Privilege Blog

I Seriously, Honestly, Wish I Didn’t But I Do, Hate Housework, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:26am

So guys, tell me, how does one come to enjoy housework?

In all seriousness, I hate it. And I read, around the blogosphere, that others feel otherwise. Faux Fuchsia, Dani at the Mop Philosopher, Leslie at the Humble Bungalow, all enjoy what they term “domestics.” Not to mention another blog, Down to Earth, written by an Australian woman. It’s all about the joys of a home-centered life – sewing, baking, making your own cleaning products. She even wrote two books.

Help me out. Must one be born with this predilection? Or does it result from secret tricks, an excellent system?

When I worked, I was either gone from my house so many hours that I didn’t notice how “kept” it was, or I had a house cleaner. I thought that I could use this time of retirement and/or working primarily from home to figure out how to clean if not blissfully at least peacefully. But it’s been 2 1/2 years, and, nope.

While I will never enjoy doing any tasks over and over again, I think I could move forward if I just felt like I could do a very good job in manageable chunks of time. Right now it feels like either I’ve got to work like crazy or I do bad work. Wait. Is that just the truth of the thing?

We could hire someone. We may hire someone. But before I surrender, anyone out there with hints? Some cleaning products that you really like, non-toxic, sweet-smelling? A simple schedule? A complex ritual of meditation and self-abnegation?

Thank you in advance for your counsel. Have a wonderful weekend.

106 Responses

  1. Nope – after doing my own forever, I still hate every moment of it. Not even the (very small) satisfaction of stuff being cleaner – well at least smelling better – puts a dent in it. The only task I like is the occasional deep cleaning and oiling of our dining room table – it’s a very sense-pleasing thing and helps by reminding me of the wonderful people that come share meals there. I build some rewards in, like using products that don’t make my head hurt. The only way I can deal with it is to decide that the whole of it isn’t ‘my job’ – I set aside a reasonable amount of time every day to do house tasks and focus on what’s making me craziest. I remind my shrinking at-home family that it’s part of what we all contribute. But I think that I may just decide that contributing to fuller employment is a positive contribution to my community and my own sanity.

    1. @Leesy, “The only way I can deal with it is to decide that the whole of it isn’t ‘my job’ – I set aside a reasonable amount of time every day to do house tasks and focus on what’s making me craziest.” Yes, it’s the mental nagging at me that I dislike, the “it’s my job,” but, unfortunately, I like it just a little less than I like the actual work!

  2. I say hire someone to help. I don’t see any point in suffering if you can afford to hire someone to help. For several years, I cleaned our farmhouse myself. It took me several hours every week because I did not want to leave it not looking its best–because that is what I wanted to see when I returned. I have been SO much happier since we have hired someone to clean the farmhouse every other week.

    My one tip is to clean as you go. I always clean up my kitchen right after every meal. And that includes keeping the sink clean–and of course the countertops.

    I do like the Method products. They work well, smell great and I THINK they have less toxicity than many other products.

    1. @Susan D., It’s so hard for me to clean up the pots and pans after dinner. It all seems so gargantuan, just when I want to be relaxing:(. But I will try harder. The only point in suffering was, um, to improve my character? Ha!

  3. I love to cook, but other than that, despise housework. If you can afford it, hire someone, without guilt.

    1. @Kathy, Without guilt. I will work on that one. It’s also true that if I didn’t dread cleaning my stovetop my enjoyment of cooking would ramp back up…

  4. When I worked I also had a cleaning woman. Now, in retirement , I clean as I go, keep things uncluttered and try to keep things on schedule. I clean my bathroom on Monday. The utility room bathroom on Fridays, that sort of thinng. Also, don’t expect perfection. My house is never going to look like those on tv and that’s ok. Another hint, never go to bed with dishes in the sink. Soooo, nothing magical, just a big old house(3000sq ft) that is always presentable, if one doesn’t look too closely.

    I am quite fond of Method products. They do a good job and smell great.

    1. @Mary anne, I should set up a schedule like that. Lack of clutter I manage – it only involves walking through the house fast, moving things, and I don’t mind a cluttered desk per se. But I really should set up a schedule for which days I commit to doing the bathroom, and which days I commit to doing the kitchen well, and then which days I do everything else.

  5. We have someone come in each week for two hours. I love doing laundry and I like order…I just finished deep cleaning our bungalow. My annual Spring cleaning session…my hints, those that work for me. Dress up a bit, put pearls on, perfume, I insist on a linen apron with pockets! Put on a CD that has energy…for me Adele’s latest, crank up the volume….visualize the dust free clean space bonfire you start then proceed. Stop for coffee and rest before returning to work…my personal limit is 4 hours. Stop and go out after for a walk and treat yourself to a reward….a new book, magazine, chocolate whatever suits you then return home and brew a cup of tea…sit and enjoy the fresh clean house!
    I use mostly Method products and micro fibre cloths. Miele vacuum, Boma floor mops on the wood floors.
    Hope this helps….hiring someone is actually a great idea especially since you are not into the process of cleaning.

  6. I hire help, and in fact, used to have cleaners come twice a week. They changed our sheets every time, which made for a lot of laundry (which I did) but those crisp sheets were worth it.

    On the other hand, I still do a lot of cleaning because we own more than one home, and our travel schedules are erratic. Also, weekly teams don’t handle things like silver polishing, furniture waxing, and chandelier cleaning. Or the inside of cupboards and closets.

    I like Swiffer dusters and floor cleaning gadgets, Scrubbing Bubbles for the sinks and tubs, regular Windex for mirrors and glass and the vinegar variety for granite. Murphy’s Oil Soap is good for wooden floors, but I’m not crazy about the smell. Sooner or later I’m going to get some from Town Talk. Don’t let anyone talk you into crumpled newspaper and whatnot for cleaning windows. Life’s too short. Get the best smelling and performing products you can.

    In short, hire someone to do the weekly dust, vacuum, and bathroom/kitchen stuff, then make things as easy and pleasant as you can for the rest of it.

    Also: I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Like … hundreds of them!

    1. @Poppy B., I think that’s the way to go – hire someone to come in and do the basics so you can devote your time to straightening, organizing and doing the things that make you happy — like setting a table with shining silver.

