Can a Mop Turn You into a Different Person?


Meet my new mop. To be more specific, she is a Shark Steam Pocket Mop, equipped to handle wood, tile, linoleum and vinyl. When you fill the basin with water—distilled is preferred—she can heat the water to super-hot temperatures in 30 seconds. She comes with a 25-foot power cord, allowing you to mop with minimal interruption. A marvel of engineering, the perfect domestic counterpart. Who among us can say the same?

This steamy love affair started on YouTube. I was watching the latest video from a lifestyle vlogger I follow. After the video ended, my eye was drawn to another in the recommendation sidebar entitled, “ULTIMATE CLEAN WITH ME 2018 | WHOLE HOUSE CLEANING.” Intrigued, I proceeded to watch a 20-minute video of a woman speed cleaning every room of her house, set to an upbeat but generic pop track.

I was hooked. Who was this woman? How can a concept like this spawn an entire channel’s worth of content? A quick glance at the sidebar told me that she was not alone in this endeavor, that there was an entire cottage industry of mommy bloggers live-taping their cleaning routines and decluttering missions.

I watched several more of her videos. They were largely the same. The occasions differed—sometimes she was getting her house in order before vacation, sometimes she was getting her house in order after vacation. Sometimes she cleaned just the kitchen and living room instead of all the rooms.

But in almost every iteration, she was removing items from cabinets and wiping down surfaces with a homemade all-purpose spray of water and Dawn dish soap, starting from top to bottom so as not to reintroduce dirt to the areas already cleaned. She vacuumed the floors and cleaned with a steam mop to finish off a room. It was strangely meditative.

You can chalk up this interest to many things: a sense of accomplishment by proxy; habitual fascination with before-and-afters; perhaps even the voyeurism of seeing someone else’s home in such an intimate way.

I think what inspired me is the thorough and methodical way that she approaches her home. She only tackles one room and one task at a time, scrubbing dishes or wiping down glass until it’s perfect, reminding me that a home is something to be maintained and that cleaning is not just something you do when you happen to remember.

Her strategy is totally unlike my strategy, which is the bare minimum punctuated with bursts of mania. You wouldn’t believe the lengths that I will go to not vacuum a floor.

But suddenly, I was vacuuming a floor—all the floors in fact. I was dusting the blinds, cleaning grease deposits off the bottoms of skillets, making my own disinfectant sprays out of rubbing alcohol, water and essential oil. I would become the self-sufficient boss woman I was destined to be. So yes, I bought the damn mop.

I ordered it on Amazon Prime and waited two days, which is a reasonable amount of time for a delivery. But it couldn’t come fast enough.

I wondered what new version of myself I would be with this mop. Who’s that mature adult with the professional cleaning tool? She must have it all together. Does she understand the immeasurable grace that she wields with that extra-large water tank and those three interchangeable microfiber pads? Does she know she’s making her world a better place by trading toxic cleaning products for the power of steam?

I’ll skip to the end and tell you that this mop did not change my life. One earnest mopping session can only do so much to a floor that’s been subject to generations of grime and wear-and-tear. This floor will always look janky.

But even beyond that…my life is not materially different. I am still the same person I was a week ago, future uncertain and existential demons intact. And cleaning still isn’t that fun. I don’t expect it ever will be.

I am not a marvel of engineering or the perfect domestic counterpart. You will not find me on YouTube deep cleaning my apartment for Mrs. Meyer’s sponsorships. But I am grateful. Grateful for this weird, unexpected burst of inspiration in a time of transition. Grateful for this momentary empowerment and for what I hope to be a lasting change in habit and outlook.

Who among us could ask for more?

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