Tuesday, September 13, 2016

While I'm At It

The first week of school is an ideal time to plan and begin to execute the major annual cleaning event that used to happen in spring. Electric lighting eliminated the soot of gas light that used to coat an interior over the course of a winter. Janitorial guru Don Aslett lays out the basics of major cleaning in Is There Life After Housework? Amy Vanderbilt defines the drill of privilege in her Sixties book of etiquette, incidentally illustrated by Andy Warhol. The English National Trust Manual of Housekeeping is a guide to museum-quality procedure.

Eliminate housework by managing an interior for allergies, whether one has them or not. Keep floors bare, use blinds rather than curtains, minimize house plants, and confine books and small ornaments to glass-fronted display units. Factor in housekeeping, not to mention vet bills, when contemplating aquiring a pet. Use HEPA filters in heating systems, vacuums, and as free-standing units in rooms. Run a HEPA filter while vacuuming to double the intervals between cleanings. Remove street shoes at the door and place dirt-grabbing nylon entry mats large enough to take several steps at each entry.

Setting things to rights as the season changes is the first step in preparing the holiday table for Thanksgiving. Be sure to tidy the garden as well. There's no better time, either, to sketch in the annual stock-taking that the calendar dead zone of January affords. Japanese tradition discards worn furnishings at the new year. I find that Christmas acquisitions displace the same elements. Aping hospitality practice, I relamp the house in the dead of winter, changing all the light bulbs that might reasonably be expected to burn out in the course of a year. It feels extravagent, but the savings in labor and attention are worth it.

These housekeeping processes smooth out the speed bumps under the roof.  -30-

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