I’d be lying if I said that I enjoy cleaning, it’s more that I enjoy the result and the feeling of completeness. I never realise how messy my flat has got until I start cleaning it, at which point I can’t stop until I’ve restored it to it’s rightful condition. Seeing the rooms sparkling makes me feel balanced and together, like I actually have my life in order (I really don’t, but it’s nice to convince myself I do for a couple of hours until it all goes pear-shaped again.)
I’m not someone who’s always enjoyed playing house. The only time I really enjoy cooking is if I’m entertaining or making it for someone else – that way it feels like there’s a purpose to it and that I’m not wasting time and effort on something that’s just going to be eaten in front of the telly without a second thought. Equally, I only really enjoyed cleaning when it was in preparation for visitors, until I started living on my own that is.
It started off in my first home away from home, my tiny university halls flat. Henry Hoover would emerge from the cupboard once every six or so weeks when my parents were coming to visit at which point I would cluelessly wave around a duster in the hope that the room would just … be clean for when my parents arrived. Since leaving halls, I moved around shared houses until eventually ending up here, in my own flat, with nobody but myself to blame when everything’s out of order.
A couple of weeks ago I hosted what was meant to be a chilled, reserved dinner – 4am and the strong amongst us were entering that point of the night when all joviality stops and you have the deepest, most truthful chat ever about absolutely nothing. Meanwhile the others are scattered around the flat sleeping off the bottles of wine / gin / whisky that somehow just became empty all by themselves. Fast forward to the next morning after everyone had gone home and I was left with a flat that smelled like a Wetherspoons and a floor so sticky the bottom of my foot felt like it was being waxed. I was so deeply dreading the cleaning session that was ahead of me, that all I could do was lie on the sofa and have a nap in the hope that by the time I woke up someone will have taken pity on me, broken into my flat, cleaned it and left without stealing anything. Surprisingly, that didn’t happen and eventually I had to face up to it. Once I had stopped wallowing in self-pity, I actually began enjoying the process. Room by room I was cleaning everything back to its normal state and a few hours later my flat was spotless, my hangover was gone and I felt ready to actually do something with my day instead of the typical hungover Sunday spent struggling and condemning myself to a life of sobriety. Of course, music helps. Cleaning my flat probably does take me twice as long as it should, what with all of the dancing and mid-way karaoke sessions, but if I need Mr Brightside to help me through, then so be it.
The problem is that I’m rarely in my flat for long enough to clean. This was the first weekend in 8 weeks that I’ve had nothing planned, and even that had to be put in the diary as “do not plan anything, you need to sleep”. That’s not to say of course that I haven’t cleaned in 8 weeks, but the mere swishing around of a hoover and duster here and there isn’t quite the same as a deep spring-clean. So my planned no-plans-weekend provided me with the ideal opportunity to turn my flat upside down and really scrub it. As predicted I feel much more at peace knowing that whatever the week throws at me, I have a clean and tidy home to come back to and relax in. My mother will be so proud!
As well as the peaceful mind element of this, there is another benefit of cleaning and that’s making room for new things. Coincidentally, it’s pay-day this week which is perfect timing now that my flat is rid of all space-taking clutter. Was this all just an excuse to go shopping? Surely not!