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Men will never...clean without being asked “because it sucks"
May 16, 2013 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier It's macho to be a "dad" and do childcare, and cooking is for tough guys, but cleaning? That's still women's work.
posted by DMelanogaster (180 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This will be news to my male SO, whom I once found cleaning under the fridge to "blow off some steam".
posted by The Whelk at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2013 [31 favorites]


That point at the end about Apple making a bathroom scrubby? Oh god, PLEASE! My husband is quite good about laundry, dishes if asked, but wiping anything gross? Scrubbing the counter? Anything else? Aww hell no. So please, Apple. Use your powers for good here. I need help!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:36 PM on May 16, 2013


/hopes for more blissful alone time doing the dishes.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on May 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Anything we can do to stop having the gross "lady is in a romantic relationship with a mop" Swiffer commercials, I'm all for it.
posted by phunniemee at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [45 favorites]


Before I RTFA, my scrubby sponge and I would like to scoff haughtily in the direction of its stated premise.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:39 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not in the Fish household. My wife calls me 'a total Monica'. I walk around the house barefoot and stepping on crumbs or bits drives me insane. Clean. Please. I have all but given up on my insistence that we clean as we cook. Instead, whenever she's in the kitchen making something I just curl up in a ball and gently rock until she's done making whatever mess it is and I'm unleashed on it to make it like it was before.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:41 PM on May 16, 2013 [45 favorites]


Cleaning doth suck. Yea verily. But how much worse would I suck if I left all the things I don't like to do to someone else?

It's hip and cool to write about people who challenge long-established gender roles, and pointing out exceptions to those roles is good, but painting with broad strokes? That's still trolling.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 1:42 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking as the accused, I disagree with the thesis. I don't mind cleaning. I don't think it sucks. Tidying up can be satisfying.

However... it has to need cleaning. And I have a very high threshold for squalor. I content that this is the crux of the disparity. If my partner could bear the filth past the point that I get triggered to clean I believe the situation lean more in her favor. Anecdotaly there seems to be a gender imbalance in overall hygiene.
posted by roue at 1:44 PM on May 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


The part about women being socialized to care I think is the big thing. I want at least the coffee table cleared off before company comes over. Because I don't want someone to think less of me for inviting them to see my private messsy shame. My hubby, no such care in the world. No shame, come on over.
posted by bleep at 1:44 PM on May 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


The last five seconds of this clip? That's my relationship with the stainless steel in our kitchen.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:45 PM on May 16, 2013


It is not that it is women's work, but that women (i know that is sexist, but come on...) are far more particular about cleanliness than men. Even if I

1) clean the bathroom/kitchen/dining area, my mate will always
2) criticize the level of cleanliness and then
3) clean it again her way

I figure it's better to just skip 1 and 2 and go right on to #3.

Besides, in any relationship, the one who has a lower threshold for filth is going to do a lot more cleaning and that is usually the female.
posted by Renoroc at 1:47 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


It was a little emasculating for me when I ran into a former roommate and he told me the floors haven't been as clean since I moved out.
posted by peeedro at 1:47 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


However... it has to need cleaning. And I have a very high threshold for squalor.

If you live with someone the boundaries you respect are the other person's. Even after almost 10 years of cohabitation the fish wife still struggles with my need for tidiness and order, but she obliges because it's very stressful for me to have mess. Having two young children has not helped.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:48 PM on May 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


My father never cleaned. He had a decent marriage. I see no reason not to carry on a family tradition. To make changes is to bring chaos into play and create problems.
posted by Postroad at 1:48 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep. My husband has a higher tolerance for messes than I do, and that means I'm usually the one going "Hey, we should clean!" and he lovingly goes "Okay, what should I do?" and I'm like "Are you kidding there is SO MUCH" and he's like "I don't see it :(" and I'm all "...:("

He's a complete sweetheart when it comes to dishes though.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


So that means dads are out clipping the hedges on sunny Saturdays, while moms are the ones doing the drudgery of vacuuming day in and day out.

Are you kidding me with that? More like "So that means moms are safely ensconced in climate controlled comfort, running a vacuum over the plush carpet for a few minutes, while dads are the ones giving up their precious weekend getting thorn-scraped, bug-bitten and sunburned."
posted by Rock Steady at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't hate cleaning; well, I do, by I accept it's necessity. However, definitions of clean vary, and I think that causes more resentment in relationships than outright refusal to do it.
posted by spaltavian at 1:51 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Men will never...clean without being asked “because it sucks"

In our house it's a minor, underground, battle but mainly because neither of us want to actually clean, but we do both want the end result. So while neither of us consider it a 'man's' or 'woman's thing, both of us are kind of hoping that the other will get squicked out and do it before the other has to.

It isn't the best system. But its ours.
posted by Brockles at 1:51 PM on May 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


I agree with this article, especially in aggregate, but I also think some people mistake their cleaning preferences for work that needs to be done rather than work they want to be done. We have to eat and we have to have clean clothes and dishes. We do not, however, have to vacuum the curtains on a weekly basis or make the bed daily. A made bed is no more useful than an unmade bed, and in fact it is less useful in certain important ways.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:51 PM on May 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's weird with us because I can't remember the last time I mopped a floor or something but at the same time my wife apparently suffers from some sort of selective blindness that renders her completely incapable of seeing the kitchen sink or using it for any purpose.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:51 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Are you kidding there is SO MUCH"

Pretty good example of my earlier comment. One person is incredulous that the other person doesn't notice/care, they other resentful that their preferences are "wrong" and probably annoyed by the sudden panic.
posted by spaltavian at 1:53 PM on May 16, 2013


I will add an anecdote. As a frequent renter for the bulk of my adult life I had a few conversations with property managers. They have to a person debunked the 'women are cleaner' myth. Had one that would only rent to men if possible for this reason. Granted, my experiences are largely in the West End in Vancouver (which is gayer than Liberace). I'm not gay, but boy are they ever my people.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:53 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I content that this is the crux of the disparity. If my partner could bear the filth past the point that I get triggered to clean I believe the situation lean more in her favor.

This is certainly true in my house. We share the laundry and the dishes. I clean the bathroom, she cleans the kitchen, I sweep and wash hardwoods and she vacuums carpets.

In her heart of hearts, I suspect that I don't do a good enough job at any of those things. Close enough, and she can deal with it. And if it goes an extra week on the bathroom, it's an ok-we'll-get-it-on-the-weekend for me and an emergency for her.

And I almost literally don't understand what she's supposed to be doing when she dusts biweekly, or whatever it is that she does with the upholstery at least every month. Those before/after photos look the same to me. And smells! There are whole categories of apparently dire smells that simply don't register for me.
posted by Kwine at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, do you want to procrastinate while feeling smug about it? SCRUB THAT KITCHEN TOP TO BOTTOM. There, now no one can say you do nothing all day (I did nothing all day).
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


Apple making a scrubby is a ridiculous idea. Clearly they should be developing a steam mop.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2013


Also she was just out of town for two weeks and I scooped the litter box every third day instead of 'ideally every day, at worst every other day' and no one seemed to mind. Not a battle I'm looking to fight, though.
posted by Kwine at 1:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding me with that? More like "So that means moms are safely ensconced in climate controlled comfort, running a vacuum over the plush carpet for a few minutes, while dads are the ones giving up their precious weekend getting thorn-scraped, bug-bitten and sunburned."

Yeah that line was certainly written by someone who has their own ideas about which task is worse, which is part of the problem. There's plenty of housework that my wife feels is Very Important and Necessary that for the life of me I just cannot care about. Keep the toilet from being too gross, sure, but worrying about the cleanliness of a bowl to store poop? The poop bowl will always be dirty, don't fight it.

Now, shoes left in the living room? That's the real menace.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my view, this is the equivalent of an Apple scrubber.
posted by sfred at 1:56 PM on May 16, 2013


Now, shoes left in the living room? That's the real menace.

This. FTW.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:59 PM on May 16, 2013


I was determined to do my share when my wife and I moved in together.

We divide housework by what we like to do. She likes a made bed...I could care less. I hate mowing the upper lawn, so she does it 'cause she hates mowing the lower lawn.
She does most of the laundry, I do the floors and bathrooms. We both dump the garbage and recycling, although I take the stuff to the corner once a week. We make the kid dust.
posted by black8 at 2:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does laundry and the dishes count as "cleaning?" I do lots of that. (it helps that there's a nice bar across from the laundromat, but still).
posted by jonmc at 2:03 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]



I'm of the opinion that Husbunny can't see what I'm talking about. He can't see the dust, the dirt on the rug, the clutter. I'm forever nagging him to deal with 'turd mountain' in the cat box. And I get it. Our house is probably the cleanest among our friends.

I was raised by a neat freak, and I personally don't have the energy anymore to keep the house as clean as my standards are. This is where Husbunny helps me by urging me to compare our home to that of...anyone he knows.

I still think that someone could make a fortune with an vacuum cleaner attachement that would encase a mattress so I can suck out dust mites. Does anyone else think of these things?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:05 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is not that it is women's work, but that women (i know that is sexist, but come on...) are far more particular about cleanliness than men.

You've obviously never met my dad. It's got to be pathological how much he cleans. Not that he ever cleaned when he lived with my mother, of course, just moaned about things being 'untidy'.

(The man also does his damnedest to avoid setting foot in either my apartment or my brother's. It's almost hilarious how hard he tries to avoid it when he comes to visit.)
posted by hoyland at 2:05 PM on May 16, 2013


Anecdotaly there seems to be a gender imbalance in overall hygiene.

Anecdotally, there is not a cleanliness gene associated with the X chromosome. If men are more likely to ignore squalor (which I don't think is true), it's a learned behavior.

