Who will blink first? Not me
March 30, 2021 1:54 AM   Subscribe

Fed up with doing all the housework, this woman decided to just stop doing it. And documented it on Twitter.

The division of labour and who shoulders the various burdens of sustaining a relationship is a subject well-discussed on Metafilter, but the pandemic has shifted the dynamic in a new way.

The need to manage homeworking, homeschooling and maintain a work/life balance over a long period of time has thrown a spotlight on the issue again, and reignited the debate.

Unsurprisingly, the UK Government perpetuated the stereotype.

Maybe this is the solution...
posted by essexjan (170 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Twitter thread has brought back memories of the late 70s for me, where the moms in my Toronto neighbourhood all got their consciousnesses raised at roughly the same time.

One by one houses that were obsessively tidy sprouted laundry and dishes and garbage. At the same time, moms started getting jobs, putting on blouses with little bow ties (Dress for Success!) and suddenly, we were now putting casseroles in the oven and famously - latchkey kids. A wave of divorce hit as the moms gained economic power, sexual liberation and choice. They brought the bacon home abd fried it in the pan.

For the kids whose parents divorced, they often moved into smaller places. Joint custody wasn’t common. I visited my friends on thei Wednesday night (movies! Little Darlings!) or Saturdays at their dads’ new apartments downtown or near Don Mills, with cool elevators. Once VCRs became something you could rent the dads let us watch Poltergeist.

Meanwhile (my mom got a job in real estate but didn’t divorce; I spent weekends delivering flyers for her), us kids watched Three’s Company and ate breakfast cereal after school on our couches. My family had way more money than ever. By 9 I could clean everything and do the laundry as well as make Hamburger or Tuna helper.

I dunno man. Now two incomes is the norm and women are still going on strike.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:54 AM on March 30, 2021 [60 favorites]


To all those who have done this but had to back down when the maggots arrived: the trick you missed is that anything left behind for you to clean gets cleaned, then dried, then hidden.

The household is thereby forced to evolve toward running at its minimum feasible crockery and cutlery count. You still won't ever get them to clean anything, but constant re-use means they'll be eating the fly eggs before they can hatch.
posted by flabdablet at 3:03 AM on March 30, 2021 [57 favorites]


Looking at the pictures, I thought "oh hey it's our house!"

I'm F but when it comes to housework I tend to identify more with the stereotypical M perspective...

In our defense we have a baby who is growing taller and pulling to stand so the tide of stuff is rising higher and higher (and further away from the edges of surfaces.)

Love the thread!
posted by freethefeet at 4:11 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


In my childhood, doing the dishes was a reliable way to get away from whatever fight my parents were having after dinner without getting hollered at, so I have always found that chore in particular a place of safety. My wife’s family apparently used dishes and other chores as a punishment so she avoids doing them.

I have played dishes chicken with her in the past but as I am also the more frequent cook it amounts to playing dishes chicken against myself.
posted by gauche at 4:49 AM on March 30, 2021 [8 favorites]


I went through this dynamic with housemates one time in university and things got reeeeeeal funky for a while until we instituted a chore schedule backed up with enforced punishment (if you didn't complete your task by Sunday night you bought two large pizzas for the house).
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:06 AM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


I'm unemployed right now and my partner is working from home so I do the bulk of the cleaning which I don't mind but for me it's the "I used this here and here it will stay" behavior that drives me crazy. Neither of us are really organized people and I'm dealing with adhd so having to hunt through the house to find homes for things or collect dishes/laundry for processing makes the work so much harder.
posted by Ferreous at 5:09 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


From careful experimentation years ago, dishes in the sink for (let me check my notes, cough) for weeks are not fatal, but changing the water every 2-3 days makes a huge environmental enhancement.
posted by sammyo at 5:11 AM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


Chore Discourse is especially interesting to navigate when you're someone in a household that used to qualify as M-F but is now M-M so now you're not only still doing the raised-and-socialised-female stuff but you're no longer able to identify with the articles about it without experiencing a little nip of gender dysphoria (as a treat).

Should I be doing fewer chores as a man? Should I be doing more? Am I undermining traditional ideas of masculinity by enjoying my time folding laundry or am I still under the yoke of a role forced on me due to my female childhood? Is leaving a pile of dirty socks by the bed a feminist statement or a chauvinistic joke? Is it weird that I feel more affirmed in my gender when I get to make a mess while cooking dinner and don't immediately clear it up, even though I know I'm just making more work for myself when I circle back in fifteen minutes to do it anyway because I can't stand a cluttered surface?

Oof, it's exhausting.
posted by fight or flight at 5:25 AM on March 30, 2021 [76 favorites]


I live alone and I am both of these people.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:33 AM on March 30, 2021 [111 favorites]


This reminds me of a group house I lived in briefly during college. All guys. Nobody ever washed a dish except right before they used it. The cupboards were always empty, the sink and counter always full of dirty dishes. The smell was amazing.

Once my girlfriend and I spent half an hour washing all the dishes and putting them away. The very next day they were all back in the sink dirty again.

The microwave had stalactites. Nobody ever cleaned that either (or covered a dish in there, since that would require cleaning TWO dishes first.)

In the book of the movie "Animal House," there's delightful additional detail and backstories for several of the characters. Bluto's room (not seen in the movie) was described as having no furniture, being entirely filled with piles of dirty laundry, which he'd rearrange into a sort of nest when he wanted to sleep. That was pretty much what all their rooms looked like.
posted by panglos at 5:41 AM on March 30, 2021 [8 favorites]


I fear that many women who have tried this had absolutely no idea of the level of filth that their loved ones were prepared to live in.
posted by thelonius at 5:42 AM on March 30, 2021 [48 favorites]


I come close to Dave Barry's observation that men don't notice dirt until there's enough to support commercial agriculture, but with me it's more about consistency. If the entire house is covered with 1/4" of dust I probably won't care, but if there's just one dirty spot in an otherwise clean room I'll probably clean it up.
In my defense, I do most of the cooking and I've done my own laundry for the 50 years of my marriage. Also, since pot became legal in Vermont, I have really, really, enjoyed doing the dishes.
posted by MtDewd at 5:46 AM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


Dad of young adults here. I've also been the primary cook, grocery shopper, house cleaner, and breadwinner for a long time. Mentioned this elsewhere but will say again: Color coded dishes per kid are a game changer. Same for towels and linens. Let it be clear and obvious who is taking care of business. The kids will also enforce their own boundaries - God help the green kid spotted using the blue dishes.

Families with kids old enough to deal with dishes should use a quantity of cutlery equal to the number of humans in the house, plus two. Four people, six forks in circulation. The number can go a bit higher if you have a dishwasher and people know how to use it, because you might decide as a family to run the dishwasher maybe once a day for efficiency. But if you're hand-washing dishes, there must be no slack in the system.

I have great sympathy for the Twitter author. It's frustrating to get taken for granted. And one thing I've learned over the years is that the better you are at running the house, the more likely you are to have your efforts overlooked. It's just magic! Household magic! Why would you ever think to look behind the curtain to find out how the magic works?
posted by sockshaveholes at 5:47 AM on March 30, 2021 [65 favorites]


My partner has some chronic health issues and works second shift from home, so there's a lot of times I'm the house do-er. I get all the laundry washed and dried, she folds and puts it away. Supper is always on me (or her 15-year-old, someone save me thanks) to cook and clean up from. The kid takes care of the trash, putting the dishes away, and the cat boxes. Small household cleaning chores fall to my partner or the kid (toilets, sinks, bathtub, dusting) and we're automating what we can (Roombas are amazing). Grocery / store runs are mine, unless its Saturday and she fells well enough to venture out with me.

As a dude, I know our kind gets a lot of shit for not pulling our weight, but it's because not enough dudes were shown how to do it as a youth, not shown the importance of maintaining your stuff to help the whole household flow better, and then never lived alone long enough to ingrain it into their heads that they have to do this stuff. To anyone that lives with others, family or just roommates, if someone's not pulling their weight, have that conversation, and if that doesn't work, shock treat them like the Twitter thread shows. Things will change.
posted by deezil at 5:52 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


As a dude, I know our kind gets a lot of shit for not pulling our weight, but it's because not enough dudes were shown how to do it as a youth, not shown the importance of maintaining your stuff to help the whole household flow better, and then never lived alone long enough to ingrain it into their heads that they have to do this stuff. To anyone that lives with others, family or just roommates, if someone's not pulling their weight, have that conversation, and if that doesn't work, shock treat them like the Twitter thread shows. Things will change.

I'm not the dude, but I have to tell you (warmly) that this paragraph absolutely raised my hackles.

Yes, as parents it's our job to teach our kids about chores and stuff and I have sons and they do chores.

But guess what? I wasn't taught a lot of things as a child - car maintenance, taxes, how to build websites, conflict resolution - and I learned those things, because I cared to learn them.

It is not the women's jobs to educate you. It is not precious esoteric knowledge that dishes need to be washed. Educate your gosh darned self.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:04 AM on March 30, 2021 [175 favorites]


it's because not enough dudes were shown how to do it as a youth, not shown the importance of maintaining your stuff to help the whole household flow better

Oh goody, yet another chore.
posted by JanetLand at 6:04 AM on March 30, 2021 [103 favorites]


[to sum up warriorqueen's comment]
posted by JanetLand at 6:05 AM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


Jeesus. That should have come with a trigger warning.
A trigger warning for vicarious RAGE
posted by glasseyes at 6:06 AM on March 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


So it’s like Wages for Housework, except you get Twitter faves instead of wages, and instead of a deep feminist critique of capitalism, you get a resentful critique of your shitty family?
posted by thedamnbees at 6:07 AM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


I feel like lighting a candle for all the people who've tried this and after days - no, weeks - of a mountain of grease and filth and chaos have been been met with no change at all.
posted by glasseyes at 6:10 AM on March 30, 2021 [17 favorites]


Props to this person for, seriously, the mental fortitude to do this for days at a time. Occasionally, both my roommate and I will be busy / distracted all day, and at some point it feels like a psychic standoff to determine who's going to load the dishwasher as the dishes pile up. ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯ Usually I manage to take a chill pill (name brand It's Not That Deep (TM), 25mg), and get it done.

For folks who, like me, never got a home ec class, I recommend Unfuck Your Habitat (and its sub) as a starting point.
posted by snerson at 6:28 AM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


As a dude, I know our kind gets a lot of shit for not pulling our weight, but it's because not enough dudes were shown how to do it as a youth, not shown the importance of maintaining your stuff to help the whole household flow better, and then never lived alone long enough to ingrain it into their heads that they have to do this stuff. To anyone that lives with others, family or just roommates, if someone's not pulling their weight, have that conversation, and if that doesn't work, shock treat them like the Twitter thread shows. Things will change.

As a dude: guys get maintenance. It seems like every guy I've met has a Hobby that they are VERY good about maintaining their equipment/space for. Maybe it's their car, or knitting supplies, or guitar collection, or lego collection, but there's something. They realize how important it is for all the little detail routine maintenance to be done and they just do it, because it's part of the hobby. More over, they figured out how to learn and do all the maintenance as part of learning about the hobby. It's just that us dudes are largely conditioned to see how work as women's Hobby. Which, let's be honest here, is all sorts of different kinds of sucky and self centered.

Look, I think we can all agree, that barring some unique circumstances, everyone reading this grew up in a sexist culture. But man, there's a whole world of difference between "Oh, shit! I have bad attitudes I need to work on" and "it's not my fault, you never taught me how to do it," and what you're saying is way closer to the second.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:34 AM on March 30, 2021 [57 favorites]


We've taken turns doing dishes for almost 20 years now. If you don't do ALL the dishes on your Dish Day, every dirty dish the next day is yours until you complete the job. No exceptions.

As a result, dishes are pretty well always done before we go to bed.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:37 AM on March 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


“Did you want to switch the dishwasher on?”

“I ran out of time.”
posted by double bubble at 6:38 AM on March 30, 2021 [16 favorites]


> In the book of the movie "Animal House," there's delightful additional detail and backstories for several of the characters. Bluto's room (not seen in the movie) was described as having no furniture, being entirely filled with piles of dirty laundry, which he'd rearrange into a sort of nest when he wanted to sleep. That was pretty much what all their rooms looked like.

I lived with a guy like this one year in university. Despite having access to a washer and dryer in the basement of our house, he (by his own admission) would wait until none of his clothing passed his personal smell test anymore (and I would imagine his smell-test standard was quite low) and cram it into the washer as tightly as he could so he only had to do one load.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:44 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


I am doing the same experiment about what happens when you don't clean except it's more like a situation I don't like & can't control than an on purpose thing.
posted by bleep at 6:50 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


The Matter of Withnail. [2mins].
"cram it into the washer as tightly as he could so he only had to do one load"
I did this once, in an excess of false economy, in a coin-up laundrette. At the end of the cycle, there were clothes in the middle which, far from being clean, were not even wet.
posted by BobTheScientist at 6:54 AM on March 30, 2021 [16 favorites]


My dad grew up in a very traditional white-Catholic household where the kitchen was the exclusive territory of my grandma. My mum was the only girl in a single-parent family and so got all the kitchen training (and sexist expectations).

