Household hacks

Jackie Wells-Fauth

Now, I know some of you are going to look at this picture–taken from my own house, no less–and you will think that it is a picture of a load (or three) of laundry. But you are mistaken. This is actually a dresser, where all clean clothes can be found. That large wooden thing in the bedroom with the drawers is simply a flat surface where I can store fifty things that are useless, but do a fine job of gathering dust.

So, for anyone out there, I put this challenge to you: If you have never pulled a change of underwear, a clean towel for the shower, or a pair of mis-mated socks directly from a laundry basket and put them on, you are either lying, or should be carefully watched!

Sometimes, I get up the energy to fold and put those clothes away, but usually, I spend at least two days after laundry day pulling everything I need directly from the basket. I never put things away directly out of the dryer because it seems like too much work. It’s like drying dishes after you have hand washed them (yes, some people do). If you let them air-dry, you save on labor and dishtowels…which you would then have to put in the laundry. If you keep your clean laundry in the baskets, you save all that folding and putting away time and effort.

All those people who put out “household hacks,” are under the mistaken belief that I wish to do things in my house that will make the house cleaner and more perfect. Apparently, I was born without the gene that makes me want to clean and clean and then for entertainment, clean some more. This doesn’t worry me at all because I was also born without the gene that makes me want to ram my head into a brick wall and I don’t miss that either!

My idea of household hacks is a little different from most. I believe in air-drying dishes, putting leftovers in the refrigerator in their original pan because it’s faster and takes less dishes and, of course, leaving clean laundry in the laundry basket instead of folding and putting it away. Except for good clothes–I do take care of them immediately because otherwise I might have to iron something. I would run into a burning house, flames all around me, if it meant I could get the good clothes out of the dryer and on hangers and avoid the dreaded ironing board. But this aberration doesn’t extend to other tasks.

I still remember the day we were all sitting around the newspaper office having an afternoon break and one of the men discovered he had printer’s ink on the sleeve of his shirt. The household hacks started flying: spray it with hair spray, use Dawn dish soap, rub it with ice cubes, then put it in boiling water. None of those sounded at all appealing to me, but when they came to our city editor, her face buried in two articles she was trying to finish for deadline, her advice was succinct: “Sew a patch over it, or cut it out and live with the hole”. When I heard her give this advice, I knew that she and I could be friends.

This is also the woman who was full of good hacks for making people think you had been cleaning your house like some household fairy, when actually, you had been working on your latest novel all day: “Pour Mr. Clean in some of the corners of your living room and kitchen,” she advised. “It smells like you’ve been scrubbing all day.”

This taught me so much. It is the illusion of having things done that makes the difference. Like, putting in some of those pre-mixed and cut cookies before the kids get home. It smells like you have been chained to the kitchen all day, just mixing up goodies and, if you are attentive, you might even get some edible cookies out of that hack!

I’ve decided that I could write a household hacks book and what’s more, I would have a good following to read it. My hacks are not for the cleanest house in town or the easiest spot remover out there–my hacks are for people who want the illusion of doing something around the house without actually doing something around the house.

So every so often, I get a box from the basement and dump all of the things that have been cluttering my desk for months into it. I label the boxes carefully: “Junk from May; Junk from September and Junk from a time I don’t remember because I forgot to label it.” It is not my intention to ever go back and look in these boxes and so far, I haven’t missed much by doing it by this method. That, and cramming the shoe, glove, hat collection from the front door into the front closet and the dirty dishes into the oven, makes for an instantly better organized living space and the Mr. Clean will be poured in the corners if I happen to be expecting guests.

So for all the household hackers out there–I admire you for your clever ways to store grocery bags and your amazing recipes for cleaning the gunk off the inside of the shower, but I’m going to leave those wonderful ideas up to you. Right now, it’s time for me to take a shower (in the shower stall that I have sprayed with vinegar and blue soap), but first I have to go to my white plastic chest of drawers and pull out a towel and some underwear. See you later!

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