I say this as a self-professed disgusting person willing to live in immense squalor if that is the sacrifice I have to make to the altar of laziness. I "don't see" dirty dishes or disgusting rings in the toilet because I don't want to see them.
posted by muddgirl at 2:06 PM on May 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


To everyone claiming that women have higher standards of cleanliness than men: please exchange housemates with me.

seriously please
posted by ominous_paws at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shoes on the living room: WHY NOT JUST BRING THE WHOLE DAMN CITY TO LIVE IN YOUR CARPET YOU MONSTROUS OUTDOOR SHOE IN LIVING ROOM PERSON.
posted by The Whelk at 2:10 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


> I can't remember the last time I mopped a floor

Mop? Mop? I have my strap-on knee pads and my spray bottle of detergent and ammonia and my roll of Bounty, and for me that's like "I put on my robes and wizard hat." After the crud and last week's wax is scrubbed off and this week's wax is applied (also on knees) that kitchen floor is eerily clean. Both entrances are blocked with fluorescent yellow garden tape while the wax dries (if I ever see any of that "Police Line Do Not Cross" tape for sale I am so getting a lifetime supply.) That gives me about 45 minutes to stare at the perfectly clean, waxed floor lovingly from the door to the living room before it is ever again touched by human or feline feet.
posted by jfuller at 2:11 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well call me a woman cause I am a mad cleaning son-of-a-bitch.
I find spending a day cleaning the house, moving furniture around, dusting, and the likes so enjoyable...a clean house is it's own reward, but all of me just HATES doing laundry. Laundry is not cleaning*. Laundry is for the maid.
(Disclaimer*-I spent some years laundering some prominent Republicans underwear, so I hate doing all laundry now.)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:11 PM on May 16, 2013


After the crud and last week's wax is scrubbed off and this week's wax is applied (also on knees) that kitchen floor is eerily clean.

Oh but see I am not a crazy person so
posted by shakespeherian at 2:15 PM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


"I'm of the opinion that Husbunny can't see what I'm talking about. He can't see the dust, the dirt on the rug, the clutter. I'm forever nagging him to deal with 'turd mountain' in the cat box. And I get it. Our house is probably the cleanest among our friends. "

omg yes, this. Although I grew up in the house of a borderline hoarder, I think we're pretty close in experiences here.

I think it's partly differences in gendered socialization, partly differences in cleanliness thresholds, partly just the whole shame-anxiety spiral thing that happens to some of us who have busy lives and jobs and who like to have friends over without divulging to them that, yeah, we kind of do live like savages. So it's complicated, and as much as I'd like to say WOO FUCK GENDER ROLES, I will grudgingly admit to conforming here.

mr. lfr doesn't mind vacuuming (which I loathe with the firey passion of a thousand burning suns, omg just the noise itself makes me stabby), and he gets a solid C on Laundry Science (he's great at doing it every week like clockwork, however he'll invariably shrink my expensive sweaters if I don't catch him before he sweeps it all into the hamper) but he has never, ever, ever, EVER even once offered to touch anything remotely resembling poop or slime or stench or general unpleasantness, even under duress, which means I am the catbox queen and Scrubber of Toilets and the only one who will scour greasy roasting pans or clean the slime out of the sink strainer, or deodorize the NASTY SHIT that takes up residence in the garbage disposal, or take out smelly compost bins or any other vile rubbish, even when I am deathly ill or otherwise incapacitated; it just does. not. get done. otherwise.

So. our compromise, apparently, has been to throw up our hands in despair, admit defeat, and hire a cleaning service to come deal with the lion's share every couple of weeks. And ooo boy did I have angst and reluctance to even get to that point because some stupid patriarchal conditioning in my hindbrain keeps nattering away at me that I'm a domestic failure and a Bad Liberal Humanist for doing so, but, welp, fuck it.
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:19 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't remember the last time I mopped a floor

I genuinely don't understand how mopping is supposed to work.

It's just wetting the dirt with suds and pushing it around, isn't it? Seems analogous to soaping yourself up in the shower but not rinsing the dirty soap off.

How do you get the toast crumbs and pet hair and bits of tofu scramble and whatnot actually off the floor? Are they supposed to all magically cling to the mop?
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:22 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Heh, I actually am the more slovenly one in my marriage. I am a big fan of tidiness, but to me, tidiness is not the same as cleanliness.

I know this. I am okay with this.

However, Shepherd is the main thrust of ACTUAL CLEANING in our marriage. Bathroom needs cleaning? He's on it. Downstairs mess needs cleaning? He's on it.

Me? I will do the bare minimum I can get away with. I am trying harder because, you know, having a clean house rocks, but man, I don't wanna.
posted by Kitteh at 2:23 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's supposed to be a 2-step process, where you vacuum first and then you mop (and then you wax...?) and it's this very definition of CHORE and finally you give up and cry on the floor among the toast crumbs.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 2:24 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


don'tjumplarry - that's where my husband's vacuuming mojo comes into play. You're supposed to remove all that shit BEFORE you mop - the mop is just to remove the ground-in layer. And yea, proper mopping means a rinse cycle, too.

gack, this thread is triggery, ima go recieve invoices now.
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:24 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Of course we see the dust. Without the dust, how would we know where stuff goes on the shelves?
posted by IanMorr at 2:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Loud music that you enjoy helps all of this along immensely. For me. YMMV.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


BS... I do 100% of the cleaning, and the house looks great! AND I have a job, do all the cooking and pet care...

My acknowledgement that, as a teacher, my wife works 200% harder at her profession than I do at mine.
posted by HuronBob at 2:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, vacuuming first and rinsing after makes sense.

I can't promise I will actually do that, though.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:26 PM on May 16, 2013


Don't forget to vacuum the ceilings!
Then scrub the walls. And the baseboards.
Then you can sweep and mop the floors.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


My argument is that I don't clean what I don't dirty. And in order to minimize cleaning, I try my darndest to dirty as little as possible. Use only the bare minimum of dishes, and wash them immediately. Don't throw clothes on the floor - put them away immediately. If something drops on the floor pick up immediately, if something spills, clean the area immediately. It helps that we have wooden floors in the living room and bedroom and tiles elsewhere. OK, toilet may need attention from time to time, bath, sink. Vacuum? What's that? I didn't spread any dust, thank you; it's not my fault that the air in Los Angeles is so filthy that you can literally wipe a surface clean and twenty minutes later it already has a fine layer of soot. Don't want to clean, don't filthy up things. You're responsible for any filth you generate, that's fair. But generalized stuff? I strongly protest. Also, my eyes have gotten slightly worse, and my tolerance for dust has grown visually... unfortunately I'm allergic to dust, so I appreciate my wife dealing with it, but it's a matter of principle - I didn't place the dust there; let the person who is bothered by it, clean it.

Also, I can't vacuum because it hurts my ears, my grandfather was almost deaf, and what if I inherited the deaf in old age tendency? No, I will not vacuum. And the curtains look fine to me - besides, the dust might help - isn't the purpose to keep light out? Dust gets into the weave and blocks light. Sometimes entropy works for you.

As to cat hair, let the cats deal with it. Let the cats vacuum, instead they join me in the exodus as soon as the infernal machine is fired up - but I do point out to them that they are escaping responsibility, while I feel blame-free because I don't shed cat hair. OK, I pet them and hair detaches, but that's also their job to keep loose hair off - they sure lick and groom themselves a lot, just must be doing a really bad job of it. Anyhow, they run out and watch the birds pretending not to hear me. After it's all over we come back - and the damn cats leave paw prints all over the freshly wiped floor, while I take my shoes off making a point of it, and put on my slippers. I don't filthy up, so I don't clean, go blame the cats.
posted by VikingSword at 2:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god, cat hair! We have this amazingly comfortable armchair that my cats evidently feel similarly about, and while we vacuum the couch regularly for some reason this piece just escaped me. Completely. So when I finally get to it, thinking it's no big deal because it looks fine, really, I pull back the cushions a bit AND THERE IS ENOUGH FUR FOR ONE MORE WHOLE CAT.

I vacuum it twice a week now.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


God, I'm with you on the vacuum, I'd rather beat a rug in the backyard for an hour then vacuum, all that freaking NOISE aaaaaagggh.


I may infect be part cat.
posted by The Whelk at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


My dude is from a "wear shoes indoors" family and I am from two "take your shoes off at the door you ruffian" cultures and it drives me nuts that our carpet is awful and there's dirt on the kitchen tiles and we can't walk around barefoot. (Since we hate our apartment I've decided to rejoin the battle in a place I actually want to care about and wear slippers for now.)

On the other hand, I leave beer bottles in the sink and clean them up in the morning which makes him twitch and my coffee mugs litter the living room, so I guess we're square.

The different standards for cleanliness is totally a thing though. He just does not see spills and stains in the kitchen and the bathroom, and I find it easier to clean to my standards than to get too upset about it. (Does that make me a bad feminist? Oops.)

Neither of us dust. #stickingittotheman
posted by Phire at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of a semi-butch lesbian and have had trouble with this, too, because it does feel like a lot of the things that make cleaning sort of... pleasant? They're all geared very girly.

Flylady is aggressively girly, for example, and seems to assume by default that you are a stay-at-home mother who can't be bothered to put on real clothes most days, which--I wanted to get past it but found it totally offensive. Productivity apps geared towards household tasks? Likely to be designed with a lot of traditionally feminine touches. Picking out home decor is seen as effeminate; if you haven't, you are likely to feel less ownership of the space looking nice. Cleaning products that bother to try to smell nice are often inclined to go floral.

It's certainly possible to be a more organized guy or a less organized girl, but if you are traditionally femme (regardless of your gender identity or orientation) then you will find there are more tools out there that seem to empathize with your plight. It's easy to get the mental picture of the guy with the nearly OCD need to sanitize everything, but harder to picture the guy (or less-femme girl) who just routinely washes the dishes after every meal even when alone, say.
posted by Sequence at 2:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


( it's like the coffee purists pushing freshly ground beans on me, I'm usually in a hurry or hungover in the morning and do not need a loud grinding blade machine going off first thing in the morning. I'm in no state to appreciate the difference anyway.)
posted by The Whelk at 2:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


my wife apparently suffers from some sort of selective blindness that renders her completely incapable of seeing the kitchen sink or using it for any purpose.

Then where does she stack her dirty dishes when the dishwasher is full of clean stuff?
posted by Hoopo at 2:32 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also that goddam baby doesn't clean up after himself at all.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:32 PM on May 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


Seriously, the moocher.
posted by The Whelk at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then where does she stack her dirty dishes when the dishwasher is full of clean stuff?

