I don’t know if you guys are aware of this, but I am SUCH a domestic goddess. I know, right? It surprised me too. For posterity, I thought I would memorialize my best tips here. It is possible, of course, that one or two of these things are obvious; if that is the case, I don’t want to know. Believing that you are a trailblazer is half the battle when it comes to taking care of the home.
All Hail Viakal
There is a rather delicate issue with UK toilets that isn’t really talked about in mixed company. Since I am a delicate lady with delicate sensibilities, I will simply share exhibit A, a photo of my toilet pre-Viakal, to illustrate:
Basically, due to a combination of low water levels in the bowl, high mineral levels in the water, and pretty standard levels of crap, even the most well-cared-for London toilet can look a bit…crusty.
I finally realized I had to do something when a 5-year-old friend of William’s told me our toilet was “gross.” When any child expresses disgust with your housekeeping, you need to act fast. When a child who routinely smells his fingers after poking your dog in the b-hole expresses disgust with your housekeeping, you need to act yesterday.
Enter Viakal. You can find it anywhere – grocery stores, hardware stores, probably other places, I’m sure. If the buildup is bad, first you empty the toilet bowl of all water (I used a squirt toy and a large Solo cup; there may have been a better way to do this). Then, dump in the Viakal and let it sit for a few hours. I started the whole thing at 8 AM and by noon, I was wiping off 9 months of build-up like it was butter on a plate. This analogy, though accurate, upsets me; I can’t figure out why.“Oh, [Forks] are [Forks], and [Knives] are [Knives], and never the twain shall meet.”
I recently declared the southwesternmost well of our dishwasher’s silverware basket Knifetown. Spoonville abuts it to the north. The entire east coast of the basket is New Forksland, because JESUS CHRIST do we use a lot of forks. What am I getting at? I’m getting at this: miraculously, grouping the dirty silverware as it goes in means that the silverware is already grouped when it’s time to come out! That’s just science. Time-saving, efficient science.
Sock Monkey, That Funky Monkey
Where others see a trite, cliched joke about socks that mysteriously go missing in the wash, I see an opportunity to build up my collection of sock dusters. Slip one over your hand and you become your very own Swiffer Duster. And when you’re your own Swiffer Duster, the possibilities are endless. Never was that clearer than today, when I was hand-dusting our mantle and realized that we still had Valentine’s Day cards on display. Once I took THOSE down, I discovered an open half-eaten Crunchie chocolate bar, presumably also Valentine’s Day-related. Because I am a responsible adult, I only thought about eating it for like 15 seconds before throwing it away.
Can you guess what reminded me that I’m a responsible adult who doesn’t eat old candy she finds on the mantle?
MY SOCK HAND DUSTER. Nothing like clutching an ancient candy bar in a dirty sock on your hand to remind you that you have standards.
Broken Windows Theory of House Cleaning
The broken windows theory has been billed by some civic leaders as an important tool for resurrecting blighted urban areas. On a very basic level, it states that failing to address small crimes like minor vandalism and graffiti creates an atmosphere of steadily increasing chaos that paves the way for bigger crimes that, ultimately, ravage a city.
Giuliani used it to justify his crackdown on perpetrators of petty crimes, like those crazy-ass squeegee guys who used to scare the bejeezus out of me when we regularly went to New York in the ’80’s. I use it to encourage myself to do those tiny, annoying tasks that seem so inconsequential but truly do need to be done.
For example, just today I was putting clothes away in the kids’ room. I didn’t intend to tidy in there, but lo and behold I came across a large, wet diaper in the corner. It was, I don’t know, a few days old? Maybe a week? I’m fairly confident I didn’t put it there, and a large part of me wanted to just walk away and deal with it later. But thanks to the broken windows theory, I fucking walked back in that room, and I picked up that nasty-ass old diaper, and I threw it away. Because that’s just the kind of mom I am.