Tuesday, January 26

How Much Housework Is Too Much?


I thought I knew about obsessive housekeepery, I was raised in the sort of house where your coffee cup was whipped away for washing up the second you set it down - finished or not and we warned visitors not to stay too still if they didn't want to get dusted. My parents also like taking pre-emptive action against mess and wear, when I visited them over the weekend I admired my mother's ingenious Bacofoil candlestick protectors – no unsightly wax drips in that house!

I am serving out my final days at The Crazy White House (an average-sized 4-bedroom house, occupied by two adults and two children) which appears to exist solely for the purpose of being cleaned - I am wondering if it is, in fact an art piece or a scientific experiment that is secretly being filmed in timelapse to see how long it takes to polish, hoover and wash a house away. This is the regime:

Every day: at 7.30am Nadia arrives, she does breakfast and starts cleaning the house, she is there for 12 hours, by the time I arrive at 3pm she has started the second floor washing of the day.

Every Friday: a second cleaner arrives for the day and the house gets extra cleaning

Every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon:
someone comes to do laundry

One of the reasons I am leaving the CWH job is that I fear that I have either fallen into a hallucinatory parallel universe or gone snow blind; every night before I go home I look around the kitchen, I have cleaned and scrubbed and swept the floor - it looks, to my eyes, dazzlingly new. After my first week Nadia said to me

You must make the kitchen cleaner before you go at night, I only have an hour and a half to clean the kitchen in the mornings when I come in.

31 comments:

  1. Sounds like someone needs to work for NASA in one of their clean rooms - where satellites and robots are prepared before being launched into space.

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  2. Maybe they are all immune-deficient! Do they each have their own clear plastic isolation bubbles?

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  3. I worked in a factory for 13 years, most of it in a 'clean room'. Every surface had to be cleaned with industrial alcohol before we could start work! When we thought we had done our best, the supervisor would turn out the lights and check all surfaces with a torch! Any dust and we had to start again! It took me a long time to get used to 'normal' cleaning again!

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  4. I thought I knew people who were obsessed with cleaning, but I've never come upon anything like this. Do the children get hosed down when they get home from school?

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  5. yikes! that sort of behavior can scar a person for life!! i am soooooo glad y'all are getting out of there, sugar! xoxoxo

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  6. I would love to see pics...
    I would have asked Nadia to be specific and to give examples otherwise my head would have exploded in confusion.
    Sx

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  7. These people would take one look and my house and decide it needed to be condemned.

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  8. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    only an hour and a half to clean the kitchen? jaysus! poor nadia. she must HATE it, imagine the stress she's under...

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  9. Do you ever have the chance to talk to the other hired help off-hours?

    Has the employer managed (with you an obvious misfit) to select a staff equally obsessed with abolishing the filth?

    That's downright frightening... what happens when the day comes that Mrs. Clean looks around her at the people on the street and sees how hopelessly dirty everyone else is... how the poor earth needs to bed rid of them if it's ever to be spic and span again?

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  10. Oh God, I lived with a woman who used to clean the stove WHILE I was cooking. nothing made more more anxious than to have a spatter of sauce wiped away seconds after it landed on the cooktop. ahh! I'd have quit too.

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  11. So....do they eat off the floors? Or maybe they're rolling around on them all day long (when not in the way of the cleaners of course?) This sort of thing to me sounds like how people like Howard Hughes get started. It's creepy and OCD and just plain weird. Who can live like that? Do they do ANYTHING inside their house that constitutes fun at all?

    I'm so glad you're leaving.

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  12. Bill - Ah I think that's where Map used to work

    xl - I have strong beliefs about too much cleaning making people immune deficient. This lot need putting in a bubble and set afloat...

    Mapstew - Are you sure it wasn't NASA?

    Eryl- the darling children are kept in climate-controlled pods

    Sav - I don't know if the scarring will last my whole lifetime - I'm quite bouncey!