When my mum and dad moved in together as young people, she asked him point-blank, “what three nights a week do you want to cook dinner?”

His first night she went to bed hungry (and probably hangry). His second night was a predictable attempt-ending-in-disaster. Mum stuck to her guns, Dad kept trying, and she started teaching him the skills she’d learned as a child. Fast-forward a few years and my sisters and I grew up devouring his fabulous food — Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, British, Jamaican...

Fifty years later, he’s still the primary cook and the best one in the entire extended family. His eldest grandson looks set to take over the mantle.

I love my mum. I wish I could live up to my dad.
posted by sixswitch at 7:17 AM on March 30, 2021 [53 favorites]


We have a friend who'd do a strike with her family all the time - it sadly always had minimum effectiveness. I mean her husband would just eat raw bacon if there wasn't a pan to cook it in so it was a steep hill to climb. And her tolerance for living in one's own filth is very low and his was at drunken frat boy levels. A Lysistrata style sex strike was the most effective in their relationship (shit would get done fast).

In our house I always found the best way to deal with things was all about who had the bigger issue with parts of the house - for me it was the kitchen & bathroom & making the bed, for my partner it is laundry. It doesn't mean there isn't overlap in completing tasks but the bulk of these tasks get done by the person who feels they own it. We've found that this way there is less conflict but we also recognise that sometimes when household chores don't get done it may be due to mental health issues so we try to be kind to each other. For getting the kid to to do household stuff, we have a deal where for every birthday he gets one new age appropriate chore which must be completed before a leisure activity is available to him (like in that recent dog post - we've found positive training, consistency and treats are powerful tools of behavioural modification).
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:19 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


We've taken turns doing dishes for almost 20 years now. If you don't do ALL the dishes on your Dish Day, every dirty dish the next day is yours until you complete the job. No exceptions.

A couple I once knew had a similar house rule that also ended up sort of hacking each other and the dish system. They also took turns, but for them, each person's "turn" was over as soon as the sink was empty of dishes.

This actually had the side effect of training them to be absolutely militant about doing dishes ASAP. Seriously, if it was his turn to do dishes and she had a glass of water and put the glass down in the empty sink, he would spring up, run over, wash that one glass, and cheerfully announce "the sink's empty again, it's your turn!" And then he would have a plate from a sandwich and put that in the sink and she would drop everything, run over and wash that one plate, and announce "sink's empty again, it's your turn!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 AM on March 30, 2021 [41 favorites]


Oof. I'm the "bad" partner. I've been working on this and working on this and working on this for ten years.

I grew up on a homestead. Two boys, one girl. Thing is, the division of labor was weird. Most "normal" people don't have to budget calories for keeping a wood-burning fire going or doing the "outside stuff" to get ready for Michigan winters. I did those things and I still do. Mom and dad both worked and both did labor but there was just... a lot of fucking labor. As kids we were expected to be on hand and on call and it just seemed to roll out that dad collared the boys and mom collared the girl and we worked.

My beloved and patient partner grew up in the suburbs where "outside stuff" was for hobbyists.

And we have radically different standards for what represents "clean" - especially when I was raised brushing my teeth and getting ready for school in half-built rooms with poor heating and dangling light bulbs. I have a massive blind-spot when it comes to "clean." I have had to work really, really hard at this. I am legitimately "happy" as long as my drinking water is relatively clean and there's no sand in my sleeping bag and my socks are dry. My standard for creature comfort is so much lower than hers that it's like we are a different species.

But all that "stuff"? That's allllll me stuff. That's 100% "not her deal." And I can either dig in my heels and be shitty about it, or I can continue to try and get better. Just because I was raised with abnormal circumstances doesn't make my way "right" or "better." After all - if you can do the work and you can get better, you owe it to yourself to try.

So now I'm gonna go do the dishes.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:49 AM on March 30, 2021 [24 favorites]


Everyone who's talking about college/university is missing the point.

If I'd found myself sharing a house with a bunch of fellow students who were all neat, tidy and considerate, I'd have slept with one eye open and a cricket bat in my hand.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 7:53 AM on March 30, 2021 [13 favorites]


no slack in the system.

Smash the plates! recycle the clothes! feminist slobs unite against possessions!

also, thanks for the color coding advice
posted by eustatic at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Good on her for taking a stand but something about doing it along with a catty Twitter thread full of photographs makes me uncomfortable. That’s my own issue, of course, but this kind of kayfabe is hard to take for whatever reason. I hope she wins her just war.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:56 AM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


In University I moved into a house with three engineering students and the person who had moved out so that I could move in was the dude who did all the dishes.

I did an experiment, to see how long I could go without doing the dishes before they would start cleaning up after themselves. I broke when I came into the kitchen and my roommate was eating cereal out of my four-cup measuring cup. "There's no dishes" was what he said when I asked him why. I had this moment of realization that they weren't going to change.

Years later I lived with these two dudes. One of them didn't clean up at all, most disgusting person I've ever lived with. The other was fine but really didn't want to use the dishwasher because he was worried about the hydro bill. So I ended up doing almost all of the dishes by hand almost every day.

For someone who's fairly clean (please don't look at my kitchen right now), there's such a balance between how clean things are, how clean I want things to be, and the current state of my mental health. It's always interesting to meet people, mostly men, where this doesn't seem to exist in any shape or form. Trying to get them to see that, and that they should be contributing and doing things, is such an uphill battle.
posted by Neronomius at 7:58 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


My housecleaning philosophy usually boils down to "leave it the way you found it, look after your own mess." I'm sharing my life with a woman who raised two sons and her approach has been "just do it, because it's not worth the hassle getting them to do it." A recent visit by one of the sons really puts things into relief for me: how do I broach the subject that, now he's not a child, maybe he could think of ways to be more considerate to his mom? I strongly identify with warriorqueen's comment at the top of the thread.. the Canadian lens, the timing (oh jeez, the Three's Company!). The late 70s in my part of Canada saw women attending workshops and organizing marches. Organizers were under surveillance, in some cases. A lot of us grew up learning that household work is a burden to be shared by everyone. Now I am with one of the strongest people I've met: she made a deliberate decision to forego sharing her life with two separate men, and raised her two sons on her own to be good people. But there is a part of the boys' lives where they inherited some weird ideas about living with others, and I think it will detract from their ability to enjoy their mom through adult life. You can't really get to know your parent if a part of your brain still has them changing your diaper.
posted by elkevelvet at 8:00 AM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


Good on her for taking a stand but something about doing it along with a catty Twitter thread full of photographs makes me uncomfortable.

This. Thanks for being the first to say it.

I found it very funny if and only if she warned her family in advance 'If you don't do your share, I will humiliate you at length on social media.' If she didn't, it's just Bean Dad again.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 8:00 AM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


Difference being her partner is presumably an adult who already knows how to wash the dishes, replace the toilet roll or remove aged sausages from the frying pan and is just choosing not to for reasons.

If her partner is on Twitter then maybe he can notice the activity and do something to fix the situation. If he isn't then oh no a bunch of people he doesn't know about might be saying things about his housekeeping and then will forget about it all in 15 minutes.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:07 AM on March 30, 2021 [22 favorites]


Gasp! Oh no! Her tone!
posted by Drastic at 8:11 AM on March 30, 2021 [80 favorites]


Difference being her partner is presumably an adult

And so, presumably, is she.

I'm out.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 8:13 AM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


Good on her for taking a stand but something about doing it along with a catty Twitter thread full of photographs makes me uncomfortable.

and

This. Thanks for being the first to say it.

I found it very funny if and only if she warned her family in advance 'If you don't do your share, I will humiliate you at length on social media.' If she didn't, it's just Bean Dad again.


I do get the Bean Dad stuff, but I feel like she was not being harsh on the kids unless I missed something...she simply didn't clean up. If I missed that she didn't feed any kids under 15 yrs old then I'm with you.

On humiliation though...don't worry - try being the woman who's judged not just on her home, but her holiday gifts, her response to couple invitations, her kids' homework and grooming, her spouse's grooming, the content of everyone's lunches and their relative fitness levels, her senior management of the lawn (I mow our lawn and the number of (mostly Boomer-aged) people who stop to ask me why I don't make my husband do it...), her "110% commitment" to her job, mansplained at, and then of course...her social media feed.

A little judgement about the chores standoff won't go too far.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:32 AM on March 30, 2021 [61 favorites]


But guess what? I wasn't taught a lot of things as a child - car maintenance, taxes, how to build websites, conflict resolution - and I learned those things, because I cared to learn them.

Thank you.

I was a chronically ill child, and my mom was a little too lenient - probably in part because she's a neat freak and wanted the job done her way. When I moved out, I had very little experience managing or doing regular chores. I had to learn on my own.

(To give you an example of how little I knew, when I came back to visit, I wanted to be helpful by loading and running the dishwasher. I put regular dish soap in it because the place I was living didn't have a dishwasher and I didn't know better. Ooops.)

I learned how to do regular chores. I do them. Because I do not expect anyone else to.

I hate the "but I don't know how."

Watch a youtube video. Get a book. Get a planner. Most of these things are not hard to figure out and if you live with someone who is picking up your slack you have a resource *right there* to explain if you have questions.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:33 AM on March 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


It's not that my mom didn't teach me to clean, it's that mt dad taught me that it wasn't my job to do it.

This is why I think there should be an annual garbage holiday. We need to reconnect with exactly how filthy we are as a species and how much labour is expended to preserve the illusion of tidiness. A garbage strike will fuck a city up in a matter of hours.
posted by klanawa at 8:53 AM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


it's that mt dad taught me that it wasn't my job to do it.

We've all dated this man.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:04 AM on March 30, 2021 [19 favorites]


The "I wasn't taught how to do chores" thing is interesting and does remind me of a less extreme version of the Bean Dad discourse. In a lot of cases if you didn't learn to do some "obvious" chore as a kid, there can be a lot of strong Shame tied up into that, so it can be really hard for some of us to learn how to do something that is supposed to be "simple". I completely understand the frustration behind statements like "Educate your gosh darned self" but the truth is that it is legitimately difficult psychologically to try to learn something you're ashamed of not knowing, and many people can't handle that so just avoid the problem. In general men tend to be awful at identifying shame spirals and just avoid them

I think the "fix" is to try and make chores and learning how to do them at least somewhat aspirational and positive which can avoid the shame spiral. Doing the dishes is not esoteric knowledge but it's also NOT immediately obvious how to do it properly (I was yelled at so many times by my step mom for doing it wrong because she was awful at giving feedback), and as a society we need to agree that learning to do helpful things is a Legitimately Good Thing. It really frustrates me when people mock things like "Adulting" classes for millennials that are trying to do this exact thing. I'm not surprised so many people have weird emotional hangups about chores when our culture is so confused about them and their value
posted by JZig at 9:08 AM on March 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


What amazes me is how low the bar is. I fill the dishwasher (most of the time) and run it (about half the time) and empty it (99% of the time. I'm up first in the morning) and this makes me a fucking rock-star. Then my wife's friends hear then I do laundry and actually fold it and put it away and make tea without being asked (that's at least 75% an English thing) and they freak out.

The bar is so low and so many guys could be hurdling it with so little effort and so many of them can't be bothered even to do that.

Oh, I vacuum too (tbh, I find it kind of soothing).

I hate the "but I don't know how."

Watch a youtube video.


These dudes who do the "How to change the air filter on a 63 Buick Skylark" should also do a "How to fill a dishwasher" and "How to make the kid a grilled cheese sandwich" video (yes, it has to be the same guy doing both. That's the only way it will work).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:09 AM on March 30, 2021 [24 favorites]


> These dudes who do the "How to change the air filter on a 63 Buick Skylark" should also do a "How to fill a dishwasher" and "How to make the kid a grilled cheese sandwich" video (yes, it has to be the same guy doing both. That's the only way it will work).

Guys (and individuals of all genders with a similar mindset) love learning to do esoteric things but are ashamed of trying to learn simple things they should already know, which I guess is why all the popular versions of these videos are framed as "life hacks". I know that makes a lot of us feel weird because it seems dishonest and dismissive of others, but it seems to work and doesn't really harm anyone.
posted by JZig at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


I guaran-fucking-tee that every man who sits on a toilet to pee is a man who regularly cleans his own toilet
posted by elkevelvet at 9:20 AM on March 30, 2021 [15 favorites]


No-one who went to my schoolboard back in the late 70's through the 80's can use the excuse that they "never learned how" to do whatever chore. A semester of Home Economics and a semester of Shop was required in both Grade 7 and Grade 8 for all students. Everyone learned how to properly do dishes, clean, run laundry, cook, iron, use a sewing machine, etc. as well as use hand and power tools.