      I find that my household duties cycle around when my crew comes in. Things have to be picked up, laundry put away, trash in trash cans, surfaces ready for dusting, dirty laundry gathered up and ready to be taken to the laundry room. People laugh about “cleaning up for the cleaning lady” but it’s a motivator. Instead of me nagging my family I have an outside event to cite — “pick your room up so M. can vacuum tomorrow!”

      I still do house work, I just have help.

  7. I think it’s inbuilt. People who enjoy cleaning (like people who enjoy running) are just wired differently. I hate cleaning with a passion and am pretty certain I always will. As soon as we can afford it we will be hiring someone to do it and I imagine I will never look back. It’s true that non-toxic products do make it less heinous, at least you aren’t being poisoned while you do it and if you end up with a splitting headache it’s going to be from gritting your teeth, not noxious fumes. The downside is that they don’t really work. Swings and roundabouts.

    1. @Cara,

      Hi Cara, Use Hydrogen Peroxide instead of bleach. It works just was well and does not give off chlorine gas. Hydrogen Peroxide has been used in hospitals in Europe for many years instead of bleach. I clean the inside of my washing machine with a half bottle of Hydrogen peroxide about a half hour before I use it. Clothes come out much cleaner and fresher and NO chlorine smell!


  8. There will be a lot of contradictions here:
    I don’t hate the house work,some of it I actually like ( from time to time)
    Ecover has great,eco friendly,nice smelling cleaning stuff. And I use baking soda with vinegar for cleaning,too
    I have a house cleaner once a week,she is a lady with golden heart but I can do better. Much better. (and this is my first problem)
    In a fairy tale land everything would be done with a magic wand,no presence of people working. I would like it very much!
    A lot of domestic things are repetetive,it is therapeutic,I enjoyed shining the steps,brainless,left-right,right-left….
    But,then there is time ,never enough,I prefer reading a book or going out, to washing the dishes (yes,I have a dishwasher if you ask,but still,there are some things one-or maybe just me?- has to wash by hand)
    Once upon a time,my house was perfect. Nowadays….well,it is clean enough!
    I like to cook (so do you,as well,no?), it’s creative,it’s interesting (maybe not every day :-))
    So, I have to be domestic bipolar person

    1. @dottoressa, I wash some things by hand, too. All Clad pots, golden Williams-Sonoma cookie sheets and cake pans, Blendtec blender parts, teamaker, Waterford crystal, fine china, etc. I don’t use the crystal and china often, but the other things are in regular use and I wash them by hand.

  9. Well, you know me – we grow and can our own food (well, Beloved grows it; I can it). I cook, bake, knit, crochet and am learning to sew. If that’s “domestic,” I’m all about it. Scrubbing toilets and vacuuming floors? No. That’s housework and I loathe it. Hell, Beloved usually makes our bed and he does the laundry every week. I do clean, but very begrudgingly, since a cleaning person is out of the question.

  10. Like you, I used to be gone from home so many hours a day I didn’t notice. When I clean, I want it to be right, so a few things are great, the rest is not. I just bought a smaller house with only one bathroom so am in the midst of trying to figure out how to keep the house presentable, since I don’t have the luxury of closing the door(s) anymore. My biggest challenge is all I want to do is be out tinkering in the yard. I hope when I get all settled in, I can develop a clean as I go routine. But honestly, I resent anything that keeps me inside.

  11. Hi Lisa, I, too, worked for years and am now “retired” (however, starting my own business because I don’t like “retired”.) Anyway, like you, I was not home enough to do much daily cleaning. However, now I am learning a lot of little tricks to make things more presentable.

    Like anything, take baby steps:

    1)Find things you like to do. There have to be a few things you like! I like fresh flowers so this forces me to dust at least one table (which translates into dusting the entire room.) I also like the smell of fresh pillow cases so I get out the iron for the pillow cases, and yes, a few shirts that need ironing as well. Lavender water sprinkled on the fabric, as reportedly the French do, makes ironing more enjoyable – almost a zen like ritual.

    2) As already suggested, good music is a great help.

    3) “Ugly” tasks like cleaning the toilet are my husband’s responsibility but I do empty the wastebaskets very day.

    4) Yes, clean up the dishes after every meal. I put dirty prep dishes in the dishwasher as I go along. While something is in the oven, I use that time to set the table or clean up the counters. After the meal, dishes go into the dishwasher. I run the dishwasher at least once per day so food doesn’t get caked on and have to be rewashed later. It only takes 2 gallons per load so even in our supposed drought, I don’t feel guilty!

    5) Finally, a glass of wine seemed to help my mother. I think cocktails or wine have been “mother’s little helpers” for generations. Personally, I don’t drink anything stronger than caffeine-free diet colas, but a little bit of vino sure helped my mother!

    Smiles from Charlotte Des Fleurs

  12. Hire someone! I have a beloved housekeeper once a week who cleans much better than I ever could; she’s also quiet (big bonus), loves my house and my pets, she and her husband housesit for us when we travel. Life is too short to do stuff you don’t like, if you can afford some help. Then concentrate on spending your time doing what you love!!!

  13. Hire help. I hate the repetitive nature of housecleaning and I don’t have the stamina to do the entire house in one go. The worst part for me is having that nagging little voice in my head constantly reminding me that something needs to be wiped, vacuumed, polished, scrubbed, etc. Hiring help insures the house is cleaned on a regular basis and calms the nagging voices in my head. I look at it as therapy for me AND the house.

  14. I hate housework. Really, really hate it. Our house’s usual state is a testament to that. There’s nothing growing in the corners, but it’s hard to keep up beyond “not filthy.”

  15. Loathe housework. When I worked full time I had someone come in and do it twice per month. Worth every penny.

    Now that I work part-time, I do it myself twice per month (not counting laundry, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen floor, etc.).

    If you can do one room per day. Muscle memory will kick in, and before long you’ll be able to a single room in 30-45 minutes, tops.

    I clean my house every other Friday, splitting the tasks into upstairs and downstairs. The whole thing takes under 4 hours, including a lunch break. I listen to NPR or BBC and lump tasks together–all the dusting, then all the vacuuming, then all the glass, etc. It saves time.