This implies that her dirty dishes move from the spot where they were dirtied.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess in most relationships there is a reminder and a remindee, which doesn't necessarily split along gendered lines. In my relationship, my husband is definitely the reminder, while I am the one who needs reminding (about picking up socks, doing the dishes, putting away my laundry etc.). I still do a fair bit of cleaning (but probably quite a bit less than my husband) and all the cooking (which I love doing), so I do pull my weight, but like some others have expressed it earlier, I just don't "see" clutter and dirt as quickly as my husband does and have a higher threshold before it becomes a problem.

When my husband comes home, on the other hand, he immediately starts tidying, dishes get washed, packages get opened and items placed in their correct spots, boxes get disassembled, recycling and trash go where they should. He hates buying things, but maintains the things he does have beautifully -- his nice clothes are washed on the gentlest cycle, then hung up to dry and finally ironed -- while I just give up and get things dry-cleaned.

I'm not sure how much of this is due to socialization. I've always thought of myself as a naturally fairly messy person, but I did grow up in a household with parents who both worked extremely high-powered and stressful jobs and who employed both a housekeeper/cook and a maid. So I guess I grew up in a situation where messes just magically got unmessy (which is definitely not ideal, I know, and when we have kids they'll have to do their fair share of chores, whether we have household help or not). And I don't attach any moral value to cleaning, I don't feel that I'm a bad person for not liking to do it much, though I understand that it does need to get done.

My husband's parents divorced early and he primarily lived with his mother, who was very particular about cleanliness. I believe that a primary reason she divorced his father was his refusal to pull his weight around the house, so my husband definitely grew up not only knowing how to clean things but determined not to be like his father in that respect. Which is interesting... since it doesn't really need to have played out like that.
posted by peacheater at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anecdotaly there seems to be a gender imbalance in overall hygiene.

My ex-brother-in-law used to claim that women can see individual dirt molecules. His brother had two full chores and one half: take out the trash and clean the gutters, and scoop the cat poop every other time it was needed (we had outdoor cats and a big yard, so it was seasonally variable).

His actual contribution consisted of cleaning the gutters every five years or so, taking the trash out when the bags were blocking the back door, and effectively never thinking about cat poop, as if ignoring it made it disappear. His excuse was that he had a "gag reflex," as if this were something that every human being does not have. Some of us get the fuck over it in order to get the gag-inducing things out of our homes.

When I moved out it was less than a month before the cats he kept were pooping on the carpet and the kitchen was filled with full trash bags. I love living alone.


How do you get the toast crumbs and pet hair and bits of tofu scramble and whatnot actually off the floor? Are they supposed to all magically cling to the mop?


This is what brooms and dustpans are for. Sweep up the loose stuff, then mop with soapy water to get the stuff that sticks. Then empty the dirty soapy water, replace with clean water, then rinse. I hate mopping floors, but it has to be done.
posted by caryatid at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


OH, vacuuming. I bought an commercial strength vacuum cleaner and it's actually FUN to do now. The suction is so powerful it feels like it wants to propel itself along and you're just steering this plastic beast. Highly recommended.
posted by Phire at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh shit, and we have three cats. You'd think I was going to get a root canal the way I cry and whine about my turn to do the litterboxes every Wednesday.
posted by Kitteh at 2:35 PM on May 16, 2013


Moping is the only household chore that makes me whine when SO decides YES TODAY IS THE DAY OF MOPS and Im left pleading to him to consider just paying someone to perform this drudgery but no, he has House Pride and will not let anyone else mop cause no one else Does It Right.
posted by The Whelk at 2:36 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why are these women doing the servants' work? Crazy.
posted by humanfont at 2:37 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The part about women being socialized to care I think is the big thing.

This. Well, it's not so much that I care more it's that I feel like if someone comes into our home and it's a mess, then it's reflecting poorly on me and not my husband. I don't know why I think that, since just about anyone we let into our home is not going to be a "rigid gender roles" type person, but there you go.

(I grew up in a cluttered but clean home. But every time mom dragged out the vacuum we asked if that meant grandma was coming...)
posted by JoanArkham at 2:37 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Women are brought up to clean. Women - and I was brought up as a woman - tend to be taught more about how to clean things, and we see our mothers and grandmothers doing much of the work, being expected to do much of the work, and articulating most of the values around cleaning. Men do not. It's no wonder that many men don't really notice or care about certain kinds of dirt, or know how to clean it effectively if they do see it, or feel intuitively that it is their responsibility.

Perhaps this will change over time since women's energies are now channeled more into staying afloat economically than running a house. Perhaps in fifty years men and women will be virtual "equals" - equally in hock to big corporations, equally powerless in the political process, equally lacking vacation time and free time, equally too beaten down to fuss over mopping the floor. That is, I can believe that gender equality could conceivably happen some day, assuming that it's necessary for the generation of ever-greater corporate profits. If not, then not.

Had I my druthers, I would live in a tiny, tiny house of my very own, with all cleaning decisions made by me for me.
posted by Frowner at 2:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


I am a man and I love to clean there I said it
posted by J0 at 2:39 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


When my husband comes home, on the other hand, he immediately starts tidying, dishes get washed, packages get opened and items placed in their correct spots, boxes get disassembled, recycling and trash go where they should.

That's something I do the minute I get home, and I like doing it The Minute I Get Home. If my husband and I get home at the same time, he needs downtime and he wants me to relax with him for a while because Stressful Day, and as much as I'd like to, I know that if I don't do these things they will just not get done.

That creates more tension than I'd like.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 2:40 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's still women's work.

Not in my marriage it's not.

I actually stayed home from work yesterday because I had a fever. I used that day at home to CLEAN THE FUCKING HOUSE as both the wife and my five year old were out and that gave me a chance to make some progress as I bailed out the clutter over the side vs. their combined inexorable tide of mess. After I was done I sat around looking over my clean, clean domain and watched movies, smug in my temporary victory. Like Buddhist sand art.

I'm convinced those few hours of order are what made me well enough to go to work today.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:41 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think this is a male/female thing, but I like to clean when everyone is out of the house. When I have the place to myself. Wife, offspring, gone! Otherwise, yes, I'm kind of a slob.
posted by zardoz at 2:41 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm the slob in our relationship, though I am sort of getting better at it. It's only taken 15+ years.
posted by Lucinda at 2:43 PM on May 16, 2013


I need to invite people over in order to get motivated to clean. Fear of embarrassment works every time.
posted by orme at 2:44 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's certainly possible to be a more organized guy or a less organized girl, but if you are traditionally femme (regardless of your gender identity or orientation) then you will find there are more tools out there that seem to empathize with your plight. It's easy to get the mental picture of the guy with the nearly OCD need to sanitize everything, but harder to picture the guy (or less-femme girl) who just routinely washes the dishes after every meal even when alone, say.

Oh, I hear that.

Actually, as someone who is working on this whole transitioning thing and the only non cis, non-dude person in a house otherwise full of cis-dudes, it really, really fucks with my head to try to reconcile the cleaning situation. On the one hand, I hate it when things are filthy; on the other hand, the minute I start cleaning one goddamn thing, everyone's "Frowner isn't taking T yet, ergo Frowner is a maternal figure, and a maternal figure is one who cooks and cleans" shit comes to the fore. I can't tell which I mind more, the "no domestic task from mowing the lawn to washing the dishes will happen if I don't either do it myself or hand-hold the person doing it" or the fact that the social situation in our house pushes me to new levels of gender discomfort.

I would just like to be able to clean and cook and live with other people who also clean and cook and not be the "girl", because no one should have to be a girl in that particular sense and I'm not actually a girl anyway.
posted by Frowner at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bullshit.
posted by Eideteker at 2:48 PM on May 16, 2013


Why don't you like that book, Eideteker?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2013


From the link itself, emphasis mine:

"Clean Like a Man is the first and only housekeeping primer that tells men how to clean the house"
posted by ominous_paws at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've already explained my thesis on this subject, but I will add a Codicil to my Filth Level Theory, in that I agree that even naturally slovenly women are conditioned to understand that others will judged them by the state of their house.

That seems to me to be the prop under which feminism ought to jam a level: if we can get to the point where the state of your house doesn't say anything about whether you are a Good Mom (and to a lesser extent, woman) then I think people would relax into their natural levels and we'd have a random distribution of genders taking the role of the aggrieved party in the bi-weekly "But You Never Clean The..." argument.


The arguments will still occur, of course, because of the whole insoluble Filth Level differential problem. But someday, if we try hard enough, fully half the people bitching about it will be dudes. Together we can, people!
posted by Diablevert at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Phire is right in that there's something about having the right tools/products. My house is on the market right now so although showings are scheduled in advance, I feel a need to keep the place much tidier than my default state so I'm not in a blind rushing panic and then they show up 2 hours early and OMG there aren't even sheets on the bed, fuck!

So I splurged (and it's not really much of a splurge) on the basil scented Mrs. Meyers dish soap and countertop spray. It smells so good it makes me want to clean and my kitchen has never been so consistently shiny and pretty. I intend to keep buying that shit just because it really makes me happy. I'm considering splurging on a Dyson Slim vacuum for the same reason. I have very little carpet, mostly hardwood, but much of what I do have is stairs and is basically unmanageable and physically difficult and painful with my existing vacuum.

I remember a conversation with my ex about the split of household duties, and at one point he said exactly what the linked article said - that, yeah he doesn't vacuum or do the dishes but that's because he doesn't like doing it. It had this weird implication that somehow I did like it, as if that's why I clean. No, I did it because it needed doing! Even once we bought a house together, it always felt like he would choose the "fun" chores. (I'm gonna go build a compost bin out of this scrap wood while you scrub the kitchen floor on your hands and knees.)

My dude now likes washing the dishes, but I have to fight with my own weird ingrained martyr complex/guilt/obligation to ask or tell him to do them, even if I have cooked our meal and have in fact done so for the last 5 nights we hung out together. It's really weird, shaking this feeling that it's my job and even when he's doing it he deserves thanks as if it's a favor.
posted by misskaz at 2:53 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finally, an excuse for our two-man always messy household -- we can blame it on the patriarchy!

