I’m not usually the kind of person to admit to failure, especially in such a public domain. But this is one time that I can honestly accept that I’ve failed – totally and utterly. I just don’t cut it when it comes to the Arabic, or maybe Jordanian, but definitely Wadi Musa (don’t want to be accused of generalising!) standard of clean. If I’m going to be very honest then I really fail on two accounts – firstly on the account of not cleaning properly according to the Wadi Musa standard of clean, and secondly on the account of regularity with which I clean according to the Wadi Musa standard.
I used to think that I did a decent job of keeping a house clean. Ok so granted sometimes it might have just been surface clean and I learnt my fair share of tricks or shortcuts during the time that I was selling a house and keeping it inspection ready such as a top loading washing machine can hide a myriad of sins – and not just restricted to the dirty laundry, but all sorts of things including dirty dishes and shower caddies. People open up dish washers when inspecting but never washing machines! (In my opinion front loaders have a lot to answer for!) But none the less I felt that I kept my house clean and presentable and I grew up with the concept of doing a good “spring” clean once or twice a year to attend to tasks such as cleaning out cupboards, washing walls and curtains etc. Washing carpets was something that might (with the emphasis on might) have been undertaken annually or more likely biennially.
Well it’s spring in Jordan and according to me it’s certainly not the time to be starting a “spring” clean of your house. March is the official month of dust or sand storms when the wind almost constantly hails from the direction of the south, south-west and half the sand from the Sinai Desert ends up in your house. Jordan is dusty at the best of time, but in March everything gets upped the anti.
Don’t mind the wiring in this photo but this is the sand that accumulated near our front door after one day of a sandstorm in March 2012. And that’s just what is outside. Everything in the house gets coated with a fine layer of dust and sand.
This is a pretty typical day in March with the mountains of Petra obscured due to the the sand and dust in the air. We can also expect about 3-6 days where the visibility can drop down to around 50ms and the wind is blowing a gale. You get sandblasted if you go outside.
Hence my title for this blog post – I don’t like cleaning at the best of times, let alone waste my time and effort when in less than an hour it’s going to be coated with sand and dust again and I’m certainly not going to start a big clean of the house. Just sweeping and vacuuming every other day to try and keep on top of it does my head in and I certainly don’t dust any surface that I don’t think is necessary – it can wait until April! As for the outside of the house I sweep the sand away from the door so that it doesn’t get carted inside, but I certainly don’t hose down the pavers. I just don’t see the point!
This is my number one mistake according to the cleaning code that is expected from those who are burdened with the task of cleaning. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, or what the weather is throwing at you, every week is the week to undertake cleaning of the type that I would fit into the “spring” cleaning category. Tasks such as washing carpets (and indeed the whole house) are undertaken on a bimonthly (every second month) schedule.
I’ve been able to deduce that according to the cleaning code there are three types of cleaning – daily, weekly and bimonthly.
Daily cleaning is still more than I would do in a week. The kitchen floor gets scrubbed and washed every night after the last meal of the day. The dishes are done with more dishing washing liquid than I would use in a week – see my post here on washing dishes. The stove top is scrubbed after every meal that is cooked to the point that you can use it as a mirror. Everything is taken off the benches and then they and the tiled walls/splash backs in the kitchen are scrubbed and washed down. The house is vacuumed and every surface is dusted on a daily basis. The pavers outside the house are hosed down (if this is not done daily then it is definitely every second day).
Weekly cleaning is what I would do as a “spring clean”. On top of the daily tasks, all the contents of the kitchen cupboards are taken out and washed, the cupboards themselves are washed out and then everything is rearranged and put back in. Windows are washed including all window sills and the security grills. The Arabic style mattress seating are vacuumed and wiped over with damp clothes and taken outside to air. Blankets are all hung up outside to air. The oven is cleaned inside and out. The fridge is cleaned inside and out. Bathrooms are scrubbed to within an inch of their life and the amount of bleach that is used should be declared a chemical weapon (note in most houses bathrooms do not have windows or adequate exhaust fans and you would never leave the door to the bathroom open to the rest of the house as the bathroom is a dirty room – I don’t know how they don’t pass out from bleach fumes!) Stairs to the roof or second story are hosed down with so much water used that if you were unlucky enough to be caught at the bottom of the stairs that you would be washed away in a flash flood.
But you truly haven’t witnessed house cleaning until you’ve seen the ladies from a family in full flight cleaning their house on a day that is designated carpet cleaning day (or the bimonthly clean). All the furniture is taken outside of the house (I now know why many of the houses don’t have couches and only have the Arabic style mattress seating). All the carpets are rolled up and taken outside (none of the carpets are permanent). The hose from outside is dragged inside and the house is hosed out from top to bottom and not just once, but twice. The first wash is to get rid of all the dirt and dust. The second wash is to rinse it off and make sure that it’s sparkling clean. The carpets are hosed down outside and doused with more washing liquid than I would use in a year and scrubbed with brushes until they are a foaming pile of suds. They are hosed off and hung over a wall to dry. This cleaning has started early in the morning so that by mid afternoon everything is dry and ready to be marched back into the house and put in it’s rightful place.
I was trying to explain to a good friend the whole cleaning process and the challenges of living in Jordan with the dust and sand, particularly in March. We can still get the odd dust or sand storm in April so taking her advice I think that I’ll pay it safe and wait until May.
I have decided to split this post into two parts as describing cleaning a new house before you move in is worthy of it’s own post.