    I use my efforts to rationalize all manner of treats. :)

  16. My husband and I both work from home, so we spend a LOT of time in our apartment, which is rarely as clean as I’d like it to be. (Still very much on the clean side, tbh.) Some cleaning techniques I still retain from my mother:
    – dedicate spaces to cleanliness and spaces to chaos. Our living room should be clean, but if I don’t sweep my studio for a while, well, no one cares except me.
    – Do dishes immediately after dinner. Make it a family affair. (Dream of a dishwasher.)
    – Use products that smell good and feel good. I, like many previous commenters, like Method products, and I have deep nostalgic feeling for lemon wood oil. I also love my super fluffy sheep wool duster. (IKEA.)
    – Force the issue by having people over. This is the real trick for me. I think we would descend into a morass of clutter and dust, were it not that I genuinely love hosting people. (Also, when said people do come over, don’t apologize for state of apartment. Apartment is clean! We just cleaned it!)
    We occasionally hire someone to do one-off hard jobs, like cleaning our oven or deep-cleaning the tiny bathroom. If I’m going to do one of those hard jobs, it’s all I do that day for housework.
    I have no idea how we’d manage with a house, should we ever live in one. I like my clean home more than housework, but we’re not going to be outsourcing that work any time soon. But like many of those above, I’d say if you don’t have to do it, you not doing it doesn’t hurt anyone, and it doesn’t make you happy…don’t do it.

    1. @Sara Eileen,
      Amen to having guests over. I don’t love cleaning, and as a newly retired person I can’t really justify the expense, but I do love entertaining and cooking. If we have guests at least once a month, the house gets a good cleaning–the yard too, during the warm months. And another amen to putting on great dance music while cleaning.

    2. @Sara Eileen,
      Yes,I clean for guests,too (a little for my old friends who usually don’t believe their eyes but memories instead from the past time when everything was better!
      And a lot for first time visitors)
      What a blessing after that,clean house for some time!
      Nothing to do!

    3. @Sara Eileen, Yup, having guests over is a great motivator. My husband and I get more done in the couple of hours before guests arrive than we do all week!

  17. Like you I hate it too. I wrote a similar post not too long ago… on the conundrum. And it is a conundrum… especially if you really like a clean house. I used to have a cleaner, but now that we’re both retired, I can’t justify it to myself… it’s not that I don’t have the time… just zero inclination. I had lots of great suggestions and commiserations from readers, and one struck a cord with me. She said (quoting someone else) that “you can do anything for fifteen minutes” … so break jobs up onto 15 minute chunks. And it’s been working for me. That and listening to great books on my i-pod. I find that I can clean like the dickens if I’m listening to a good mystery!

  18. Don’t even try to like housework.You’re not gonna make it.Still have to do it,though.
    I hate hate hate houswork.
    Maybe there is hope for you and me?
    Light at the end of the awful housework tunnel.
    Hated cooking all my life.
    Luckily i didn’t have to cook.
    5 years ago ,at the tender age of 60,i had to start to cook.
    Now i LOVE to cook! :)))

  19. When I went back to work full time 15 years ago, we hired a lovely woman, who still works with us. She used to come once a week but as empty nesters (with dogs), she comes every other week. She does the jobs I despise: washing floors, oven, inside fridge, windows, BATHROOMS, and vacuuming stairs and the third floor. We run around with the vacuum every few days because of dogs. I keep Lysol wipers under every sink along with Windex and paper towels and the sinks and toilets get a swish once a day. I love all the Method products and Mrs. Meyers. My main effort after work and weekends is picking up all the stuff that we leave around (I’m as bad as the rest). And laundry. Why do two people have so much laundry?

  20. Don’t like any part of it, and I decided a long time ago that there wasn’t enough time to do what was important to me in life AND keep my house looking as if it belonged in a commercial. All kinds of stuff here about feminism and consumerism and a few other ‘isms, and I’m sure that’s not what you’re looking for this morning, but my own solutions have varied through the years. As soon as possible, I hired once a week cleaning, when I could find a suitable service (this was tricky in some of the places we lived). Before that, and when I couldn’t find someone compatible to clean for me, I set some basic standards of tidiness (for mental health!) and cleanliness (bathrooms and kitchens, most importantly), that had to be met on a daily or weekly basis, depending, and beyond that, I can tolerate a fair bit of dust and cobwebs… Laundry I don’t mind doing at all, but ironing is on an as-needed basis, and if the one needing is not me, well, irons are not hard to operate, right?
    And we’re both pretty committed to fairness, so while we each have some jobs we prefer, the overall domestic workload is shared, which helps hugely. I can really get in a knot over domestic politics (why I love being able to hire someone. . )
    Good luck! (and btw, there are some fascinating cultural histories on Housework and Dirt, should you need some reading in between bouts of cleaning ;-)

  21. You can make this work: Use the whole range of Swiffer products. Have them delivered automatically by subscribing to them on Amazon. Get multiple vacuums – large and small for large and small tasks. Get help for big projects.

  22. Life is too short! Hire someone.

    (Disclaimer: I adore a clean & tidy house, I don’t mind some tasks, like tidying or dusting, but cleaning the bathroom makes me homicidal.)

  23. OK this what we (me,my partner & my 22yr old son) do on rotation:
    1 cooking-all meals + bread baking and ingredient shopping
    2 cleaning- vacuuming + anything that looks really bad 3 and washing up – both hand & machine + cookertop , prep surfaces etc .
    We all love food and are aware of food hygiene so the 1st 2 always get done , the 3rd rarely tbh .
    Should I feel guilty because my partner works hard and brings in most money – he is also male so should I rather be waiting on him hand and foot ? After all my mother did that for my father even when they paid for outside help and she was feminist too . Does professed feminism really not change the fact that housework is ultimately the woman’s responsibility either to do or pay for ?

  24. Yeah. I don’t love it. I have no problem going to bed with stuff in the sink. I work hard and 99% of the time I’m lucky both shoes are on the right feet. I do try to make it fun for myself though. I buy Mrs Meyers stuff because it smells great. Costs more but I rationalize I am not going to the spa, the floors and dishes might as well smell nice. I do vinegar and few drops of lavender oil for surfaces. Wood for good for a quick mop. I do labor under the idea that if I could get a regular routine going I would not get to the point where I’m disgusted. I do find heavy metal or 80s rap helps a bit. Get angry at the dirt (heavy metal). Old skool at noon has a “getting things done” beat. I do not have a cleaning person. I cannot justify the expense in my mind, although it would save me some marital spats perhaps.

