Dear Reader, Cleaning (but make it tolerable)

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Cleaning is stressful. Things being dirty is stressful too. Whatever your standards are, there are probably certain levels of clean and dirty that are acceptable to you. If you are innately a tidy and organized person, you still might enjoy the suggested titles I’ve linked here, but really this post is for the rest of us who find cleaning to be a taxing ordeal that is rarely on our radar. Our best is different every day, so we will work with that in mind. Let’s try to make cleaning tolerable. Deep breath, here we go.


Step one: Make a plan.

I’m sorry to ask you to do this, but you have to make a choice. It’s a small one though. Choose your task. Your task is specific, like “clean the fridge of leftovers” or “sort my mail” or “clean off this part of my work desk” or “break down the cardboard boxes in the recycling bin because I’m not a monster with a petty vendetta” or something else. Keep it simple!

However, if you’re not the type to keep it simple and instead require months of planning and research in order to make these kinds of decisions, I have a short list of books to get you started.

link to Libby ebook of 1001 Old time household hintslink to Libby ebook of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up link to the Libby ebook of The Martha Manual


Step two: Decide how long you want to clean for and err on the shorter side.

As for time, I have been told the “20/10” works well regardless of task. It’s where you spend 20 minutes working on a single task. Then you take a 10 minute break. Optional repeat if you really, really want to: you go again for 20 more minutes followed by another 10 minute break. Then you’re done for the day. I think that seems almost tolerable. Speaking of break, here are some magazines to browse through on the topic of cleaning (available either in physical form (call the Reference desk to place a hold on a specific issue) or through the Libby app).


Step three: Start your music. Do the thing.

Once in a great, great while I actually want to clean. I want things to look a certain way and not activate my allergies when I walk by. Generally (aka most of the time), I think cleaning is terribly hard. To help with my gumption, I try to think of Studio Ghibli movies to channel that whimsical feeling as I clean up hairballs and other life remnants of varying grossness. In particular, I enjoy thinking about Sophie’s aggressive determination from Howl’s Moving Castle, the movie based on the Dianne Wynne Jones book. I have been told watching it with subtitles instead of English dubs makes the movie even more fun. (It’s on my (other) to-do list.) Here is a link to the cleaning song in that movie: (


Music tends to make most things more tolerable in my opinion. There are a few ways you can play your own music with items you can borrow from TADL’s own Library of Things:


Good luck, and don’t overdo it!