Project Clean House

Book #1

The House That Cleans Itself: Creative Solutions for a Clean and Orderly House, by Mindy Starns Clark

Clean? Orderly? Sign me up. The revolutionary idea in this book is that a "house that cleans itself" is a home that is thoughtfully designed so that doing the neat thing is as easy as doing the messy thing. Clark encourages moms to engineer convenience. And if you have a big mess that you just can't get rid of -- build a wall or buy a cabinet to hide it. I embark on my first non-cleaning experiment with high hopes and low energy, but Clark's cheery optimism inspires me.

Day 1 The first tip is to do nothing in order to see how dirty it gets and how fast. While I like the idea, the results of not cleaning are obvious after the first few hours -- total squalor. Blech.

Day 2 "Buy a notebook for my project." Fun! "Draw floor plans of your house so you can define spaces and determine flow?" Too hard! Remember, I'm reading this book because I'm lazy.

Day 3 I take a Prayer Walk through my home. That's right. Clark wants you to enlist God's help in transforming your place. I'm a Mormon, so nothing fazes me. My prayer went like this, "Dear Lord, please bless my kids to stop being pigs."

Day 4 Clark also recommends that you choose a home base zone and commit to keeping it clean no matter what. Think about what bothers you the most when it's a mess and makes you the happiest when it's clean -- that's your go-to area and if you keep it spotless, you'll get a little boost whenever you see it. I choose the kitchen sink as mine and get serious about keeping it clean and free of dishes. It works.

Day 5 One of Clark's many needlepoint-worthy truths, "Every possession you have, from the tiniest button to the biggest piece of furniture, takes with it a piece of your time," really gets me going. It's much easier to follow her purging regime when I think in terms of toys from Happy Meals, old stained baby clothes, and odd parts to games we never play as stealing precious minutes -- or in the case of my family's level of clutter, hours -- out of my day. Throwing away all that stuff is way more fun when I think of each bag as more time to relax.

Day 6 Clark says chores take only a few minutes. I time myself unloading and loading the dishwasher -- ten minutes! Interesting. Dreading the dishes all day takes, well, all day.

Day 7 By the end of the week I'm getting a lot done just by doing it. I testify to the truth of Clark's credo: "Don't sacrifice average daily cleanliness for perfect occasional cleanliness." Naturally tidy people probably already live this way and didn't need to stop cleaning to read a book, but it's an epiphany for me.

Bottom Line

This book will make you think about how your house is set up and how to make every-thing work better for you. Clark will convince you that when it comes to housework, there's just no virtue in doing things the hard way. Just do it the way that you need to do it in order to get things done.

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment