Mr. Clean is Kinda Cute

I have a twentysomething friend who recently moved into her first apartment. The day of the move, she texted me: what is the best cleaner to use on vinyl floors? 

This may sound odd, but I was thrilled to be asked that question. Neither of my two sons has ever asked me a question remotely related to housekeeping since neither of them has housekeeping high on their priority lists. To have someone ask me what cleaning product to purchase felt like how a member of the Motion Picture Academy must feel when asked to give her opinion on what she thinks should win Best Picture. 

I happen to love to clean. You wouldn’t know it by looking at my house, but I really get my jollies out of housekeeping. And my husband doesn’t know it, but I have a bit of a thing for Mr. Clean. My favorite aisle in the grocery store is the one with all the cleaning supplies and I’ve never understood people who get all huffy when they get something like a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. What do they want, diamond earrings under the tree? Just try to clean your vinyl floor with one of those sparklers.  

I sent an immediate response to my young friend and told her to get some Mr. Clean ASAP. 

She wrote back: Mr. Who? Is that the small square white thing? 

Sigh. 

No, it’s a liquid cleanser

Really? I didn’t know Mr. Clean came in a liquid

Seriously, how far have we fallen when someone doesn’t know IMMEDIATELY who Mr. Clean is and that he was a liquid long before he morphed into a little white square thing? Don’t these kids ever see advertisements for anything other than cell phones and insurance companies? 

Cleaning in general has gotten a bad rap over the years. People talk about cleaning like anyone can do it, which may be true, but it isn’t true that anyone can do it well. Like all skills, cleaning takes attention to detail and a true desire to make order out of chaos and turn a mess into, if not a work of art, at least something mighty attractive that smells good. 

Kind of like Mr. Clean. 

Another fallacy about cleaning is that if you don’t want to clean, you don’t have to. People who believe this fallacy seem to think a dusting fairy will appear one night and take care of their messy dwellings while they sleep. 

Nope. Even if you loathe cleaning with the same intensity you once loathed Brussel sprouts, it still must be done if you’re at all interested in seeing what kind of carpet is under the clothes, empty pizza boxes and pop cans you have lying on the floor. 

You don’t have to keep your house as sterile as an operating room, but yes, you must clean at some point in your life. It’s like having your wisdom teeth removed. You may not want to deal with them, and you may put off dealing with them for as long as possible, but it’s going to hurt a lot more the longer you ignore them. 

Before Covid, businesses were cutting corners by cutting down on cleaning and it showed. It seemed like in every place other than health centers, cleaning regularly became cleaning semi-regularly and then cleaning sporadically and then all too often, not at all. 

I was hopeful that Covid might have changed that, and it did—for a while. But we seem to be backsliding into our old slovenly ways. People aren’t washing their hands as thoroughly as they did in the latter half of 2020, handrails and doorknobs in public places are back to being forgotten, and restrooms everywhere need a good dousing from my pal, Mr. Clean. 

But I’m optimistic. If someone in her twenties wants to know the best way to clean vinyl floors, there is hope for the future. Maybe for Christmas I’ll get my young friend a mop set, the kind with the foot peddle that wrings the mop like magic, a gift I’d be very happy to find under our tree myself. 

A gift like that beats any kind of jewelry—as well as knocks out all kinds of nasty germs while making your floor shine—hands down. 

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