May 21, 2010, By Tom McNulty
For men, housekeeping would be a whole lot easier if there was some sort of ball involved. Thinking of it as a game would indeed be a giant leap for mankind, automatically making chores seem more like a competition: more fun, more interesting…even more enjoyable.
Instead, “cleaning like a man” remains as strange and laughable a concept as “throwing like a girl.” Maybe the best guys can hope for is to make it bearable, and to that end, I hope these ideas help.
Let the Games Begin
There are several ways to turn housecleaning into a sport. One is to tweak the equipment involved. That is, taking the beloved sports gear stashed in our garages, car trunks and closets and repurposing them as cleaning tools.
Let’s take them one by one.
Stopwatch - to help you finish cleaning faster
In the world of sports, time provides a framework – say, 60 minutes – within which to play a game. Often, time is woven right into a game’s strategy (can you say “clock management?”). In races, on the other hand, time is a little more straightforward: the benchmark against which competitors measure their performances.
For my dough, cleaning the house lends itself more to the race analogy.
One of Clean Like a Man’s Men Commandments, “Race the Clock,” lays it out this way: “Tweak that male competitive gene. Go into ONE room, set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and concentrate on cleaning only that room. Don't leave that space until you're done. And next time, try to beat your record time.”
The beauty of using a stopwatch as a cleaning tool is that it forces you to compete: you push yourself to finish as much as possible before the buzzer. You focus better and you finish faster – a very worthwhile objective.
Tennis ball - to “ace” scuffs and smears
If there’s a scuff of shoe polish on the floor, the kids did some crayon art on a painted wall, or your patio furniture has a winter’s-worth of grime on it, a tennis ball is just the ticket. Simply spray some all-purpose cleaner onto one side of it, rub the spot you want to clean, and the ball’s nubby, tough texture provides the ideal surface to scrub without scratching.
Golf ball retriever - for high-up dusting
Don’t own a feather duster? No problem! Just put an old, but clean; sweat sock onto the end of a golf ball retriever. You can telescope it out to reach high places and dust cupboard tops, ceiling fan blades and track lighting, or get cobwebs out of the ceiling corners.
Bowling ball to treat carpet stains
Getting stains off the carpet is a loathsome chore. You apply stain- and odor-removing solution, blot with a clean cotton cloth, reapply, blot, and repeat, repeat, repeat. BOR-INGGGG!!!! All that blotting is tedious, irritating, and tough on a guy’s arms. To improve the process, spray your solution on the stain (after reading the directions, of course), put the cloth over it, and roll the 16-lb. bowling ball around on top of it. Under the ball’s relentless weight, the cloth soaks up your solution much better than if you were using your hands, arms and upper-body strength to blot it. Even using the ball, though, you may still have to repeat.
Converse “Chuck Taylor” AllStars - to protect floors
The shoe brand you use doesn’t really matter (I just like my ladder to look like John Havlicek). The objective is protecting vulnerable/valuable floors (wood, nice tile, even high-end carpeting) from the ladder’s potentially-damaging feet when you’re painting a wall or fooling around with something else up high. Up top, you can just use cotton garden gloves for the ladder arms that lean against the wall.
Tom McNulty is the author of CLEAN LIKE A MAN - Housekeeping for Men (And the Women Who Love Them). He is a featured contributor to ManoftheHouse.com.