(Seriously, though, it's bullshit.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:53 PM on May 16, 2013


Do I just have insanely neat friends? I'm a guy who cleans, and all my guy friends clean. I guess the only exceptions were some law school friends whose house was pretty slovenly, but then again, law school will do that to you.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:54 PM on May 16, 2013


"Clean Like a Man is the first and only housekeeping primer that tells men how to clean the house"

This sounds like the Mirrorverse equivalent of Legos for Girls. There already are housekeeping primers that men can rely on. They just don't have "FOR MEN" scrawled on them.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the only difference is that while default-lego is in fact pretty gender neutral (thus making the existence of the girly-version even more ludicrous), the default for housekeeping guides does tend to push a bit femme.

The always-wonderful Unfuck Your Habitat being a key and important exception, as well as the first really successful step on my personal journey to cleanfreakery.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


, because it does feel like a lot of the things that make cleaning sort of... pleasant? They're all geared very girly.

This is the fucked up feedback loop between marketing and reality. In heterosexual relationships, especially if there are kids involved, women do most of the household chores. So marketers do what they do best - stereotype all women based on focus groups and demographics. Now cleaning is Branded as Women's Work, which feeds back into society and leads to excuses like, "Well, women are naturally cleaner than men! Anecdotally, men just don't see dirt!" and the vicious cycle continues.
posted by muddgirl at 3:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this where I take a deep breath and propose that those of you who can afford it explore paying for a cleaner to come and clean your house? It's one of the best things my wife and I have done. Weekends are our own! No chores hanging over us!
posted by alasdair at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


According to my mother-in-law, hiring a cleaner requires pre-cleaning, which just moves the argument up to the next level of abstraction.
posted by muddgirl at 3:05 PM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I absolutely hate cleaning, but I see dirt and wish it wasn't there.
Fiance doesn't mind cleaning but has a much higher dirt threshhold.
I am the cleaning project manager, and I straighten and do the heavy scrubbing, especially in the bathroom.
He is the executor of cleaning projects and he does dishes and the lighter cleaning like sweeping.
It seems to work out for us so far.
posted by rmless at 3:07 PM on May 16, 2013


Stereotyping Men: The Final Feminist Frontier.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


When my girlfriend first moved in it was so stressful for me because I am the clean one and she... is not. She has been really awesome about trying to accommodate my cleaning neurosis but I am still the primary cleaner in the house. Also, I usually get home from work a couple hours before her do of course I'm going to tidy up while she's gone.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:09 PM on May 16, 2013


those of you crying bullshit or declaiming about how the male is the cleaner and the female is the slob in your household? Yanno that's absolutely fine and we are not in disagreement here.

But that STILL DOES NOT CHANGE the fact that anytime a third party is involved in witnessing cleanliness (or otherwise) levels within any household, it is almost invariably the individual possessing the vagina (if such individual exists in the household dynamic) who is the one being judged on the situation, silently or otherwise, fairly or non. This is how societal conditioning works. Yes, even when I was merely a Housemate of Convenience in a wholly platonic roommate situation? I still got the stink eye or just flat out hassling from the friends and relations when I'd walk into the flat with them and the livingroom resembled an explosion in a laundromat, dirty dishes towered in the sink and weed apparatus and old bong water stains were scattered about about the coffee table? Yeah, I was the one who was supposed to somehow magically control my roommate's slovenly tendencies, even in non-partnered situations. I call total bullshit on that, but it still happened.

and you'll also have to forgive me for thinking that dudes living with other dudes regardless of the relationship will likely get a way more liberal pass on filth, even if your place approaches frathouse proportions of squalor, but I've seen it too often to not think It Is A Thing We Do As A Culture (consciously or no).
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:13 PM on May 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


If you're both working and you can afford it hiring a cleaning service is great - if not entirely socioeconomically unproblematic *. But yes, you will want to tidy first, or you will be paying for them to move things around instead of actual cleaning.

* next step: robots, I guess. Actually a dishwasher is basically that for doing dishes and I would consider it essential marriage preserving equipment.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on May 16, 2013


My wife is into cleaning only insofar as she gets to buy new cleaning products. Beneath the kitchen sink is a huge poisonous hoard of cleaning liquids in all manner of unnatural colors, many used only once. I think she is hoping to find one that you can buy and will make our place clean without having to do anything. We both suck at actually getting down to the business of scrubbing.
posted by Hoopo at 3:14 PM on May 16, 2013


> Don't forget to vacuum the ceilings!

In this house and this climate anyone who looks at the ceiling will want to vacuum it because spider webs, if it's been more than a couple of days. And spiders. Ceiling Spider and her twenty friends and their 20,000 children are watching you [whatever].

As for other kinds of vacuuming, my manly Kirby Classic is a f*cking power tool. It has a forged metal case. It's put together with nuts and bolts. It will last forever because it can be rebuilt as surely as any transmission can be rebuilt. Ladies, you're welcome to use my Kirby as long as you're already comfortable with radial arm saws, drill presses, and vertical milling machines. (It's loud. For the noise I use earbuds and Swedish death metal.)

As for the spiders, yeah it is inconvenient to take the rug beater off the Kirby and clamp the long hose on, so for Ceiling Spider I just bring in the ShopVac.
posted by jfuller at 3:17 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


But that STILL DOES NOT CHANGE the fact that anytime a third party is involved in witnessing cleanliness (or otherwise) levels within any household, it is almost invariably the individual possessing the vagina (if such individual exists in the household dynamic) who is the one being judged on the situation, silently or otherwise, fairly or non.

Absolutely. The fact that I'm a total slob doesn't negate the fact that women are expected to be Household Managers, and do more of the household chores (not just cleaning, but schedule-organizing, child care, and often-times social organizing) as a consequence.
posted by muddgirl at 3:17 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Stereotyping Men: The Final Feminist Frontier.

Stereotyping men is a symptom of patriarchy, not feminism.
posted by caryatid at 3:18 PM on May 16, 2013 [27 favorites]


But that STILL DOES NOT CHANGE the fact that anytime a third party is involved in witnessing cleanliness (or otherwise) levels within any household, it is almost invariably the individual possessing the vagina (if such individual exists in the household dynamic) who is the one being judged on the situation, silently or otherwise, fairly or non.

I don't disagree with your point, lonefrontranger, but that's your point, not the article's. The article said that men won't and don't clean, and that's absurd. If anything, it's even more absurd in light of the fact that women and men have varying levels of cleanliness and responsibilities with regard to cleanliness.

If anything, the article is just adding to the problem that you yourself are pointing out, in which people assume that the lady-type person of the house must be the responsible party when it comes to cleanliness - since, after all, men will only clean when asked.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:20 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dated a guy who was a Cleaner. It was really stressful to watch him clean my kitchen after dinner
posted by angrycat at 3:21 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stereotyping Men: The Final Feminist Frontier.


waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah
posted by ominous_paws at 3:22 PM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Both things are true, which is going to make it complicated except for a lucky few couples:

1) There is almost always a differential in mess tolerance/vision--that doesn't cleave to genders, it's like eye color or something;

2) AndBut, like many have said upthread, there is a very real socialization thing going on for women and expectations aimed at them.

The whole thing is a fraught pain in the ass.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:22 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The threshold issue (person with the lower tolerance will inevitably clean first), the childhood training (do you know the steps to scrubbing the bathrub?), the gendered expectations (this is my job vs. this will get done somehow), this all came to a head for me when I started cohabitating with my boyfriend.

In previous households I was always the messy one. Roommates would put my dirty dishes on my desk as a pointed reminder, or call me on their way home from work, "can you clean up the kitchen, I would like to cook tonight and there are no clean pots you filthy beast."

Now, bafflingly, I was the household brownie who magically did the dishes, tidied up the dining table, whisked away the recycling, etc etc. Even the thought of apportioning out the chores, "today we are going to do laundry" seemed awful. I didn't want to be the head housekeeper telling the parlor maids what to do.

Our solution. Making Astrid the boss of us. The to-do list is in charge and yells at us via our phone.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:22 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]



But that STILL DOES NOT CHANGE the fact that anytime a third party is involved in witnessing cleanliness (or otherwise) levels within any household, it is almost invariably the individual possessing the vagina (if such individual exists in the household dynamic) who is the one being judged on the situation, silently or otherwise, fairly or non.

Absolutely. The fact that I'm a total slob doesn't negate the fact that women are expected to be Household Managers, and do more of the household chores (not just cleaning, but schedule-organizing, child care, and often-times social organizing) as a consequence


So true, and also the party planning, school volunteering, team mom, etc. I, the least social person around, got tagged to organize the the neighborhood Halloween Party, along with three other women who have careers and small children. The men, nope, never even crossed the prior organizers minds. I ran it via email with outlined lists and clearly assigned tasks.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I dated a guy who was a Cleaner. It was really stressful to watch him clean my kitchen after dinner

Seriously, watching my SO clean is so stressful cause I just wanna stop him and say YOU DON'T HAVE TO THIS PUT THE MOP DOWN WHY ARE YOU SWEATING SO MUCH LET'S IGNORE IT AND MAYBE IT'LL GO AWAY.
posted by The Whelk at 3:24 PM on May 16, 2013


In this house and this climate anyone who looks at the ceiling will want to vacuum it because spider webs, if it's been more than a couple of days. And spiders. Ceiling Spider and her twenty friends and their 20,000 children are watching you [whatever].

OK, now I'm serious - we have this exact problem here in SoCal. BUT, I feel genuinely bad for the spiders - I feel like they've worked so hard to spin their webs, it would be cruel to just sweep it all away, or worse, injure the spider! I'm dead serious about it. I prefer not to disturb the spiders. In fact - the internet being semi-anonymous and all - I confess, I am somewhat distressed when a spider weaves a web in a place where I doubt there are any flies and it pains me to think how s/he is waiting patiently and there are no flies... I have to fight the urge to catch flies and place them in the web. Poor things. What to doooo? And worse, what to do, when a spider weaves a web - at lightening speed - on the car's side mirror... I really need to drive Mr. Spider, what are we going to do?