I think it is a shame that those classes got dumped. I still do dishes the way I was taught in school almost 40 years ago. (And not the way I was taught by my mom, which was to dump them all in a sink full of water to let them "soak" overnight.)
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:25 AM on March 30, 2021 [9 favorites]


I grew up being the designated dish washer and really don't like doing them now as a result, but we're adults and we need to do them. It really helps to have an empty dishwasher that things just get rinsed and tossed into as soon as you're done with them. My wife is far more likely to let things pile up next to the sink for a while and do a lot in one go.

She also prefers to do 3 or 4 loads of laundry at once where I'll see that a hamper is getting full enough to run a load and just do it so I can get my clothes folded and put away in 5 minutes instead of 20.

The tradeoff for me doing most of the dishes and most of the laundry is that other general tidiness and dust control mostly falls to her, which is kind of an explicit agreement on our part, but we also have a housekeeper come in once every two weeks so there's always a clean baseline to work from. Money well spent to keep any of that kind of strife out of our lives.

I don't know where I was going with this other than I highly recommend a housekeeper if you can swing it. I didn't think it'd make as much of a difference as it does, but forever having a clean baseline makes everything else so much easier.
posted by mikesch at 9:27 AM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


In a lot of cases if you didn't learn to do some "obvious" chore as a kid, there can be a lot of strong Shame tied up into that, so it can be really hard for some of us to learn how to do something that is supposed to be "simple". I completely understand the frustration behind statements like "Educate your gosh darned self" but the truth is that it is legitimately difficult psychologically to try to learn something you're ashamed of not knowing, and many people can't handle that so just avoid the problem. In general men tend to be awful at identifying shame spirals and just avoid them

But you see, I'm all over this thread in part because I was shamed and punished for not doing the chores. On one memorable occasion my entire family but me went to Disneyworld because I didn't do my chores.

Shame spirals are hard! Chores are work! So is car maintenance. So is getting and keeping a job. It's all hard. You don't have to be good at housework to be a good person.

But there are lots of books and help on this topic and men can no longer claim they just never learned. Sorry. I can't claim that about my tire pressure either.

Don Aslitt's Is There Life After Housework? was published in 1981. Speed Cleaning was published in 1991. Carol Channing's Housework was on the Free To Be You And Me album in 1972.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:33 AM on March 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


I'm sad to learn this still breaks down on such gendered lines; I think of this trope as a very CIShet TV sitcom dynamic that I haven't really seen play out in real life among anyone <50 or so, although it was certainly a thing for my parents and grandparents.

It does seem that in most relationships there's someone who's tidier. But for pretty much everyone I know well, I think the first sign of the kind of behavior that inspired this thread would be DTMFA territory, not "ok we'll all rot in filth."
posted by aspersioncast at 9:36 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


But there are lots of books and help on this topic and men can no longer claim they just never learned. Sorry. I can't claim that about my tire pressure either.

Is the amount of judgment the same for outsourcing housecleaning and car maintenance? I feel like in my life I see a lot more tsk tsk-ing over hiring a housecleaner than I do over someone taking their car to the Jiffy Lube, but that could really just be my immediate circle which is light on cars in general.

Finance is another skillset that is wrapped up in ignorance and shame for people but there's definitely no judgment when someone hires an accountant or a financial planner to make up for their gaps.

To be clear I don't think there should be any shame in either if you're paying a living wage.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:13 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Is the amount of judgment the same for outsourcing housecleaning and car maintenance?

I think it is, if you think of what's a 'regular' task.

For example, being able to fill your gas tank or replace the wiper fluid, keep your tires inflated, etc.

For women, I think there is a lot of judgment about outsourcing housecleaning. It might be okay to have cleaners once a week, for example (although even there I think it will depend on your class) but dishes happen every day.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:20 AM on March 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


but dishes happen every day.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...oh, you're serious
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:22 AM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


I have 5 people in my house, all virtually learning/working. You'd better believe it. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 10:23 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Is the amount of judgment the same for outsourcing housecleaning

What people get salty about that is that a woman might be shirking her womanly duties and/or thinks she's too good to clean
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:24 AM on March 30, 2021 [16 favorites]


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...oh, you're serious

Are you laughing because dishes happen more than once a day in your house, or because they happen a lot less than once a day? If you're going to be snide, at least be clear.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 10:26 AM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


What people get salty about that is that a woman might be shirking her womanly duties and/or thinks she's too good to clean

Right but my question is, do men get that same type of shade if they take their car to the shop instead of changing their own oil or what have you? This is all kind of along the lines of the shame spiral discussion: we can all agree that the goal is:
-house/car/investments are maintained
-without an undue burden on one household member

And I'm trying to figure out where the edges of "hire it out" are.

Are you laughing because dishes happen more than once a day in your house, or because they happen a lot less than once a day? If you're going to be snide, at least be clear.

Dishes basically never happen here at all because I live alone and don't cook. But also I have never lived in a house, no matter how many residents, where dishes happened literally every day; I grew up in a place that looked like the FPP all the time.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:30 AM on March 30, 2021


Metafilter: If you're going to be snide, at least be clear.
posted by medusa at 10:30 AM on March 30, 2021 [32 favorites]


I don't understand people who look at this as chummy sitcom banter moments. Its disgusting. He didn't turn the knob because he "ran out of time"? Not only does he disrespect her by not contributing to his own wellbeing and expecting her to do it all, he disrespects her by not owning up to it and making lazy excuses. And it's SO normalized. I can't stand it.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:34 AM on March 30, 2021 [29 favorites]


do men get that same type of shade if they take their car to the shop instead of changing their own oil or what have you?

Well, no because even if you change your own oil, you have to take it to an oil change place to dispose of it, and most charge a disposal fee that is only slightly lower than the cost of the oil change.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:40 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


>Are you laughing because dishes happen more than once a day in your house, or because they happen a lot less than once a day?

THIS! Unless you've explicitly discussed chores with your fellow residents, there is no such thing as an obvious baseline. Both the general list of chores that "need" to be done and how they are done will vary by locale, culture, upbringing, etc.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 10:46 AM on March 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


do men get that same type of shade if they take their car to the shop instead of changing their own oil or what have you?

For the first 15 years of my driving life I did things like change timing belts, brakes and clutches, but now I have a real job and money and it's actually a flex for people like me to have someone else fix the car. (But seriously, I don't see it that way. It's just uneconomical for me to fuck around with something a pro can do better in a fraction of the time.)

