When I was growing up, my mom kept an immaculate house. Our house always felt like a “home”; not sterile and uninviting but very comfortable and welcoming. It was clean! (I was thinking about that this afternoon as I walked through my living room and ignored the dog hair on the floor.)
Comet cleaned everything! Bathtubs, kitchen sinks, toilets, burnt on food on pots and pans; an amazing product. Somehow we got away from Comet (and I’m not sure why). There are so many products out there these days to specifically “clean” these things now, but I’m telling you this; if you want your stainless steel kitchen sink to shine, get some Comet and a scrub pad and a little elbow grease and it will do the trick.
Mom didn’t just vacuum and mop the floors. We didn’t just do “spring cleaning.” We did “yearly” cleaning. By that, I don’t mean “once a year.” We did spring cleaning every day of the entire year (or so it seemed). Mom would get down on her hands and knees and scrub the linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms. We could have eaten off those floors, they were so clean. We dusted daily. We washed the dishes after every meal and by washing dishes, I mean.....WASHED DISHES! We would get a sink full of hot, soapy water and wash those dishes until they squeaked. No dishwasher. We also would get a rag in that hot, soapy water and wipe off the countertops and table.
My cousin came to live with us one summer and she was wiping off the table after we ate, and just raked the crumbs on the floor. I almost hyperventilated and mom had a look of horror on her face. Clearly, my cousin didn’t know that you cup your hand and hold it at the end of the table and rake the crumbs IN to your hand, not on the floor. She was a quick learner, though, and mastered cleaning the kitchen in no time.
One chore that I did NOT like was.....are you ready for this “blast from the past”.....IRONING!!! Yes! We owned an iron. One of my jobs was to iron pillowcases. No joke; pillowcases. I never had the guts to ask mom why we had to iron things we were going to sleep on. I just did it! I must admit, they did look BEAUTIFUL when they were starched and ironed and folded all nice and neat. We didn’t have a new-fangled dryer that would steam your stuff. We didn’t have Downy Wrinkle Release to spray, either. And let me tell you about our iron. It weighed about 8 pounds, had no buttons to turn on/off/steam, etc.
You plugged it in and you knew it was ready when you licked the end of your finger and quickly stuck it ON the iron to see if it was hot. I’m not sure who came up with that method of checking it, but that’s what we did. If your clothes, napkins, pillow cases were REALLY wrinkled, you either sprayed starch on them before ironing or, if you didn’t want things quite so stiff, we filled an empty coke bottle with water, tapped the cap back on it, poked several holes in the cap with an ice pick, and sprinkled the water on the clothes before putting the hot iron on it, thus making “steam.” Ingenious!
To this day, I don’t do wrinkles. I DETEST wrinkles. My children know I detest wrinkles. My students know I detest wrinkles. A few years back, I was discussing, with my students, concert dress attire for an upcoming performance and I told them if their clothes were wrinkled, “please IRON them”. I kid you not; I had a student raise their hand and say, “what do you mean, iron them?” For the love of Pete! We’ve lost a generation!
Perhaps instead of voting signs in our yards and bumper stickers on our cars, we need to go on the campaign to bring back Comet. Bring back hot, soapy water in kitchen sinks and bring back the iron. Oh, I still don’t like ironing and if I can get my clothes out of the dryer without having to iron, I’m a happy camper, but I must admit.....there’s no feeling like ironing a skirt or a shirt and seeing that transformation from wrinkled to perfection.
I think I will go vacuum my floors now, scrub my kitchen sink with Comet and I may just go grab a few pillowcases and iron. It’s the little things, folks, that mean so much!