Saturday, April 14, 2007

Detail (sorta) of the Week: Cleanliness is next to punchiness.

I was gonna post another detail about punchlists, but I had some inspiration today while doing some hardcore spring cleaning. Next Friday is Guy's turn to host Poker Night, which will also be the last Poker Night with the inimitable and irreplaceable Jimmy Ray. His wife got a promotion, so he is indeed headed back to the Midwest. (That's a story for another posting.) Our house has been something of a wreck since Guy started painting a few months ago, and it was time to really start cleaning at least the areas that guests would see. We can close off the two bedrooms, but the kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom(s) will need to be scrubbed down.

So, I found myself on hands and knees this afternoon, wiping down the tile base along the bathroom walls, and suddenly I realized something: This happens at my buildings too. See, in any building under construction, all the painters and plumbers and carpenters and so on finish their work and move out of the area. Then, the contractor hires a cleaning company to come in and clean the area. What do they clean? A better question would be what do they not clean!

They dust mop (Swiff, shall we say) and wet mop hard surfaces like ceramic and quarry tile, VCT, and sheet vinyl. They vacuum carpet. They damp wipe everything: painted walls, countertops, cabinet doors, shelves inside and outside the cabinets, doors into rooms, wall base, blinds, everything. They dust off or wet wipe vinyl wallcoverings, shake out and spot or steam clean draperies or fabric wallcoverings, wipe and dry windows to be spot free. They wipe down every sink and toilet, wipe and dry off stainless steel counters and sinks (don't want spots, now do we?)...they even wipe off the lenses and shades on light fixtures.

Imagine wiping down Every. Single. Surface. In your house. Imagine your house is empty of stuff--no dishes, no knickknacks, just basic or even no furniture...but you have to wipe, scrub, and clean every surface. I found myself thinking about this as I scrubbed the walls and ceiling of my bathroom with Clorox Clean-Up and water, wiped the underside of the toilet bowl, scoured the tile floor and wall base, and swiped my now-tattered sponge across the plastic laminate of my bathroom counter. My condo is only 1,315 square feet. Imagine having to clean this thoroughly over 68,000 square feet.

I nearly fainted at the thought. I'm such a wimp--my upper back and lower calves hurt from all that crawling, scrubbing, and mopping. Time to curl up on the sofa and put my feet up.


me said...


found you off the wandering author!

my sister is in her second year as an architect major at Cal Poly Pomona [in california].

she's going crazy with all the wood models and ruler-less drawing exercises. good job making it through though! sounds tough!

faded said...

I would think it is much easier to clean an empty building than a building full of stuff.

Also the nature of the cleaning is different. Cleaning new construction is about removing dust that is sitting on surfaces. Also a new building is empty.

Cleaning a building that is in use is very different. You have to move stuff to do the cleaning. Also the kind of dirt you encounter is very different. It is usually dirt that has been brought in by people, tracked in by walking, or by clinging to clothing. People are always sloughing off skin cells and dead skins cells are very oily. The stuff people bring into a building tends to make the dirt in existing buildings much oilier and grimier. This kind of dirt is sticky and binds to things making it much harder to remove.

You are actually working harder removing the existing dirt from your house than you would be if you were cleaning new construction. Also, about half of what you are cleaning up is yours and husband's dead skin cells and the dust mites that eat the dead skin cells.

Mile High Pixie said...

Me: Bless your sister's heart! Some of architecture school is for learning how to draw, design, and think. Some of it is an obstacle course. My best to you and your sis.

Faded: You ain't lyin', my house is full of Guy's and my funktageousness. It is indeed harder to clean a lived-in space than a brand new space. Still, wiping down every surface there is in a space is a lot o' damn work. Hence, I do it less often than once a year.