It's honestly not the cleaning aspect of it, when it comes to spiderwebs for me. I didn't find Woody Allen's jokes in Annie Hall funny at all - the spider had my sympathy. I suppose I need therapy.
posted by VikingSword at 3:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


So here is a thing: I would not be able to afford a cleaner even if I wanted one, but aren't many, many cleaners just undercompensated, socially vulnerable working class women, often women of color and often immigrants? I do know a guy who works as a cleaner, but he does fancy rich-people cleaning with organic products and is hired pretty much exclusively by well-off progressives. If all the mefites who recommend hiring cleaners are in fact pro-actively paying a genuine living wage (one where the worker can afford her insurance, transit and whatever independent contractors do for social security) that is absolutely great - but I often feel like hiring a cleaner is basically just passing the problem of cleaning, labor and gender on to more vulnerable women.
posted by Frowner at 3:32 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I do all the cleaning in our household; Mrs. JiLS not at all. We are OK with this, because (a) I only do enough cleaning just to keep the place looking less attractive to the alley rats than does the alley and (b) I realize that if I lived alone, I'd still be doing all the cleaning ... but I'd be living alone. Mrs. JiLS brings many other joys and undertakes many other of my burdens than just pushing a mop would do. After twelve years together come this June 1, we have long since reached detente on the allocation of cleaning responsiblities in this household; it's no longer something I really think about (other than when I see a thread like this)

We've discussed getting a maid (back at a time when that was something we could well afford to have done), but for a number of reasons we decided against it (including that need to "pre-clean" for the maid, which I absolutely did when I and a prior spouse had a cleaning service years ago, as well as the fact that we rarely if ever have guests in, so it's just us tolerating our own squalor).
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 3:37 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Frowner: yep, hence my cognitive dissonance about being a Bad Liberal Humanist. It's part of the shit show that is our US economy, and there's a whole socioeconomic kerfuffle we could have about that, but basically we're too fucked as a society for most people in the middle classes to be able to afford outsourcing these kinds of tasks like we did in prior centuries.

gah. Anyway the lady who cleans our house is the domestic partner of a very good friend and colleague of mine, and she does it as a side project because she likes to. But not everyone's that lucky, of course.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:38 PM on May 16, 2013


you should do what my parents did - have 5 kids and make THEM do all that stuff
posted by pyramid termite at 3:44 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


[H]iring a cleaner requires pre-cleaning - You betcha, but it's a much less fraught situation because it mostly consists of a) each person tidying up the drifts of his/her crap so the surfaces are accessible and b) optimizing the cleaner's time by completing the less onerous/more enjoyable tasks in advance.

[A]ren't many, many cleaners just undercompensated, socially vulnerable working class women, often women of color and often immigrants [so aren't we] just passing the problem of cleaning, labor and gender on to more vulnerable women? Of course we should pay everyone a living wage (I pay our cleaner $25/hour so I think I'm in the clear here) and that should be somehow mandated. However, our society doesn't work that way, sadly. I don't think it's better to refuse to pay people who are seeking work that I need performed (and setting the price for their services, presumably based on a cost/benefit evaluation of options that include public assistance) to assuage my liberal guilt/concern about how the US economy and our immigration system function. By analogy, there are better options than Twinkies to give a starving person, but if that's all there is, it's better than nothing.
posted by carmicha at 3:45 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]



According to my mother-in-law, hiring a cleaner requires pre-cleaning, which just moves the argument up to the next level of abstraction.

This seems quite common. It drives me crazy. No matter how it is explained, if I've hired cleaners I don't want to spend hours doing a pre-clean.
posted by humanfont at 3:46 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am definitely the anal-retentive Felix Unger in my relationship. I actually feel catharsis when I vaccuum and a frisson of joy when I reunite my daughter's sock with its mate and place it, just so, in her drawer.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:47 PM on May 16, 2013


Yeah, this isn't true in our house either. NOBODY cleans here.
posted by DU at 3:53 PM on May 16, 2013


For those considering hiring a cleaner, a good rule of thumb in engaging anyone to provide any service, I have found, is this: Would I charge the same amount (or less) to provide this service as I am prepared to pay someone else to do it for me? If the answer is no, then do it yourself. If the answer is yes, then make up your mind about it and go ahead and hire them if you want. Just be brutally realistic in how you answer that question.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 3:54 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


My inner socialist still rebels at this.
posted by Artw at 3:57 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personal services for me start at a basic 30 bucks an hour, it's like the standard baseline five dollar for delivery anything, that is the cost of things and That's what I have to work with.
posted by The Whelk at 4:06 PM on May 16, 2013


Hiring cleaners was the best decision we ever made, because we are both lazy slobs who nevertheless like a nice place to live. Pre-cleaning for us is washing the wine glasses we don't put in the dishwasher and picking up the underthings off the floor. Our cleaner specifically told us not to pre-clean, probably because they lose people who overdo it and then decide it's too much work.

Pay some actual humans (not a service) a fair wage and rest easy. I pay lots of people to do things I could potentially do myself, like fix my car or cut my hair or prepare my food. I can't see an ethical difference.
posted by nev at 4:08 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, yes; nev raises a good point. Do not hire a cleaning service; their workers are not seeing even half of what you pay. Hire an individual to clean your house, and pay them what you would ask to be paid to clean that same house, and all is good. (Or, just do it yourself and tolerate the squalor, as I do.)
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:11 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stereotyping men is a symptom of patriarchy, not feminism.

Stereotypes by author Jessica Grose

I do 100% of my own laundry and cleaning, because it's my personal responsibility to clean up after myself. So save your tar and feathers for someone who actually deserves it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:12 PM on May 16, 2013


Would I charge the same amount (or less) to provide this service as I am prepared to pay someone else to do it for me?

At first glance, I really liked this notion. However, some of the underlying assumptions here don't hold up. Our personal and business service sectors are all built on optimization decisions that weigh time, expertise, quality of results, and cost associated with hiring out tasks vs doing them ourselves. There's nothing inherently different about purchasing cleaning services than legal advice, financial services or a pedicure.

In this example, a) my cleaner does a better job in less time than I can do, so it's not a straight time trade-off equation; b) I can earn more than $25/hour (which is a lot here in rural Wisconsin) in my highly specialized weirdo consulting job; c) I work a lot and am willing to pay $25/hour to buy free time. Meanwhile I'm supporting someone who has chosen this profession for her own reasons (and, for what it's worth, used to be an engineer); whatever they are, I respect them. Everyone wins.
posted by carmicha at 4:14 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pre-cleaning? You mean, hide the sex toys, right?

Tips for (clean) living with cats:
If your kitty has a favorite sleeping area, put down a blanket for her to sleep on. Dealing with the nest of hair is much easier when I can just swap out and wash the blanket and not have to bother with vacuuming or using the lint roller on all the hair left behind.

Dry Swiffers. Fantastic for getting all the cat hair off your floors or other hard surfaces. Also, they make those sticky tape roller things in this huge size (like, a broom handle with a paint-roller-sized end) and those are awesome of getting cat hair off all soft surfaces. Seriously, run one over your couch sometime and marvel.

I always make the bed because I could never sleep with my sheets all furred-up. Plus I don't want to be kicking drooled-upon toy mice out of bed all night.

I am definitely the one with lower cleaning standards, and yes, as a couple you really have to compromise more in the direction of the cleaner person, which has ended up with my doing more housework than ever because I'm usually blind to the messes. It has always been so, I'm afraid. It takes extra effort for me to look around and see things that need to be done, but it is a skill that can be learned. I agree that's it's primarily socialization that's responsible for any gender divide in cleanliness standards. I was never really trained to nor expected to do housework growing up, so it was easy for me to slip into a more lax role there.

As far as women being made to feel more responsible for the general state of the house, I was never socialized to that either, so when my in-laws are coming over, I tend to let my husband do most of the cleaning. If he asks me to do something, I'll comply, but I don't feel any stress over it. If it's my friends or family coming, I just hide the laundry and make sure nothing too stinky is going on.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 4:22 PM on May 16, 2013


I was raised in a house where house cleaning was work, and boys are meant to do that kind of work. Up the ladders, cleaning trim molding and ceilings, keeping the dust off the ceiling fans, washing (!) the walls top to bottom, and then getting all of the dirt you knocked down back up off the floor. Weekly.

This started early, bathrooms especially, since you were the one that probably made that mess around the toilet anyway. Since we were programmed for this, it had to become habit, and the only thing you could do was work faster and get it over with faster, or clean up immediately when it happened and not let it build up.

When I got older, it dawned on us that if the mess wasn't made in the first place, then there was nothing to clean, so don't make the mess to begin with. That has served me well.

I now look at cleaning-as-I-go as the ultimate laziness, and I enjoy it. Also, if you buy a good broom and don't throw stuff on the kitchen floor, you can mop once a month. But not the bathroom.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:23 PM on May 16, 2013


Time was, one of the trip wire feminist questions was "but who does the dishes?" Norman Mailer, by then on his last wife, answered it carefully - "whoever is the least tired."

Which avoids the real issue. Far as I can tell, it's a question of who has the higher tolerance level for unclean. You want it clean, go ahead and clean it. You don't - hey, no problem, I can live with that.

If you want to stereotype that, sex-wise - hey, no problem.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:24 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]




carmicha, I would have said that you are being extraordinarily good to pay that $25/hour. I was by no means criticizing you; I think your rate is extremely fair, even generous.

Many of the other points you raise, I did not touch on in my post, but yes:

1. I originally had included the following qualification "IF you were equally qualified for the work, what would you accept for it?" You are correct; your professional cleaner is undoubtedly better at cleaning than I am, maybe you, too; so, yes, you need to do a little thought experiment and try to level the skills playing field before calculating what you would want to be paid for that work.

2. I, too, can earn a lot more than $25/hour by environmental lawyerin' here in Chicago; as much as 8 times that amount as Of Counsel for one firm. I also do some low-level environmental consulting work that I'm willing to accept $20/hour for. I am worth every penny for both of these lines of work. I'd say that I'd probably charge at least $25 or $30/hour to do a thorough cleaning job on somebody's house; what I am paid for my professional advising has no bearing whatsoever on what I'd sell my time and labor for as a house cleaner.

My father has a house cleaner who sounds a lot like yours; she actually owns a house that is much nicer than my father's house, has another career option, could quit this in a minute, but prefers cleaning houses (when paid the right amount).
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:28 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do most of the house cleaning and cooking, and my wife puts up with my definition of clean. That is truly the best arrangement, I've found.

