Sunday 15 January 2012

Er...I'm cleaning

Last night I went to my friend Gill’s house for the evening.  I love her place. It’s so welcoming, so reassuringly normal, about as far from Bonkers as you can get.  It’s not just that it’s deliciously warm, it’s beautifully clean. Ordered. Uncluttered. But above all clean. Her kitchen gleams. No really, it glitters like a vampire’s skin. You can see the wood on her table. Open her fridge and you don’t recoil in disgust. There is no gloopy alien lifeforce colonising her cooker.

It was late when I got home so I didn’t really notice the house much, except for tripping over a pile of something someone had thoughtfully left on the stairs.  Why didn’t I see it? Because there's no light on the stairs.  Having hurled your entire body weight against the door to shoulder your way in (you wonder why I work out? I need the muscles), you are then plunged into darkness the moment you slam it shut and have to feel your way up two flights of stairs (incidentally passing the Loo of Doom and the Cellar of Spirits – renamed after Lorraine’s visit – and barging your way through the partying entities).  Once through the door into the kitchen, you move from pitch darkness to a forgiving penumbra (there are lights but half the bulbs don’t work).  Anyhow, shadows hide a multitude of sins.

But this morning, in the unforgiving glare of cool low winter sun? Oh hell.  We live in a pigsty.  And, given our homes reflect our minds, that what we see around us mirrors our inner world?  Oh dear.  L

So. I got cleaning. I know, I know.  I was shocked too.  But I hauled James off the Xbox,  armed him with a timely sponge and pointed him in the right direction (ie told him to spin round, pick a spot, any spot, and start scrubbing).  Now then, is there anything more beautiful than the sight of a teenage boy on his hands and knees, cleaning?  Okay, so you do have to put up with the whole underpants showing over the low-slung jean thing (does ANYONE get that?) but hey…

Incidentally, do your children clean?  My mother was adamant that all boys should know how to clean, cook and do the laundry.  Just as she believed girls should be able to fix cars and use a drill.  She said she’d never forgive herself for bringing up a man who couldn’t fend for himself; who expected women to do all the domestic work.
I’m following her lead.  James is a good cook; is handy with mop, duster, scrubbing brush and vacuum cleaner. I’ve taught him the fine art of reading clothing labels and he can sort of iron (because that’s all his teacher can do).

Anyhow. The cleaning was actually relatively pleasant because we’d been given a whole bunch of Greenscents products to try out.  Greenscents are a local company who make household products with absolutely no chemical nasties.

I didn’t think I’d get excited about cleaning products but really these are pretty fabulous. I love them mainly because they smell divine – I’m hard pressed to choose between the mint and the citrus scent for general cleaning.  Lavender always wins me over in the laundry department.  Even Adrian’s a convert.  He reckons the wood floor cleaner is ‘the business’.  ‘Tell ‘em I like the smell,’ he says. ‘And it does a really good job.’
Yes, I’m plugging these guys, I freely admit it.  There are several reasons.

1. I like local.  I like to support small businesses, particularly those that give a damn about the environment.
2. I don’t like harsh chemical cleaners. I don’t like what they could potentially do to my family’s health and I don’t like what they do to the environment.
3. They’re damn good products. They do the job and make your home smell nice.
They are more expensive than the stuff you get in Tesco or whatever but I think they’re worth the extra.  Will I continue using them when this lot is finished?  Yes, I think so.  £2.50 for washing up liquid is a bit steep but the laundry liquid is a total keeper.  At £4.75 it’s around the price of the conventional stuff and it washes a treat.  I don’t usually use fabric conditioner – it’s a hangover from when my son was small and had appalling skin problems (conditioner can exacerbate eczema etc). But I’m hooked now on all our stuff smelling so damn…fresh.  However, if essential oils cause irritation (and they can – natural isn’t always the answer!) there is also an unscented range.
Sheesh, all this domestic goddessery and nice housewifery business is a bit alarming.  Time to strip off the pinny and get back to my usual slatternly ways. 

If you want to find out more about greenscents, check out their website –


Isobel Morrell said...

Good to hear the lad's being brought up right! Our girls were expected to clean - and still do a good job (especially when Daddy and I are expected - he's the one to please: I am somewhat less observant!) I hate cleaning, but do enjoy the after effect - so do it, just for the result(s)!

Rob-bear said...

Good for James, cooking and cleaning and all. That's very important for everyone. Boiling eggs is one thing; making an omelette is another. But let's not push flambé for a year or two. And how many teens does it take to change a light bulb? Or several bulbs?

Nice advert of Greenscents, btw.

And was you who published a book called Spirit of the Home, or something like that? Or was that a different Jane Alexander.

Unknown said...

Good for you and great for James! I'm trying to do the same with Dom, but with two older sisters to clean up after him, he shirks it a bit.

Those products sound great. I use all natural, too. It makes cleaning nicer... if such a thing can be said lol

Tee said...

The products I use are all enviro friendly and most smell like oranges! So, bonus. I am taking care of my Mother Earth and making my house smell good.

I have been procrastinating scrubbing my kitchen floor. I might do it today instead of going to the gym. Because it will be a two hour chore, mostly because there's this tacky, sticky crap all over it that I started scrubbing off when I first moved in and I got tired. Probably time to finish that up. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

If our surroundings truly reflect our inner world, then I think arson may be my only solution. Either the house or me, not sure which.

Cait O'Connor said...

Those cleaners sound scrumptious.
I am worried about your dark stairs Jane (as someone who has fallen down stairs... albeit not in the dark).

Sessha Batto said...

My hovel is a disaster zone of epic proportions! That being said, I honestly believe if you don't stick to it, it doesn't need cleaning, I have other things to do with my life. Lurch, however, can clean like a demon (his bedroom is the cleanest room in the house apart from my office) and he wants to be a chef, so he does most of the cooking - and not simple stuff, 4-course gourmet spreads ;) If I'd have known the benefits of a teenager I'd have had him earlier ;)