Substandard Housekeeping and When Deep Cleaning the Bedroom Wasn’t Such a Good Idea

My mother was a lousy housekeeper. She was the first to admit it. My father always said he knew this about her before they married and he loved her just the same and chose to marry her anyway.


My parents’ wedding ceremony- 1952.  Trinity Episcopal Church Fort Wayne, Indiana


My parents at their wedding reception in 1952.  Can you see the love?

As a child, my mother’s lack of cleaning skills often baffled me. Like how she could spill huge globs of spaghetti sauce while cooking and just leave it there, sometimes for a day or two until a sandblaster was needed to get it off the stove and counter tops. Or how there was always a layer of dust on the end tables, dressers, and shelves, and how vacuuming and mopping were infrequent happenings at our house. I often envied my friends whose mothers cleaned and who had neat, pristine houses.

There were things my mother did well. Like cooking. She loved to cook and she always made healthy home-cooked southern meals. Every morning she’d get up early to prepare a big breakfast for us and every night she’d stand in the kitchen for hours preparing dinner from scratch. She kept the clothes clean and her three young daughters bathed and well-groomed. But keeping a neat and tidy house wasn’t her thing.

When I remember my mother associated with domestic chores, it was usually ironing, which she detested. I heard her say more than once that hell to her would be having to stand over a hot ironing board for eternity. She ironed everything, even my father’s handkerchiefs and our pajamas. It’s no surprise that her basket of clothes to be ironed was always overflowing—never emptied.


Needless to say, good housekeeping was never modeled for me. I inherited my mother’s less than stellar housekeeping genes and I too, am a substandard housekeeper. I wish I wasn’t but I am. I love to clean other people’s houses but not my own. Go figure. I’m the woman who panics when I learn company is coming and I’m soon flying around like a raving lunatic swishing toilets, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping, and trying to get the house remotely presentable. I’m also not a decorator and am terrible at knowing what’s in style and what’s not because in all honesty, I have no fashion sense and could care less about those kinds of things. Yes, I know brass is out but my house is full of brass lamp fixtures. Yes, I know Formica is dated and new cabinets would be nicer but I really can’t afford a kitchen remodel right now and I actually kinda like my Formica.  It works for me.

In 2005, my husband decided to start ripping up carpet and laying hardwood flooring. He installed it in one of the four bedrooms, the hallway and the den. Then he took a much-needed break (a financial break as well as a physical break for his old football injured knees). Hardwood flooring is NOT inexpensive and installing it is NOT an easy job for a man who’s had multiple knee surgeries throughout his lifetime. Seven years later in 2012 (it was a long break), my husband and I decided we really needed to get back to the hardwood flooring as we still had several rooms to go. We decided we’d tackle our bedroom next. We removed everything from the room and began ripping out the 25-year-old carpet which had come with the house.

It was then that I decided we needed to paint in addition to laying the new flooring. But first we had to remove the yucky wallpaper on the lower wall beneath the chair railing. That was a job. We chose Valspar Fairmont Suite Gold paint to cover the horrid turquoise paint above the chair railing (that never really matched the yucky wallpaper anyway). We installed crown molding where wall meets ceiling to give the room more of a graceful, formal look.

I had been eyeing a lovely Chaps comforter at Kohl’s for months that I wanted badly but it was out of my price range and so I just always looked and admired but never bought. Then one day, I happened to notice the much coveted Queen sized comforter on the clearance rack.  My sister told me I would probably live to regret buying a navy comforter and also the two dark burgundy runner rugs I purchased for each side of the bed (not shown in the picture below) because they would show every speck of lint and cat hair that found its way into the bedroom. But I bought and I loved.

bedroom after painting with new hardwood floors, paint and comforter

After: New gold paint, new hardwood floors, new comforter, and new crown molding (that doesn’t show in this photo). 2012

My sister was right and cat hair sticks to this comforter like flies on honey. So our cats are banned from the bedroom for that very reason (and because they insist on sleeping on our faces when they’re in the bed with us anyway and there really is no sleeping going on when they’re in the room— it’s like sleeping with two Simon’s Cats).

Who is Simon’s Cat you say?  Please watch and proceed to laugh.