  25. There was this show on BBC America for awhile “How clean is your house?” Anyone remember it? I found those ladies inspiring and the homes they cleaned were so dirty, they made my messy house with kids and dog look immaculate. I’d think if they could turn that guy around I can get the bathroom cleaned today.

  26. I still work very long hours. I decided a while back that I don’t want to spend the weekends cleaning, so I try to do something every weeknight after work, such as one night clean the bathroom (only one in this household), another night dust, laundry on one day, vacuum two nights a week (three dogs), and always clean up after cooking and de-clutter every day. My house is never entirely clean because the cleaning is spread out over days, but the house is never a wreck either.

  27. So, fifteen years ago when I retired from the practice of medicine, I thought that I should try doing my own housework. It’s good exercise…I have all this time….don’t know how much I can afford in retirement….Six months later when all my good resolutions were still just that, I hired someone. I have never looked back. I don’t like it, I’m not good at it and it’s really important to have a house I can feel comfortable in. I buy ecofriendly products and have weaned my cleaner from bleach to vinegar and I no longer sweat any of it.

  28. I do my own using vinegar on about everything. I use a dawn and vinegar mix for the tub/shower. My scrubber of choice: micro fiber towel.
    While I don’t enjoy the act of cleaning I do like the pay off of the freshly cleaned area.

  29. I don’t necessarily hate cleaning, but I don’t like it, and am terrible at boring repetitive tasks. I hire someone. She comes once a week, and does the bathrooms and floors among other things, and I am incredibly grateful. The pleasure I get from having a clean house and not having to do it myself is far greater than the dollar cost. There are a lot of other things I’d give up before giving up having someone else clean

    1. Thanks for the suggestion!!!.. after reading the website and laughing really HARD…It motivated me to get off my “arse” and swiftly get the tasks (that I had been procrastinating doing..all day) accomplished in 20 minutes! Ahhh..then I followed up with a nice glass of wine (or two) with shrimp pasta that the hubby had prepared for dinner! We both felt happy!! win win(e)

  30. After many years of being fine with it, I seem to be running out of patience. If I could hire someone, I would, but the money is going to have to go elsewhere.

    Perhaps you could hire someone to come in for a quarterly deep clean?

    Vinegar/water works well on a lot of stuff; then baking soda.

  31. If you have the cash, hire a cleaning service. That way it’s not personal. I am retired but we have the service in once every two weeks. They work on a 3-session rotation, cleaning all, but giving extra attention to one of bathrooms, kitchen, or living areas each time..,
    I have trained myself and my husband to “pick up” before they arrive, but beyond that I never do much in between – keep the kitchen presentable is about the sum of it.
    The best part – if I see something that should have been done, there’s no guilt. I can just say ” oh, look, they missed a bit”!

  32. I save up great podcasts to listen to for the short chores (like cleaning up after a meal), which seems to trick my brain into thinking not “oh man, I have to clean the kitchen this sux”, but “oh yay, it’s time to listen to X”.

    For the big chores, like vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom etc, my partner and I do them once a fortnight on a weeknight. We start around 6:30-7pm, put on music and turn it up really loud (sorry neighbours!) and blitz through it till 8:30pm when the pizza arrives. Whatever doesn’t get done in that time, we just live with till next time.

  33. I recommend getting a pair of noise cancelling headphones and finding audiobooks and podcasts that you love. The time flies by! My house gets clean and I escape with my mind on a good book. I also listen while walking and traveling. Some libraries have digital audiobooks to loan. You need the noise cancelling headphones so you can listen to your book and not hear the water running, or the vacuum, etc.

  34. I am one of those born with the love of housework, cleaning and tidying. Maybe it runs in the family bc my sister is like that too. We just find it *so* satisfying! I’m also a Virgo, if you believe in astrology… we tend to be very neat.

    It’s not a moral imperative — if you really *don’t* like housework, hiring someone to help seems like a great option, as long as you pay them fairly.

    But if you want to try it out, here are some things that work for me, many of which have been mentioned by previous commenters:
    – Listen to podcasts and NPR while cleaning
    – Favorite products: vinegar + water solution for surfaces, dishes and sometimes laundry (to take out odor); baking soda sprinkled on the dishes and laundry (but not at same time as vinegar unless you want to see a fun little lava experiment bubbling over!). Dr. Bronner’s is also good for everything.
    – Swiffer is good for floors; microfiber cloths are good for surfaces.
    – I recently got into the Marie Kondo method and she’s really into cleaning after tidying. She’s not for everyone but I find her process pleasurable! (see: inborn cleaner, above)
    – Mindset: because I like cleaning, it actually feels like a special time for me to “commune” with my house. If possible, I open windows to let in light and fresh air. Sometimes I light a candle or rearrange fresh flowers or my plants to a more pleasing position. With music, NPR or a good podcast, it feels like a little party! This is how it feels for me personally, I’m not sure if it’s possible to try to recreate this feeling if you’re not naturally inclined towards it.

    Good luck! And most of all, enjoy your space… whoever it’s cleaned by.

  35. Hate floor cleaning and vacuuming, so when they become too squalid to tolerate, I do speed cleaning. This involves setting a time limit for getting the job done and then going like the clappers! When done, off to the local cafe for a reward coffee.

  36. I guess you have to be born with it. I love cooking, would love to be able to sew, but cannot enjoy cleaning/laundering/tidying up/ironing etc. I’d rather read a book, go for a walk or take a nap. Or cook.
    Anyway, I think a good technique is do little every day: bathroom today, bedroom tomorrow, laundry the day after and so on. I find so many clever cleaning schedule on Pinterest! Hope they can be useful to you. They help me keep my place just presentabile enough before next friday, the day our houskeeper comes.

  37. Thanks for the shout out. I do resent it at times- I never mind cleaning up my own mess or my son’s but I do not enjoy cleaning up after the Mr or his children. So I try to get them to clean up after themselves. My job is so stressful and full on that I cannot handle coming home to a messy house. I would find that upsetting and it would irritate me. And by mess a water spot on a sink would bother me, someone sitting on a made bed would irritate me, I did have a fab cleaner who came every 2 weeks for 5 years but she resigned to move abroad so for about 2 months I’ve done it by myself and I am over it and need to hire someone else. I like easy stuff like wiping benches, making beds, ironing but I kind of hate mopping floors. She was awesome at dusting too. I watch tv while I do things and I clean and tidy really really really fast. We do a lot of entertaining and have a lot of visitors so the house has to look good. I do love my home and I want to look after it. Love this post x

    1. @Faux Fuchsia, What a relief your reply is.

