Cleaning 101 for Boyfriends

I’ve noticed that single men don’t know anything about cleaning house.  For example, when I met him, my ex husband didn’t even know there’d been a vacuum in his closet when I unearthed it (there were dust bunnies the size of footballs behind the couch, too, not to mention the orange glaze of goo completely covering his stove). If I’m dating someone casually, I don’t care how clean his house is. When it gets to the point where I have a toothbrush at the sink and eat many of my meals at his house, the dirt starts to taunt me.

Kitchen sink, sing-songy: Jeeeeeen, look at this lumpy stuff in the drain! You’ve been trying to ignore it for weeks, but HELLO! Here it is! Clean it!

Bathroom sink, creepy: I cooked up something brown for yooooou!

Bathroom floor, mocking: What’s stuck to your wet feet? A special hairy present!

Vacuum, grumpy: Don’t bother me, I’m sleeping.

I break down eventually. And I clean like a madwoman. The first time I was comfortable enough cleaning Sherpa’s place was the night I was “testing” the Valium before my gum surgery. Yes, I took a Valium and cleaned his kitchen, top to bottom. He spent the next few weeks singing The Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper” under his breath.

Since then I’ve occasionally ripped apart one thing or another and cleaned like crazy – maybe I’m just giving the man a fish and not teaching him how to fish, but in my mind I’m doing him a favor… and my reward is a happy Sherpa and a clean house, not to mention the amazed reactions of visitors.

I know I can’t be alone in this, because I don’t consider myself obsessively clean.  I know this doesn’t just apply to men, either. But guys, please buy some Lysol (and use it). Here are a few pearls of wisdom I thought I’d share, having previously thought they were common knowledge. Perhaps you can share this around. Disclaimer: Any resemblance of events described here to actual events is purely coincidental.

1. Your vacuum has attachments so you can clean in corners, and in small places. You know the coffee grounds you spilled last year? The attachments can get that. And the edges of your cream Berber weren’t always black. Granted you don’t have to do this every time you vacuum, but more than “not ever in the 5 years I’ve owned the place” is a good idea. And you should vacuum more than once every 6 months.

2. If your electric toothbrush glues itself to your sink top, it hasn’t just become a new fixture. Time to clean.

3. If your stainless steel sink is brown, use soft scrub.

4. If your girlfriend has just scrubbed your sink with soft scrub, don’t put a full bag of trash in the sink because her dog might get in it and you don’t feel like taking the trash out because it’s raining. In fact, NEVER put a bag of trash in the kitchen sink.

5. Those little lumpy black trays under the stovetop burners? They used to be silver. They can be removed and cleaned, or replaced for just a few bucks.

6. If all else fails, find yourself a girlfriend and give her a Valium.

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