Why I will never be a Febreze Fairy.

MM, the Fallen Febreze Fairy, as drawn by Rugby-boy.

MM, the Fallen Febreze Fairy, as drawn by Rugby-boy.

PF knows that I am not the kind of woman who hits the Prozac if HMS Bogbrush doesn’t circumnavigate the toilet rim on a daily basis. He will arrive home tonight, and sigh in despair. As his forehead furrows, his eyebrows will lunge towards each other like two caterpillars that are hell-bent on copulating on the end of his nose. (OK, so caterpillars don’t copulate. But I bet they would if they could.)

He often enquires why I’m not houseproud. The only answer that comes to mind immediately is that if I was, he wouldn’t be able to draw hearts in the dust to declare his undying love for me. But there are other reasons why I don’t have “Purgo, ergo sum” tattooed on my forehead. So here is why I will never be a Febreze Fairy, in five easy points.

1)  I am not my mother-in-law.

Don’t get me wrong; I admire her. At my age, she was Martha Stewart with Sophia Loren’s dress sense. I’m not. She attained the paradoxical summits of immaculate fingernails and a spotless home. I won’t. I accidentally knock the shower faucet and drench myself when I clean the bath. She doesn’t. In short, we’re different. So now for the visualisation exercise, PF: 1) Compare me with your mother at my age. 2) Hit your head against the nearest wall. 3) Get over it.

2) The time invested is simply not worth the fleeting result.

I have carried out a detailed feasibility study of this cleaning lark, and I have to inform you that whatever the activity undertaken, all visible evidence disappears in the space of a few hours.

Let’s illustrate this with laundry – a time-waste tragedy in six acts. I have copied this reference document for you from MM’s “Welcome to the Hamster Wheel: The Dark Side of Housework” (available from Prozac Publications):

Extract from "Welcome to the Hamster Wheel: The Dark Side of Housework" (Prozac Publications).

Extract from “Welcome to the Hamster Wheel: The Dark Side of Housework” (Prozac Publications).

Conclusion: Anyone who gets a thrill out of a pile of clean laundry should immediately consult a therapist and enroll for sky-diving lessons.

3)  I want to share the fun.

There are exciting hidden realms in this house just waiting to be explored. The laundry basket and the washing machine are both impatient to get to know more members of my family. They also have a distant cousin called Washing Line who lives at the bottom of the garden – her relationship with me is so insular that she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. She would welcome a visit from you.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind my offspring that the dishwasher has not yet learned how to fill and empty itself. Here’s a helpful hint: the distance from the table to the sink is equal to the distance from the table to the dishwasher (this domestic equation is often referred to as “Kitchen Pythagoras”). You guys should locate the toilet brush, too, or you will literally be up shit creek without a paddle if I ever I go under the wheels of a bus.

4) The looming danger of HWS:  “Hamster Wheel Syndrome”. 

Housework is both futile and ephemeral in this house. I can hear that clock ticking as I run around the wheel in the full knowledge that I’ll be doing the same thing again tomorrow, the day after and the week after. Hoovering a carpet for the second time in ten minutes because the dog has baptised my initial efforts with the saliva-drenched burrs she chewed out off her fur is hardly my idea of a rewarding occupation.

5) Cleaning is asking for trouble.

Maybe we could call it “maternal Murphy’s law”: Cleaning Karma bites you on the bum every time you wriggle your fingers into those Marigold gloves. If you clean the windows, the sky darkens and it immediately rains cats and dogs. Just washed the floor? The cat will throw up on it. Cleaning the bathroom before Rugby-boy returns home from the pitch is about as optimistic as getting out the Wedgwood when King Kong pops round for a cuppa.

DIY is also a common culprit in this equation: please tick the guilt-trip box if you have a) sanded down a wall just after I dusted, or b) rinsed out a paint bucket in the bath I had scrubbed in a rare surge of enthusiasm five minutes earlier.The greatest paradox of cleaning is that it’s only noticed when it’s not been done. I tried doing it regularly for a while, but nobody noticed….. until I stopped doing it.

