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how important is a clean house?

so, my husband and I aren't the cleanest anyway, and when I up my exercise it is usually at the expense of house cleaning. Now, I am not talking health endangering nasty, just dusty, some dishes in the sink, laundry piling up a little bit.
A friend and I recently discussed how highly prized a clean house is, especially among middle class working women, and how hard it is to actually get it done. Plus, when you expect guests and spend two days cleaning baseboards and frantically catching up on laundry, you're supposed to act like it was a breeze when the guests finally arrive.
So my questions are:
When you visit other homes, what do you really think if there is a bit of a mess?
And, for you swinging singles out there, how important are house keeping skills in a potential mate?

Tue. Aug 5, 11:16am

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hope not too important, because it is the LAST thing I want to do with my free time. I am interested to see peers' responses to this.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 11:39 AM

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I am a very clean person, and keep my house respectably clean (about the same as you). I wish for more time to clean, but it's just impossible.

I do spend a good amount of time cleaning for guests, especially if they haven't seen my house before. Clean sheets and towels, shower, toilet, floors, etc

I notice all of these things when I stay over at someone's house. I would even clean something at someone else's house if I felt like it was too gross. But maybe it's because I'm a clean person myself? I get it from my stay-at-home mom - it was her "job" to keep a clean house, and she wanted to be good at her job (and she was).

I also don't hold it against people if there house is a little dirty. I understand peoples' lives and schedules. Life is too short to obsess over the house cleaning.

My BF is pretty tidy, though not always "clean." (ie, his dresser top is cleared off but it's dusty; he'll make the bed but the sheets really need to be washed). I can deal with that, and I think it's helped me lose my anal retentive edge.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 11:46 AM

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I used to be OCD about cleaning my house and expected that from others. I was grossed out if their house was less than perfect. Now, I like to see a little clutter, a dust bunny on the floor, at my friends' houses. Makes me feel like a FRIEND and not a guest when I visit. (However, overnight guests MUST have sterile toilets, showers, sinks, etc.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 12:10 PM

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Thank goodness for visitors or my house would never get *really* clean! haha - kinda...

I like houses (where there are kids, especially) that looked *lived in*. Items are out on the counter, shoes are on the floor, etc. To me it says that a family lives here!

Honestly, when I visit picture perfect houses that are occupied by families I usually assume they're paying a lot to keep their house clean and/or they're obsessive about keeping things clean and picked up - to the point that it's borderline psycho - haha... e.g., they don't allow the kids to do messy activities, they don't have the kids clean up their own toys so they can do it 'right', kids don't get to help in the kitchen b/c it's too messy, the person runs herseld ragged 'keeping house' - i.e., keeping things neat and clean trumps all else! What fun is that :) I'd rather have my kids remembering me for playing soccer and hopscotch with them vs. constantly picking up and cleaning.

That said, my house is picked up and looks great as long as no one takes a really good look at things, especially under furniture! Life is too short! And there are about 1,000 other things I'd rather do than clean dust from my baseboards on a regular basis.

There is a line, though, and I'm sure it's different for all of us. One person's 'lived in' is another person's 'pig sty.'

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 1:00 PM

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1:00pm - I am with you. If I didn't ever have anyone over my house would never get cleaned either!

My husband never helps and seems oblivious to clutter and any type of dirt. (or maybe he just figures that's my "job")
Anyway - I try to keep the clutter at bay but am really bad with the dusting and vacuuming. There are times I would be mortified if anyone were to just drop over... especially if they had to visit the bathroom and I hadn't cleaned up in there yet!
I was much better at keeping up with the basics for a while but you kinda get to the point where you say why bother if nobody but me ever sees it?!?!

When I have lots of company for a big party or for xmas or something like that I take a lot of extra effort to get everything clean as possible.

I do notice dust & things at other peoples houses... but it makes me a little happy to see it because then I know I'm not alone!

And is this just me or what?
My husband likes to hang his jacket on the back of the dining room chair (which is right by the door we use) instead of taking like 10 steps to the closet to hang it up. It drives me crazy.
I also don't mind that he keeps a pair of shoes right there by the door either but does he really need 4 or 5 at any time?! Argh!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 2:05 PM

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I try to keep my house as clean as I can but never at the expense of anything else I'd rather do LOL!

My mother said, no one ever lay on their deathbed wishing they spent more time cleaning their house. I live by that. Things have to be sanitary and the kitchen gets the most attention as it requires the most but what you get at my house is hit - or - miss depending on how busy we have been.

