How to be a domestic goddess. Or a domestic fraud.

I start a new job on Monday. And I managed getting a huge raise which means, for the first time in my life, I am completely financially independent. To me this translates as follows - I can pay my rent and still drink beer in pubs. Shady pubs, but I like shady pubs - they're infinitely more interesting than the other kind - so that's okay.

It's difficult not to be emotional about this (i.e. being independent, not pubs), because since graduating college, my ultimate goal has been to not leech money off my mother for rent. To stand on my own two feet. To walk the Path alone. (Don't ask me which path, I have no clue, but there has to be a frigging path somewhere.) To stand tall. (I also mean literally because though 5'3" seems short to most people, they are uninformed and do not realise I am above average height worldwide thanks to India and, of course, China.) To swim without sinking. To -

Etc. etc.

But seriously. This has been really important to me and it's one of the biggest things I've managed to accomplish in a long while, though, of course, it's an accomplishment nearly everyone...er...accomplishes.

Don't get me wrong. I'll still be making peanuts, but a few more peanuts than previously.

Anyway. Where was I?

Oh right. I start a new job on Monday. Back to the working life. Back to unforgiving deadlines and re-writing a single paragraph multiple times and spending three hours on producing a headline that isn't shit. (I'm not kidding, to get a headline that isn't shit, you sometimes have to write more than a hundred. And you usually go back to the second one you wrote but that's neither here nor there.)  Back to returning home post-midnight, to having three days to come up with a pitch that will convince an important company to use your agency to sell it, and then a campaign to actually sell it. Back to banging my head against my desk, not having time to eat lunch, and being irritable and stressed nearly all the time.


Because you know what the alternative has been?

Being - egad - domestic. That means: making beds, keeping the house relatively tidy, and calling the guy from Onida to service my washing machine. Which isn't difficult. On the contrary, it's extremely easy, but it's also tedious. And quite frankly, I'd rather battle a shark (I've written a guide on how to do it anyway). At least it won't be boring - if I live to tell the tale which, let's face it, I probably won't. (Although it's a pretty kick-ass guide.)

But I've had to do it. The domestic stuff, I mean. Because even I realise, inconsiderate and selfish and lazy as I am, that it's completely unfair for S. to come home to a complete mess after a long day at work (which mostly comprises, I suspect, playing some infernal tank game he's discovered) when I've been sitting at home doing nothing.

We have a lady who comes in to help four times a week. But the thing about Vijaylakshmi is that she insists on making me dosas because she thinks I need to be fatter (she has a horror of collarbones) and then she runs off without cleaning the bathrooms or dusting the shelves. And how can you ask someone to clean bathrooms and dust shelves after they've made you dosas? I can't.

But once I start work, I won't be around to eat the dosas, so maybe she'll have to clean the bathrooms.

Ha ha, Vijaylakshmi, ha ha.

(I'm grasping at straws here.)

So I've been over-hauling the house at least once a week and doing some light tidying up everyday.

But Viji's taken her kids to Chennai for four days, which means I have to step up the ante. Especially when it comes to cleaning floors - thanks to the rain, a bunch of insects have made our home theirs and they are inconsiderate enough to die everywhere, at the same time ensuring their corpses are carefully positioned for human feet to tread upon.

 And even though I hate cleaning, when I do decide to do it, I am pretty thorough.

Okay, sometimes I take short-cuts.

And so this guide has a two-fold purpose: to aid those who wish to clean thoroughly and, more importantly, to aid those who wish to make it seem that they've cleaned thoroughly.

1. On dusting 

The thorough way to do it, henceforth known as You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Remove all objects from surface. Wipe surface with a wet and soapy cloth. Then wipe damp surface with a dry cloth. Repeat on the removed objects. Then put them back.

For ceilings, use that long ceiling cleaner thing every ten days. Cover any furniture that dust may land on. Alternatively, just brush off the dust from the furniture before attacking everything with a jharu. 

The quick way to do it, henceforth known as the Last Resort

Keep objects where they are. Use wet and soapy cloth to clean all the spaces around objects. Move cloth briefly over objects themselves. Put faith in the air or whatever to dry the bits that have been cleaned.

Ignore ceiling. And never look up.

2. On dishes

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Rinse dish thoroughly. Then clean with dish-cleaning liquid or whatever it's called. Rinse again. Check for any bits that are still stuck to the dish. Repeat process with focus on the bits. Wipe with dry cloth until the dish is dry. Then place dish on shelf or in cabinet/drawer.

The Last Resort

Rinse. Use liquid. Check for bits if you are on the fussy side which I am. Do not check for bits if you are lazier than I am. (Improbable, but not impossible.) Leave on sideboard or whatever and let the blessed air or whatever do the drying. Use dish from its place on the sideboard. This also leaves cabinets empty for more important things - your cat's bed, for instance.

3. On sweeping floors

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Switch fan off. Remove carpets. You may air them which you probably will if you're following this method - do it before you start sweeping. Sweep floor with a jharu. Pay close attention to corners and under-sofas. Use a dustpan to gather the dirt. Throw dirt in waste-paper basket.