Someone clever once said something about a great woman being behind every successful man, but I don’t think that being a sharp shooter with the toilet duck was one of the criteria he had in mind. So this Febreze Fairy Failure is off to walk the dog in the sun. If you want to cast a few spells with my magic wand while I’m out, help yourself: it’s beside the toilet on the right.


The Febreze Fairy popping out for some fresh air (artist: Rugby boy).

59 thoughts on “Why I will never be a Febreze Fairy.

  1. Who wouldn’t rather be out walking the dog!? I am so happy to meet someone who feels the same way I do! Don’t get me wrong, I do the essentials because, well, who else will… but it drives me insane… you are spot on with your washing clothes cycle of madness and everything else! Housework is the most laboriously boring, mundane, thankless and demoralising job! As I sit typing this, I am having to ignore the fact that my kitchen sink is full to overflowing with last nights/this mornings/this afternoon’s dishes… why? Because my two teenage son’s were supposed to wash up last night and still haven’t and instead of just doing it, like I always end up doing, this time I’m leaving it! I’m with you MM… off to walk Mutley! 🙂

    • Hope you had a lovely walk, TAC. I try the “strike” tactic from time to time, but I usually give up before they do – they just don’t see the mountain of washing-up. Until there are no glasses left…. AHA! Idea!…… 😉

  2. Well written, loved to read this.
    It’s the same with bills… Nobody takes care, as long as you pay them 🙂
    Cheers, Michel

    • hello, Michel! I totally agree with you. I forgot to pay our last phone bill, and the phone was cut off…. I just noticed that the house was pleasantly quiet, and we only discovered the problem when PF attempted to call his parents in the evening and got a dead line… oops 😀

      • Thanks for your reply! By the way, it’s good to have a washing machine 🙂
        20 years ago, I faced a “financial crisis” and had to start a brand new household on my own.
        For the first year, I had no washing machine. So I used grandma’s old washboard instead.
        These were times 🙂
        Every Wednesday, I celebrated my washing day… In the morning I put the clothing into a big bucket filled with hot water and powder.
        When returning from work in the evening, I washed the things right on the washboard. It took, as far as I remember, some two hours.
        The only thing to be ironed normally was the jeans. When it was dry, one day later, I put the jeans for just a while under the carpet for “ironing”.
        I was very happy when one year later I could afford a washing machine. But in the first time, I missed my Wednesday washing event 🙂
        Cheers, Michel

    • Welcome to the loony bin! I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one who gives names to inanimate objects with minds of their own. My laptop is called “Pomme”, and she drives me nuts. Glad you enjoyed it, please come back soon!

  3. I have a woman who comes in once a week to muck us out…so I let her do it.

    I’ll deal with the washing machine as it looks after itself; I like to have clothes drying on the line as they smell so good when they come in….but ironing is something else.

    My sister in law cleans the house before her cleaner arrives…..obvious sign of lunacy.

    • “..to muck us out”…..? Geesh, what on earth do you two get up to in Costa Rica? 😀 I love the smell of clean laundry, but I hate to be the one who has to do it all the time. I don’t have a cleaner because he’d probably call the cops when she arrived- my house generally looks like it’s been burgled.I knew someone who cleaned the house before the cleaner came, too – I suspected she just had a cleaner coming to make the curtain-twitchers jealous 😉

      • Given that husband uses the balcony as a potting shed and that to gain access he and his workman tramp backwards and forwards through the house in boots liberally adorned with the stickiest black earth in the world, mucking us out is all too apt!

        Your theory on those who clean the house before the cleaner arrives would fit my lunatic sister in law to a T…never happy unless she thinks the world envies her…

  4. My wife should never read this! She is the ultimate febreze fanatic. Even now she vacuums microscopic dander from our carpets after a whole two days of microscopic dander collection. Lord knows how she puts up with me.

