Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

Shortly after D's birth we broke down and hired a woman to come clean our house twice a month. It has been quite wonderful in many ways. It's been great to have someone else come in and vacuum away all the dustbunnies that threaten to take over the house after just a week or 2, and to clean the bathrooms, and just make everything look... nice. In other ways it's been a bit of a pain in the butt, though, like how for the 3+ hours that she comes I feel like a guest in my own house, having to work around where she's working, or the annoying aspect of how she tends to put things away and de-clutter, which is great, except that she puts things away in a different place every time and so on more than one occasion I have spent 20 minutes searching for something that she put away and that I have no idea where it went. She also kept spending more and more time cleaning, going from the agreed-upon 3 hours a visit and creeping up to 4+. Unfortunately since the only language we have in common is French, and neither of us is all that proficient in it, our communication abilities are also limited and thus it's hard to talk about these things, or at least I feel kinda intimidated to try. I did get her to use the Ecover cleaning solution I bought instead of her usual products, which has at least succeeded in our house not smelling like a chemical plant every time she came over.

(Yes, I realize I'm complaining about having someone come to my house and do my dirty work. What's that I was saying the other day about feeling like a yuppie?)

Last week Zach and I were talking about some different things like when we may want to think about buying a house and what we'd have to do in order to do so. We have a bit of a dream of returning to Europe in 5-10 years for another stint, but in the longer-term we do love California and would like to settle there if we can. The limiting factor there being mainly housing, as in being able to afford one. We've been doing pretty well with putting away savings since we married, but we still have a ways to go as we're set on wanting to be able to put 20% down on any home we buy, and I don't know if you've done the calculations lately but 20% on a $500k+ home is, like, a whole crapload of cash.

So, looking at our expenses we tried to find some things to cut, and one of them is our cleaning lady. With the stretching of working hours she's gotten to be more expensive than we originally thought, and now that D has gotten a lot more manageable and I don't feel like a zombie anymore (at least most days) it feels like cleaning house ourselves wouldn't be that big of a deal. Especially if we set aside particular times and dates to do so. Part of me figures we'll be more motivated to do this now, thanks to the combination of a) a soon-to-be-mobile baby who'll be getting into everything and my god do I need to be vacuuming the rugs every day??, and b) some days if you had the choice between cleaning toilets and dealing with a infant, you'd hand him off in a second and grab the scrub brush.

In a related note, I'm also considering switching over to using more natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar. I love me some Method, and I probably would still want to use some of their products when we move back, but baking soda is also mighty cheap and green. I even came across an article online today about using baking soda and apple cider vinegar, instead of shampoo and conditioner, for washing your hair. I don't know how well it would actually work, but I'm reading a good bit of happy experiences with it and it's not something I'm opposed to trying. Funny how having a kid makes you think more about the products you use in your home, their impact both on you and your family directly and also on the environment, long-term.


  1. i did the (sham)poo-free route last year and it's pretty awesome. i wasn't sure how it'd be for people who color their hair (as i do) so i stopped using it, as the last thing i wanted was the color stripped after i'd paid to have it done. you get used to the smell, and it's so much cheaper and environmentally friendly! in fact, you're convincing me to give going 'poo-less a try again!

  2. First of all I am intrigued by the sham(poo) less free route.. tell me more
    Also, you are in a buyers market coming back to the states....lower prices...though Nor Cal...not a cheap place..

    ALSO, love the new stroller!!! I have one, yet I never thought of myself as Yuppie! But I must be!

  3. Hey, that WOULD be annoying to feel like a stranger in your own house. But it's actually a good thing you're there. My parents hired a cleaning woman when I was in junior high and once when I was at home sick, I caught her sitting on her ass drinking my mom's soda. She never lifted a finger. Needless to say, she was fired.

    Also, I've used a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mix to clean the grout between my bathroom tiles. AMAZING. Get a crapo toothbrush and scrub.

  4. I love my house cleaner. I can't afford her, but I don't have time to clean. I pick up, she deep cleans. She only charges me a flat fee of $50 and spends about 3.5-4 hours. I try to make it easy on her because I know that is a bargain. Once I have an income again, I plan to give her a raise.

    If I'm home, she works on one room while I hang out in another.

    Even your mom was impressed by how nice the house felt after Graciela came through. I think she is starting to come around to working someone into their budget.



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