Besides, I play the guitar and I can't damage my nails! (This part is serious.)

~~~

When we're tired of this topic, let's do the one where women do most of the cooking unless it's BBQ night and the men are all like, "STAND ASIDE LADIES THIS IS A JOB FOR A MAN" and it's literally the easiest kind of cooking. Like, it's nearly impossible to fuck up a steak.

* clicks tongs masculinely like Petersonian lobster claws *
posted by klanawa at 10:59 AM on March 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


THIS! Unless you've explicitly discussed chores with your fellow residents, there is no such thing as an obvious baseline. Both the general list of chores that "need" to be done and how they are done will vary by locale, culture, upbringing, etc.

Right? I only learned that washing walls is even a thing, like, last week. I'm in my 40s, y'all.

I have such a block around learning things from youtube, also, so that whenever someone says "fucking youtube it you asshole" I automatically recoil. I just cannot learn in that medium, whether it's makeup or housekeeping or cooking or plant care or anything else. I am also not a person who has fiddly hobbies that require maintenance, so I don't have the habit of keeping detailed maintenance schedules and just need to bring it over.

I don't really know where I'm going with this. I fully agree that teaching housework skills isn't the Job of Wives but I feel like nobody knows whose job it IS and...it has to be someone's. Both for the coming generations and for everyone what needs to be caught up. So...what does that look like?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


When we're tired of this topic, let's do the one where women do most of the cooking unless it's BBQ night and the men are all like, "STAND ASIDE LADIES THIS IS A JOB FOR A MAN" and it's literally the easiest kind of cooking.

My father got super-intensely into cooking shortly after he retired (early) to the point that he was reading cookbooks and watching cooking shows and what-all, and after a few months announced to my mother that he would be more than happy to take over all the cooking for the house, on the condition that she help do dishes. She was ecstatic with that arrangement, and by all reports still is. Although now that I think about it, Dad also did all the leisurely big breakfasts even when I was a kid (eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc.) so I think that he was always kinda wired that way.

He also thrilled my aunt one Thanksgiving when he offered to do the bulk of the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner - his only condition was that he be allowed to listen to whatever music he wanted as he worked. My aunt all but sprinted to get him the portable CD player, and 10 minutes later my father was happily elbows-deep in a sinkful of soap suds and singing along to Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick.

I think there is a reason my parents have been happily married for 50+ years and my mother's whole family thinks the sun shines out his ass.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on March 30, 2021 [28 favorites]


I think barbecuing is also a branch-pruning activity often, where yes, you did lovingly baste and marinate and etc and spent a lot of time on.... one meal a week?

*Branch pruning: you have company coming in an hour and the whole house is messy but one branch needs to be pruned RIGHT NOW
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:34 AM on March 30, 2021 [15 favorites]


Unless you've explicitly discussed chores with your fellow residents, there is no such thing as an obvious baseline. Both the general list of chores that "need" to be done and how they are done will vary by locale, culture, upbringing, etc.

Right, but I don't think this woman on Twitter probably went from "oh we have no joint discussion" to "putting it on Twitter" in one go. Maybe she did. But I doubt it. Talking about chores is a relatively understood part of couple-forming I think, perhaps not in all cases but in many. Roommates might be a different thing.

At my house we had major chore wars, I won't get into it although I think it's waaaay back in my comment history - some of it was on me, some was on my husband - and we took the Don Aslitt book I linked to above and agreed to that schedule.

It did not remove all of our conflict but it did give us a common understanding. There are ways!
posted by warriorqueen at 11:37 AM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


"What does teaching housework equitably look like?" is a bit of a multi-pronged question there. I'm with you on more things being on Youtube than I'd prefer (but that's an entire other thing about monetization and incentives), and there's an entire derail about societal barriers I just snipped, but to the original point it can't really be answered without desire-to-care. If you care, you can look things up, and get hooked into learning more; but without that no matter of snappy life hack will supply motivation. (This is also where a lot of guys let themselves get stuck, where "I don't see it!" is a terminating answer and not a sign that something must be up)

My incomplete bits-of-advice for reinforcing internal motivation/caring here:
• If you can afford One Deep Cleaning, do it. Normalization is a hell of a thing, so bump the baseline up temporarily so things can stand out a bit more as they degrade.
• Figure out what sort of reminder system works for you. Is it a Google Calendar you set a weekly appointment to vacuum on? Is it a set of virtual-assistant reminders? Typing `/remind me "Scrub down the shower, you animal!" every 2 weeks` into Slack? Whatever works for you. Easier said than done, but you need *something*.
• Take photos of your environment. Go ahead and toss them after if you need, but looking at what's around you through a photo can sometimes help break that mental deadlock of "yep, looks normal" (this is also useful for finding lost things)
• How long does it take for you to notice something's degraded? Is it a month between vacuuming when the carpet starts looking unpleasant? Does it take 3 days for the sink to fill up so you have to work around it to fill the stockpot for your next batch of mac & cheese? Ok, cool. Cut that interval in half. That's your new schedule for that issue. You can adjust it from there, but start at that baseline.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


Washing walls is definitely a thing. It's probably not a thing I'm ever going to do, but looking at the walls in this place... Yeah: thing.

Nobody taught me anything, but fortunately most basic housework doesn't really need to be explained. You learn by trial and error. For instance, laundry. There's a painted metal box you put the clothes in. It's large: you can't miss it. It's obvious where the clothes go. Rules about when to add what can be safely ignored. If you wash all the colors together, everything white is now pink and gray, oh well, pants cover socks anyway so whatever. If you ignore the writing on the washing machine that says not to put in too much soap, you'll quickly learn not to do that again. If you slosh bleach all over, same. If you boil your sweaters, same.

I guess this rule isn't universal, though. I did have a roommate that got fired from the Chill and Grill because she didn't know how to hold a broom. She showed me her process the night she got fired. She held it in one hand and braced it against her elbow and kindof gently grazed the floor with the bristle tips in random spots. Wherever the wind took her. It turned out she didn't know anything because she didn't work in food service in high school. I feel like most people have at least one foul nightmare restaurant job by the time they're 20, so they know how to clean floors and bathrooms and kitchens at least up to Taco Viva standard*. That's how I learned to shine up chrome.

*Taco Viva standard: pick up all the toilet paper on the floor, flush any unflushed toilets, mop the floor with the same greasy black mopwater you just mopped the kitchen and dining room with, take a dry paper towel and rub it on the faucet handle until the water spots disappear. Voila: the bathroom is clean!
posted by Don Pepino at 11:47 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


I always wonder what these conversations would look like if care work was valued.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:58 AM on March 30, 2021 [18 favorites]


The thing about learning to do basic housework is, it's one thing to be scared of "doing it wrong" and it's another thing to find it easier not to learn because someone else will do it. If your partner doesn't mind, that is great, but there's a good chance your partner minds.
posted by elkevelvet at 12:01 PM on March 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


This reminds me of living in a house in college with 7 other guys. All the dishes were left dirty in the sink; if you wanted to use one, you cleaned it off and then put it back in the sink when you were done.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:08 PM on March 30, 2021


Jinx!
posted by gottabefunky at 12:09 PM on March 30, 2021


> My father got super-intensely into cooking shortly after he retired (early) to the point that he was reading cookbooks and watching cooking shows and what-all, and after a few months announced to my mother that he would be more than happy to take over all the cooking for the house, on the condition that she help do dishes.

My wife and I have been together for going on 21 years, and right from the start our main division of labour has been She Does (Most Of) The Cooking, I Do (Most Of) The Cleaning (and not just the dishes). She's a better cook (although I'm not bad either), I'm a better cleaner; everyone's happy. There are also a few specific tasks that we outsource to each other; eg. I kill bugs as needed, and when I need something ironed once a year or so she does it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


I fully agree that teaching housework skills isn't the Job of Wives but I feel like nobody knows whose job it IS and...it has to be someone's. Both for the coming generations and for everyone what needs to be caught up. So...what does that look like?

It was once the job of schools and it seems like that worked pretty well. I don't know how or why this degraded over time (legitimately, I'm too young to know). Obviously, it was a problem when home ec was only prescribed for girls, and things like repair and woodshop were for the boys, but it seems there was a brief shining moment in some communities at least where all genders were taking both these sorts of classes. What happened? I don't know. I can say that I would have benefited so, so much more from a home ec class about laundry and cleaning and taxes than I benefited from "WeB dEsiGn" (a required course, from which I learned less than from cowboy coding on social media) or "CaReeR PaThwaY" (I still don't know what the fuck this was, but it involved taking a horrifically boring course about child development because that was the only thing available in summer).

We were forced to take "Life Skills" during summer school too, but this mainly consisted of taking personality tests, and being yelled at about using planners and doing homework on time. I did not learn actual skills.

My parents were of the variety that did not teach me household skills, and then were annoyed when I somehow did not spontaneously develop these skills. Between the minimal skills base I've continually been trying to expand, and my ADHD, housekeeping is a huge stressor in my life, and I don't even live with other people. In practice, this translates to me refusing to use the things I own because I am scared of dirtying something and then either failing to clean the thing appropriately, or leaving the thing in my sink for weeks. I don't even use my dining table most of the time, and have been known to sleep on top of my bedding because then only one blanket needs cleaning.
posted by desert outpost at 12:12 PM on March 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


Right? I only learned that washing walls is even a thing, like, last week. I'm in my 40s, y'all.

My mom's retired hobby is cleaning her house, my school best friends' dad was a janitor, both my parents cleaned houses professionally for a short period of time in the early 1980s, and I've had at least a dozen roommates, none of whom were particularly messy, and I've never heard of washing interior walls (is that what you all are talking about?).

Walls occasionally get washed before a smokers' home gets sold, since the scent seeps into the drywall. Painting works better than washing.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Interior walls get "dirty." You do not have to be a heavy indoor smoker to make your interior walls dirty. I don't clean interior walls unless I'm about to paint, or during a move out, but one year of habitation is sufficient to leave a residue on your walls. A year's worth of breathing and exfoliating into a space will leave something, is my point. Most of us don't really care, but some do. And of course, some rooms bear a quick wipe (bathrooms, kitchen) for the type of activity.
posted by elkevelvet at 1:19 PM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


Cheryl Mendelson's book "Home Comforts," the housecleaning bible that has a lot of good reference information but is far too persnickety for me, concedes that washing walls is "rarely necessary, except, possibly, in the kitchen," and was more necessary when fireplaces and stoves put a lot of soot and dust into the air.

She then spends most of a page on how you should wash your walls, if you want to wash them, with arguments advanced for starting at the top and starting at the bottom.

I am terrible at housecleaning, I've never washed a wall except for one my roommate vomited on, and yet, I feel like the world would be a better place if a few more of us took cleaning as seriously as Mendelson does, and had arguments about washing the walls top-down or bottom-up instead of the latest round of Mac vs. PC.
posted by Jeanne at 1:22 PM on March 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


I feel like the world would be a better place if a few more of us took cleaning as seriously as Mendelson does, and had arguments about washing the walls top-down or bottom-up instead of the latest round of Mac vs. PC.

Heck no. The world will be a better place when Roombas advance to the point they do that along with most other housework and only fetishists are into scrubbing things themselves.
posted by emjaybee at 1:26 PM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


Bottom up. If you go top down, the washwater runs down through the dirt and leaves tracks that will always be visibly cleaner than the surrounding wall no matter how you scrub. This is the kind of nonsense you know if you obsessively buy every "how to clean crap" book in the used bookstore and then lie on your unmade bed eating chips and reading them all and never cleaning any of the crap. Yeah, they need to do a roomba that works like an aquarium snail.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:39 PM on March 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


I live alone and I am both of these people.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:33 AM on March 30


Me but depression!

Cleaning is relaxing with ADHD once I'm allowed to just spin out on constant new tasks then slowly circle back in while I listen to music. Sometimes I need to be reminded of a thing.

Also, I run my roomba all the time and it still manages to fill up completely with stuff and I'm horrified but also very secretly pleased. The world is all dirt. All dirt and fur and my partner's long hair tied expertly around the roller brush in waves. 80% of her caloric intake must be to growing new hair. I never knew how much I'd enjoy having a roomba when my mom suddenly got me one for Christmas.

This post not sponsored by Roomba but should be. Hail Roomba. Worship Roomba at the church of your choice.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:44 PM on March 30, 2021 [20 favorites]


I guaran-fucking-tee that every man who sits on a toilet to pee is a man who regularly cleans his own toilet
I volunteer to be the exception that proves this rule.

Ironing- my neighbor once asked me "Does your wife iron your shirts?" I responded "Of course not!" but then realized I was saying 'why would anyone iron a shirt?' and he was assuming my shirts needed to be ironed. Same answer, though. Pretty sure my wife never ironed my shirts, and after ironing my own for a while I started buying permanent press.

Dishes- We used to have this rule whenever there was cooking rotation that whoever cooks does not have to do the dishes. The biggest flaw in this was that while many of us might present a meal having used one pot, one pan and one bowl, my daughter (who prepares wonderful and interesting meals) uses nearly every piece of hardware in the kitchen and it generally takes three times as long to clean up after her.
In any case, as mentioned above, I just do most of the dishes now.
posted by MtDewd at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2021


I did have a roommate that got fired from the Chill and Grill because she didn't know how to hold a broom.

Bell System Practices: Sweeping, General, August 1952
posted by mikelieman at 2:30 PM on March 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


The thing about learning to do basic housework is, it's one thing to be scared of "doing it wrong" and it's another thing to find it easier not to learn because someone else will do it. If your partner doesn't mind, that is great, but there's a good chance your partner minds.

This is a situation I deeply identify with. I'm ADHD brained, and my mom was really into everything looking spotless and perfect (judgy in-laws) but also kiiiinda wasn't wired for teaching kids (patience and grace for mistakes) so growing up I would get yelled at for:
-not cleaning up after myself
-not cleaning up after myself *correctly* (her way) and yelled at some more for her having to re-do what I'd just done
-taking initiative to try and help out by cleaning/tidying unasked