Sometimes my floors are spotless, other times, I'll tell you not to bother taking off your shoes - hard floors give that option LOL.

My house is VERY lived in and I love it. If you have come over to inspect the house - you must have the wrong address b/c no one I know would do that to me! If you are here for a good time - you are at the right house!

Yes I have been caught with an embarrassingly messy house, in which case I'll probably offer a nice cold drink out in the back yard which is probably where I've been spendign all my time if the house is a disaster. I tell people, I don't ever strive for anyone to leave my house and say "wow that place was clean" but I do strive for people to leave having had fun, a good laugh, something delicious to eat and drink and a good visit!

I do laundry once a week and only inbetween if someone desperately needs something - so you bet it's piled up by the end of the week!

I vaccuum about 2 - 3 times a week - I could do it daily but don't have the time or need to dedicate myself to it that way LOL!

I also have a LOT of FUN in life, especially in the summer!!! We often leave our house a big mess as we head out the door for a fun day ... the dishes are so accommodating they ALWAYS wait for us to get home! :P

I am often last thing at night, cleaning up before bed so that at least the new day will start with a resemblence to tidy and orderly LOL! I couldn't live without my dishwasher as it's often up for another hour after I go to bed, finishing the days mess.

...don't even get me started on how much I hate the bathroom and it's constant neediness ...

Once a week the WHOLE family chips in and everything gets cleaned, vaccuumed, dusted and organized ... 1/2 a day later it looks exactly as it did before we started!

A clean house is a sign of a maid or a bored housewife :P and neither live here!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 2:13 PM

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I enjoy cleaning - I have a very mentally taxing job, so coming home and doing something mindless and physical helps me unwind. I can spend an hour or two cleaning the oven, etc... I also enjoy going out, so if friends call, I have no problem dropping everything and walking out the door. Because of this my house is often spotless but sometimes it looks like a tornado hit it and that's ok with me. :-) I also don't have any kids to mess things up, so when I do clean something it stays that way for awhile.

While my own house is usually quite clean, I could care less how tidy/clean/neat/fixed-up/decorated someone else's house is. I'm not friends with people for their houses, I'm friends with them for 'them'. I think this is also because I clean to unwind, and not because I have some *need* for things to be clean.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 2:32 PM

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I like to keep my house "picked up", but do not have it picture perfect. I would love to have more people over I always freak out about having it spotless, but than when I go to someone's house that is spotless I feel so uncomfortable because it is picture perfect and it just makes me feel bad. I always say I want to have people over, but than when we do it stresses the family out before hand...cause of me... I really feel that is "not my gift" but would like to feel more comfortable about doing it. :)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 2:57 PM

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I am a super clean and tidy person so my house gets cleaned at least once a week. This includes vacuuming, dusting, the kitchen, bathrooms, mopping, etc. I clean blinds, windows, baseboards, etc about once a month. I have a WONDERFUL husband and we split the chores in 1/2 so it usually just takes about 1.5 hours a week. Doable for us. We have 2 dogs and a cat so the shedding is out of control if we don't do it that often. All laundry is done once a week, usually on Sunday nights.

1.5 hours to me a week isn't bad. We schedule our cleaning each week around our schedules and still find time to go out, work out and relax. I should say that we both work full time and I actually work a part time job on the side. I am the type of person that can't just sit around though, I have to be doing something all the time so I think that's part of it!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 3:12 PM

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When I visit other homes, if there's a bit of a mess, I don't think much of it.

I was at a friend's house this morning. There was a queen-sized mattress on the floor of her living room (her daughters slept on it). Every surface was cluttered. Her house is never clean. She has four kids and as many dogs (an elderly Bassett, an English Bulldog, a medium-sized mongrel, and a Newfie) who live in the house. It smells of dog. I am aware of all that.

But what I thought was how much I missed hanging out with her since she has been working, and how we really needed to get together more, and how much fun she is.

I admire people wtih clean houses who can be relaxed about them. I worry about people for whom cleanliness is a major stressor.

My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.

BTW...maintaining is better than cleaning. When my kids were little there was a time when I actually got on top of all the cleaning, and stayed there for weeks. We were selling our house, and I had a realtor who had the distressing habit of calling from the corner, claiming to be 20 minutes away, asking if I minded if he brought someone by. (He would tell his buying client, "Oh, it's not a problem, she's an impeccable housekeeper." In his mind, any likeable woman was an impeccable housekeeper. He honestly thought I was, simply because he liked me!)