      As someone who reads your blog, I was always intimidated at how much you get done when you are an attorney and mother of a very young child also.

      I had no idea you had a housekeeper because of your joke about Mrs. Danvers never doing her job.

      I figured it was the fact that you need so little sleep that was the trick. I feel so much better now.

    2. @Faux Fuchsia,

      She came for 2 hours every fortnight and did the floors, and dusted and cleaned the bathrooms. I miss her. But I still cleaned non stop in between. I didn’t let her near the beds washing or ironing! I wouldn’t call her a housekeeper and I still iterally never sleep because I am am always on the go. Tonight I am uber stressed so cleaned and declutered from 630 til 9pm and the I feel a LOT better.

  38. Also today I sorted out my son’s room and went through his clothes books shoes and toys and have the boot packed with stuff to take to the Salvation Army tomorrow. Everything looks so much better and I even made mr FF come and admire the newly sorted wardrobe and book shelves etc. It will be easier to keep clean now that there is order. This is why decluttering is key x

  39. Two years ago I gave myself permission to quit doing housework and I hired a service. After a lifetime of cleaning it’s the best gift I ever gave myself. Life is too short to waste it doing something we don’t enjoy.

  40. Hi Lisa, as a young couple with no kids, my partner used to,clean on Saturdays. I hated it. Luckily I found soon after our first daughter was born and have been living according to her “gospel” ever since. Some habits have stuck (laundry is easy, keeping surfaces clutter-free not so much). Seems funny to me no one has mentioned the flylady yet in all the comments. I don’t like the repetitive chores all that much (esp on week-ends when the house gets untidy when everybody is home and the succession of feed the,family, clean up and start again seems endless) but I have routines in place that give me peace in the mornings and things sorted with the kids and mom & dad working outside the home. Don’t skip the emails!

    1. @Nadja, I concur with Nadja; is the best for people who don’t like cleaning. Her method makes it tolerable and not overwhelming. Everything stays in shape . She is the one who says “yo can do anything for 15 minutes.”

  41. If you happen to have children, here is a recipe that worked for me. One summer we had two male exchange students living with us. Not only did we have to pay for all their food but extra laundry and dish washing, etc. Both of the boys came from relatively privileged families and assumed that their parents had paid for everything including food and my “maid service”.

    The first weekend I kindly and patiently clarified their expectations. #1 their parents had only paid for the airfare to get them here. The rest of the expenses fell upon us which we had accepted because we wanted to have them with us, #2 their parents wanted them to have the experience of living with an American family to see how we lived. #3 In OUR American home, children clean up after themselves AND do “Chores” on Saturday.

    The boys HATED the idea. However, I made a game out of it. Each Saturday there list off all the chores broken down into 15 minute increments. The first week the boys drew straws to see what order they would choose their 60 minutes worth of chores. We did it Round-Robin – Boy #1 went first, Boy #2 went second, Boy #3 went third and around again until each boy had 60 minutes worth of chores. I was left with about and hour of chores to do myself. The first week they each got their assigned chores done in less than an hour and off they went for their day of fun.

    The next week they did the same thing but had decided among themselves that they would trade chores based on what they discovered they liked to do. Excellent! The work got done in about 45 minutes.

    After that, each week they knew what chores they liked best. They did them well and even helped one another finish something that took a little more time so they could all go off and play. Group reward!

    After that the boy from Spain come back every summer to stay with us. He came from a VERY privileged family but really got into the “help around the house” routine. He learned to do his own laundry, learned to cook, learned to change the oil on a car, learned to operate a backhoe, went hunting with my husband and son and learned to clean the guns. Now he is a Civil Engineer in Spain and by all accounts, an excellent and helpful husband!

    Based on most of the comments, it seems that most of you women look at “house work” as “not MY job” because it is too menial. I get it. I have had high-paying jobs for most of my career. At work we are rewarded each week by a pay check and, perhaps, an “atta-boy” by our boss or co-workers. We have the companionship of our colleagues, and, if we wish, someone to go to lunch with.

    “House work” is for paid workers. “Home making” is for people, male or female, who want more than a house, they want a home. I sense that the root of this “I hate House work” is the fear of giving up your hard-won “liberation” to become Suzie Homemaker or a Domestic Goddess.

    I am probably about 10 years older than most of you so I was at the forefront of Women’s Lib. But I also had the benefit of watching Disney’s Snow White and Cinderella. When I am “home making” I humm “Whistle while you work”, “With a smile and a song” and “Sing sweet Nightingale”. Other peppy songs help but those are MY favorites.

    Don’t tell me you liked writing reports or traveling across town or across country for meetings with clients! It is not the activity, it is the attitude that makes the difference!

    Now, off to dust and sparkle with no resentment! Frilly apron optional.


  42. Most people would rather do something other than housework, but fortunately like a clean home more than this dislike of domestic chores. If I were wealthy, I would hire someone to come in, but, alas, I am a retired teacher!
    Vinegar, baking soda, lemons, and alcohol will cover your cleaning needs. Swiffer and other disposables are hard on landfills and wallets. Microfiber mop for floors, microfiber dust and scrub cloths–work well and are reusable. A canister vacuum cleaner with a good, modern filter will make your life easier.

    1. @gail, Alcohol covers my cleaning needs i.e. a glass or two of wine then I don’t care about the dusting any more!

      (I joke, I joke…)

  43. I once had a friend say that she was going to make her son work at CVS for the summer just to teach him some humility. I suggested that she leave the jobs at CVS to kids who really needed the money. I suggest the same to you. Presumably, you can afford help and presumably you have a plethora of people who need the work where you live. I do some or all of what your other readers do: laundry, occasional toilet bowl cleaning, vacuuming and trash emptying, but mostly in anticipation of guests and/or our housekeeper arriving. We have developed a great relationship with her over 20 years of work: she loves our dog like a child and takes care of him when I have to be out of town, we helped support her US citizenship and got her daughter a job in my husband’s office. She’s become a good friend. That said, since retirement 6 months ago, there’s been a certain degree of guilt associated with neglected errands and I feel like there’s no longer an excuse for an unmade bed or half-assed dinner. I’ve been in school or worked for as long as I can remember in my life (since age 2) and it has been a major adjustment not to live on an externally imposed schedule.