This past Friday, I decided I really, really needed to take this DRY CLEAN ONLY comforter to the cleaners because even though the cats don’t come in the bedroom, it looked as if they had been wallering all over the bed and rugs. Vacuuming with the vacuum cleaner attachments just was no longer cutting it.

So I take the comforter off the bed, fold it up in all its bulkiness and head to the cleaners. I drag hubby along because the cleaners we use (and have used for over 30 years since we married) is run by this sweet little Japanese lady who is adorable and nice as can be, but she doesn’t speak or understand much English and I always have a difficult time communicating with her. Hubby doesn’t speak Japanese but I take him along anyway for moral support.

I walk into the cleaners, the smell of clean pressed clothes wafting strong in my nose. The sweet Japanese lady walks out and greets us with her smiles and bows. The heavy comforter is heaved to the counter top. There is a gray metal electric oscillating fan on the counter and when it hits the comforter I am embarrassed as suddenly flying cat hair is visible in brightly lit sunbeams. I apologize. The sweet Japanese lady continues to smile, her head and upper body in a repeated bowing motion as she says, “This my job, This my job.” We thank her and head home.

At home, I announce to hubby that I’ve decided it’s as good a time as any to do a deep cleaning of the bedroom, because what’s the sense in bringing a nice clean comforter back to a cat hair filled dusty room? So I strip the blanket, sheets, and even the mattress pad cover for a good washing. I get him to lift the mattress and I remove the dust ruffle so I can wash it too. I dust. I vacuum and swiffer the entire room and even under the bed because Lord knows there are monster dust bunnies living under there (or maybe a more appropriate term would be dust kitties). I climb up on the now bare mattress in my socked feet to clean the ceiling fan of its dust, realizing I should have done this first. And during that cleaning as I’m wiping ceiling fan blades, there is a loud crack-like pop and the fan shifts downward. I jump because I think the fan is about to crash down on my head. I reinjure my neck that I’ve so carefully babied the past few months (the neck that’s had X-rays and an MRI and that’s been examined by multiple doctors who have done painful diagnostic tests – the neck that has been pain-free mind you for three whole weeks now). Thankfully, the fan doesn’t fall on me but it comes close. In my defense, just recently hubby and I had both noticed the fan being just a tad wobbly and sitting a little cattywampus and had been planning to look into it.

    Moral of the story? Don’t ignore a cattywampus wobbling ceiling fan. 

I interrupt hubby from his beloved Hawaii Five-O to come to the disaster zone.  He is less than thrilled. After some investigating which involves him climbing up on a step-ladder and then cramming his large body through our tiny attic opening (which first involved having to remove almost every single item from the closet which was no small task), he discovers we are lucky that the fan has not come crashing down on us killing us in our sleep. The plastic ceiling electrical box has completely broken on both sides and is barely suspended in the attic. The whole box has to be replaced (with a proper metal one since the man at Lowe’s said plastic boxes were just not meant for ceiling fans).

We take the fan down and you’d think that a fan that was just about ready to fall on our heads would be easy to get down but NO. There’s pesky wires to deal with and electricity has to be cut off which leaves us working in the dark with a small flashlight that’s in dire need of new batteries. I decide at this point that ceiling fans really aren’t worth all this trouble and I’m starting to be okay with a nice decorative light fixture that won’t come crash-swirling down on us, threatening our lives in the middle of the night.

But we’re spoiled so hubby installs the new metal electric box which involves more trips to the attic and more manipulation of the wiring and him having to cut the opening in the ceiling just a tad larger which means tons of white gritty powdery dust everywhere, which means all my dusting, vacuuming and swiffering from the night before had been one. big. waste. of. time.

Hubby got the fan put back up with a little help from his dad (that part went better than expected).



After installation.  That sucker won’t be falling now…. it’s up there to stay!  You can see the crown molding in this photo and also the Noah’s Ark picture I stumbled upon at an Antique store.  It’s a better size for above the bed and I moved the smaller Noah’s Ark picture in the photo above to a different wall.  I love them both.

After the fan was reinstalled, I looked around and saw white powdery dust and grit covering everything and so once again I dusted, vacuumed, and swiffered– repeating everything I had done just 24 hours previously. And let me tell you, grumpy does not even begin to describe my mood.

All of this because I thought it would be a good idea to dry clean the comforter.  I’m starting to regret that decision now.  

But I guess that repulsive cluttered closet needed cleaning out anyway.


About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
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