So. There's me with two little boys and a very badly designed house. But I got everything clean and then just followed a routine. I remember the day I was sitting on the couch, where I had been reading since lunchtime. It was around 5. My husband was on his way home from work, my baby was napping, my 4-year-old was playing with some toys, and I had had free time to myself for four straight hours. And I was amazed...because *everything was done.*

Keeping up is so much easier than catching up!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 4:12 PM

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For me there's a difference between untidy and unclean.
Things out of place, shoes left out, a couple of dishes in the sink, a couple of dustbunnies, that's untidy and I'm ok with that.
Unclean is what I have issues with particularly in bathrooms. Hair everywhere, dirty bathmats, stuff adhered to the sides of the sink, I can't handle that.

Funny you should ask cause I just got back from vacation and stayed at two places that were complete opposites of each other.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 4:21 PM

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2:13 again ...

LOL - well Buzzard you wouldn't like my bathrooms sometimes ;P

I would seriously have to clean them several times a day to avoid them looking like that at times ...heck my daughter can walk out of what WAS a spotless bathroom and leave it just as you describe *sigh*

BTW I love this thread! I generally don't mind but sometimes I wonder if I should care more about whether my house - particularly my floors - are cleaner, I'm glad to see so many in the "I don't care" category b/c I often wonder what other people DO think when they are in a "lived in" house!

I thought about it after I wrote that other post & I do have one girlfriend who I know "notices" my house but honestly, I think it would be good for us both to learn a little from each other in this department :) b/c she's VERY uptight about the state of her house!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 4:35 PM

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Yeah, I thought I might be too uptight about that but when I get out of a shower, I don't want other peoples hair or other kinds of furballs stuck to the bottom of my feet....or anywhere else for that matter:-) Maybe it was seeing that picture of a magnified dustmite at an early age that fostered my distaste for those critters. Have you guys ever seen one? Creepy.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 6:22 PM

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2:05 here again.

I just feel I have to clarify that when I said "I notice" dust & things at other peoples houses, it's not because I go over there to inspect the place.

However - my brother & SIL on the other hand... now they are absolute slobs and I DO look around if I go over there. You have to check everything before you touch it or sit on it or you will be sorry!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 6:32 PM

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I have, buzzard, but I'n not squeamish. :^ )

Tuesday, August 05, 2008, 6:41 PM

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I'm a bit of a clean freak.. my house is almost always impeccable.. I just feel more comfortable that way. If there's mess I can't seem to relax until it's tidied up.

I have to admit that I do judge others by their houses too.. It might be wrong of me, but I'm being honest..

Then agian, I'm English and we do say that an Englishman's home is his castle!

Happy cleaning!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 2:20 AM

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Both my husband and I work and I am also in graduate school. School is a great motivator for me to clean. When I have a paper due I can't write knowing there is a dirty bathroom. But I have a system. Kitceh and bathroom have to be clean, the rest of the house just picked up. We have dogs and cats so the rugs get vacumned when they need it (about once a week, my neighbor nacumns every day!).

When we have guests who are staying with us I spring for a gal from the gym to come and really clean. Best $50 I've recently spent!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 8:04 AM

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I have the same problem! ‘stresses the family out before hand...cause of me’
Normally, I am an average to below average housekeeper. Laundry is never done and I pretty much only dust and vacuum once a week and in the dry American southwest that is not near enough! I have dogs and they are inside/outside and always bringing in dust or mud depending on the day. There are usually some dishes in the sink and clutter on the counters. Although, other than too much dust, the bathrooms are generally clean. My husband is a bit of a mess with leaving papers and tools everywhere and I don’t really mind, just collect the clutter occasionally.
HOWEVER, invite people over if you want to see a crazy woman in action! Easy going, laissez faire housekeeper no more, out come psycho lady who tries to do a year’s worth of big cleaning in 2 days, finishes things like the baseboards but runs out of time before doing the basics, like cleaning the microwave. I am an angry, frustrated, crying beast and it ruins the fun for all. My guest would probably never know, but it is 24 hours of terror before they got there. *sigh* very weird. I’m not shy and I have great people in my life, but I am a terrible hostess!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 8:31 AM

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Back to the bathroom, (this is buzzard again by the way) I'm currently having mine remodeled. They started this Monday and will have it finished tomorrow hopefully. But it is such a major major huge weight off of my shoulders to get this project finished. There was mold growing behind the walls, other leaks, unsightly caulking seams, chipped porcelein (sp) , because the previous owner and "handyman" didn't do a good job when he had the place. I tried fixing it myself but they were only temporary solutions.

