There is a mug that my mother used to sip coffee and tea from when I was a child. I have a very vivid memory of this mug. Lucky for you all… I managed to find it on Ebay (thus furthering my theory that with enough patience, you can find anything on Ebay).

This mug was always, to me, a picture of my mom- complete with pins hanging out the side of her mouth. Our home growing up was never filthy… but it most certainly was cluttered. Four creative minds occupying one home did not make for a tidy environment. Combine that with my dad tracking sawdust over every surface, my brother caked in Lord-knows-what and my inability to put things back where they belong and you have never-ending housework. My mom tried so hard to teach us how to clean… but the lessons never sunk in for me.

I guess the mug’s message became my personal mantra, whether I realized it or not. With all of the stuff that I do in any given week, how can I possibly have time to clean without sacrificing any of my other passions? Some people clean when they’re stressed. Not me. Some people clean when its dirty and they can’t stand it anymore. Not me. The only thing that can convince me to clean is the threat of embarrassment. As soon as I learn that someone will be coming over, I run around frantically, cleaning everything in plain sight until I feel less horrified at the idea of allowing someone in our home. I knew I needed help.

So. I called my mom. And I asked her to come over, and teach me how to clean a few things… most especially moldy tile grout and dirty window blinds. Sometimes, we still need help from our moms… I am not above admitting that. As a housewife… I hardly know what I’m doing.

So yesterday, we did a little cleaning. Mom passed down the cleaning Bible to me. And most importantly, she encouraged me. She let me know that this stuff doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people. Women don’t just grow up knowing how to work all day, come home and put dinner on the table every night and clean behind every dark corner. She also reminded me that I live in apartment… and a lot of time, I am dealing with neglect from previous owners. Sometimes it’s my mold… sometimes it’s someone else’s. And now I feel ok. I feel encouraged to clean more often, but I don’t feel that overwhelming sense of failure.

Like I said, sometimes we still need our moms.

So here are a few quick tricks she taught me:

Blinds snap off the walls. (Who knew?) Put some soapy water in the bathtub (I used laundry soap… dish soap works too). Dip the blinds in the tub and use a rag to clean off excess dirt.

See how clean they are?

Then you just hang them right back up again and put an old towel on the floor and they drip dry!

For moldy grout, mix bleach with baking soda until you have a paste-like consistency. Scrub the grout with the mixture. Repeat. It helps. A lot.

For calcium build-up, use vinegar, let sit. I didn’t know what calcium build-up was, really, but my clothes steamer has some weird white stuff in it, which is, in fact, calcium build up. Anyway, we put vinegar in it, turned it on so it would boil, and the calcium came right out!

Anyway, mom stocked me with a few more key ingredients to make the potions found in this book. Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean is full of helpful tips for cleaning. Because really, who has time to clean with the wrong product, just to be forced to do it all over again?

In conclusion, I hope no one comes over with a white glove any time soon, but I sure am feeling a bit less like an epic-fail in the housewife department. We may still be kind of a hot mess over here, but at least now we know the best way to clean it all up!