and so what I internalized was that I was going to get in trouble no matter what I did, and she was just going to re-do it herself so why bother?
So now, 30 years later, I have some *very* specific cleaning habits and a whole lot of anxiety around 'doing it wrong' where 'it' is everything else. To this day I prefer to handwash a sink full of dishes because at least that I can't do wrong. Dishwashers are minefields full of failure points.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:31 PM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


I actually really like the "Cleaning Sucks" guided journal (by Rachel Hoffman of Unfuck Your Habitat) for how it deals with the emotional baggage that goes along with cleaning - not only do I have a lot of shame and anxiety around cleaning, but also, I get to ignore that when I'm ignoring my clutter! It's only when I'm cleaning that the shame and anxiety get bad!

And... realizing that has not made me any cleaner, but has, I think, started to defuse some of that emotional stuff.
posted by Jeanne at 2:36 PM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


Interesting situation in my household. My partner wants everything clean and organized, but also has issues with depression that makes her unable to achieve the standards she wants to hold to. Me? I'm a natural slob with a high visual disorganization tolerance - things are organized in a pattern that only makes sense to me and I'm resistant to re-organizing when needed.

But.... I know what affects her and I try to stay ahead of the mess as best as possible to help her with her anxiety levels and make the house feel more comforting. I cook, I take care of the dishes and the trash. I clean up and reorganize the bathroom most mornings after she's gone to work, close drawers, straighten up. Run the roomba, etc. Pre-COVID, we had a nice lady come and clean the house thoroughly to reset the base level every other week.

It's not perfect, but at least it not as bad as if I were living at my comfort level (witness my office and garage)

Also, I'm endlessly amused that even out here in progressively minded California her friends and colleagues think I'm the bee's knees because I do the cooking.
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:42 PM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


I literally can't even with him loading the dishwasher and then not turning it on. That's the whole thing! Shame he stacks bowls like they are on a shelf in a store.

I can no longer imagine living a life without a mechanical dishwasher being a part of it. I put stuff in the dishwasher that probably shouldn't even be there. I'm reminded of our next door neighbours from back in the 80s. The husband, who had a fire pit in the backyard, was mad for burning everything he could get his hands on. One morning he was burning a bunch of newspaper in the fire pit. His wife stood at the top of the stairs and bellowed: "Carl! I haven't even read that yet!"

Point is: Man, dishwashers. So good. Also fire pits.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:12 PM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


I fully agree that teaching housework skills isn't the Job of Wives but I feel like nobody knows whose job it IS and...it has to be someone's. Both for the coming generations and for everyone what needs to be caught up. So...what does that look like?

For the vast majority of husbands who say "but I don't know how to do..." [dishes, laundry, dress the kid, cooking that's not meat-over-heat, etc.]: most of the women involved with them are ENTIRELY WILLING to tell him how to do these things, and stand next to him and give him extra suggestions until he's got it down and can remember it.

Of course, when they say "I don't know how," they don't mean, "I want someone to give me instructions, and then watch and stop me before I make any big mistakes." They mean "I want someone else to do it."

I have only the vaguest idea how to change a tire. But I could look up instruction videos, and in a pinch, I could call a friend and describe the tools I've got and have them tell me how to get through it. However, part of why I'm not really sure how to change a tire, is that I've only seen it happen a few times. If I had seen it done a few times a day for the last several decades of my life, I'd've picked up more of the details.

"Don't know how to laundry" is a legit complaint. Laundry, unlike dishes, often doesn't happen in clear view of everyone in the household. But the answer is, "Here's the categories I use for clothes; here's what kind of soap and when and how much to put in; here's the dryer settings." Not, "I guess you don't have to do laundry until you telepathically learn how to operate that machine."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:35 PM on March 30, 2021 [8 favorites]


My housecleaning philosophy usually boils down to "leave it the way you found it, look after your own mess."

I've found that a more sustainable philosophy is "leave shared spaces slightly cleaner than they were before you used them, look after your own mess plus a little of somebody else's".

For example, when I've just washed N dishes and am about to leave them on the rack to dry, I'll unrack and put away N+2 dry items first, not just N. When I'm taking down and folding things I've left on the washing line, I'll take down and fold a couple of somebody else's as well. When I'm cleaning the pots and pans after putting away the leftovers of whatever I cooked in them I'll find a couple of somebody else's forgotten coffee cups and wash those as well, then give the benches a wipe over. When I'm doing the vacuuming I'll empty the dust bag both before and afterwards. And so on. I aim to clear up a little bit more mess than I'm actually contributing to making.

The idea is to tack the non-self-created work on as a small but always non-zero adjunct to what I'd need to be doing anyway. This keeps the burden low enough that it doesn't build resentment. I know I'm pulling my weight housework-wise, I'm not strongly enabling anybody else I live with to avoid pulling theirs, and the mess that inevitably does fall through everybody's personal responsibility cracks gets dealt with continuously instead of building up into a Thing unless and until it clearly needs to be treated as one.
posted by flabdablet at 3:47 PM on March 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


"Don't know how to laundry" is a legit complaint

Do the tags on men's clothing not have care instructions? How weird.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:01 PM on March 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


Do the tags on men's clothing not have care instructions? How weird.

Maybe they are hidden in the deep pockets?
posted by ktkt at 4:03 PM on March 30, 2021 [31 favorites]


My mother was abused by her adoptive mother, with a particular focus on domestic work, so you can bet that I have a very different relationship to keeping the house tidy than almost everybody writing here. When she set up her own household, chores were bottom of the list, because they were literally torture for her. My father took on most of the maintenance work, such as dishwashing, but my mother flat-out refused to do paid work and dust things in the 90s and hasn't looked back.

Most importantly for my interpersonal relationships, this has meant that in my adult life I have had to learn how to do chores to the standards of the people I cohabitate with. The emotional labour here is the hardest - working out what, when and how things are perceived as clean in multiple-person households isn't as hard as cleaning gunk off a surface. "How many times a month does the gunk have to be cleaned off?" is a harder question than "is this clean", because why you want clean things can be a variable answer. Mostly, people who share spaces want to feel like they're not being taken advantage of.

The original twitter thread is very amusing, and - as with all social media - probably contains some elements of a staged nature. But that doesn't make it less funny! What seems to be happening is that the original poster isn't making her emotional needs clear, or that a situation exists where people feel that it's ok to ignore her. It's definitely worth checking in with yourself to see if people around you might possibly be annoyed by something you do (answer: almost certainly) and what you could do to help out. And if you think you're flawless... well, good luck!
posted by The River Ivel at 4:05 PM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


The idea is to tack the non-self-created work on as a small but always non-zero adjunct to what I'd need to be doing anyway. This keeps the burden low enough that it doesn't build resentment.

This is my general policy as well, but much better articulated than I ever could. If I'm already walking trash out to the dumpster, I'm looking for more trash. If I am doing a sinkful of dishes, I'm going to check around the living spaces for dirty cups or snack plates. (Your gross-ass giant bowl full of greasy dressing water and salad debris from two days ago is *not* my problem though).
posted by ApathyGirl at 4:15 PM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


Do the tags on men's clothing not have care instructions? How weird.

Sometimes? Sometimes they're just symbols.

If you've never been told how to operate a washing machine, the three-word tag on the shirt may not make sense. Certainly it doesn't say "load clothes loosely into the machine, add 1/4 cup liquid detergent into the little container - OR 1/4 powder detergent into the machine directly, and set at THIS level if you're only washing a few outfits but THAT level if it's mostly full..." and so on. The tag instructions are reminders for after you know how to do laundry. And even that only works if the instructions haven't been faded by being washed too many times.

However, "hey honey, stand here and tell me what settings to use for the laundry" will work fine, if he's actually willing to learn instead of trying to dodge the chore.

I'm sympathetic to "I don't know how to do this because I was never specifically shown" and can even accept "oh, and I never bothered to try to learn because I assumed it'd always be someone else's job." I'm not sympathetic to "and therefore I should be allowed to continue being ignorant about the topic."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:38 PM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Do the tags on men's clothing not have care instructions? How weird

Care instructions?!? Most men’s clothing falls into either 1. wash any way you want (try not to mix darks and lights) then put into drier until dry or 2. dry clean only. (Which is why I find it annoying to wash my wife’s clothes. I gotta pay attention to the little tags and know what has to be laid out on the rack to dry. Hard to screw up my clothes.)

My mom pointed out the laundry machine when I was around 10 and told me I was old enough to do my own laundry. If I could figure it out as a kid, surely a grown ass adult has no excuse.
posted by fimbulvetr at 4:40 PM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


Almost all my washing machines have had adequate instructions printed on them. Granted, on the inside of the lid, so still a mystery to some.
posted by clew at 4:42 PM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


Our washer has instructions on the inside of the lid. What cycle to run, water level, soap to add, how to add bleach, etc. It is Not Complicated.
posted by fimbulvetr at 4:43 PM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


Jinx!
posted by fimbulvetr at 4:44 PM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


We recently had to get the house clean enough to let a realtor and her clients take a tour. My husband knows that the level of clean he can handle is FAR below my own comfort level. When we got it clean, he asked, "Is the the level of clean you need? Because, if it is, we need to hire someone. I can't help maintain it."
posted by manageyourexpectations at 4:56 PM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


Washing machines are not rocket science.

It should not be beyond the wit of any functioning adult to diagnose and correct the causes of a washing machine's initial failure to get their clothes adequately clean even if they've never used one before.

Dumping an entire box of laundry soap on top of a super tightly packed load of mixed lights and darks is performative incompetence and nothing more. And the resulting mess is the job of the incompetent who made it to clean up.
posted by flabdablet at 5:20 PM on March 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


>> Do the tags on men's clothing not have care instructions? How weird

> Care instructions?!? Most men’s clothing falls into either 1. wash any way you want (try not to mix darks and lights) then put into drier until dry or 2. dry clean only.


In the US at least, it is literally required by law that clothing be labeled with its care instructions. Don't know what the symbols mean? Googling "clothes label symbols" will return all the information needed.

I agree with flabdablet's line of thought; there's having not been taught how to do something and then there's performative incompetence.
posted by Lexica at 5:32 PM on March 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


Hoo, I remember the first time I did laundry in college. Crammed two weeks worth of clothes in a giant washer, set it on "hot/hot" (hot gets things cleaner, right?). Came back to find that not only had the water not penetrated to the center of the monkey ball of dirty clothing, but the center part had now also become toasted due to the heat. I had never done laundry before. Clearly a case of learning too late.

Now I do my own, neither I nor my spouse know how to do the other's laundry, though we do on occasion fold when the other person is unavailable and the clothes need to be removed from the dryer or rack. And our older kid is responsible for their own laundry. It's a good system. If you had a lot of individuals in a house it would probably be more efficient to combine loads since the individual way requires a lot of laundry receptacles and makes it a bit trickier to handle items like delicates or bright colors that require special treatment.

But taking care of your own stuff only gets you so far. It's a wonderful system for some things, and on a scout camping trip it's just about perfect. But plenty of stuff does not lend itself well at all to individual division. Cleaning up a muddy footprint is one thing, but who's responsible for the general grime that ends up on a tile floor or toilet? There's got to be some negotiation there. I don't even know how we decided who does what, other than each taking the things that bug us the most and that we don't mind cleaning as much. I (male) do the scrubbing: counters, cabinets, tile, sinks, shower, toilets. She does the wood and fiber surfaces: dusting, vacuuming, Pledge. The kid does their room/bathroom, cleans up the spots on the carpet, and takes out the trash. We do have a checklist that I print out every two weeks because that's the longest I feel like I can go with things unscrubbed. But I don't have to remind or manage my partner to do her part.
posted by wnissen at 5:34 PM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


I think I was in junior high when I learned how to do my own laundry after my dad ruined some of my t-shirts by putting bleach in the wash. So pretty much once I had clothes I cared about I started doing my own laundry because I couldn't trust the people around me not to ruin them by "helping". That's continued to the present where I've taken over the laundry because I don't want my wife to ruin my clothes by tossing everything in the dryer.

My big laundry "fight" with my family now is that they will put their clothes on the "to be washed" pile after wearing them just once. If you haven't spilled anything or otherwise soiled your clothes and weren't sweating a lot then they'll be fine to wear at least once more before washing, especially now that the kids are doing virtual school. It isn't any more work for me but it is a waste of water and energy.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:41 PM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


who's responsible for the general grime that ends up on a tile floor or toilet? There's got to be some negotiation there.

People who act as if this is not the case and/or refuse to negotiate in good faith to find an allocation of responsibility genuinely acceptable to all parties are people it is unwise to choose to live with.
posted by flabdablet at 5:50 PM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


For the people who don't know how to clean +/or don't see dirt--have you ever said to your partner, I see this matters to you, let's figure out a way to make this work?

I live with my partner and his 18 year old son joined us last all. The three of us could easily keep up with household chores divided between us, but instead I hire a woman (who also cleans and babysits for a friend of mine) to scrub the bathroom and kitchen twice a month. I'd much rather we did the work together, but that was not going to happen without significant effort/enforcement on my part. And I think that is both bullshit and depressingly common.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:58 PM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


> The Twitter thread has brought back memories of the late 70s for me, where the moms in my Toronto neighbourhood all got their consciousnesses raised at roughly the same time.

There's a YA book from then that I remember loving but can't find now, about a girl whose mom goes on strike (including sitting in the front yard with an "ON STRIKE" sign).
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:17 PM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


I have absolutely no problem paying somebody skilled in the art to achieve in four hours what would take my household of three far longer.

The idea that cleaning houses is "unskilled" labour is straight-up horseshit. People who do it for a living are well worth what they charge.
posted by flabdablet at 6:23 PM on March 30, 2021 [20 favorites]