    • Hello Josef -I’m guessing that’s your name…. 😀 So you married a wonder woman!!! I’ll have to come by to get some lessons in time management. Or maybe I should give her a glimpse of my world, and tempt her over to the Dark Side, where women walk the dog instead of the vacuum cleaner 😀

  5. Well I go by the adage “Boring women have tidy homes” because they have nothing else more interesting to do. My mum who is like me, gave me a little plaque with it written on one Christmas and I have faithfully been not boring ever since, including ironing.

    My kids have the same existential issues as yours with regard to the dishwasher, the dirty linen basket and the concept of tidiness. Oh, and the toilet…

    “Pick your battles” I read in one parenting book on boys. I did, I got a cleaner. Our house is now tidy one evening a week and peace reigns over the land because I do not become a Tasmanian devil on Saturday mornings trying to a) tidy up; b) get the boys to help.

    • I totally agree on the adage, because it gives me a good excuse not to do something I don’t like.
      You read parenting books? WOW! I tried Laurence Pernoud’s “J’élève mon enfant”, saw that there was a chapter called “The Silent Education”, and chucked it in a corner. Never read any more after that – the woman’s a combination of Dr Spock and Genghis Khan.

      • Well, it was a book on adolescent boys which was quite interesting. The guy who wrote it had 5 so I reckoned he knew a thing or two. I ignored the God messages and concentrated on the nitty gritty, like choose your battles, and be available not oppressive. 🙂

  6. I agree with every word (sadly my husband doesn’t…) Joan Rivers puts it beautifully: ‘I hate housework. You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.’

  7. My head almost fell off from nodding my way through this, MM. 🙂 I have a fridge magnet which proclaims “You can admire my dust, but please don’t write in it” and that sums it up for me. I have one ray of hope for you – children grow up and one day you’ll only be clearing up after two people not five. Hold on there……

    • Don’t nod your head off, Perpetua, I like reading you posts! I do like the idea of having less to tidy up, but the idea of my children growing up and leaving the nest is less appealing…. then they’ll bring grandchildren to draw on the walls and stick Lego down the plugholes….. Mummmmnunnunun….. MM reaches for Valium……..

  8. Oh, I’ve missed you! I know I’m a saddo but I like clean and I like tidy. Sadly I’m not naturally tidy which makes the task much harder. The joy of living on a building site is I don’t have to be Mrs Bleach. No point washing a concrete floor, no cupboards to put anything away, no sink to wash up (this one is actually a pain in the bum, I miss my dishwasher), no dusting, no washing machine (also a pain, I hate the launderette) but I still iron everything. I’ve really let the sisterhood down haven’t I? OK, I won’t make the bed in the morning, One step at a time. 🙂

    • LOL 🙂 I missed you too, I was worried you’d fallen into the cement mixer 😉 Launderettes can be great fun, you have to play “avoid the wierdo” with people who want to chat and watch your knickers going round in circles (in the machine, obviously, not on you). I can imagine that living on a building site must be a drag after a while, even for someone like me. I’ll say a special Dishwasher prayer for you next time I put a load on to wash 🙂

  9. Then there’s Bachelor-style dry cleaning. Take a shirt out of the laundry pile, throw it into the dryer with a sheet of Bounce for a few minutes. I’m sure the heat from the dryer is sufficient to kill any dirt organisms, and it bypasses the energy and time sucking steps of washing and ironing 🙂

  10. THANK YOU for reblogging this post! My boyfriend’s favorite word to use in our house is “dégueulasse” : for socks left the floor, muddy paw prints, or anything that’s out of place! My belle-mere is over-the-top clean at all times too. My honest opinion is that if my boyfriend wanted a domestic goddess, he should’ve chosen a française!

    • I can only agree… your boyfriend would probably be able to compare notes with PF, who is constantly pointing out how all our friends all have spotless homes. Yes, and they are all run by… French women 🙂 On the other hand, I am the only one of the gang who is capable of rolling up her sleeves and unlocking the sewers without retching. Each to her own 🙂

      • Haha likewise for lifting heavy objects and using power tools!

