Monday, June 20, 2016


The Town House

My big sister Harriet lives a few miles from me, and we see each other frequently. In between times, we keep in touch by email. Yes, it’s silly, but it seems to work for us, and it has the advantage that if she shares a memory, I can save it. You see, Harriet and I are 19 years apart, so it's fun to compare notes on life with the folks.

Last week, I wrote to Harriet under the subject “Cleaning” as follows:
Harriet & Kathy c. 1952
“As I was cleaning my dirty drawers and cupboards, I thought of Mother. I hated to clean my room because the lint and hair got caught in the cloth and I just couldn't get rid of it. So, I asked if I could use paper towels, and she gave me an emphatic “No!” citing the expense. So, I explained about the hair and she said, 'It just shakes out.' I've never found that true. Today, in my own home, I take a roll of paper towels with me when I clean.”
Harriet responded:
“Mother also taught me it was the height of extravagance to use paper towels, and for years I used rags and hated them.  We used lots of rags on the farm anyway.  When we got the motor home, I found that I could clean the entire bathroom with Lysol spray and a paper towel and throw it away.  Then I didn’t have to haul dirty rags around.  The sky didn’t fall and we didn’t go broke, so now I use paper towels a lot. Rags are good for dusting, but Swiffers are better.”

Image courtesy Miller's Last Resort
Swiffers? Swiffers?!! Is it really okay to use Swiffer dusters? I have two on the farm – a short and a long handle – but somehow they just seemed too easy to be effective. Cleaning means suffering – creeping along the floor on my hands and knees to dust the baseboards, removing the problematic clutter from surfaces so that I can wipe with a rag, arguing with myself over which horrible spray product will help me catch the most dust -- and often giving up before I start. But with Harriet’s affirmation of the Swiffer, I tossed one in the cart as we shopped yesterday.
At home, I assembled the duster and proceeded to dust the breakfront with its many dust-catching doo-dads. I was done in a flash. I went on to the organ, the end tables, and even the remote control. When I came to the coffee table, I lifted the clutter with one hand and swiffed with the other. So quick! So easy! Who knew?!

I might not have written this post except that Chris over at the Last Resort recently discovered a Swiffer duster at her parents’ house and decided to get one of her own. Read about her experience here. KW


Chris said...

We do indeed travel in parallel universes!! This is too funny. I LOVE paper towels and refuse to feel guilty about them. Dusting with the rags and "the can" has always been a pain and you hit the nail on the head when you said you can lift things with one hand and swiffer with the other. Absolutely worth the expense. I guess that back in our moms' day, suffering while you worked was part of the process. I do know that after mom worked all day cleaning she felt a huge sense of pride in her accomplishments. Me, I'll settle for speed and I really do think things are just as clean. Or good enough for me clean.

Kathy said...

I agree -- things are just as clean, or at least, clean enough, with the efficient products. I don't remember dust being the problem in Mother's house that it is both in Clarkston and at the farm. Of course, the dust when I was a kid was not MY problem, but it just seems like the house doesn't stay dust-free for any length of time. Well, the farmhouse sits in the middle of fields and we do see dust storms here in the valley.

Chris said...

The dust here is awful. Of course farming is just beyond the house across the street. And then there's the wind... Swiffer to the rescue!!

Mike said...

Sounds like a promising development.