First posted 06:08pm (Mla time) April 01, 2005
By KC Concepcion
Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on Page F1 of the April 2, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
I'VE HEARD all their stories, been amused by their wildly varying personalities, recorded mental notes of their strange character quirks, and most importantly, I've learned actual life lessons from each one of them, no matter which cities of origin they've brought these lessons back from. I'm talking about my family's household help back home.
In the last century, women lived planning housework as a daily routine, dictating which household job would be done on each day of the week. Helpers are now, in effect, career women in this day and age, as they head out to new worlds to make cosmopolitan homes sparkle. Students, on the other hand, don't have the heart to dedicate their free time to household chores. I'm going to have to say that I've hidden behind the overly popularized reaction, "We're in college! Clean rooms? It wouldn't be right." But moving from my humble little 15-square-meter chambre de bonne to my 46-square-meter apartment has taught me a little bit about cleaning, especially as I have the space now to accommodate company in the forms of human and canine friends.
With their stories I remember I would daydream of one day being able to climb a coconut tree, and wondered why I never learned to do this in my childhood. I also remember spending a lot of time getting them to help me clean up the fridge, which was one of my favorite hobbies as a child. Years later, it is beginning to seem like they are eager to leave that particular job to me, almost to welcome me back home. But, it's okay. I've taken the opportunity and turned this into a regular bonding session with our "katulong." Throwing out expired goods, sectioning food products in both the pantry and fridge, defrosting, wiping up spillage, getting rid of clutter.
Sunday mornings get me high on household work.
My home--a duplex (really just a ladder that leads up to the 'bedroom'), start at the top, working down. I clean this area first, then move onto the living room, where I clean walls, floors, behind and underneath furniture.
I prefer to do the wet stuff first--washing windows or appliances, laundering.
Dry stuff next--dusting, then vacuuming.
I usually leave these to do last--bathrooms, kitchens, utility rooms--because they can get quite nasty, and knowing I've done half of the whole house gears me up to do this.
Then I do the hallway and 'cave' (storage room) and steps leading to my door, as well as the door itself (I don't know if it's even my territory anymore but somehow this made me want to clean the elevator and mailboxes as well.)
Bedroom3 things not to ignore:
1. Changing the sheets at least once a week! It's just better that way.
2. Vacuuming the mattress every couple of months and using a mattress protector you can wash once a month (especially if the bed comes with your rent).
3. Keeping the bed smelling real good by placing a fabric softener sheet under the blanket. Another (semi-barbaric) way of doing this is spritzing some rubbing alcohol on the protector then sprinkling some baby powder over it before placing the covers.
Daily Routine: Make the bed when you get up. Opening windows also helps to get air rushing into the room and into your system before you start your day. In case you have a bad day, at least fall into a yummy bed!
Living room3 things not to ignore:
1. Telephone receivers (cell phones need some disinfecting too), even if it's just to spray some Lysol or (tried and trusted) rubbing alcohol on a piece of cloth and wiping the receiver clean. This goes for computer, TV, and stereo equipment as well, but these call for more gentle static-free products that shouldn't be sprayed directly onto the surface.
2. Stain removers include baking soda mixed with water (also works for tea or coffee stains), distilled white vinegar for pet urine on carpets or to bring out shine in silverware (when mixed with soap and water), and calamansi peeled at the top and rubbed against a fabric stain.
3. Vacuuming every corner and angle of everything! Under furniture, lampshades, air-conditioning vents, electric fans, bookcases, cds, dvds, picture frames... Really, the vacuum cleaner is a luxury!
Daily Routine: Use a different cloth for each room. It's disgusting to cross-clean considering all the different kinds of scum the cloths pick up. Just imagine.
KitchenThe kitchen is always where the heart is, in our family. Soulfood gets cooked up, memories are made here (not to mention bonding sessions with the helpers), and so are the secret family recipes (mostly created accidentally in my lifetime).
I accidentally found a great way to make the kitchen attract the Gods... In attempting to make some real-true Chai tea, then naturally failing to do so. Fill up a small saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer. Dump in some cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and orange or dalandan peel, and let the sunshine in!
3 things not to ignore:
1. Wiping up the spillages in the microwave. Multitask! For 3 minutes, try cooking an uncovered bowl of water with a few slices of calamansi (or lemon) to let the steam loosen the dirt, and have it smell fresh at the same time.
2. Posting a list of what's in the freezer, to keep from opening the door frequently. You don't want your low-tech non-frost-free model to ice up quickly, because it is not fun at all to defrost a freezer.
3. Taking out the trash before the bin is filled up and greeting all the guests. Invest in trash bags or grocery "supots." This is good to keep flies away, as well (flies are known to carry up to 2 million bacteria, and are fast breeders--females lay batches of 150 eggs at a time, which hatch in a span of one full day)!
Daily Routine: When doing the dishes it's easier to wash the glasses separately, and it's important to try your best not to knock anything over unnecessarily, because you will be paying for either what you don't have, or what is not yours. Cups & mugs together, then the plates, then utensils, then the pans and cooking dishes. That's if you cook (after moving to a new apartment I found a lace thong packed in my friend's saucepan. Now we know what she does in the kitchen)!
Bathroom3 things not to ignore:
1. Baking soda rinsed in the tub with warm water works wonders.
2. Hang the shower curtain up after rinsing at least the ends of it with warm water and soap to keep it from going moldy.
3. I like leaving the door open to keep air circulating after a hot shower, unless there is an urgent need to clean up the tiles, which works easier when the bathroom is all steamed up, anyway.
Daily Routine: Bleach tablets or distilled white vinegar diluted in toilet water can make the toilet look a whole lot cleaner. College students, please flush after each use (I don't care if you are saving money by cutting costs on water use) and with a toilet brush that is either changed or disinfected regularly I think it is best to invest in a scented toilet cleaner and scrub after yourself at the end of each day.
Clutter3 things not to ignore:
1. Removing whatever's in the pantry before stuffing in new products, to see which ones should be thrown away. Also, check to see what you haven't used from a gathering or party, and decide whether or not you want to keep it there for the next get-together (I once found a poor little can of expired Chili con Carne which, in the first place, did not belong in the kitchen of a semi-vegetarian).
2. Putting away clothes, appliances, gadgets, wires, ANYTHING you don't use, or haven't used in the past two years. Pass on to those who will find use in them (helpers and their families are a safe bet), and don't even think of giving broken, useless junk away to someone who is not a magician, handyman, or artist!
3. Dealing with all the clutter could translate into quality time with the vacuum or duster. Storage areas could keep disgusting dust mites in your life, so please DO get them away! A Science project in 7th grade had us magnify a dust mite to the size of a basketball, and this image of hell has traumatized me ever since.
So that's my carousel of mother-hen advice. After a while, chores become second nature until you don't realize you are doing them anymore, and that's even more reason to start coming face-to-face with college-life dirt! A neat room has got to be worth fighting for. It helps to look at cleaning up like lovin' the soul. Ten minutes a day will save you hours and hours of extra time to work, play, study and party. As you plunge into the sweet smell of skin in the Summer sun... I'm all revved up for Spring!
Copyright 2006 Inquirer News Service. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2006 Inquirer News Service. All rights reserved.