My wife works from the home office, I do all the cleaning. We've got two little kids.

I can't walk across the room without picking something up. Every toy bin my kids dump out is a mess I have to pick up. I haul the vacuum out once or twice a day. I also dress them, change diapers, mediate the arguments and keep the band-aid box handy. It's so much work. I also clean everything else, toilets, sinks, tub... My wife cooks and I clean up. When we were first dating she said she hates doing dishes so I started doing them. That was 12 years ago. In fact I've discovered that the one and only secret to keeping my wife happy is to load the dishwasher at every night. Doesn't matter if I'm up til 2am, I get my sleepy ass over there and load em up and run it. When she comes down before I do with the kids she sees them done and I dunno, seems to lead to a happy marriage. Or at least I avoid the grief she'll give me a day or two later. I also do the laundy but

I hate folding clothes.
posted by Catblack at 6:39 PM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


I appreciate this thread for introducing me to the phrase “performative incompetence“. I once sat in the cafeteria at work and overheard the Chief Credit Officer essentially bragging about how he’s incapable of doing his laundry so his wife does it. Fucker manages the portfolio of a $15 billion institution and thinks it’s hilarious that he doesn’t know what the buttons on the washing machine are for. Reader, I narrowly avoided getting fired that day.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:45 PM on March 30, 2021 [17 favorites]


So a funny thing happened when I (F) got myself a more hygienic flatmate (M) that myself after being the drudge in a 20 year marriage: I noticed that he was picking up my dirty dishes, cleaning off the cutting board that I'd left crumby. I didn't like being a burden or obligation, so I became tidier.

I noticed. That's the key difference.
posted by b33j at 6:55 PM on March 30, 2021 [34 favorites]


Performative incompetence isn't the only manipulative technique regularly tried on by those who prefer to duck-shove their personal responsibilities onto other people. Studied indifference is regularly employed as well.
posted by flabdablet at 7:05 PM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


In our household, this past year of being home all the time means everything is way dirtier than the before times where when we'd wake up, shower, make coffee and leave for the day. Maybe we'd cook dinner at home, but often we'd meet up after work and find our way home after eating. It's just a whole other level of use and maintenance.

If you have a decent brush and cleaning solution, I don't think it takes skill to clean a toilet. It takes work, but it's something someone capable of holding a brush, moving their arm and kneeling down or leaning over to scrub can do. Where I get uncomfortable is when to avoid interpersonal conflict, the gross/tedious work is outsourced to usually--at least where I live--a working class woman of color.

Much of the work is not difficult to grasp, which is why I'd argue that many physically abled people (kids and adults) are fully capable of doing it. This might be me projecting, but I also assume most people don't like doing that work. I certainly don't, but it's not optional and I don't see myself as being above it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:57 PM on March 30, 2021


I don't think it takes skill to clean a toilet.

Then I respectfully suggest that you'd benefit from studying the technique of a professional cleaner doing a more thorough job of it than you generally do in about half the time it takes you.
posted by flabdablet at 8:12 PM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


If you have a decent brush and cleaning solution, I don't think it takes skill to clean a toilet. It takes work, but it's something someone capable of holding a brush, moving their arm and kneeling down or leaning over to scrub can do.

lol this is just such a cooked comment.

"If you have the proper instruments and a well-appointed operating room, I don't think it takes skill to remove a tumour. It takes work, but it's something someone capable of cutting open a body, moving their arm and leaning over to slice the tumour away from the surrounding non-cancerous tissue can do."

By this line of reasoning ultimately nothing in the world takes what you are considering "skill", it just takes practice, labour, energy, and equipment. Like, oops, everything that humans do.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:08 PM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


I mean housework is either valuable, in which case it is worthy of wages when done for them, or it is not, in which case you cannot expect other people to value it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:04 PM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Much of the work is not difficult to grasp, which is why I'd argue that many physically abled people (kids and adults) are fully capable of doing it. This might be me projecting, but I also assume most people don't like doing that work. I certainly don't, but it's not optional and I don't see myself as being above it.

I'm fully capable physically of growing my own food, sewing my own clothes, and building my own housing as well. I don't because 1) other people are better at all of those things than I am and 2) I don't want to! But nobody thinks it's shameful that I don't, or thinks that I consider myself "above" the tasks.

It's probably FAR MORE exploitative to purchase factory-made clothing than to hire a housecleaner. Modern farming practices are an ecological nightmare and contribute to the exploitation of women of color as well. Everything we do in the industrialized world contributes to massive suffering. But somehow, if we hire a person to clean the house, THAT is the step too far. I just don't buy it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:11 PM on March 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


Much of the work is not difficult to grasp, which is why I'd argue that many physically abled people (kids and adults) are fully capable of doing it.

My hot take is that physical challenges are more widespread than is commonly assumed, and that many people don't realize they lack a "normal" range of motion/strength, and that they struggle with basic tasks because of this deficit. Nor do their families and acquaintances realize that they are struggling for physical reasons. Instead it's assumed that these people are pretending to be unable to clean a dish normally, in order to get out of cleaning the dish.

Like I have struggled with basic tasks all my life, and it wasn't until my dentist of all people said, "Uh...wow. You should be really careful with your joints*," that I sought an evaluation. Turns out, the reason I can't properly grip things I'm meant to be cleaning isn't because I'm "displaying mental resistance!1!" (thanks, [unnamed relative]). It's because my hands are hypermobile and my finger joints lock or dislocate. Other "incompetent" people may be dealing with similar undiagnosed issues, whether it's hypermobility, dyspraxia, early-onset arthritis, or something else.

So while performative incompetence is DEFINITELY a thing, I would also recommend caution and empathy. "Show me how you tried to clean/wash/do that," is a good start, followed by nonjudgmental probing: "Have you tried to do X with your hand? It looks like you're straining, does that hurt?" (The bonus being that if someone really is just being lazy, it's an excellent guilt trip. A bit like, "I don't understand why that joke is funny. Could you explain the punchline?")

*after watching me maneuver into the chair. And then also observing me trying to open my mouth but instead unhingeing my jaw, and having to manually fix it back into place. Y'know, as one does.
posted by desert outpost at 11:10 PM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


My big laundry "fight" with my family now is that they will put their clothes on the "to be washed" pile after wearing them just once. If you haven't spilled anything or otherwise soiled your clothes and weren't sweating a lot then they'll be fine to wear at least once more before washing, especially now that the kids are doing virtual school. It isn't any more work for me but it is a waste of water and energy.

I don't think that is a particularly good fight to have? You don't mind wearing slightly grubby clothes, but insisting that everyone else not mind is rude. I personally rewear jeans for days, but never underwear or socks, and very seldom shirts. You don't have to be sweating a lot for pit smells and skin oils to get into clothes, and wearing a clean shirt every day is important to me feeling not like a hermit, so *especially* important when mostly house bound.
posted by tavella at 11:21 PM on March 30, 2021 [9 favorites]


I don't think it takes skill to clean a toilet.
Then I respectfully suggest that you'd benefit from studying the technique of
. . .
Mrs Toulouse-Lautrec
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:47 AM on March 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think cleaning has greater or lesser degrees of skill. It's fine to pay people a living wage to do it. If everyone agrees on whatever is going on in their household, that's fine too. If they are living with a challenge, so be it.

But this situation is not that, it's a situation where one partner is not contributing.

Does everyone do laundry right the first time? No. The person who by default does that chore, usually a woman? DID NOT KNOW EITHER. There is as far as I know no magical cleaning fairy knowledge. It's called practice. You get practice by cleaning. Occasionally you break or wreck things, hopefully not entire washing machines, but that happens too.

Most things people do in their days are skills that had to be learned at some point. Typing, for example, involves a lot of mistakes and practice. Video games. Cross Fit. I guarantee the guy in this Twitter thread is capable of lots of things.

I don't have an induction stove, so if I were confronted with one, I'd have no idea which cleaner to use on it, so I'd look it up. Many things have entered my life like this - leather couches, diaper pails. The answer wasn't to never clean them. I really don't care if you wash your walls...washing walls was another chore where I got punished for leaving streaks.

Emotional management around cleaning can be really hard. I have mentioned my mother has NPD and she also probably also has undiagnosed OCD or anxiety that looks like it. I was dragged from my bed at 2 am to clean up a mess I didn't create, on a quasi-regular basis. I had to clean up my own vomit from kindergarten onwards. I had my dirty clothes thrown on the front lawn the day I brought my first crush home, because I hadn't done my laundry on Wednesday.

I get it, and it's a lot of work to figure out how to be in the world and handle that kind of baggage.

(It also helps your life a lot if you can work it out, not because you need to have a beautiful home to be a good person, but because your relationship to your personal environment was damaged and you can repair it.)

But this situation, unless the wife is psychopathic, was not that. Because all those issues - not knowing how to clean, having bad feelings, having had a screaming mother - is not exclusive to men. And yet, men continue to profess ignorance and bad feelings at a higher rate than women.

It takes time and energy. That is, in fact, the point. Whoever is doing the cleaning is not getting to use their time and energy to do other things. Women historically are expending their life energy on figuring this out. The men are not at the same rate. This is one reason our mothers were screaming! And maybe it made sense when the women were figuring that out and the men were figuring out the corporate ladder but those times are generally gone.

Share the load, including the load of figuring it out. That includes figuring it out in a pandemic.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:57 AM on March 31, 2021 [22 favorites]


This seems like a good time to link to one of my all-time favorite comments.
posted by JanetLand at 6:20 AM on March 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


For the people who don't know how to clean +/or don't see dirt--have you ever said to your partner, I see this matters to you, let's figure out a way to make this work?

Yep. We’ve had tons of conversations about how to make cleaning work. Tried all different systems and techniques. None of them worked until I started seeing a therapist specializing in autism. Which relates to...

My hot take is that physical challenges are more widespread than is commonly assumed, and that many people don't realize they lack a "normal" range of motion/strength, and that they struggle with basic tasks because of this deficit. Nor do their families and acquaintances realize that they are struggling for physical reasons. Instead it's assumed that these people are pretending to be unable to clean a dish normally, in order to get out of cleaning the dish.

Turns out I have low muscle tone which makes it hard for me to grip the dish and scrub, poor proprioception which makes me set things down too hard or put too much force which makes me break dishes constantly, I’m sensitive to sound and the running water is a little bit like someone constantly screaming in my ear, and I don’t process a lot of details so I literally don’t see the spots of food I’m leaving on the dish unless I check it over three times (tilting my head at different angles because my strabismus lens makes everything slightly blurry in my right eye).

I have trouble with folding laundry for similar reasons, got yelled at constantly for poorly folded clothes growing up, had a patient partner show me how to do it many times, practiced all through college, and still my folded clothes are so rumpled and uneven they’re probably actually better off left in the basket.

The reason I drop my cardigans all over the couch instead of hanging them up? Trouble switching between fine motor tasks and low sensory registration means the act of pulling a hanger off, putting the cardigan on (without balancing it wrong and causing it to fall), and hanging it back up (without being too rough and causing it to fall again) is much more complicated for me. Which is not something I could’ve verbalized as anything other than “The thought of hanging up my cardigan exhausts me” which sounds like such a bullshit excuse, right? Anyway the solution is hooks. No more cardigans on the couch, it’s magic.

Also, more structured cleaning. My partner’s system of cleaning is “get up to get lunch, see the dishes need to get done, spend an hour washing dishes before getting lunch” because that’s the only way it works with their ADHD. Things happen sporadically and all at once when the mood strikes them. I am autistic and probably don’t need to tell you why this doesn’t work for me, and why their attempts to teach me how to clean did not work. But also, I had many times tried to set up my own cleaning schedule, based on countless hours of internet research, which ALSO didn’t work because it didn’t take into account all my motor and perceptual difficulties which made doing things “the right way” so hard that I could only get through one or two tasks before having to stop. Talking with this therapist has been about helping me make changes in my environment and techniques that work with my autism rather than against it.

Anyway, in no way saying this is the case for most men who are Like This. But it’s disheartening to see all these comments about how learning to clean is just a matter of caring and trying hard enough. Believe me, I’ve been beating my head against this problem for years and years and years. I’m AFAB and I have been mocked for failing to live up to this standard of womanhood my whole life. Just would like to not be grouped in with the men who don’t care or try even though my house looks like the Twitter lady’s on a good day (though it’s slowly improving with therapy).
posted by brook horse at 6:47 AM on March 31, 2021 [13 favorites]


I don't think it takes skill to clean a toilet.
Wellllll, then! Let me take you on a quick tour of last week Chez Pepino. I have a decent brush and a cleaning solution but I also had pandemic toilet. That's when, in an effort not to die and watch loved ones die, you decide you officially Can't Even--ANYTHING. You apply a good thick layer of Can't Even to everything in your life besides staying employed, shopping for elderly or otherwise vulnerable loved ones to keep them out of dangerous stores, and not inhaling any viruses, yourself. After a year of this the whole house is now can't evened to the point where even I, child of a hoarder, queen of ignoring vast smelly crapstacks, can't stand it anymore. I decided after I got the first Moderna shot that I was going to start to be able to even a few more things in life besides the job and the groceries. That's when I discovered our pandemic toilet, the malevolent heart of every pandemic home. Because it turns out if you ignore a toilet long enough the grime under the waterline no longer yields to a toilet brush and cleaner. This is because it has calcified. Bleach does nothing. Rust-away does nothing. Dumping in a bunch of Old Dutch and going to town with a pumice does nothing. After three days of struggle, I consulted the oracle and learned there are two routes: 1. Pour just a shocking amount of lung-dissolving muriatic acid into the toilet and let it fog up the bathroom and the rest of the house, risking your life for the sake of your toiletcred. 2. A multistep process I learned from the owner of a housecleaning company that finally worked and allowed me to achieve norm toilet.

It takes work, but it's something someone capable of holding a brush, moving their arm and kneeling down or leaning over to scrub can do. ...I'd argue that many physically abled people (kids and adults) are fully capable of doing it.

The disability is not physical. Before you "go there," it's also not moral.

