When does too clean become too messy?

Being confined to quarters for three weeks now has forced me to confront the various large and small jobs that need to be done around the house. When I dig under the kitchen or bathroom sink I’m shocked and appalled at the number and variety of cleaning products I have, most of them in plastic spray bottles. The other day, I threw a fit and gathered all of them together in one spot, pulling everything from the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and basement. This is just a sampling of what I had—and I’m not making this up:

My real-life horror and shame.
  1. Bathroom, tub and tile cleaner, two bottles
  2. Glass cleaner, Zep, Windex and Hertel
  3. Granite cleaner, three bottles
  4. Bona wood floor cleaner
  5. Bona tile floor cleaner
  6. All-purchase cleaner, Fantastic,  and Hertel
  7. Toilet bowl cleaner, three bottles of Lysol brand
  8. Ceramic stove top cleaner, Barkeeper’s Friend and Ceramabrite
  9. Zep Stainless steel cleaner
  10. Zep Leather cleaner for hubby’s LaZboy
  11. Spot cleaner for laundry, Shout and PC brand
  12. Carpet cleaner, Zep and Resolve
  13. Sanitary wipes, various brands
  14. Disinfectant, Lysol
  15. No-name Ammonia
  16. Murphy’s Oil Soap
  17. Wood furniture cleaner
  18. Brass and silver cleaner
  19. Distilled water for floor steam cleaner
  20. Spray starch, two cans
  21. Laundry detergent, Persil, Arm & Hammer, and Eco-Max
  22. Oxi-Clean laundry booster
  23. Downy fabric softener, which I never use
  24. Febreeze, two bottles, and I don’t use it as I don’t believe in artificial air and fabric fresheners
  25. Clorox bleach, two gallon-size bottles

Are you as shocked as I am? And that doesn’t even include our inventory of things like cans of Raid, ant traps, bug spray and guy stuff like Armorall, car wax, Goo-Gone, Miracle-gro and other garden products. Bear in mind, I did not have just one bottle of these different products. Multiple bottles of more than twenty different kinds of items are distributed among kitchen and bathroom cupboards as well as the laundry room and basement. And, I like to keep separate bottles of the required product at its specific location which means each bathroom must have it’s own supply so I’m not continually running up and down the stairs. Consequently, I have enough bottles of cleaning products to successfully give Highclere Castle a thorough spring cleaning and still have plenty left over for the Queen to do Buckingham Palace.

If I were a truly environmentally conscientious person, surely a single bottle of vinegar and water and a box of baking soda would do the job for most of these chores. I’m horrified at the excess. The overflow and attendant storage issues were driving me crazy so after collecting everything together in one place I started to cull my inventory. First, everything had to be sorted according to what surface it was intended for (see above summary). Then, partial bottles were combined and unused products were separated for disposal later at a proper hazardous waste disposal location.

All ready to go to the hazardous waste disposal site. Too bad food banks couldn’t accept opened products.

When I pulled everything out of the laundry room cupboard (which is more like a pantry), I then thought it would be a lovely idea to remove the four original painted builder’s shelves and redo the entire space, installing multiple clean, white melamine adjustable shelves so I could arrange the contents according to size and product category. When I ran this idea by hubby . . . well, let’s just say he was not even a tiny bit supportive. “You’ll just fill it up with more stuff.”

I’ve now filled a giant IKEA leakproof bag with bottles of cleaning products to be taken to the hazardous waste disposal site. I hang my head in shame and have made a sincere promise to never let it come to this again. My remaining products have been redistributed and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned a lesson here. Some people collect art; others collect fine jewelry; I’ve chosen to collect a wealth of cleaning products.

I must confess, I found the entire purging process so daunting I had to spread it out over three days for fear I would get overwhelmed and just give up. Pacing yourself when it comes to nasty jobs has its advantages but it meant my sins were visible for all to see on our diningroom table and on the floor for three days. Now, I keep opening the door of the cleaning supplies cupboard just to admire my brilliant work. It does feel good.

In the near future, my next project is to attack my far-flung supplies of light bulbs. But, don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to a blog posting about the scintillating experience of sorting my light bulbs. You would not believe how many different kinds are required though to keep a house illuminated. We have kitchen lights, chandelier bulbs, halogen bulbs, special ones for special fixtures, tri-lights, outside bulbs, clear bulbs, frosted ones and, of course, low-wattage fluorescents—after all, we have to be energy conscious. I think I’d better have another talk with my husband about that cupboard renovation. I don’t see how we can avoid it and hopefully he’ll see ‘the light’.

What’s next?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. So, she purged her cleaning cupboard and has plans to do her light bulbs next. Big deal. I know a lot of my readers have accomplished far more during their weeks of isolation, but cut me some slack. I’m a lazy, old lady and it takes me a while to rev up and get in gear. As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and my first step was tackling Mr. Clean. At this rate, I should be able to attack the basement by 2026. What nasty secrets have you discovered in your self-isolation-induced purging frenzy? You’ve probably accomplished a lot more than I have, so share your secrets and suggestions to help us get organized?

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