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  13. You need some detox at Headquarters... you may appreciate the White House yet ;-)

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  14. Scarlet I would love to see pics..
    You know when they go to the Arctic and get a white-out - it's like that

    Hello Ms Jane These people would take one look and my house and decide it needed to be condemned.
    Ah we have lived in the same house!

    Screamish - I think Nadia has really good drugs - she's given me some.

    Jacob - I do talk to the other hired helps - that's the bit I really enjoy about these jobs

    There is a big cultural issue going on here that probably needs a separate post.


    Kate - Cleaning round the cooking is off-putting - I am almost cooking surreptitiously, trying to do it without evidence of food.

    Ms Assassin - It is creepy and OCD and just plain weird. and they don't appear to do anything I'd call fun

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  15. Ange - If HQ is somewhere near Toulouse - I'm on the next plane
    xx

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  16. just what are they doing on Wednesday nights to require the day's laundry to be re-done?

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  17. I know a house a bit like your parents'. It is so clean and tidy that it looks like no one actually lives there. And, yes, the inhabitants spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning. On the rare occasion that I visit, I get anxious about knocking something over or spilling something, which of course makes it all the more likely that I will. Aaaaaaaaaargh!

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  18. Wait a minute...just to clarify, these are candlesticks wrapped in foil????

    Ummmm. Okay that's a way to enjoy the candlelight!

    "exist solely for the purpose of being cleaned..."

    Boy, first Cow felt better about her kitchen drawers, now she feels better about her house.

    Pretty sure an hour is maybe the sum total of the time the kitchen has been cleaned in, say, the past 6 months.

    Will look forward to your post about the co-workers. You'll have plenty 'o time to write as soon as you're swelling the ranks of the unemployed, right?

    Moo!

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  19. *sneaks bits of tinfoil off candlestick holders to add to tinfoil hat*

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  20. how much housework is too much? just ask my boyfriend, who will sadly share to any and all that i think any and all housework is a waste of time.

    good thing you escaped hygiene hell!!!!

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  21. Oh lordy, you have to feel sorry for the children - you should secretly take them to pig farm once a week and let them roll around in the muck for an hour or two.

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  22. Of course Nadia has good drugs. How else could someone bear to clean house for 12 hours a day?

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  23. That level of cleanliness is just wrong. However I was raised by a slattern (her word not mine)

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  24. My (lovely) wife does laundry whenever she wants to feel like she's accomplished something. She likes to feel like she's accomplished something pretty much all the time. My clothes are shrinking off my body.

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  25. Kevin just what are they doing on Wednesday nights to require the day's laundry to be re-done?
    Do you have no idea how long it takes to iron socks and underwear?

    Ms Eyeball - I also get spillage anxiety in super-neat homes, it results in a nervous twitch - disastrous when one s handed a glass of red!

    Ms Cow just to clarify, these are candlesticks wrapped in foil????
    Yup!!!

    If I've made Cow feel better about her drawers, my life's work is done - Hallelujah!

    MJ *sneaks bits of tinfoil off candlestick holders to add to tinfoil hat*
    Hey my parents need those for their hats!

    Ms Weight i think any and all housework is a waste of time.
    There really are sooo many better things to do

    Gadjo Oh lordy, you have to feel sorry for the children
    I wish I could but they're too ghastly

    Nursey - Of course Nadia has good drugs. How else could someone bear to clean house for 12 hours a day? Even with the drugs she's plainly going mad.

    Frenchie - That level of cleanliness is just wrong. My employer is like an anti- Quentin Crisp isn't she?

    Red Ruby Rose - would that be the Mendip Hills then?

    Mr Red - This clothes shrinking business - are you sure it's the clothes shrinking?

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  26. I think I've figured it out.

    Amateur reflecto-pronographers, but with a contamination phobia.

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  27. It would put even my wife to shame.

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  28. Ms Cow - do you not have a tinfoil hat - How do you scare the birds?


    Glory - I'm glad you've figured it out, you may be on to something

    BB - There is no shame in honest dirt

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  29. when i cleaned houses my own house suffered - i wonder what nadia's house looks like?

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