I am physically capable of doing everything my housecleaner used to do. The will is there, and certainly the desire, and I clearly see the need. But what she did in four hours every two weeks I can't do in four months. That's where her skill is, not in some kind of genius English she puts on a toilet brush. She sees a whole house like the battlefield it is and breaks it down and kicks it into shape in four hours. Every floor, every bed, all the laundry, the ceiling fans, the counters, the stove, the bathroom, the FRIDGE? The godforsaken benighted fucking FRIDGE was always perfect somehow? No matter what went on in the house in the interim, it was all shining perfection once every two weeks. When she retired I paid her to teach me how to do it. I went around with my little house notebook and recorded everything she does. She gave me her various rag- and brush-types and showed me how to use them. She gave me spray bottles full of her cleaning concoctions, all of it. I even bought her exact vacuum cleaner. But I can no more do what she used to do with those things than I can fly a jet.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:58 AM on March 31, 2021 [16 favorites]


Talking with this therapist has been about helping me make changes in my environment and techniques that work with my autism rather than against it.

I think that's really the key. Like, not that you have to conform to feminine skills or anything but finding what works for you and whoever you live with.

And it's why I kind of want to blow up at people who are just like "my mom never taught me and I don't see dirt so *shrug* luckily my partner takes care of it."

That partner also has challenges, whether large or small, but making that partner responsible without like, working together, investigating all kinds of things is offloading.

And we do allow it in men and men allow in themselves, because that kind of work -- caring for self and others including the kind of care that makes it actually work -- is culturally offloaded onto women. It's like "how do I get my child to do their homework" or "how do I find a playgroup so my child learns not to bite" or "how are we going to care for Grandma now that she has dementia." These are hard things, harder for some of us than others. But it's unpaid, so men are allowed to give up on it and women don't.

This topic is so visceral for me. But for me it so relates to everything now because - who gave up on figuring out a global pandemic, like let people die when there wasn't anything in it for them? Kinda for the most part privileged white men.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:31 AM on March 31, 2021 [14 favorites]


Then I respectfully suggest that you'd benefit from studying the technique of a professional cleaner doing a more thorough job of it than you generally do in about half the time it takes you.

Respectfully, is that necessary?
posted by elkevelvet at 7:40 AM on March 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think I speak for multiple mefites and site lurkers when I say, on my knees: Don Pepino, please oh please OH PLEASE share the multistep process for achieving clean toilet
posted by snerson at 7:40 AM on March 31, 2021 [18 favorites]


Don Pepino, please oh please OH PLEASE share the multistep process for achieving clean toilet

And if there's anything about soap scum off a shower, that too? Especially for a solution that DOES NOT involve vinegar?....

(A mix of Dawn dishwashing liquid and vinegar is supposed to be the best option - mix them both and spray on and let sit for about half an hour, then scrub. The Dawn keeps things thick enough so it stays in place long enough to set in. However - my roommate is unusually sensitive to the smell of vinegar to the point that he would be puking for that entire half hour, so I'm trying to avoid that and everything else I've tried thus far has fallen well short.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:57 AM on March 31, 2021


When I'm rich, I will just pay a man to install a new toilet every day
posted by thelonius at 8:27 AM on March 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


YTMV, but this was my journey:

*Clean the toilet as you normally do and flush it.
*Turn off the water to the toilet (valve at base of toilet).
*Flush the toilet with a bucketful of water--just pour it in fast. The water will drain mostly out but the basin won't refill because you've shut the water off. You're trying to reduce the amount of water that will dilute your...
*...Barkeeper's Friend! [Gameshow prize music]
Put it all over all the problem areas, making a paste. Shake liberally into the little pool of water at the bottom of the toilet. Let this stand for an hour or so.
*Glove up and attack with a green scrubbing pad thingie. You will not be able to see, but you'll feel more and more of the smooth porcelain emerge as the scale dissolves under your ministrations. Extremely gratifying!
*Housecleaner dude recommends getting one of those dishwands that has the sponge and the greenscrubby because it allows for more leverage. True, but my problem with that was getting the abrasive surface into the parts where water flows into and out of the toilet--it wouldn't fit. So shop around for one with a small spongehead that will allow you to get into toiletnooks. Even though I got the wrong one, I'm still very pleased with the dishwand. It is now my toilet brush forever. Actual toilet brushes are dumb. They fling horrorwater everywhere and they're hard to use to clean under the rim. I don't even like the dumb scratchy sound they make as they fail to do their one simple job. And many of them have metal components that rust and get horrible in about a minute. They're disgusting, they're stupid, and they're insulting. What a disappointment. Dishwand for the toilet? None of these problems. Thank you, YouTube Housecleaning Company Guy.
*Turn the water back on, flush, stand back and marvel at your progress. Your toilet may not yet be perfect. That's okay, it's a whole lot better.
*Repeat the first few steps again and then do another bucketflush and...
*...dump in a ton of vinegar and let it sit, then scrub. (I found that once I got the scale knocked back, the final remnants yielded to non-deathly acid).
posted by Don Pepino at 8:34 AM on March 31, 2021 [18 favorites]


....um...

*Flush the toilet with a bucketful of water--just pour it in fast. The water will drain mostly out but the basin won't refill because you've shut the water off.

Where are you pouring the water? Into the bowl, or into the tank thingy?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


When I'm rich, I will just pay a man to install a new toilet every day

As a counterpoint, I kinda do this? Not really but --

I put a sticky note on my toothbrush holder that said this (thank you FlyLady despite the weird ass pink etc.) SWISH AND SWIPE. Later I amended it to: TOILET PLAQUE which amused me. Now it's a habit so I don't need it.

Then every night:

Before brushing teeth: pull the basket under the sink out which contains toilet bowl cleaner, cleaner, and a stack of rags. put toilet bowl cleaner in bowl, spray cleaner on top of toilet tank, flush handle, behind toilet lid, on seat, under seat, down the sides of the bowl on the outside of the toilet.

Total time: about 60 seconds.

Rinse hands, brush teeth.

Take toilet brush, swipe out the toilet bowl which only has ONE day's worth of toiletting in it, so it takes like 20 seconds, flush toilet and rinse brush. Put brush back in toilet brush holder, if the holder's grungy, so what.

Grab rag, wipe toilet from top to bottom: Tank, flush handle, sides of tank, toilet seat lid, behind the lid (use the rag to get in behind/around where it fastens to the bowl), raise lid, wipe inside and seat, raise seat, wipe underneath of seat, around the fasteners again, and around the top of the bowl, then kneel down, wipe the outside of the bowl. Drop rag in hamper. You will need a stack of rags, if you do the sink in the morning, about 15.

Wash hands, apply moisturizer.

Total time now, about 90 seconds plus handwashing, it was a bit more at the start.

Because you only have the toilet dirt from one day it goes really fast. Over a week this adds up to about 15 minutes, which is what I would spend on hardened stuff once a week or so.

I wipe the sink and shower down after I brush my teeth in the morning, although I also clean the shower/tub a bit more thoroughly on weekends.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:01 AM on March 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


Where are you pouring the water? Into the bowl, or into the tank thingy?

The bowl, I assume. The toilet is a siphon, so when the water is high enough it counterintuitively empties the entire bowl. It's essentially a Pythagorean cup in that water pressure, nothing mechanical, empties the toilet bowl.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:17 AM on March 31, 2021


My first year in college I shared a basic dorm room with this rich girl who had literally never even had to put away her own clothes in her whole life. Army of servants, security guard at the gate of her family home, coddled golden child of her family, that sort of thing.

The first week we lived together, I swept our dorm room twice, mopped once, and then on Sunday I cleaned the bathroom we shared with the room next door. The next week, she just automatically did the exact same things I had done the week before. She did need me to teach her, of course. Like, this girl didn't know how to hold the broom. She did not know how to move the broom once I showed her how to hold it. She was comically bad at using the dustpan. She didn't know how to wring out a mop, she didn't know the shower head ought to be scrubbed, she didn't know which cleaning tools or products to use for anything.

And yet, during the entire year we lived together, she jumped in and did 50% of our chores right from the start. She sucked for the first couple of weeks but then she got the hang of it, and that was that. She had an innate sense of fairness about not leaving everything to me just because she didn't know how. She also noticed what other people were doing for her and around her. That was all it took.

tl;dr: Please let's stop talking about "not knowing how to do chores" because that's bs.
posted by MiraK at 9:49 AM on March 31, 2021 [27 favorites]


I live with one of those dudes who can quote a ton of leftist theory, but never does his dishes without prodding. I insisted he finish his pile of about 8 pieces last night, and he had to use the dishwasher to get through it, the poor dear. Two of those pieces were not scrubbed before going in the machine, and there are now gross dried chunks of crap on them both. These dishes await him on the kitchen table, and I'll be ready with a talking to about how dishwashers work, so that he can clean these correctly when he does it again.

I've been finishing this dude's dishwashing for two years because I hate how it feels have to nag him about every step of the process, but we're putting a stop to that now. It's going to be uncomfortable, and that's the point. He's going to learn, or move out.
posted by EatTheWeek at 9:56 AM on March 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


tl;dr: Please let's stop talking about "not knowing how to do chores" because that's bs.

Well...except to a point it isn't.

* On the one hand - there are people who legitimately may never have been shown what to do, or how to do it, or were ever even told what to do. We are not born possessing all of the knowledge in the universe, and many of us grow up with some massive blind spots (in my case it was some financial literacy, in someone else's case it may have been cooking, in yet another person's case it may have been housework). Decreeing it to be "BS" that each of us legit didn't know something isn't fair, because...we legit were never taught. And - even worse, we may not even KNOW that we needed to have been taught. (Like how everyone told me I needed to get an IRA, but everyone neglected to mention "oh hey, you also want to make sure that it's making you at least 5% interest each year" and that's how I've lost out on 20 years' worth of IRA interest.)

And that's not getting into the people who are neurodivergent, physically divergent, or have any other kind of physical/mental processing barrier that would make things more difficult for them to learn or perform tasks; or people who had unconventional childhoods where the standards of housekeeping were markedly different, or....

* On the other hand - if you took all the people who slacked off on housework because "I don't know how to do it", the people who had legit issues with not knowing how to do it or not being able to do it would still likely be in the minority.

Ideally, this is the kind of thing where a household has a discussion about "how do we resolve this". And it behooves all parties to participate in good faith. If the problem persists, then maybe a second or third discussion is necessary. But by then it probably would be pretty clear whether the slacking-off partner is legit slacking off, and harsher measures are probably necessary.

But at least everyone deserves those initial few discussions to get to the root of the problem instead of writing off their initial failings as "BS."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:01 AM on March 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


I'd be surprised if there's any marriage/partnership out there where there isn't a lot of chores discussion before it hits Twitter. It's possible, of course.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:04 AM on March 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


> On the one hand - there are people who legitimately may never have been shown what to do

Which was kind of the point of the story I told above about my roommate, viz., merely not knowing how to do chores doesn't stop you from noticing what people are doing for you and around you, and/or not caring about unfair division of chore labor. This isn't like knowing things about IRAs. Household chores happen physically right under people's noses.

> And that's not getting into the people who are neurodivergent, physically divergent, or have any other kind of physical/mental processing barrier

That's irrelevant. Disabilities and neurodivergence are gender-neutral but the division of unpaid labor is highly gendered. To bring up disabilities as a reason why people might not be doing chores in a discussion about unequal gendered divisions of unpaid labor is a total derail. This post exists within a larger context, you know?

BTW I speak as someone who has extreme challenges with chores, organization, neatness, etc., due to my own ADHD and depression. Since I'm also a woman, literally nobody considers that a good excuse for me to slack off - nor should they! If I need someone else to make accommodations or shoulder extra burdens on my behalf due to my neurodiversity, it's my responsibility to initiate that conversation, to make sure those extra burdens are explicitly acknowledged and negotiated. I don't get to just passively freeload off someone else and plead ADHD or depression as my excuse for silently taking advantage them for as long as I can.

> Ideally, this is the kind of thing where a household has a discussion about "how do we resolve this".

Totally disagree, unless you're saying the person who isn't doing the chores has sole responsibility for initiating this discussion.

The woman who is doing all the chores by herself should be under no obligation to do extra emotional labor on top of everything else to be polite or calm or respectful to the man freeloading off her. It would be totally reasonable for the sole chore-doer to say "Christ what an asshole," or post about the gross inequality of her life on the internet, or summarily break up with him without warning. It's not very nice, to be sure, but nice went out of that relationship when he decided not to bother doing the chores.

The man who isn't doing the chores is the only one who is obligated to initiate this conversation. "Hey, I noticed you polishing our coat hooks, and wonder how you feel about the fact that I don't wanna share that chore with you since I don't care about coat hooks being shiny. Is that an important cleaning standard to you which you feel we should always meet? Or are you just puttering about?" Not knowing how to do chores is no hindrance at all to noticing that your partner is doing some work that you are not and addressing the imbalance - i.e. practicing reciprocity and caring. People who can't or won't do that are bad partners.
posted by MiraK at 11:14 AM on March 31, 2021 [13 favorites]


I am grateful for the time I moved into residence, small 2-bedroom, and the roommate put it right out there: how he'd like the floors and bathroom cleaned, kitchen, etc. He was a Food & Nutrition student and his expectations helped me learn better ways of cleaning. My friends joked about the "bleach routine" but it made for a good friendship, just staying on the same page. He did get up my nose about how long I'd leave rice in the fridge but at least we could both laugh about it.. Honestly, Food & Nutrition guy, the rice will not kill me just because it has been in the fridge for TWO DAYS.
posted by elkevelvet at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2021


Honestly, Food & Nutrition guy, the rice will not kill me just because it has been in the fridge for TWO DAYS.

lol there's a soul that would be in distress if it became aware of what we get up to on AskMeFi ;)
posted by MiraK at 11:37 AM on March 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


That's irrelevant. Disabilities and neurodivergence are gender-neutral but the division of unpaid labor is highly gendered. To bring up disabilities as a reason why people might not be doing chores in a discussion about unequal gendered divisions of unpaid labor is a total derail. This post exists within a larger context, you know?

I don't recall having brought up gender at all. And, you'll also note that the larger context of my own post was to say that "there are some cases where it isn't wilfull ignorance, but those cases are probably the minority".