  44. Since we are no longer in the 50’s, and I assume some of us have spouses – what is their share? do they wash the heavy duty pots & pans after you cooked a big meal? maybe before we hire someone we should use the in-house help we already have… and btw, I hate the term “help” when it comes to a husband doing work around the house… they do share it after all.

    1. @Dalit Fresco, Abso-freakin-lutely! It amazes me how many women accept their male partners doing little to no ‘house work’.

      At an absolute bare minimum, one cooks, the other cleans up after dinner!

      I am lucky that my husband completely believes in being fair and sharing tasks. He even picks up more of the work if I’m super-busy at work for a time i.e. making sure I can come home to a hot dinner and have clean clothes.

      (And if you’re such a perfectionist that no-one else can do it right, then you’re either taking on the whole work load yourself without complaint or you might want to see if you could relax your standards, just my two cents).

  45. The particulars are preferences, and strategies differ, but my ruse includes gym clothes, sneakers and loud music on the hifi. It’s a calorie burning par-tay!
    (yeah right ;)

  46. I despise every second I do housework! We hired folks to come and help which I loved, but now we are retired and I feel we should have time to do it. We limp along. I love to cook and I clean prep stuff as I go, either hand washing or loading the dishwasher. My husband cleans tge rest and cleans the kitchen up before we relax in the evening. I have informed him that when he stops doing dishes, I stop cooking. I could not do it without him. He takes Sunday morning to deep clean the kitchen for me to start off the week. I do the rest of the house day by day. One day bathrooms, one day dusting, one day vacuuming!

  47. I hate to clean but like to keep things neat and organized. So I hire someone to come in every two weeks to vacuum, mop, dust, etc. But I have a couple of techniques I use to keep my house neat:

    One I call “the good waiter” technique because I learned it back when I worked as a waitress: every time I walk through the house I scan the room (your “section” in waiter-speak) to see what needs to be done. In the restaurant this would be a dish to be bussed, checking to see if a customer needs something, and (giving away my age) an ashtray to be emptied. At home this translates to bringing papers to the recycling bin, bringing a dish to the kitchen, putting a book back on the shelf, moving laundry to the hamper bringing it to the washing machine.

    The second thing I like to do is see how much kitchen cleaning I can get done in the couple of minutes that it takes to make coffee in the morning or warm something in the microwave. It’s surprising how many knives can get washed, counters wiped down, or the dishwasher unloaded in that short amount of time.

  48. I plan cleaning time. It’s my exclusive time with myself to daydream. Sometimes that includes music. Sometimes I select floral products; sometimes I prefer the smell of bleach. Often I talk out loud. No one in my household is allowed to interrupt or ridicule. It is my sacred time. I was a playwright for years and my children assumed that I was actually writing as opposed to typing during these times. They were right. When I am finished I take a bath and have a glass of wine. Then I write down any epiphanies. To this day, cleaning is my favorite form of meditation.

  49. Music music music for an hour or so with earbuds, and clean like a maniac. That becomes my warm up for yoga or cycling, the real workout.
    Then remove my glasses so I can’t see the details, only the soft and lovely blur.
    Love your blog.

  50. YOU gave me the best cleaning tip ever! The steam mop. I’m on my second one. My floors have never been cleaner.

    I’ve been without a housecleaner for a long, long time. That being said, some things I’ve learned over that long, long time:

    An excellent vacuum, one for each floor, makes life easier. Dyson-style is great because there are no bags to buy, easy to empty, relatively light weight and the newer models have great onboard dusting tools. Never having to drag the vacuum up or down the stairs minimizes vacuum dread. Or if you have a whole house vacuum, then a hose and set of tools for each floor.

    A full set of your preferred cleaning products, sponges, micro fibers, paper towels, waste basket liners, etc., in each bathroom. Then I can clean on a moment’s notice without having to run to the storage closet for products.

    Clorox Toilet Wands are fabulous. No squeezing liquid cleaner or pouring crystals. Plus they are so easy to use even my husband can do it. Especially when it needs to be done. I keep it tucked back beside the commode so no excuse not to use it. It is life changing knowing the bowl is always clean.

    Shower squeegee: If shower users can get in the habit, using a squeegee after each shower makes a weekly cleaning so much faster. If I have time I dust my bathroom after showering when there’s still a little moisture in the air then no need for any product just a swiffer dust cloth or a damp t-shirt.

    Kitchen: I’ve learned to clean as I cook. It takes a while to get in the habit. One thing that really helps is an empty sink plus an empty dishwasher at the start. Then I put dirty prep stuff directly into the dw. The after dinner clean up is my husband’s job. I’ve adjusted my standards on the proper way to load a dishwasher. I do the countertops as I have accepted that he is incapable of discharging this task. Once a week, usually Sunday, (or before guests arrive) I clean the stainless steel kitchen sink with a product called Perfect Sink. The effect is pleasant. I am in denial about the top of the stove but about once a week or so the burner grates go in the dishwasher. I am due for a new, easy to clean range.

    I only do a load of laundry if I have enough time to get it out of the washer, into the dryer, folded or ironed and put away.

    One thing I’m not even close to doing well, my office clutter. It is completely out of control. Since my office is also our family room, it makes for a terrible, uninviting, hurrah’s nest of a mess.

    Aside from what I’ve learned, here’s my BEST tip ever: get someone in once a week. Stat.

    1. @Linda Pakravan, Me, too; me, too! About the steam mop. I read about it here, and now that my sons and I are in our rental (having moved out of the “marital home” 3 weeks ago), I unpacked the thing this past weekend and tried it out. I love it! It is so easy to use and so satisfying.

      I’ve had cleaning help for years and I hope to continue even with my reduced income (divorce in progress). The women who come in once a week are wonderful. Even with their help, there is plenty of work left – cooking, cleaning up kitchen and keeping bathrooms neat, laundry, ironing, periodic emptying/cleaning/reorganizing drawers/cabinets/closets. As long as I’m working I feel perfectly justified in hiring someone to do the basic cleaning and change the beds. I pay them very well ($25/woman-hour); high cost of living here.

  51. I am with you, I do not like housework at all. However, I love a clean and tidy house. I’ve had a cleaning service most of my life as it wasn’t worth nagging my husband and kids to help me. I do maintain it in between cleanings as I don’t like dirty bathrooms or kitchens. I love to cook and garden so I feel I’m contributing to the household. I love my home but keeping it clean is a thankless task and I’d rather be doing something I enjoy.

