Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner
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Truth be told, I don’t know all there is to know about appliances, aside from wishing my apartment building would invest in newer models with better features.
But everything I do know about appliances I think I learned from my grandmother.
We lived with my grandparents during my teenage years, which meant I could no longer kick the dryer door shut like I did at our old apartment because, well, that would be rude.
If there’s anyone on earth who appreciates the efficiency of a washing machine, the storage space of a refrigerator and the cooktop of a range, it’s probably my grandmother. She has always treated the appliances in her house with care.
She’s learned how to master it all after raising 15 children. She loves laundry and she could feed an army in about an hour. And when I sit at the table in her kitchen now, I notice her habits have become mine.
I’ve learned how to keep a number of things going on the stove so when it comes to cooking a big dinner, it’s all ready to go at once and nothing has to be reheated.
When it comes to cooking or baking anything in the oven, keep a close eye on it. Appliances are about the
function of cooking. But the recipe, well, that’s all about instinct.
In the refrigerator, everything has its proper place. And no space is too small. I once watched her fit enough food for 40 people into her little white model fridge. Oh and here’s a good one – you simply can’t call yourself a good hostess unless you know where every little thing is in that refrigerator and can get to it in seconds. Just after stocking it with the food for those 40 people, someone asked for olives. She had them pulled out of the back of that thing and in a small bowl in five minutes. And she had to pull out a turkey, a pot full of stew, pita bread, vegetables, salad and pot roast to get to them.
I picked up her habit of unplugging all of my countertop appliances before I leave the house. I have no idea why but I don’t question the woman, I just go with it. Except for pulling hot pans out of the oven with my bare hands. She can do that. I can not.
The laundry room is a different story. Even after the loads of laundry she had daily, what with 15 kids, she still loves doing it to this day. That I did not get from her. I hate laundry. But I do know that cleaning the lint trap isn’t just necessary, it’s just good sense. And no matter how many loads you have to do, you’ll feel better once they’re done.
Everywhere I look these days, there’s a lot to be learned about the appliances we keep in our homes. New technology, new methods of keeping appliances clean and running well, new cycles on the washer and new features on the dishwasher.
But some lessons are timeless.
Growing up, my dad was the laundry expert in our home (truth be told, he still is). I never found out how he got to be the laundry expert, although I will admit I was hoping to hear stories of my mom shrinking a load of dress clothes or the dreaded pink load, but sadly there has been no such story.
I know my grandma expected him to be a self-sufficient man so she made sure he knew how to cook, sew and get stains out before he left the house for college.
I’ve been able to learn some of his tricks and I wanted to share:
• Use your tools: he has a host of stain treaters or fighters and detergents on-hand to help him address his laundry needs. He has a stain treater spray and several detergents: a neutral detergent for delicates, a detergent with enzymes to address a variety of stains and a detergent specially made for cold water washes.
• Use your cycles: unlike most of friends and other family members, my dad utilizes his cycles. If he is washing a delicate item with his neutral detergent, he will use his washer’s delicate cycle. If he is washing towels, he will use the enzyme detergent and the heavy duty cycle.
• Pay attention to your machine: yes, he read the Use & Care Guide when he got a new washer and dryer to get to know the cycles and the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to use the machines.
• Maintain your machine: you’ve invested in a laundry pair—why not take care of it? Especially if it is a simple step. My dad keeps the door open on his washing machine between cycles to make sure it can dry out between cycles. He cleans the lint trap out in his dryer before he puts in a load to dry. This is a pet peeve of mine - cleaning out the lint in your dryer’s lint trap takes about 15 seconds and helps with your dryer’s efficiency, so please clean it out. He also cleans his washing machine regularly. It takes the length of a normal wash cycle, and is an important cycle to run once a month.
Being a guest in someone’s home is always an interesting experience. I love getting a glimpse of the way other people live their day-to-day lives, from the social dynamics inside the home to mealtime routines.
Recently I’d been staying with a friend and her family whose post-dining customs, quite frankly, scared me – and not because of what they did, but because of what they didn’t do.
After dinner, they casually placed their dirty plates, glasses and silverware in the sink and left them there.
The horror, I know. This relatively harmless incident was unlikely to have crossed anyone else’s radar, but as a borderline obsessive compulsive cleaner, I was disturbed on a level only a fellow diehard clean-freak can understand.
Was it a test? Did they expect me to help with chores? After all, I was a guest in their home. But each time I made the offer my friend’s parents kindly declined, piling another round of post-meal pots and pans into the sink.
As a life-long dish-rinser, I briefly attributed this bizarre habit to sheer laziness different cleaning regimens than I was accustomed to, until I noticed how immaculate the rest of their home was. Perhaps they just had an extraordinarily trusting relationship with their dishwasher?
At this point, only one thing was clear: I was putting way too much thought into this.
One day I caught my friend’s mom unloading the dishwasher and stopped in my tracks. She pulled one sparkling clean dish from the machine after another. How was this possible? Was I in the presence of some super-powered dishwasher? And can I take it for a spin?
Several weeks later I had moved out. I’d all but forgotten about the whole thing until I came across a recent abc news report sacking my deeply-held conviction that you need to rinse your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
Even Consumer Reports found that dishwashers clean food-stained dishes just as well as rinsed ones, even when food has dried on the dish. And loading un-rinsed dishes saves on water and energy bills.
So, as it turns out, my host family unknowingly schooled me on the ways of kitchen cleanliness.
The (quite clean) end.