My ultimate point in my comment - which clearly was lost, and that is my own fault - was that on the one hand, there are some people who for legitimate reasons are not as able to perform or notice certain housework standards, and my fear was that a blanket statement like "saying you don't know how to do this is BS" would be shaming and would do more harm than good. But on the other hand, the fact that those people exist should not be used as a blanket "get out of cleaning jail free" card for the great majority of people who are lazy schmoos.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:38 AM on March 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


> I don't recall having brought up gender at all.

Yeah, and your denial that this discussion has anything to do with gender is frustrating. That's why I pointed out that "this post exists within a larger context". Take a look at the other links in the OP! None of these discussions about men who leave domestic unpaid work to their female partners are happening in a vacuum. No single instance or anecdote of such a thing happening should be stripped of the context of gender and patriarchy. It's like if you showed up in a thread about a gay couple being denied a wedding cake at a bakery saying, "Yeah just the other day my brother and his wife were denied service in a bakery for not wearing a mask and hello, some people have legitimate health reasons for not wearing masks! Why are bakers assholes!" It's a derail.
posted by MiraK at 11:50 AM on March 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


I mean I think the problem is that men are saying “I don’t know how to do chores!” and we are falling for their bait and going “well ACTUALLY there’s no reason any adult could possibly not know how to do chores or how to learn” and then are all satisfied that we’ve beaten them with logic. But it was never about not knowing how to do chores to begin with, so all that happens is neurodivergent and disabled women and AFAB people get caught up in “you’d learn chores if you cared” and “if you have someone to show you how to do it there’s no excuse” etc. which stings extra hard because they also have the double whammy of already being derided for their struggles with chores because of sexism. While the problem continues to be that these men simply do not care what their partners want. It actually has nothing to do with the chores at all, and could be replaced by any number of things. We get caught up in the minutiae of whatever $thing of the week is, but it doesn’t change the underlying problem of men not caring about their partner’s happiness.
posted by brook horse at 11:52 AM on March 31, 2021 [24 favorites]


...Yeah, Brook Horse said what I was trying to say way better.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:30 PM on March 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


LOL and here I was thinking Brook Horse said what I was trying to say way better! :) That bit about "don't know how" being just noise and distraction, and the underlying issue being male partners not caring what the female partner is having to live like, that's what I was ineptly trying to get at.
posted by MiraK at 12:43 PM on March 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think we're on the same page but were just on different paragraphs for a minute. It's all good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on March 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


I disallowed fat-based soap in the shower. Only shampoo, liquid soap, and glycerin bar soap allowed. It's no fun getting Zestfully clean when you know that some portion of the slab of lard you're rubbing on your body is atomizing in the spray and steam every time you shower and when you finally get around to cleaning the shower you'll have to chip several bars of the stuff off the goddamn tile. I have no problem with fatty soap for handwashing because soap scum on the sink is a snap to clean.

Does anyone know how to get grout clean? Bleach does not work. I tried saturating TP with bleach and cramming it into the stained parts and letting it sit. Very arduous and time consuming and nose destroyed by bleach for days, all for zero results. Does anything work? Do I just have to re-grout?
posted by Don Pepino at 1:45 PM on March 31, 2021


Just one note about de-scaling toilets, it all depends on the water chemistry. That's why there are two kinds of cleaner, one with bleach and one with hydrochloric acid. If your water is in limestone aquifers (common in places that used to be under the ocean), lime is basic. So you need a strong acid, like hydrochloric (aka muriatic), to dissolve it. I don't find the Lysol blue gel cleaner to be particularly caustic but I do leave the fan on while I'm applying (let it sit for 15 minutes). Just make sure you never, ever mix acids and bases. Bleach and hydrochloric acid will release chlorine gas, a weapon of war, which can destroy your lungs even if you manage to avoid getting splashed by the world's most disgusting elephant toothpaste.

That said, toilet cleaning is pretty easy for someone with moderate strength and flexibility. Harder than counters, but easier than mopping or showers. If you do it every couple weeks it never reaches the point where you need to really put the elbow grease into it. And if anyone doubts the masculinity tied up in this, German even has a word, Sitzpinkler, to describe a man who sits to pee. There was even a lawsuit about whether a landlord can require a tenant to repair the damage caused by their errant urine. Anyway, once I started being the one to clean the toilet and shower, I did switch my habits. Soap is really dirty!
posted by wnissen at 3:53 PM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


> I disallowed fat-based soap in the shower. Only shampoo, liquid soap, and glycerin bar soap allowed.

Huh -- I recently switched back to bar soap after decades using liquid, and I hadn't even considered that there would be cleaning repercussions.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:56 PM on March 31, 2021


I’m not giving up my bars of Aleppo soap. I switched to Aleppo over a year ago, and this is the first winter in over 30 years that I didn’t have horrible eczema. The slight extra effort in cleanup is worth it.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:47 PM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


fimbulvetr, it's great stuff isn't it? They can pry my Aleppo soap from my cold, dead, clean and moisturized hands.
Not that anyone is going to, since I clean the shower in this house. But yes, it does leave some soap scum. Worth it!
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:11 AM on April 1, 2021


Too-Ticky, if there is a way to remove that soap scum WITHOUT using vinegar, hit me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:51 AM on April 1, 2021


I use a generic, eco-hipster bathroom cleaner in a spray bottle... a brand that they don't sell where you are. And a hard brush and some generic elbow grease. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:19 AM on April 1, 2021


Twenty seconds running a squeegee over the tiles and glass before getting out of the shower stall saves elbow grease, on balance, by denying soap scum the time it needs to dry out and cling properly. Plus, the extra personal drippage time keeps the towels a little drier.

Personally I'd rather not have to bother even doing that. So when I reno'd our bathroom, I designed it with a shower over the bath instead of a separate shower stall. The shower pipe comes down from the ceiling instead of sticking out of the wall, which let me suspend a hoop of shower rail the same shape as the bath (but a little larger) from the ceiling on chains, and hang a U of shower curtain from that so that we're surrounded by curtain on three sides while showering. The open end of the U is down at the plug hole end, distant enough from the shower head that splashes don't make it that far.

The main thing that's always been wrong with shower curtains, and the reason why rigid screens are usually much nicer to shower behind, is the way the rising column of warmed air and steam wants to suck the curtain inward to wrap the showering body lovingly in its clammy embrace. That doesn't happen with the U shaped curtain because (a) the bottom of the curtain drapes inside the bath all the way around to a good six inches below the rim, and wants to stick to the walls when wet and (b) the open end gives air that replaces what's rising out the top a way to do so without needing to shove the curtain on the way.

So I have a very comfortable shower with walls I can just unclip and throw in the washing machine whenever they start to look a bit scummy.

The way I see it, the right way to weasel out of housework is to design the space in such a way as to minimize the total amount of it that needs to be done by anybody.
posted by flabdablet at 5:23 AM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


We have a glass door. I squeegee it after every shower, and dry the floor, which does indeed save a lot of cleaning. But I can't possibly be bothered to do the same with the wall tiles. Then again, they don't seem to get very dirty.

I dislike showering in the bath, luckily our separate shower is pretty low-maintenance. It's also suitable for people with limited mobility. It's not large enough for a wheelchair, but anyone who can walk five steps should be fine. This may serve us well in years to come.
We built the bathroom ourselves (including walls and underfloor heating) and we managed to think things through rather well.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:35 AM on April 1, 2021


I have a glass door and I rent, so sadly trying to jerry-rig a second thing with a shower curtain isn't feasible. I also have a lot of build up from not having done this before (and have also just generally not been on top of housework for a while because of injury).

However, I'm already considering splurging on a one-time professional deep clean after everyone in the house has been vaccinated so that we're caught back up, and then getting one of those daily post-shower sprays and making a new house rule to use it so we stay on top of things. Maybe that's the best option...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:59 AM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


Proper luxury is no walls around the shower whatsoever. That's why I stuck hot and cold taps on the exterior wall as well, when I was re-doing the bathroom plumbing. A hot bath and/or shower surrounded only by plants, weather permitting, is a lovely thing.
posted by flabdablet at 6:03 AM on April 1, 2021


It’s not the most environmentally friendly thing, but my cleaning guru friend says try the Mr Clean magic eraser for soap scum (the one with Gain scent.)
posted by warriorqueen at 6:06 AM on April 1, 2021


Whelp, my Leftist Dish Ignorer Roommate did indeed attempt to rewash the unfinished dishes I left out for him ... by sticking them right back in the dishwasher unscrubbed.

I pulled them back out this morning, all still crusted with old food, set them back out on the table, and repeated the lesson. He said something perfunctory, and now I can hear him muttering in his room. The dishes are still on the table. Finishing your chores is good praxis dude, fight through it!
posted by EatTheWeek at 7:22 AM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]


This guy thinks he's gonna ride out the apocalypse working on a ranch. Amazing.
posted by EatTheWeek at 7:34 AM on April 1, 2021 [5 favorites]


It’s not the most environmentally friendly thing, but my cleaning guru friend says try the Mr Clean magic eraser for soap scum
It's right up there on the list of the most environmentally unfriendly things. The sponge is made of melamine foam. As it abrades soap scum, it dissolves and goes down the drain. It becomes part of the water cycle. It rains down upon the globe as tiny microplastic particles. Soon Mr. Clean will achieve His demonic goal, which is to replace plankton with microscopic hunks of melamine and end life on Earth except for a couple of microbes and extremophiles. If not for that slight issue, I would be buying those melamine sponges regularly because they really really work.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:03 AM on April 1, 2021


I know, I have never managed to convince myself to buy one which is why I had to cite my friend. But if you hire cleaners, unless you check with them first and agree on products you can't be sure what they are using, so I provide the information for consideration.

We swapped to bar soap a long time ago for environmental reasons, but I don't have hard shower sides/glass or anything like that cope with, we just have the tub/curtain combination.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:17 AM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


I think it requires pretty hardcore aggressive lathering to get soap scum on the wall tiles, even with bar soap.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:30 AM on April 1, 2021


Well, something's on the wall of the shower....(not tile, it's the fiberglass stuff.)

And I used Mr. Clean on the shower doors and that seemed to help, but didn't do squat with the walls.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:44 AM on April 1, 2021


I’m not giving up my bars of Aleppo soap. I switched to Aleppo over a year ago, and this is the first winter in over 30 years that I didn’t have horrible eczema. The slight extra effort in cleanup is worth it.

You might be allergic to coconut -- soaps without any kind of nut/palm oil are the holy grail for those of us with this allergy!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:10 AM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


I have a shower that has two glass sides and two tiled sides. I keep one of those Karcher window vacuums in the bathroom and after I finish showering, I give the shower enclosure a quick once-over with the window vac. It sucks up all the water from the walls, door and floor and has pretty much put a stop to any mildew in the grout. Once a week I give the shower a spray with a mold and mildew remover and leave it overnight before rinsing it away.
posted by essexjan at 10:11 AM on April 1, 2021


Don Pepino, I've had better luck with hydrogen peroxide than bleach on tub / bath grout, but I'm no expert. I actually waded in to talk about something else. My husband and I are nearly equally bad at keeping up with housework. We're not abysmal, but we're not good. Luckily, we're both at about exactly the same level of tolerance (for mess / dirt) and willingness (for cleaning / upkeep), so we don't really fight about it. He cooks sometimes, I cook sometimes; he does dishes sometimes, I do dishes a bit more; he's more likely to vacuum, I'm more likely to sweep; he cleans the toilet more often, I clean the bathroom sink and tub more often; nobody dusts until there are literal spiders' webs hanging about. That's like, our level of bad. And it pretty much has to be visually apparent before we do anything.

EXCEPT. I get all the points for laundry. We do. not. have. piles. of. dirty. laundry. (We sometimes have stacks of clean laundry). I'm so up on laundry, we don't even really have a dirty laundry basket. Why? Because after living for years and years with no washing machine, doing laundry at home feels like the lap of luxury. There was nothing worse than dumping all those piles of dirty clothes into huge black plastic bags to lug to the commercial laundry (and fold, and lug back). uuuuuggggghhhhh. My number one worst hated chore of all time.

Now I can say with 100% confidence that if my husband had to wash the clothes, it would be extremely difficult for him to figure it out. After destroying (washing oversized heavy duvet) our previous long-haul washing machine that seemed to live forever and was fairly simple to operate, I picked out a new fangled digital setting single unit washer/dryer this time (no, even when we finally got a washer, there was never enough room for a separate dryer), and it is fucking complicated and no youtube videos to help (I checked)! It's a ventless condensing unit, and all the settings are in a language that neither of us speak / read (Portuguese, I think; it was on sale for about half the price of this kind of washer-dryer combo). And I love it so much.

I literally pored over the instructions for days to figure out how to run it. But now, not only do I not have to lug clothes out the house to wash them, I can also dry them if I choose! Wowee! (It adds like 4-5 extra hours to the cycle, but who cares; I run it while I'm working). I'm maybe the last person to be So Very Very Excited over a home appliance, but here we are. (Actually, I would also be pretty batshit thrilled with a dishwasher — another compromise of always living in small apartments.) Anyway, clean clothes? Heeeeeere are your clean clothes, here, and here, and here, CLEAN CLOTHES FOR EVERYBODY WOOOOOO.
posted by taz at 3:55 PM on April 1, 2021 [6 favorites]


Yes I have had literal dreams about how much laundry I'll do when the day comes that I have in-unit laundry. In my last apartment we had a dishwasher and there was a shared W/D in the basement, which was *almost* equivalent to in-unit (if you pretended the basement was part of the unit). Now I have neither. Some days the only thing that keeps me from walking off my job is the fear that if I do, I will never have a dishwasher or W/D again.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:55 AM on April 2, 2021


I love our washer/drier, but I do usually line dry everything if at all doable. Driers are big energy slurpers and the clothes wear out so much faster.
In rare cases, it's of course great to have the drier as an option.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:08 AM on April 3, 2021


I use a generic, eco-hipster bathroom cleaner in a spray bottle... a brand that they don't sell where you are. And a hard brush and some generic elbow grease. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I spray Lysol, or a similar bathroom cleaner, thoroughly, in the shower and leave it there overnight. In my morning shower I pick up the scrub brush that’s always there and scrub off all visible filth.
posted by bendy at 8:07 AM on April 3, 2021


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