Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to clean your bedroom

Dirty socks. Pizza boxes. Empty aluminum cans. Junk mail. Cereal bowls with the remains of mysterious starchy gunk welded to the bottom. And that's just the crap covering the top of the mattress. Face it, kid, your room is a sty. Nobody wants to live like this. You're gonna fix that right now.

This tutorial assumes you are just a slob, not a hoarder. If you're saving 238 used Dixie cups because you might need them some day, you need help way beyond what this post can offer. Counseling, and possibly some high-pressure hoses, may be in order.

You will need:
  1. An empty box.
  2. Enough time to tackle the mess (this will vary depending on how long it's been since you last cleaned and how sty-like your room has become).
  3. A clothes hamper.
  4. A small garbage can.
  5. A dust cloth (a basic rag is fine).
  6. A broom and dustpan.
  7. A vacuum cleaner (optional).
  8. Multipurpose surface cleaner (brands include Mr. Clean, 409, Method, etc.) and water to dilute, and/or pre-mixed spray cleaner.
  9. A step stool or sturdy chair (optional).
  10. A bucket (yes, you has a bucket).
  11. Window cleaner and paper towels (optional).
Drag your empty box into the room. Find every object in your room that's supposed to be somewhere else in the house or apartment, and put it in the box. Now put the box to one side, where you won't trip over it; you'll deal with its contents later.

Pick up everything else that's supposed to be in your room, and put it away where it belongs. Yes, that means the random stuff you've been stashing under the bed, doofus. Hang clean clothes in the closet, or fold them and put them in the dresser drawer. Put all dirty clothes in the hamper. Strip the sheets off the bed and put those in the hamper too. (If you have been sleeping on a bed with no sheets because you can't be bothered to make your bed, I'MA COME OVER THERE AND SLUG YOU.) Grab a small garbage can and toss out any junk you've been accidentally saving for posterity. If something is lying on the floor or piled up on your dresser because you don't have a designated spot for it, it's high time you came up with one. Otherwise it goes in the garbage can. When you're done you may have to go out and pick up some storage containers for your stuff, BUT NOT NOW. Right now you are cleaning your room and NOTHING SHALL DISSUADE YOU!

Once all the random crap has been picked up, it's time to start cleaning in earnest. You can clean your room most efficiently from top to bottom. First, look up. You probably have long, dusty cobwebs hanging from your walls and ceiling. Even if you can't see them, drape your dust cloth over the bristles of the broom and sweep it around the ceiling perimeter. You can also dust any overhead light fixtures, but be gentle. I don't want to see the headline "Clueless Noob Brained By Falling Ceiling Fan" on Google News any time soon.

Pull the dust cloth off the broom and dust every horizontal surface in the room -- windowsills, bookshelves, dresser top, bedside tables. You don't need dusting spray to do this, although it helps. If you can wet down the dust cloth a bit, then wring it out until it's just barely damp, it will pick up a lot of dust without leaving surfaces sloppy wet. Depending on how much dust, cobwebs and dead bugs you're picking up (gleah), you may have to rinse and wring multiple times.

If you have a window (and let's hope you do), grab the window cleaner and paper towels. Spray down the window, give it about 30 seconds for the cleaner to do its work, then wipe off with paper towels. Don't use multipurpose cleaner on windows unless the cleaner specifies that it's safe for glass (you can permanently fog up your windows if you guess wrong). Put the used paper towels in the garbage.

Inspect your walls. Do they have scuff marks, stains, or traceries of any mysterious gunk? Yech. Pull out the multipurpose cleaner and, if necessary, mix up a batch in the bucket, diluting it with the recommended amount of hot water. Or just use a pre-mixed spray cleaner. Use your dust cloth and multipurpose cleaner to wipe down the walls. If you're a stunted little dwarf like me or have high ceilings, you might need a step stool or chair to reach the highest part of the wall.

Make the bed with clean sheets and pillowcases. Check the cleanliness of your blankets while you're at it. Blankets don't need to be cleaned as often as sheets, AS LONG AS YOU ACTUALLY USE THE SHEETS, you slobtastic wonder, you. If the blankets need cleaning, put them into your hamper.

You're into the home stretch. Take the step stool, garbage can, clothes hamper and box fulla stuff and remove them from the bedroom.

Now look down at your floor. (Didn't know you had one, didja? Surprise!) In North America, you'll probably be looking at one of three options: 1) a bare floor of some kind, 2) a bare floor covered by an area rug, or 3) wall-to-wall carpet.

For 1): use the broom and dustpan to sweep the whole floor. Yes, under the bed too, doofus. Sweep small sections at a time, load the dustpan, then empty it into the garbage can. Mix up another batch of multipurpose cleaner if the first batch is getting nasty, then use the cleaner and dust cloth to wash the floor. Alas, yes, on hands and knees this first time. Squeeze out the dust cloth until it's nearly dry, and the clean floor will dry much faster. (For future reference, stick mops are your friends.) Start at the wall furthest from the door, and work your way across the room (yes, under the bed too, doofus) until you wash right out the exit. If you're a complete wimp, you can slip track shoes or a foam pad under your knees to help cushion your tender patellas as you work.

For 2): if the area rug is small, take it outside and beat it with the broom. Think about an annoying teacher, abrasive celebrity or exasperating politician and vent your frustrations creatively. Bonus points for an aerobic workout! Then proceed to wash the bedroom floor as for 1). Once the floor is completely dry, return the rug to its proper place. If the rug is big, vacuum it, then wash the rest of the floor around it.

For 3): pull out the vacuum and thoroughly vacuum the carpet. Yes, under the bed too, doofus. The carpet may have marks or stains of unknown origin. You can try to spot-treat the carpet, rent a Rug Doctor and clean it, or hire professionals to take care of it (I recommend the last option for best results). Put the vacuum away.

Put away the step stool. Empty the garbage can. Tip the dirty multipurpose cleaner into the sink or tub to drain, and rinse out the bucket with clean water, then put it away. Empty the box fulla stuff by putting away the items in their proper places outside your room. (DO NOT CHEAT BY DUMPING IT ALL IN THE HALL CLOSET... the Fuse Box Dwarf is watching you, pal! Dreeb! Dreeb!) Wash and dry your bedsheets (and, if necessary, blankets; once they're clean, finish making the bed with them). Put away any remaining cleaning paraphernalia. Oh yeah, your room is CLEAN, baby.

Now, do you have to go through this rigamarole EVERY SINGLE TIME you clean your room? Thankfully, no. This is the thorough clean, once-a-week job, and unless you're a heavy smoker or something you don't need to wipe down the walls every week. This first time will probably be the worst. The daily-clean version of this job involves picking stuff up and making your bed, which is very doable. So do it.

WARNING: side effects of a really clean room include the realization that there's suddenly So. Much. Room. in there, possibly inspiring you to climb up on the bed and belt out "Oklahoma!" at the top of your lungs. Be wary.

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