Anyway, new granite floors, (Oh so sparkly) tiles on the wall, new bathtub, and such a cleaner 'look' and such a cleaner feeling. I feel this is something I can be really happy with and it just looks so much better.
All the while I'm thinking, I bet my grandmother would like this. She is from Europe she has always kept such a clean house and I guess she passed that along to me too cause whenever I visit, I always feel just so relaxed when I'm there and I'd like for my house to be that way too!

6:41 Glad you're not squeamish and that you don't mind the extra company:^)
For what I'm paying for these floors, they are going to be hair/dust free for a while so I can see that Sparkle! But it's only myself I have to clean up after and not a whole family so it's not a hard task, especially since it's a small bathroom.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 11:08 AM

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I used to be a real neat freak. Everything in its place. But then I had 5 children and a slob for a (now ex) husband. I felt like I was going to get ulcers because I could not keep my house up the way I wanted So I developed my own mantra "Do you want a clean house or do you want to keep your children alive" I had to repeat this to myself many many many times; My house is now "comfortable" with 3 boys still at home and 1 dog and 4 cats. Talk about furballs.
A home is a reflection of a person's personality and over the years women have developed lives beyond the house. I cannot ever recall going into someone's home and looking around at their housekeeping abilities except when it is one extreme or the other. Either extreme makes me uncomfortable.
But otherwise I am there to see the person and not so much their house. I do like to notice things like color choices and collections so that when I buy them a gift, hopefully it will fit. I may notice more the artsy side of things, like how pictures are arranged on the wall, what style furniture they have, do they have lots of wood or painted, and clues as to their interests or hobbies. I kind of laugh when I have to step over a pile of shoes or see some clothing thrown across the couch. It shows a life in progress.
Right now my house is a mess. I moved a year ago and have not finished going through things. I have an obsession that I will not just throw these boxes down in the basement to go through later , but will take care of them one at a time. I will find a place for their contents either in my home, storage, thrift shop or trash. In the meantime, as I remove a box, I discover more furballs underneath or behind it, as well as some cat toy and it really irritates me, but I know I will get where I want to be eventually.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 12:51 PM

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When I was growing up, my mom would have me clean the house whenever we knew out of town company was coming to visit. I kept that house spotless. I guess a little bit has rubbed off on me, because I do the same thing now. I don't care if my house is completely trashed 15 minutes after company shows up, as long as it's spotless when they arrive. I think that a clean house shows that you at least care a little bit about how you live. Especially if you have little kids. Who wants toddlers picking up dirt and eating it? YUK!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 1:41 PM

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Yet one more reason I don't plan on having kids. If anything, this website has helped reaffirm this decision for me:-) I like kids for the most part fine but I'm glad I don't have to clean up after them. Cats are enough:-)

Hope you all are having a great day.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 2:14 PM

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good feng shui.

I try to remember that housecleaning is exercise. I try to listen to certain books on tape only while I clean. A perfectly clean house is good feng shui. I consider it a lifetime goal ..... lol!!

Thursday, August 07, 2008, 11:41 AM

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Yes, cleaning is important. When I see a very messy house it seems like the owner is either lazy, doesn't have control over their life, or is a slob. Your house doesn't have to be completely spic'n'span, but people who are saying they have no time to keep up on housework--come on. Even after a completely busy day I can still manage to stay up an extra 20 minutes to pick things up, do dishes, run the vacuum quickly, etc. I especially don't understand housewives who can't keep up on housework--you know the ones who don't have a job at all and when their kids come home from being at school all day, they feed their kids Burger King or hot dogs for supper?

Thursday, August 07, 2008, 10:24 PM

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I think 10:24's comment is a little judgemental; I'm sure there are some circumstances where being a little lax on cleaning is allowed. And I think sometimes it can become overwhelming, once it reaches the stage that everything needs to be done at once. My house may not be the tidiest in the world, but I do make an effort to keep it clean, i.e. a few books or magazines lying around, or some laundry that should have been done last week is fine, but crumbs or stains or old food, or an unclean bathroom are not, in my book. Clutter is OK, but dirt means bacteria, insects and other pests, and that's just unhygienic.
If you feel your housework is getting on top of you, I find it easiest to take 20-30 minutes and give it a quick blitz; tidying, vacuuming, dishes, whatever. Do that 2 or 3 times a week, and you'll soon see an improvement. Feeling like you need to do everything at once just makes it seem impossible, and that's when you end up putting it off.

