Coffee heat rising

w00t! Frugality works better

I just cleaned 1,860 square feet of flooring without using more than a microtherm of natural gas to heat a pail of water…in one hour flat! Not only that, but laydeez and gents, that floor is CLEAN!

One idea for the Month of (not-so-)Extreme Frugality was to sweep the floors—which are tile throughout the house—with a broom, not with the big Panasonic vacuum cleaner or the little Eureka vac-broom. Then to carry through with the remaining two routine steps of floor-cleansing: dust-mopping and wet-mopping.

Dog hair, for those of you who have never had the privilege of living with a dog that thinks it’s a sheep, gathers on hard floors in balls and piles up in dunes. Unlike sand, though, dog dunes drift on the breeze, especially the breeze from a vacuum cleaner motor. So, absent a very practiced technique, vacuuming the hair-strewn floor usually causes the dog dunes to go airborne, floating up the walls and drifting in disintegrating clouds across the room, to settle behind doors and sofas at some later time.

Not so with a straw broom.

Brushing up the wads of dog hair and the small stones, leaves, and skiffs of dirt the dog and the humans tracked in proved to be very easy and very fast. And less back-breaking than usual: though I did have to bend down to sweep mounds into the dust pan, I didn’t have to yank out and re-plug a stubborn electrical cord in every room, hold the cord off the floor and dodge around it, or struggle with attachments. So there actually was less bending and wrestling than with a vacuum cleaner, and because the broom refrained from blowing dog hair into the air, it worked more efficiently. Plus a broom weighs far less than a vacuum cleaner or even an electric broom.

Normally it takes 45 minutes or so to vacuum the whole house, and by the time that’s done, I’m tired. Brooming the floor took a fraction of that time. By the time I finished dust-mopping (which has to be done after vacuuming, too, because the vacuum doesn’t lift the fine pieces of dirt, and the dog hair resettles onto the floor), I had hardly broken a sweat! Wet-mopping an entire houseful of tile is never fun, but it’s a lot less miserable when you don’t start the job already pooped out.

I started around 3:30, spent some time chatting on the phone with the pool dude, and finished at 4:30 sharp, still feeling reasonably fresh despite the warmth of the season’s first summerish day.

This seconds my opinion of installing hard floors as one of my most cost-effective renovations. Not only are they easier to clean than carpets and way cheaper in the long run (because they never have to be professionally cleaned or replaced), in day-to-day use they’re cheaper, too: you can clean the entire house without ever using any electric power!

If Anna H. Banana were not having a little stench issue in her old age, I wouldn’t have had to use hot water for mopping, either. So, those of us who can restrain ourselves from taking in pets could, in theory, keep a house floored entirely in tile, concrete, or wood clean and sanitary without ever expending a watt, an ohm, or a therm.