On Cleaning, Minimalism, and Order

I’ll just come right out and say it:

I don’t like housekeeping. I prefer not to wash dishes if there are still clean dishes to use. Actually, I prefer not to wash dishes all the time, but if there are no clean dishes, my desire to have a dish that isn’t dirty outweighs my desire not to wash dishes, so I do the damn dishes. I don’t like to make beds, or clean windows, or sweep the floor, or vacuum the couches or any of it.

I am fortunate enough to have a wife who enjoys housekeeping and so we’re able to divide our responsibilities such that I do what I am good at and enjoy and she does what she is good at and enjoys. We help each other out with our respective responsibilities, but in general she cleans the house and I do the finances. She does the laundry, and I cook dinner. Etc.

The one thing I like to do is get rid of stuff. I’m not talking about Kon-Mari or any other specific type of minimalist/organizing maven/system. I just like to feel like I only have the essentials. I like to know that there is space in my house for me to have more things if I need them. And I like to be able to hang all my clothes in one spot and then not have to worry about it again.

“The Essentials” has changed as my life has expanded. 5 years ago it was a duffel bag containing an expensive vibrator, a week’s worth of clothing, my laptop and some books. I was alone in the world and I liked it that way. 3 years ago it was some dishes and cookware, a table and chairs, a bed, a week’s worth of clothing, my laptop and some books. I had a partner I loved, who likes creature comforts, and the essential thing was to ensure that we weren’t overwhelmed with stuff but she had everything she wanted or needed.

Today, my house is full of furniture. I’m married to that partner. I have more than one week’s worth of clothing. We have dishes and cookware and I like to expand my kitchen set up when I have some spare change because I love to cook. I never feel like I have enough office supplies, or too many books. The computer I’m typing this on is a tablet hooked up to a desktop monitor so I can see it more easily.

And today, I’m going to go through every closet in my house, then every room in my house, and winnow. I’m not going to worry about if it “sparks joy,” I’m going to ask myself if it’s something we use, or will use in the next year (ie, Christmas stuff stays even though we aren’t using it currently. The pants I haven’t worn in three months go.) And at the end, I will feel light. The anticipation alone makes me feel better.

Oh, and along the way I’ll probably clean the house– because that just seems like the thing to do if you’re taking everything out of the cupboards and closets anyway.

I’m not going to limit to 150 items or whatever the current minimalist trend is. But I am going to limit what is in our house to things we find beautiful and/or useful. That way, I can own my stuff instead of having my stuff own me.

Tell me: Do you like cleaning? Do you like organizing? Are you a minimalist, or a magpie, or somewhere in between? What’s your favorite way to make your space feel fresh and comfortable? 


7 thoughts on “On Cleaning, Minimalism, and Order

  1. I freaking /love cleaning. It’s like my church. It’s good de-stressing, good thinking time. I’m a minimalist at heart with too much stuff so I am doing the marie kondo stuff, at least loosely. Because I develop emotional attachments to things it really helps to look at something and determine if it actually makes me happy or if I just feel guilty for getting rid of it for some reason. We’ve been slowly getting rid of things and that has helped the space feel cleaner. Adding lots of light has helped too. Candles, plants, art on the walls. Things to pull the place together!


  2. Yes I am a neat freak and I also have OCD. Cleaning and putting everything in order makes me feel that my life is in order and everything is ok.
    Yes I love to clean and to organize.
    I am not sure if I am either a minimalist or a magpie.
    My fav way o making everything freshis to cleaning then open the windows and let the sun shine and fresh air in.
    This is Ruth.


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