  11. I am totally with you on this MM. I love it when the kids go to their Dad’s and I get to clean the house from top to bottom. I wander round it on an evening admiring everything that sparkles. Then the following day they return home and trash it 😦 A little piece of me dies inside every time xx

    • If my children disappeared for the day, I wouldn’t clean the house… geesh, girl, shake yourself up ! Blogging. Reading. Getting out in the sunshine. Taking photo. Going to a charity shop. Having a loooooong bath just for the hell of it. There are so many other options – you need reprogramming 😀

  12. My teenager grew up and left home and I lost my excuse for having a messy house, so I acquired a large hairy dog – phew ! There’s no point dusting a vacuuming when the dog shakes once and mud and hair go everywhere.

    • I have the children AND the large, hairy dog. The two together are a real apocalypse. I just hovered the carpet – between the crumbs left by the kid and the equivalent of three angora sweaters of dog hair, it had changed colour. Tomorrow I’ll be back to square one again… Now I’m off to levitate so that the effect lasts till PF gets home.

  13. Misery loves company. What a timely post when I feel so BLAH about the whole pickup-clean- repeat cycle. It is a totally ungrateful job. There are just the 2 of us now (not including Theo, the cat who is a story by himself) but sometimes Husband manages to leave a significant debris field behind him. One time I actually found a trail of potato chips leading from the TV room to the kitchen where there was an empty bag on the counter. He had managed to carry the bag upside down back to the kitchen, hadn’t noticed chips all over the floor and walked on them back to the TV room. That day I insisted he get his eyes checked. Turned out he had cataracts and needed surgery. He’s only marginally better now 🙂

    • I think we should start a club! MY cat would get on with yours too, I think – Murphy waits till I’ve hovered the floor/changed the bed (delete as appropriate) then throws up all over it.
      PF never takes the bag of crisps back to the kitchen – it’s life expectancy is extremely limited if accompanied by a remote control and a beer 🙂

  14. 🙂 Enjoyed reading this just as much second time round! Very comforting to see so many kindred spirits!! I really wouldn’t mind if the results lasted more than a mere 20 mins…very soul destroying to spend a whole morning cleaning & tidying and then have the kids traipse in with muddy shoes and leaving their things lying everywhere, closely followed by OH who on hearing my protests dares to announce that cleaning is something that should be done regulary, not just once in a blue moon…. :O

    • Oh, you get that comment too? It’s so much better to see your work destroyed every other day than every six months, huh. Maybe the boys should give that old “other cheek” business a try, cleaning style.

    • Quilty? As in wanting to curl up under my quilt, quilty? Or do you mean guilty? The answer is, always the first, never the second when it comes to cleaning. I cleaned my kitchen sink this morning, and PF dumped a bucket full of yuck in it tonight. NO GUILT. 🙂

      • I am glad you have no guilt. Tasks like these will still be there in a month or so. It took me 50 years to GET IT! ♥

  15. hum hum. Moms who use febreze are NOT super cleaning the house, you know? Febreze is just something burning your nostrils so you won’t smell the dirt anymore. I used to be a really messy grl. REALLY messy, and at times downright dirty. My sink with old dirty dishes had even grown its own ecosystem. Now that I’m a mother, I find life is easier when the mess is reduced to the bare minimum. I never iron, and never clean the floor. I’m brainwashing my husband so we’ll get a vitroceramic stove so it’s easier to clean. I simply love to do the laundry. I love to be able to control at least something in this household. Yeah, it’s all about control: when my soon to be 3 years old starts howling like she’s being tortured just because I happened to grab my glasses myself to put them on instead of letting her do it… I just feel the sudden NEED to go clean something.

    • Sorry it took so long to get back to you – I missed your message in the inbox! I hate the smell of Febreze – in fact, I don’t have any of those chemical “smell nice” things in my house at all.Your sink sounds very much like my vegetable tray 🙂 I thought that vitro ceramic would be easier to clean but then my teenagers started cooking on it. The only solution I’ve found is a razor blade (for the hob, not for me).

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