Cleaning can be dull but it's a good time to relax the mind. Cooking, on the other hand, I genuinely enjoy and didn't realize it until I was over 30. Thanks to, I think, unconscious gender role reinforcement from my childhood.
posted by selfnoise at 4:42 PM on May 16, 2013


I want robots to solve this problem before reducing sexism has a chance.
posted by EtzHadaat at 4:47 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I'm a pretty okay housekeeper but what I have learned from this thread is that I'm supposed to be vacuuming my curtains, apparently.
posted by gerstle at 4:47 PM on May 16, 2013


There already are housekeeping primers that men can rely on. They just don't have "FOR MEN" scrawled on them.

Well, go have a look at the one thing everybody always ends up referred to, at least in conversations I've had, about cleaning: FlyLady. The site is purple. There are fairies. If I have learned anything from the front page at this moment, it is that I am a stay-at-home mom who needs to wear real shoes for my self-esteem, most of my life is centered around my kids' activities, and my marriage may need help.

It isn't just labelled 'for girls', it's very clearly labelled for cisgender, heterosexual married women who have children and don't work outside the home. A lot of housekeeping resources are similar. The content may be quite usable for anybody, but that's not the image they project. I'd like to see more really neutral resources, but in the meantime I'm cool with whatever kind of book will add some kind of diversity to the genre.
posted by Sequence at 4:49 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Beer, loud music, everyone out of the house, boom, cleaning is fun. And who the hell vacuums anymore? That's what roomba's for, people. I haven't vacuumed in a couple of years... Just routine robot maintenance, which is awesome.
posted by Huck500 at 4:51 PM on May 16, 2013


you need to eat and you need to watch the kids. dusting? more of a luxury item.
posted by jpe at 4:57 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use the definition of "cleaner" that I learned from Pulp Fiction: a cleaner is a person who destroys or removes any incriminating evidence at the scene of a crime, typically a murder.

It's kind of fun, thinking of household cleaning as an effort to clean up a gruesome murder.

I get the kids involved. "Come on children, let's clean up the murder scene!"

My wife is not at all happy with this.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:58 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I AM a cisgender heterosexual married woman who has children and doesn't work outside the home, and I can't stand FlyLady. Thank God there's UnFuck Your Habitat.
posted by KathrynT at 5:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


"worrying about the cleanliness of a bowl to store poop? The poop bowl will always be dirty, don't fight it."

If you're using it to store poop, you're doing it wrong.

"And I almost literally don't understand what she's supposed to be doing when she dusts biweekly, or whatever it is that she does with the upholstery at least every month."

I am unfortunately kind of slobby myself, though I don't want to be -- but one thing I discovered when I was trying the Flylady thing (which eventually put me off by its girliness, sappy-sweet Christianity, and assumptions that everyone was a SAHM on East Coast time) was that if you do these chores on a regular basis, without waiting for stuff to look like it needs it, it saves you time in the long run. If I wait until the dust is terrible, then it takes a long time to get it to looking nice. If I do a quick dusting every week, it takes much less time and the house almost never looks dusty unless I do something that specifically generates extra dust.

For a few months I was regularly doing that 30-minute Flylady weekly "house blessing" (gag), and it worked. The house was clean and nice, and it really did take 30 minutes or less including vacuuming.

Re: getting the dirt off the floor, I have a three step process for the kitchen: sweep, Swiffer, and one of those Wet-Jet Swiffers. (No, I have no connection with them, and highly recommend you use the cheaper third-party refills.) ;) That does a pretty good job. Once in a while, I will vacuum. But it's pretty clean with the 3-S process I normally use.
posted by litlnemo at 5:03 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha, I just remembered that my brother in law, a man who once slept on piles of his own dirty clothes because he was too lazy to get a bed, now runs a very successful house-cleaning business.(and yes, he does a lot of it himself).
posted by emjaybee at 5:06 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was raised by my mother. Ms. Yuck was raised by her father. She hired a maid when we split up.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:10 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cleaning is not a huge source of stress for me: thinking about cleaning is, however.

I will never forget the time a lady came into my house and said, "oh! you keep a clean house!" And I know it was meant as a compliment, but I took it as wtf did you think I would be a slob? Is that an Irish-American thing?

What's funny is my first two husbands were all about cleaning and my third is not. He will do it and often will do dishes or whatever. Doesn't care if it's done or not, will happily volunteer to do anything, with or without my asking. Tells me not to worry because he doesn't so much care about things being clean as he cares about me worrying about things being clean.

And that's just it: he never worries about things being clean enough. And I do. It has nothing to do with the reality, whether it's clean or not, or whether it can be done easily, as it often can. It's the worrying about it. I feel like worrying about cleaning and keeping the house perfect takes up a huge amount of my head space.

I know I had to clean a lot as a girl, and make my brother's lunches, and clean the bathrooms and my first 25 cents to go to the candy store was from doing dishes. I never once saw my brothers doing dishes. Or making their own sandwiches. It was always, "oh, I'm tired, can you get up and make me a sandwich?" But now I have the freedom to do what I want, yet I can't get it out of my head that if it's not clean I am a horrible person. And if I've left the dishes in the sink, gah. It's awful. Don't do that to your kids.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:14 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I live alone, so, if I don't clean it, it doesn't get cleaned. That being said, for real drudgery, I rely on the advice from an old friend -- "when you feel down, clean the bathroom. It won't make you feel worse, and you'll have a clean bathroom."
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:17 PM on May 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


There are entire websites devoted to Speed Cleaning. There are techniques for getting the job done quickly and you can learn those techniques.

But doing a bunch of speed before cleaning also works.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:19 PM on May 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I find cleaning to be relaxing and it's something to accomplish and maintain to be even more relaxed. Some of my female friends are surprised that I do this and indeed one of them wouldn't let me see her place for 2 years because she was intimidated by the cleanliness of my place, as if I'd really care. So I know this is indeed a thing but surely it not being a thing is a thing now too.
posted by juiceCake at 5:26 PM on May 16, 2013


I "mopped" the kitchen floor last week with baby wipes. That's the first time I have done anything other than sweep it in an entire year. It looks fine. And seriously if anyone would come into our apartment and judge me for that, why the heck are they looking at the floor anyway?
posted by donut_princess at 5:30 PM on May 16, 2013


How do you get the toast crumbs and pet hair and bits of tofu scramble and whatnot actually off the floor? Are they supposed to all magically cling to the mop?
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:22 PM on May 16 [+] [!]


I don't mean to sound condescending, but you sweep first. Or vacuum. Or sweep and then use a dustbuster on the pile if you happen to be a person who cannot figure out how to get everything into the dustpan (that's, um, me) There is actually not supposed to be any dirt left on the floor. Ideally, a floor gets swept (insert time frame here, because I'm not interested in starting a fight, folks are vehement about their preferences) and then mopped a little less frequently. Or with the same frequency, because you know. Some people are different.

So the mopping is really about any spots that that might have dripped onto the floor. And about particles that are too small for sweeping.

As for floor wax, I can't speak to that.
posted by bilabial at 5:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are advantages and disadvantages to living in Mexico, as opposed to say, Norway, my native country. A disadvantage is that no one takes their shoes off when they come in.

An advantage is that if you have a middle class income or above, it's totally affordable to have a maid in twice a week to clean the whole apartment, even if you pay her very decently.

I don't think I could move back to Norway now, I'm too used to this.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:52 PM on May 16, 2013


Yup.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 6:48 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Between UFYH and "Home Comforts," I've managed to forge some understanding of how to do what my family needs done. I give myself a little slack because I still have young kids (who could care less about tidiness, and need constant reminders about, oh, flushing and not shedding socks everywhere and putting dishes back in the kitchen and a million other things) and a spouse who simply *does not see* disorder or the need to reset individual rooms on a regular basis. I've added all sorts of not-traditionally-mom's-job chores to my daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal rotation, and tend to absorb the multiple and frequent emergencies.

But you know what? I bitch about having to do mom things *because it's simply, silently accepted that these things are done by mom.*

My husband has asked me to attend a birthday party for the six-year-old daughter of one of his employees. I should be gracious -- he doesn't want to spend a sunny afternoon in a room full of little girls and women that he doesn't know -- and I understand that, because I fucking well don't want to spend my day that way either! But our daughter has been invited, and I'm the Mom (TM), so I'm going to shut up and smile. THAT is the imbalance of silent, invisible but weighty expectations that I experience, and he doesn't. As with keeping house, there's an inarticulate layer of shoulds that he just doesn't feel, didn't get socialized into, and doesn't perceive.

Yes, Virginia; I am trying to kill the angel in the house. If only she would go quietly.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:01 PM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


From the article: "Even in the famously gender-neutral Sweden, women do 45 minutes more housework a day than their male partners."

See, here's the thing: I'm a single dude who lives alone. And I do maybe 45 minutes of housework a week.*

It's not because I believe a woman should do it for me. It's because I simply don't care.

*I'm exaggerating. Slightly.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:03 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do you hire a cleaner?

I have a friend who cleans my house for extra money while she finishes school. There is always a nagging voice in my head that says "Are you too good to clean your own house?" The answer is that I have much better things to do like weed the garden and beg my two year old to sit on the potty, but I still get the feeling that my grandmother would not approve.

However, I love those Fridays when the house has been cleaned and I open the door and walk in to a cloud of lemon-scented bliss. It always takes about half then weight off of my shoulders when I walk across my clean floor and sit on my clean couch and realize that I don't need to spend the next 30 minutes doing dishes and picking up toys.

Happily/Sadly, my friend will soon be finishing school and will be working in a highly compensated field. I need to find someone else soon, but no one in my family has ever hired a cleaner and I have no idea how you find someone you trust. I will pay well, but I'm having a hard time getting over the idea of having a stranger in my house. How do people hire people to clean their houses, especially in a way that ensures that they are fairly compensated?
posted by Alison at 7:12 PM on May 16, 2013


I want at least the coffee table cleared off...

Get rid of the dammed thing, not only do they accumulate clutter but you're always tripping over them as well as making the room seem much smaller by taking up a bunch of floor space.