  52. Oh, just hire someone if you hate the work. Dont Pain yourself. When I was still working I had someone every week. I loved it. It gave me some free time to go spent time with friends. Now I do IT myself and I dont mind doing it. I put bon loud music and sing along(also very loud). And enjoy it when everything is clea and goed up again.

  53. We have our house cleaned once a month, so far it is working great. It is just me and my husband and our house is pretty uncluttered so it is easy to keep it clean in between the housekeeper visits. I don’t have a schedule, I just do things as needed. Listening to podcasts helps a lot! I’d much rather be in the garden than doing housework, but I like a clean house. I don’t work and my husband has a busy law practice so I do most of it. I hate cleaning the kitchen after dinner, everything goes in the sink and I clean in the morning.

  54. I also hire…no guilt
    There is still much to do but the deeper cleaning I leave to my local neighbor. I am supporting a local business run by a great woman. Let it go Hon.

  55. In your place, I would hire someone. I had help off and on when my children were small. I did not work, but volunteered through various clubs and organizations plus did the mom chauffeur thing for so many years I forgot what it was like to have an open ended day. I would not say that I hated housework then. I just did it like all the other things that need to be done, without thinking about liking it or not. I would not say that I loved it either, bu t there were some things I minded less than others. How ironic that it’s NOW that I hate it. I have fo force myself and I don’t as often as I should. Once it’s down to just two people, there does not seem to be as much of a purpose or whatever. My mother in law always hated it. Now I understand. All in all, there are just too many things at this time of life I’d rather be doing and if I were in a position, I would absolutely have help. I mean weekly. Also, agree with post about Method products. I’ve used them for years. The dish soap is the greatest, and I buy it several bottles at a time so I don’t run out. You are a busy, talented, highly educated and successful person. You deserve it, get a maid.

  56. Thank you for mentioning me in such wonderful company. I think most people do not enjoy housework but the truth is I’ve always liked it. As a child I would go around dusting the house and cleaning things. I have had help with housework when my health was poor and my children were young, I was just physically unable to do the work so I hired people for two different time periods. I remember looking forward to getting well again so I could do it myself.
    I clean my house twice a week which sounds like a lot but I have a shedding dog and a busy family. I cannot go to bed if there is a mess in the kitchen and if my kids make a snack at night and don’t clean up they hear it from me.
    Like many here I do like Method products, I swear by my Miele vacuum and I use a microfiber mop. I go by FF’s rule that de-cluttering is key! It’s very difficult to clean around loads of stuff and I like clear surfaces, including under beds- there shouldn’t be anything stored under beds in my opinion or it’s impossible to dust there.
    If you don’t enjoy it hire someone! I found when I had help weekly was best because things didn’t get out of hand between cleans.
    Loved the comments on this post, all this discussion is making me look forward to my cleaning day tomorrow. ;) xox

    1. An aside: When I bought my Miele from a very serious vacuum cleaner salesman, I asked him how the brand name was pronounced. He said that the company teaches them to remember the rhyme: Shelia loves her Miele. So funny!

  57. An occasional desire to deep clean is good for my mental cobwebs, but the daily chores sometimes make me agitated. I made peace by turning bathrooms, kitchen and vacuuming over to a weekly cleaning service. Folding laundry really irked me until I timed how long it took me to fold a load, and was surprised it was only about 5 minutes. Some things get blown out of proportion in my head and this was one of them. It never seems to end, does it?

  58. I love cleaning because i hate smelly toilets, hairy bathrooms and dusty living spaces. Here’s a few tricks:
    1. Keep a bottle of toilet cleaner tucked in behind the toilet next to the toilet brush and a pack of those disposable clean wipes in the vanity of each toilet, ready for quick mid-week freshen ups and making sure the loo is tippy-top if a visitor happens along. (I always throw the wipes in the bin, despite the packaging, these things are NOT flushable!)
    2. Use a cordless vacuum. We bought the Dyson Animal a year ago and gave our traditional Nilfisk to our son. The vacuum hangs in the laundry on charge and is there to do a quick once over of the kitchen every couple of days and to pick up in the bathroom/bedroom wherever at a seconds notice, but also does the entire 3 bedroom plus study apartment in one go if required.
    3. Get a cleaner once a fortnight – I do the maintenance cleaning but he cleans my shower recesses and glass shower screens (2 bathrooms), cleans the sliding glass windows and security screens and mops the floors.
    4. You can buy an all-purpose multi action non-toxic cleaner in bulk inexpensively and decant it into a multitude of spray bottles. I use one everywhere, and even spray the kitchen sink after washing up as it leaves a lovely ‘clean smell’ and the sink is always shiny.
    5. Keep a stack of microfibre cloths under the kitchen sink or in the laundry ready to grab. These cloths can be used for cleaning the bathrooms and as dusters. Then just throw them in a bucket with nappy soak or straight into the washing machine.
    6. As other readers suggest, self-care is very important, and having the attitude that ‘I’m doing this for myself, not as everyone’s slave, because I enjoy a clean and fresh smelling home to return to as my sanctuary’ is key.

  59. You should only have as much space and as many things as you are able to keep in good order.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t hire someone to help you out, but when you hire someone, your home becomes a place of business and you lose your privacy.

    You also become responsible (or partially responsible) for the welfare of the person you employ.

    It’s a very delicate dance.

    It helps if you only have things you love and a space that makes you feel good.

  60. I have a single criteria for most of life’s conundrums – what will you regret on your deathbed? Not doing more housework?? If you can hire housework, do so. No guilt.

    I can do housework happily if I live in a small home and life is simple. I live in a big home in the country (45 minutes to the grocery store, 5 minutes to a winery). My husband does most of the housework, I clean bathrooms and kitchens. I do most of the cooking, marketing, vegetable gardening and reading. We eat well and the house is clean.

    If my husband weren’t houseproud and hyperactive,
    we would hire a house cleaner.

