Let others search for the Holy Grail, Truth and Beauty, and the Meaning of Life.
I am on a quest for the perfect mop. Also, the perfect vacuum.
If I had kept all the vacuums and mops I have owned, I would have an expansive museum. There would be a smaller display of dust mops and brooms. I have bought vacuums in every style: canister, upright, hand-held, sweeper, electrical, battery, with disposable bags and with reusable bags, and styles designed especially for pet hair. I have owned mops made of sponge and mop heads of thick cotton, mops to be squeezed and mops to be wrung. My lowest moments involve spending $1,000 on a high-end vacuum cleaner and buying myself a new mop for Valentine’s Day. That holiday I went home and ate an entire box of heart-shaped chocolates I had bought for myself.
My floors and I have been locked in fierce combat for decades, and that was even before I got not one, but two, dogs. I am a cat person. Give me two quiet indoor cats, and I purr contentedly. But somehow, I have ended up with two big indoor dogs. Plus, a couple of cats. As if the floors weren’t a challenge before, now they have me in a headlock so tight I couldn’t yell "Uncle" if I wanted to. And I want to.
Of all the looming household tasks, cleaning floors is the one I despise above all others. I especially hate vacuum cleaners; they are noisy, heavy, hard to maneuver and have a cord I trip over. If I don’t move the furniture assiduously when I vacuum — and I don’t — dog hair hiding underneath pops out the minute I leave the room. Vacuuming makes my back ache and my bad shoulder hurt. Cleaning floors brings out character flaws and vile language.
I had to get a new computer recently. A very patient professional came to install it and to walk me through the exercises of logging on and off, navigating among documents and programs, changing passwords and all the rest of the tedious details required by a smirking, new machine. The technician sat beside me, watching me hack away at the keyboard and then asked, "Do you swear like this in public?" And this was me on my good behavior; he ought to hear me with the vacuum.
At the change of seasons, when the earth tilts and the sunlight shifts, I see deposits of grime that astonish me. How long have the baseboards looked like that? I thought those were shadows in the corners. I just cleaned the floor; how can it be that dirty?
Determined to close the year on a high note — and with clean floors — I consulted the hot new book "Clean My Space" and, doubling down, visited a local cleaning supply shop. If one expert is good, two will be better, is my thinking.
The magic elixir I came up with consists of (1) a new flat-head mop, (2) new microfiber cloths and (3) a new stick vacuum with a special affinity for pet hair. The stick vacuum and I are still on a honeymoon, but I have such high hopes. It’s so fleet and maneuverable, it is the Fred Astaire of vacuums.
I concede that this is still a labor-intensive chore. First sweeping, then vacuuming, optional dusting with the flat-head and microfiber dry pads and finally washing with the flat-head and microfiber wet pads. Important accessory: a spray bottle with floor cleaner to spray the floor and/or the flat-head pad. The less water on the floor the better, according to the cleaning book author and the local expert.
I cannot write an ode. That’s too hard. So I have composed a heart-felt verse:
O, flat-head mop, I love you true.
And microfiber pads, I love you, too.
You are the best helpmates I ever knew.
Promise me you will love me forever and for all time and across all of our floors and that you will never desert me or break my heart in two.