When I first started living with my wife I specifically stated that I refuse to own one the the horrid things, get rid of it you'll be much happier without it.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:17 PM on May 16, 2013


In our house, the cleaning is split evenly, though some weeks one of us may be busier than the other. Complaining about cleaning however is entirely her department.
posted by Jode at 7:23 PM on May 16, 2013


Speaking as a guy, I always thought that using a vacuum cleaner isn't much different than using a lawn mower. And since every guy likes working in the yard (right?), it should be simple to switch over to the vacuum and get the same joy. *crickets*

Then again, my favorite chore is doing the dishes, and the only thing I hate about laundry is trying to jam my big paws into the little kids' tiny sleeves when I have to turn their tiny wet clothes inside-out and put them on the line. I only really loathe taking out the recycling and garbage.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:25 PM on May 16, 2013


My ex partner thought cleaning up meant him picking up his clothes off the floor/reorganizing his closet while I tackled the rest of the apartment.

I had made a point to never nag (because good girlfriends don't nag so I gently joked about all the spittle on the bathroom he'd generate brushing his teeth and just cleaned the mirror after every time he brushed his teeth resigned to being the one who would pick up after him) but the relationship ended with him yelling at me for not being a better housekeeper anyway.

After we broke up, one of the silver linings was that it's really easy to keep things clean now that I only have to pick up after myself. Also, no spit on the mirror and I never feel anxiety upon going into the bathroom because he seemed to always forget to flush after going no. 2 and then put the lid down, so at the end of the day it would just stew in there until I got home.

And no mountain of dishes on the sink or juice glasses left everywhere. No walking in on him masturbating to porn on his laptop while sitting bare-assed on the living room couch with his underwear around his ankles as i stumble blearily into the living room first thing in the morning after waking up.

But the not flushing thing and the toothbrushing spittle on the mirror---those things seemed so easy to do. And even for a guy who seemed to believe in an egalitarian split share of chores (or so he thought he believed until he raged at me), his basic attitude was that it was my responsibility, that everything not being perfectly kept up was my fault, like running the household was my role.

I don't know. I've seen lots of guys who treat their partners with empathy and see them as humans and help. Then there are those who are lazy and think their wife should innately know because their moms cleaned up after them so well and without protest and I guess with pleasure of taking care of their husbands and sons in a boys will be boys way.

Sigh. Work full time and clean up after everyone without nagging, with a smile and lots of energy. Ugh.
posted by discopolo at 7:36 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe I've shared house with too many people who had SEP fields around cleaning, but I have a hard time accepting that grown people literally can't tell that the trash needs to go out, the bathroom stinks or that you're sticking to the floor when you walk on it.

I mean, I get it - maybe cleaning is not a priority for you, or you don't have the energy to deal, or the whole thing has just gotten overwhelming. Chores are tedious, so fuck it! But in my experience, people who 'don't see' the mess around them really just have the privilege of ignoring it because somebody else with lower tolerance will eventually take care of it for them.

Living in a clean place that smells good and where I can find all my stuff is important to me, and ultimately I'd rather clean up after someone than live in their accumulated mess. But it would be so much easier to be gracious about it if I truly believed "I just don't see it" was a real thing like near-sightedness, rather than polite cover for "If I ignore it, it'll automagically go away."
posted by Space Kitty at 7:47 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Alison: How do you hire a cleaner?

How did you find the one you currently employ? You said s/he is a friend - that's how it worked for me, too, from the other side of the equation. I'm a self-employed part-time housecleaner, and I really enjoy my work and am fairly compensated. I started out by working for friends and acquaintances, and so far I have found all my clients through word of mouth alone. That's my favorite way to find new gigs, especially since Craigslist can be a real crapshoot, at least in my city (Portland, OR). Once my clients knew they could trust me with their homes, they spread the word about my services to their friends and associates via social networking. So I recommend you put the word out, and see what happens.
posted by velvet winter at 8:14 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


save your tar and feathers for someone who actually deserves it.

Oh please get over yourself, unless you really want to take total responsibility for thousands of years of patriarchy. :roll:
posted by caryatid at 8:21 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would get rid of the coffee table but it's also our dining table. I'm a big fan of "less stuff is less work", I guess because actually caring about not living in filth like an animal forces you to consider things strategically and not caring makes you not have to think. It's so funny how I grew up hearing my mom having these same conversations with my dad, and being young and stupid, siding with my dad. Then being that messy roommate in college who really and truly didnt care. Now that I have my own place I get it, I care about what people think now and I don't want to live in filth... But I still don't have enough enthusiasm or energy to do it all, or consistently.

Re: finding a good housekeeper, seconding word of mouth or maybe ask metafilter if you don't know any mouths.
posted by bleep at 8:25 PM on May 16, 2013


Sticherbeast: "I don't disagree with your point, lonefrontranger, but that's your point, not the article's. The article said that men won't and don't clean, and that's absurd. If anything, it's even more absurd in light of the fact that women and men have varying levels of cleanliness and responsibilities with regard to cleanliness."

Unfortunately, the notion that women will be the first to be judged for a messy home and the first to be commended for an orderly one isn’t much of an incentive for men to pick up a mop. In the instances in which men actually do the majority of the housework in their partnership, women are still the ones getting credit. David Michael Perez, the publisher and editor of Kindling Quarterly, says that though he does more decorating and cleaning than his spouse does, “often when people say ‘your house is nice,’ it’s directed more at my wife.” If they’re not even going to be rewarded for it, why bother at all?
The author makes my exact same point RIGHT THERE IN THE ARTICLE. It's RIGHT THERE. She goes on to make many of the very same nuanced points that we've all been deconstructing in this here thread.

Okay so let's just admit the lede was trolling for eyeballs (because media) but the thesis is pretty much "yea, guys don't do this shit BECAUSE IT SUCKS A HUGE BUCKET OF DISEASED RUNNY COCKS, oh and plus it's not expected of them as just a generally heteronormative social cue, thus women will typically have a much lower pain threshold here." And, furthermore, as the bukkake cherry on top of the shit sandwich that is gendered housekeeping expectations, you dudes pretty much aren't even going to get any credit for doing shitty miserable slave labor even when you do it happily without complaint, because "oh your wife/girlfriend is SUCH A GREAT HOUSEKEEPER OOOOOH GOOD CATCH MAN!" YES I know there are people who don't think this way, and people who genuinely love cleaning, but they are NOT a majority of the populace, or even a large minority, and also also, that's why I hired someone to save me the pure broiling angst on heavy lifting jobs like, oh, mopping the fucking floors and scrubbing the fucking bathrooms.

I fucking hate cleaning. But it beats the hell out of the alternative, which is living in a sty of my own filth like my mom does. Also, it's very hard not to assume that, in situations where you're living with someone with a higher threshold of "mess" than you, that they aren't just waiting for the problem to solve itself, because it always does. And it's VERY difficult not to project this sort of angsty seethe when I ask my husband to please, for the fourth time, I solemnly swear I'm not nagging you sweetheart, but when I ask you to take the recycling to the bins, I do mean "within the next ten minutes", not "sometime this week".

I hold hope that things are (ever so glacially) changing, and that twentysomething Whelk is making with the full-body eye-roll at fortysomething lonefrontranger simply because in the intervening generation or so there have been enough single parents and dual income families and women in breadwinner roles that the young boys and girls of the '90s and '00s have been raised somewhat more gender-blind to these sorts of socialization cues in housekeeping, but OH MY GOD this whole attitude is still pretty pervasive even amongst my (mostly) grad school aged friend set, so I just don't know.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:48 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


How do you hire a cleaner?

I found a young woman on craigslist who lives in my neighborhood, who is a new mom going to school part time, who thinks $15 an hour is a good rate for cleaning my (not ever very dirty) house and working in my yard on her own schedule. Because I hate mopping floors and she doesn't, and I am too old to do a lot of yard work and can afford to pay her. I really like her and she likes me, so we are becoming friends, and the relationship is mutually beneficial beyond the financial aspect. I refuse to let her give me a discount for being someone she likes (she's tried). I tip her generously because she is so totally worth it. I do not feel the least bit guilty for paying her less than I earn per hour, and I'm sure she does not resent it. Would I do the same work for the same pay? Hell no. Because I hate mopping floors and I would not do it for someone else. I do, however, do a lot of volunteer work that I do enjoy for no pay at all.

What is being overlooked here is that, outliers aside (and apparently MetaFilter hosts a LOT of outliers), women STILL, by far, do most of the housework in the world, for whatever reason, and I suspect most of the reason is tradition. OK, fine, you are a man and you clean. The fact remains that most men do not clean as much as women do. If this does not apply to you, we're not talking about you. It is NOT absurd to say that men won't and don't clean, because most of them don't.
posted by caryatid at 8:53 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


But in my experience, people who 'don't see' the mess around them really just have the privilege of ignoring it because somebody else with lower tolerance will eventually take care of it for them

In my experience, as someone who has been a bachelor living alone and had lots of bachelor friends who lived alone, there are quite a few people out there who are OK with living in filth even when there's no one to clean it up for them.
posted by Hoopo at 9:08 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is about learning, for sure. My husband was not unwilling to help, but he did not understand things like the little hairs from shaving will not clean themselves off the sink, or that toilet bowls can be and should be scrubbed now and then, or that there is such a thing as cleaning cobwebs out of corners, because no one ever taught him those things. But he does them now (at least as much as I do), and also does the laundry, because he likes having clean laundry.

But there are still areas of cleaning that I grew up with (dusting behind curtains and washing them, cleaning blinds, moving the whole couch to vacuum, vacuuming the couch itself) that he has no concept of. Either his mom never showed him or never did it (she's not much of a cleaner, and my mom was very big on it). But I don't do them often either, unless I start getting grossed out. I'd like him to care, but making him care when I barely do seems pointless.

And the reason I do care at all is Visitors. I like people to come to my house. I don't want them grossed out by food covered cushions and spiderwebbed drapes.

Human habitations are prone to dirt, rot, dust, mold, bugs and clutter. Someday we'll either have dwellings that clean themselves or helpful robots or dirt-zapping forcefields or what have you. In the meantime, it still always, sooner or later, comes down to cursing and scrubbing the carpet with stain remover because the cat barfed. Again.
posted by emjaybee at 9:14 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with what Hoopo said above. I firmly believe my partner doesn't see the mess because I saw how he lived before we lived together. *shudder*

I also judged the shit out of him for it and insisted the standards be raised somewhat if he wanted me to, you know, spend time there.