  61. Ding ding ding
    This is my style, too. I’m not stranger to an armada of anything. I think generally quantity helps. Multiple vacuums, tons of towels, many brooms with specific purposes, cleaning product battery at each sink, etc. Schedule for big things-window washing, baseboards, furniture moving floor cleaning. And some everyday rules. Like I don’t have to have all dishes done before I go to bed (I’d be up until 4AM!) but I have to have everything ready to go in the dishwasher or rinsed and ready for its final soapy clean and dry. And the sink must be spotless and my stainless steel be clean before I call it a night. I could never make myself care about a lot of work things that probably energized you so I think some people are domestic minded and some aren’t

  62. I really enjoy housework and always have. Even as a child I was happy tidying my room and sorting it out. I find it therapeutic since I cannot stand mess and disorder of any kind. In other people’s houses I am not bothered by mess but really hate dirt. No excuse. Nobody is so busy being creative that they cannot be clean. When my children were old enough they had to do their bit and I stopped doing any of their laundry when they were in their teens. Secret vice: cleaning toilets. And polishing brass. Most disliked: martyrs who refuse to ask for help but sigh a lot. Get a cleaner and pay them well if you don’t like it. I have been a cleaner in my youth and it is a worthwhile job.

  63. I LOVE to read books on housekeeping. But I have a hard time with the execution! I don’t know if anyone has mentioned Flylady’s website ( but she advocates ‘baby steps’ and ‘you can do anything for 15 minutes’. I also have a number of her cleaning products and really like them alot. Might want to just take a looksee!

  64. Ha! Funny that this is the post that compels me to write!
    I work at a library, and am a non stop reader. It’s one of my greatest pleasures. With my library account, I have access to audiobooks that I can download onto my phone any time, day or night. If I’m doing any mindless activity, cleaning, weeding, painting, I download whatever seems entertaining, plug in my earbuds, and go.
    It’s important that it be mindless activity. Don’t try to organize, or sort paperwork!
    I like having a clean house, it feels calming to me, in reality, with just my husband and me, it doesn’t get that bad. I clean the bathrooms, and do the hardwoods every week, and just do a total top to bottom about every 2 weeks. Kitchen gets sprayed and wiped down every day.
    Something about listening to an audiobook keeps me moving through a cleaning session without getting sidetracked by al of the distractions available to me.
    It seems wasteful to me to pay someone for what I can pretty painlessly do myself.

  65. While I love cooking and knitting, I deeply hate to clean. A glass of wine helps, and dedicated timeboxing also helps. (“I’ll tidy things up for the next 20 minutes, and no more or less.”)

    I will admit that I just… don’t dust. I hate dusting. We have a cleaning person who comes in monthly to do heavy-duty dusting and deep cleaning.

  66. Lisa, housecleaning is simply drudgery to me and I have never found anything to make it more “fun”! Okay I do like to make my bed just because then the bedroom looks put together. Hiring a housekeeper to come in occasionally/ or regularly is the way to go for those who can budget for it. Otherwise I take a block of time and just get it done.

    The Arts by Karena

  67. Things that might help: Take a short break every 20 minutes to sit and drink a glass of ice water w/lemon, tea or what have you. It will re-energize you.
    If doing the whole house at once is too much, pick a task a day (like dusting) or a room a day.
    Buy flooring, furnishings, etc. that don’t show dirt. Our flooring matches our dog’s hair. I like patterned rugs that hide stains.
    My husband’s office and my son’s bedroom are their deal. They can clean them, or not.
    Use stuff that smells good and is natural. I get the best results with hot water, soap and vinegar…the stuff my grandma used still works.
    Clean up as you go and you save so much time.
    Pick up things as you walk through a room. has a good philosophy that helps you keep clean on minimal time per day. (Just ignore the advice that doesn’t apply to you.)

    I don’t love housework, but I don’t hate it either. I usually do it all in one day, it takes about 90 minutes (my standards aren’t high) and I count it as my cardio for the day..

  68. Oh my gosh you guys, you’ve written >90 comments! This thread is excellent, absolutely excellent! I cannot tell you how much I thank you for all your time, thought, humor, advice! I swear I folded the laundry with a spring in my step. And put on music to clean the kitchen today.

    I will go back and reply to the comments individually. But as I saw the total mount this weekend my jaw dropped, and I couldn’t quite wade in and start. It’ll take me a few days, but I’ll respond to everyone. Seriously, I have learned so much here. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  69. I AM right THERE with YOU!
    Just doesNOT interest ME!
    Until I find something to hang or place in the house then I will do a little CLEAN!
    I keep thinking to myself now Tuesdays bathrooms, Wednesdays chandeliers……BUT WHO AM I KIDDING!
    Certainly, NOT YOU!!!.

  70. Nope…I pay someone. Of course, she has been working for my husband for over 30 years…and me for the last 12. She is family. And when she can’t come, if she’s sick or something else, then I do the minimum. I did it for years myself…ex wouldn’t have anyone in the house.

  71. The critical success factor at my house is the online library and its audio books. Doing dishes and folding laundry, I listen and fall into the story of the day.

    It’s also a help to keep the phone and its activity tracking app in my pocket. You can rack up a tremendous number of steps, putting stuff away.

    Reminders work better than motivation. Seeing an unmade bed when I come out of the shower is the reminder to make the bed, and it’s been done so many times that it’s an autopilot action.

    Sometimes it helps to remember that if I eat, wear clothes & use a bathroom every day, it’s only fair to expect some time is spent every day doing dishes, moving along laundry, and giving the bathroom a quick wipe-down. Sweeping the kitchen floor always makes a surprising amount of difference in how the room feels.

    Lastly, it helps to pretend I’m on a housekeeping equivalent to The Great British Baking Show: “Paul & Mary would like you to . . . clean out the refrigerator! They’ll be looking for the all fresh foods, the appetizing layout, and no smudges. You have 10 minutes: On your mark, get set–take!”

  72. ROOMBA!!! How could I forget. We had one for about 2 years. They work great at keeping your floors clean, especially if you have pets. It also entertained our dogs. They would sit right in front of it until it got about 3 inches away then they would jump out of the way. They cost between $380 to $900 and last about 2 years. They don’t dust or wash your dishes but it is great to always have the floors clean. Just a thought!


  73. Hire someone. I hate it too, but I’m able bodied and want to save the money until I can’t do it anymore. I have no trouble keeping the kitchen clean, I just clean it after dinner every night. I hate the things that make my back hurt, though – cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, etc. when my husband retires I’m giving him all of those tasks.

  74. I hate to vacuum.
    I kind of like doing laundry.
    There is no explaining these things!

    No need to respond, Lisa … interesting thread!

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