There will always be a bit of remaining dirt that will refuse to be swept on the dustpan. Sweep it out the door. If door has a slight ledge to it, use a flick of the wrist (or a low tennis backhand sweep if you're feeling energetic) to send dirt flying out. The amount should be minuscule if you've done your job properly so calm yourself; it doesn't matter.

Then fill a bucket with soapy water. Use mop to clean the floor. It is extremely important to make sure that there are no dustballs or hairballs left, otherwise they just stick to the floor. Which is disgusting.

Re-fill bucket after cleaning every room otherwise you'll be using dirty water which defeats the point of this exercise.

Leave fan on high. And make sure your feet are clean otherwise you have to repeat the entire process which is just depressing.

The Last Resort

Switch fan off. Ignore corners and under-sofas and carpets for now. Once dust has accumulated, sweep it into corners, under the sofas, and under the carpets. No one will know.

Mopping is optional.

4. Laundry

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

If you have a washing machine, use it. If you are insane, fill your time with other things - cleaning the machine on the outside, for instance.

If you do not have a machine, fill a bucket with soapy water. Energetically dip clothes in the water several times. Then scrub clothes with a scrubbing brush (or use one part of the garment to scrub the other part, this helps with stains). Then rinse clothes until all the suds are gone. Then hang them up to dry.

The Last Resort

If you have a washing machine, use it.

If you do not have a machine, just rinse with water and hang out to dry. There shouldn't be any smell. If there is, just spray deodorant on the offending garment.

5. Making beds

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Strip down all sheets and bundle into laundry (if you've been using them for more than a week). Take out new sheets, give them a vigorous airing, and use them to make the bed. Tuck them into the corners, smooth the wrinkles. Repeat this entire process with the pillows and their covers. Air the bed cover (according to Mawii, it's unhygienic not to have a bed cover) and cover the bed, making sure that it doesn't drag on the floors and covers all the bits underneath and hangs evenly on all sides of the bed.

The Last Resort

Make an attempt to smooth existing sheets down. Throw bed cover haphazardly on bed. If anything offends the eye at first glance, throw a bunch of cushions over it.

If you haven't changed your sheets in a while, and don't intend to for a while longer, place a clean t-shirt on your pillow before going to sleep. This ensures that the dirt and oil on your pillow doesn't seep into your face and resurrect the acne of your teenage years.

6. Folding clothes

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

According to my mother, there is a particular formula to folding clothes. First you do this, then you do that, blah blah blah. She has shared this formula with me many times - I have also observed Mawii doing something similar - but there are limits to my patience so if you want to know, email me at trishdutt@gmail.com and I'll put you in touch with one of them.

The Last Resort

Just sort of fold your shirt or whatever so it looks reasonably folded, like a sort of square shape. Or, you could do what I do, and just toss your stuff in a cupboard and let it pile up. If you reach a stage where everything falls out the minute you open the cupboard door, a little re-stuffing will do the trick.

7. Ironing

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Adjust iron to the setting required for your garment. A cotton garment has a different setting from a silk garment. Lay garment out, sleeves unfolded. Iron front. Iron sleeves. Pay close attention to the edges. Flip garment and iron the back. Flip again and iron the front. If you are as incompetent as I am, you will probably have to do this several times. Fold whichever way you wish to fold.

The Last Resort

Do not purchase clothes that need ironing. If you must, find a dhobi. If you are particularly daring, attempt to start a non-ironed clothing movement. Interestingly enough, using a hairdryer can also be pretty effective.

Friend once claimed that he used his laptop to remove creases from his clothes. You may try this but if you saw Friend, you wouldn't.

8. Bathroom

When You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

Put on yellow gloves (they're always yellow for some reason) and attack drain first. Pour the relevant liquid/cleanser down the drain. Don't ask me which one to use. I'm not promoting products, mostly because I don't pay attention to them - I usually just use whatever liquid thingy I have lying around. Then pour water down. Foam may rise, but it usually goes away, so that's okay.

Use your gloves to scoop up any muck.


Then pour that cleaning thing made for toilets. Harpic. HARPIC! See, I know Harpic. Leave there for at least twenty minutes while you do the rest of the bathroom.

Mop floor. (Using a jharu is unnecessary.)

Clean sink, pay close attention to taps.

Then use toilet brush to scrub the inside of the toilet. Then flush.

The Last Resort

Ignore drain. Dump harpic in toilet and let it stay there until the next time you flush. Pour soapy water over sink and all over the floor. Leave bathroom and only return when it's relatively dry.

This brings me to the end of my guide. Perhaps there are more things I haven't covered, but quite frankly, I've been covering the bed (with a bed cover, I hope you're happy, Mawii) everyday for the past three weeks and I'm done.

I sincerely hope the content of this post has been illuminating.

And if it has been repugnant - in the sense, made you shudder increasingly as you picture the effort required to keep a house clean - I sincerely hope you feel a new appreciation for your job.

P.S. The best thing to do, really, is to find a Mawii. Although a Mawii - like all good things - is very difficult to find.