He washed the dishes before he used them.
Before.
I am still aghast.

He's whistling away cleaning last month's meal (it was cheaper to eat out where we lived, so we only cooked occasionally for joy) and I would be in the other room cleaning less gross things or trying to concentrate really hard on my reading so that I could enjoy the meal and not think about it.

I was raised without brothers and he was raised without sisters, so I mowed the lawn and helped fix the car growing up and he can clean the bathroom, but he just never sees the need.
posted by MsDaniB at 9:57 PM on May 16, 2013


In my experience, as someone who has been a bachelor living alone and had lots of bachelor friends who lived alone, there are quite a few people out there who are OK with living in filth even when there's no one to clean it up for them.

I'm not talking about people who are content to sit in their own stink. I'm talking about housemates that try that "Mess? What mess?" bullshit when their empty beer cans fail to achieve sentience and walk themselves to the curb.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:14 PM on May 16, 2013


bleep: "Re: finding a good housekeeper, seconding word of mouth or maybe ask metafilter if you don't know any mouths"

I know no mouths, and I must clean!
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:19 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Household cleaning chores should be divided fairly and equally amongst the servants.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:10 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


We have a house in a historic district and recently had a historian research the history of the house. One of the things that came up was that from 1869 until around 1910, there was a live-in maid/house keeper living in the back room. So I've concluded that we're not sloppy, we're just understaffed.
posted by octothorpe at 4:55 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Back when I still knew how to travel and visit people, I was always a welcome guest because I love to clean other people's houses (barring cat things because cats are evil), cook refined meals for my hosts, and make sure the refrigerator door opens from the correct side. On the latter, I was once referred to as the refrigerator door fairy by a delighted hostess who'd been annoyed by her wrong-opening door for years, and I sometimes think I'd like to have a business card that specifically addresses that aspect of my fixations.

The thing that always gets me is when people huff and puff and complain about doing dishes, which makes me feel like I am most definitely displaced from some nearby alternate plane where normal people understand the sensation of satisfaction that comes from diving into a sink stacked high with wretched dirty dishes and making everything right and clean and okay again. The act of transformation in this is a spiritual ritual metaphor of soul-cleansing for me, but you'd think most people have been asked to reach into a box of broken glass and pig shit the way they fuss about "having to" do that chore.

These things were all used up, but now they are new again.

And now we may begin.
posted by sonascope at 5:01 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Germaine Greer makes some interesting points.

The Tyranny of Housework:
By the millennium, housework should have been abolished. In a sane world, meaningless repetition of non-productive activity would be seen to be a variety of obsessive-compulsive disorder...

Changing standards and notions of cleanliness have made cleaning more time-consuming than ever before. Kitchen worktops need to be constantly wiped; kitchen floors need to be mopped whenever a footprint or a pawprint appears; the bath has to be cleaned between baths; once a day is not often enough for the toilet...

...Men have not agreed to do a share, let alone a fair share, of domestic work, because they have never agreed on the amount of work that needs to be done. It is difficult to know how they could, because most of the work done in the home does not need to be done.
Why women don't relax:
Occasionally some foolhardy academic tries to suggest that housework is a leisure pursuit, the paradigmatic "leisure industry", which is one way of saying "keeping very busy doing nothing". Women will not accept this version of their reality; they want us to believe that they hate and resent housework, but that "someone has to do it". The people who make money out of this kind of leisure industry are multinationals like Unilever and Procter & Gamble, and by manipulating women's insecurities they make unimaginably huge amounts of it. Currently, women are fighting a war on bacteria, nasty, deformed aliens who hide under toilet seats and on work surfaces. Where lazy boys play murderous videogames, diligent housewives deal out death and destruction to an equally fictitious enemy. The boys know they are playing; the women think they are working.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:41 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish I knew why, but in many relationships men and women just plain "see" different levels of dirt or cleanliness. I'm a first 90% sort of guy and I think I do pretty well at cleaning the lion's share of a project. This is objectively where most of the value lies, but my wife is a last 10% sort. The only time this becomes a conflict is when she equates not finishing to her standards with not doing any cleaning.

Because I simply don't see that last 10% I've taken to asking nicely for a final review so I can get it done well, but I think it would be easier if we just settled for 90% and went on to more important stuff. If I did no cleaning I could see why there would be conflict but even in households with egalitarian intentions you can easily conflict over the standards of finish.
posted by dgran at 6:19 AM on May 17, 2013


We're a heteronormative couple, and my male partner does 90% of the housework. If it were up to me, we'd hire a maid.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:46 AM on May 17, 2013


I clean,but only when I'm told to clean or I see my GF doing some cleaning. I do all of the dishes and cooking though so it evens out in the end I think. Echoing most of the others I would clean when it got dirty, but I end up helping out with the cleaning before it gets dirty because GF starts cleaning before it gets dirty.
posted by koolkat at 6:47 AM on May 17, 2013


While there are problematic aspects to hiring a socially vulnerable working-class woman to clean, if it's any consolation, you're probably participating in worse institutions pretty much any time you buy clothes, electronics, or food, for three.
posted by Zed at 9:44 AM on May 17, 2013


For those considering hiring a cleaner, a good rule of thumb in engaging anyone to provide any service, I have found, is this: Would I charge the same amount (or less) to provide this service as I am prepared to pay someone else to do it for me? If the answer is no, then do it yourself. If the answer is yes, then make up your mind about it and go ahead and hire them if you want. Just be brutally realistic in how you answer that question.

I think this doesn't make functional sense to me. If I would, charge, say, $50 for an hour of cleaning someone else's house, why would I pay someone $50 to clean my house when that is exactly what the price of my own labor would be and I could just do it myself at that point?
posted by corb at 10:03 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, men do far more cleaning now than they did in the Eisenhower era

But the Eisenhower era is a dust magnet.

My wife and I don't see eye to eye on what is actually "clean." I can tolerate disheveled, in fact I prefer disorganization, but dirty makes me nuts.
So I will go into a room, pick up all the books off the floor, pick up odds and ends, training pads, what have you, sweep, mop, scrub furiously, I do the floors like I'm still in boot, polish, gloss, the toilets look newly store bought and installed, the chrome shines, not a speck of hair or dust anywhere in the house - then I'll replace all the debris that was laying on the floor to where it was.

Then she comes home and says I didn't clean.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:15 AM on May 17, 2013


Corb, because you have the money but don't have the time. It's not like you can take three hours off of work every week and tell them, "well don't pay me for those hours, I need to clean my house".
posted by octothorpe at 10:16 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife and I have an arrangement. She cooks and I do everything else.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:24 AM on May 17, 2013


Corb, because you have the money but don't have the time. It's not like you can take three hours off of work every week and tell them, "well don't pay me for those hours, I need to clean my house".

Well, right, but that awareness of my time is factored into what it would take for me to be willing to clean house for money. So that price is including how squeezed I feel for time and how much of a big deal it is to take time away from all the things I need to do to do that.

I'm not sure how to separate that from the "If I did not have those time constraints" me.
posted by corb at 10:34 AM on May 17, 2013


from TFA: there are no closet organizing tips in the pages of Esquire

Esquire sez: "Are too! Are too!"
posted by Zed at 11:00 AM on May 17, 2013


Pfffft. When company is coming and the house needs to be cleaned stat, the routine is that I vacuum and dust and such while my wife does food prep and gets all the little details ready. In fact, I can't remember the last time my wife used the vacuum cleaner at all. I just really hate dishwashing.

Can we use this energy to address something that's still actually a Problem?
posted by dry white toast at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2013


One more reason I adore not living with my SO. I love to clean; I do domestic chores every Sunday and it's my busy happy me-time. Clean the fishbowls and the birdcage and water and prune the violets and sweep and dust and launder. I don't know how often my beau cleans but as long as it's not unhealthy I don't care a whit. It's his house and his business, and when I visit, I keep my mouth shut.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:48 AM on May 17, 2013


> Can we use this energy to address something that's still actually a Problem?

OK, the question now before the group is, if you found and collected all the dirty clothes and washed them and dried them and folded them and put them away but did not fold them correctly, did you or did you not do the laundry?
posted by jfuller at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


While there are problematic aspects to hiring a socially vulnerable working-class woman to clean, if it's any consolation, you're probably participating in worse institutions pretty much any time you buy clothes, electronics, or food, for three.

Yes, but I don't need a cleaner the way I need food or clothes or certain electronics (I can do without lots of electronics but I would not be able to hold down a job or do most basic life things without a phone, for instance). The vast majority of the time when I hear people talk about hiring cleaners, they aren't saying "Because of my health concerns, I am unable to do housework, so I absolutely must hire someone". What I hear is "oh, we hate cleaning, so we decided just to hire someone" or "we were always arguing about cleaning, so we decided to hire a cleaner" or "I could spend this discretionary money on [other things]; it is a service like getting a good professional haircut or going to the spa".

And hiring a cleaner has been, in this thread, specifically pointed to as a technical fix for gender inequality in matters of cleaning, even though it often relies on structural inequalities around gender (and also around race and class).

I'm not saying that this makes buying sweatshop clothes into a good thing, or that it makes hiring a cleaner with your discretionary money because you really loathe mopping into a bad thing, but "I participate in this unjust system because I have to wear clothes in order not to freeze, burn or be arrested and due to the clothing-creation system at least some of my clothes or their components come from sweatshops" is different from "I don't like doing a thing, so I hire someone to do it".

Just to be clear, I am sorta-kinda ill at ease with the idea of hiring cleaners just because one does not like cleaning, but it's not something that I would actually get all judge-y about because it's obviously a pretty ambiguous issue.
posted by Frowner at 1:15 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who worked for both Obama campaigns and has several pictures of herself with the President. She's Latina, and is super let's-empower-young-Latinas motivated, and has a seven year old niece living in another state that she doesn't get to see very often, so writes to her a lot to keep up their relationship.

Apparently she recently sent some of her me&Obama photos to her niece, who took them to show and tell. Reportedly, when her teacher asked, "and what does your Aunt do for the President?" the niece responded, "ummmm...I think she's his cleaning lady!"

facepalm.
posted by phunniemee at 2:20 PM on May 17, 2013




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