Friday, August 08, 2008, 6:17 AM

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I agree with the above poster. I have a fairly hectic schedule. As a student with a full-time job, I'm left very little time to clean. However, I've noticed that just spending 30 minutes a day tidying up makes huge improvements. I have two dogs and two cats; if I didn't keep up on my house, imagine how disgusting the house could get rather quickly.

In terms of judging others on their houses --- I worked as a housekeeper for a long time, I've seen the worst of the worst. Clutter, dishes, and laundry are one thing --- leaving toenail clippings, body hair, and (no joke) bodily fluids everywhere are another situation completely.

Friday, August 08, 2008, 9:33 AM

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It is interesting that most people responding seem to really value a kept house, but I guess that makes sense (othesr wouldn't be interested in this thread).
I am going to admit that I don't particularly spend much time cleaning. My husband and I generally split it, but it is still often messy.
I just would rather do other things and don't get much satisfaction from house cleaning, so I don't put it at the top of my to do list. I'm not proud of it, but I am happy with my life and my leisure time, so there you go.
And, no, I don't often entertain.

Friday, August 08, 2008, 10:10 AM

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Well, speaking as someone who does entertain often (1-3x a week and for anywhere from 2-10 people), I find that a 'too clean' house makes most people self-concious and uncomfortable. I used to think being a good hostess meant having a sparkling, spotless house, but people feel ill-at-ease with that - like they can't touch anything or really kick back and relax. I've had to learn to keep a little humanity in view.

Friday, August 08, 2008, 11:49 AM

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I like to look at housework as exersize also and normally enjoy doing aspects of it, especially the feeling of accomplishment and how good it looks. However, I found that while I was married it was impossible to have a clean house. The ex didnt help in any way shape or form and in fact used to purposely leave things strung all over. On top of that, becaue he owned his own business, he would have me run errands for him. Oh yes, there was also the 5 kids to care for and fix meals for. Then the hubbie comes home for lunch 4 times per day making more demands. Any time anyone came over I felt like the mess reflected on me since I was a sahm and felt very frustrated that I was not superwoman. Now that the hubbie is gone and my children are older I have a much nicer home. At times it is cluttered as we all have our hobbies, but the floors are clean and the furniture dusted, and the bathrooms and kitchen are wiped down. I now work outside the home, but because I do not have all the pressure that the hubbie put on me, am not so stressed out over the house.

Friday, August 08, 2008, 9:38 PM

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how important is a clean house?

I have always told my kids: "The kitchen, bathroom and living area of your home are like your hands and face and ears--they should ALWAYS be kept clean" After all, you can always shut the doors to the bedroom. But you serve food out of the kitchen, entertain in the living area, and must be decent enough to provide a sanitary bathroom for your friends and/or guest

Saturday, August 09, 2008, 8:28 AM

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I don't mind a little clutter. However, some things in houses just disgusts me: dried out dirty cloths on kitchen counters, dirty floors in bathroom or kitchen cabinets, baseboards so dusty you can't blow off the dust, and dirty toilets. Also dirty laundry outside of the bedroom or laundry room.

This is especially imperative when going to a potential mate's house. I understand being a bachelor, but if he doens't do it now, he won't likely help with it should we have a place together.

Saturday, August 09, 2008, 7:47 PM

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Above poster- it depends on the guy. Hubby used to be a total slob but he helps me around the house now on a regular basis. However, I always have to ask first but thankfully I don't have to nag. He's just less aware of the dirt/clutter.

Saturday, August 09, 2008, 8:37 PM

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three words - hire it out

I like a picked up/cleaned up house and my husband likes to watch tv and watch me running around trying to straighten up the house. When you're working full time, teaching after hours, parenting, and trying to maintain a marriage, it's difficult to find time to clean - especially when husband and I have different expectations of clean.

I finally hired a house cleaner - she comes in every other week and dusts, cleans the floors, wipes down appliances, etc. She's not in the bedrooms and we vacuum everyother day despite. It's the best $50 every two weeks I've spent!

Monday, August 11, 2008, 2:59 PM

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