Why you should clean your floors by hand

Tanner hard wood floor

A few weeks ago I had a transformative experience that I want to share with you.

It was Easter Sunday.

A bit of self-disclosure, I am not of any particular faith. I became a Christian of my own accord when I was 12, and then became disillusioned by the church. Later in life, I discovered writings by authors like Chaim Potak, which introduced me to Judaism, Lao Tzu who introduced me to Taoism, Confucius and others who introduced me to Confucianism, and the Nag Hammadi texts which introduced me to Gnosticism. I recently read and enjoyed Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a spiritual mutt.

It was one of the first days when the windows could be opened for fresh air. I looked at my floors and saw the dust that hadn’t been cleaned. There was even more underneath the stand that holds the TV, the bookcases, the bed. My love has always cleaned floors by hand, which is her habit. I decided to clean them by hand while she was gone, and I’m so glad I did.

For one thing, it’s good exercise, though I can honestly say I need to get some knee pads before I do this again as I got some bruising. For another, it’s incredibly humbling and also gives clarity of mind. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the pine floor cleaner either! There’s something about getting on hands and knees and taking a couple of hours to methodically scrub one’s floors. It’s a completely different experience than using a vacuum cleaner or other method. And of course, lastly, the floors are cleaned (and if you use certain floor cleaners like I did) also disinfected. After you’ve done, you can look over your work and feel a true sense of accomplishment as they shine back at you.

The most important part of the experience, was the humbling aspect. It’s so easy to get on a high horse in life, and when you do this kind of work it does something to your perspective. Granted, some people do this kind of work for a living, and I’d have to let them comment about whether or not they have any kind of connection to the work or not. I suppose that really depends on how one goes about it. In a book I’ve been reading recently called Flow [1], there’s a lot of talk about becoming totally engrossed in what one is doing. In many ways, I felt the same focus, engrossment, and enjoyment cleaning the floors as I do when I’m writing. It’s just different. In a sense, it’s mindless, but it was also mindful.

How to do it:

  1. Get a bucket that holds a couple of gallons of water, and some floor cleaner. You can also use just water or vinegar, just use whatever suits you.
  2. Get a rag, some gloves. Rubber, vinyl, again whatever suits you.
  3. Make sure if you’re using a cleaner that has fumes to have the rooms be well ventilated, and if need be wear a mask. If you use just water or vinegar, it may be good to wear a mask regardless because of dust.
  4. You may want to use knee pads. Also take care of your back. Squatting is fine as well, just do whatever is most comfortable.
  5. Get to work. Enjoy it.
  6. Make sure you get fresh water/cleaner regularly.

If you do this, please leave a comment and let me know how it went.


[1] Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Image courtesy of creative commons: www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/3173147387/

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