When I first started Unfuck Your Habitat, it was a housekeeping blog very squarely aimed at lazy people. Mostly because I am one. As the blog gained momentum, though, I started hearing from people who were using the fundamentals to help them battle through something more serious than laziness: mental illness. More specifically, depression.
Now, I’m no stranger to depression. I don’t make it a secret that I have issues with depression and anxiety, just like I don’t make it a secret that I have poor eyesight and a bum knee. Depression, however, has its own set of related life issues that my poor arthritic knee has never caused. And one of those is the self-perpetuating cycle of depression and a messy home.
When you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, cleaning your house comes in on the List of Things You Want to Do somewhere after taunting a hive of bees and tap dancing on live television. Things are awful. It’s a struggle to walk to the bathroom. Making dinner seems more impossible than advanced calculus. Anything that’s not your couch or your bed might as well be hot lava. And so the mess builds around you. I purposely use the passive voice there because when you’re depressed, it seems nearly impossible that you’re contributing to the chaos of your house, because that would require energy, and you sure as hell don’t have any of that to spare.
Then you look around your messy house. And you feel worse. You feel more depressed, because now you’re exhausted and hopeless and can’t pull yourself out of bed, and on top of that, your house is a shithole. Which makes you feel useless on top of everything you were already feeling, and then probably overwhelmed on top of that, and quite frankly, having that many feelings at once during a depressive episode is like being crushed by a ton of bricks. So your depression gets worse, and your mess gets worse, and the two keep feeding on each other and it seems like there’s no end in sight.
Unfortunally I fell behind on my cleaning because we were doing inventory at work and I was comming home from work exhausted. I did manage to unfuck my stove and dishes on the 10th though. My brother uses the stove more than I do and he never cleans it. Drives me crazy, but I was determined to get it clean and with Bar Keeper’s Friend I finally did.
Stuff in the sink was drying while I finished wiping off the counter. Have some dishes stacked up since then, but nothing like it was here. What I wouldn’t give for a dishwasher though!
Then today I had some time before work to clean up the area by my bed. It is my catch all area and since I got a new bedside table I haven’t quite figured out where everything should live yet. But I am slowly starting to get it down.
With a bonus cat because they seem to be attracted to clean spaces.
Now to get on with the rest of the house now.
UnFuck Your Habit inspired me to deal with my trainwreck of a living room.
Here’s the before pic:
The most-oft inhabited bit of living room .
First, I picked up everything from the floor and the messier shelves, threw away the trash and stacked and sorted everything else on the kotatsu:
And then I put it all away. Although, I admit I transferred most of the papers to the office (a.k.a. the absolutely most fucked room in the house, a.k.a. knee-high sea of papers and un-unpacked moving boxes)
Last weekend I decided to clean out my hall closet, partly because there was basically no storage space left in there and partly because I am missing a corset I made a couple of years ago and thought it might be hiding in there somewhere. It’s a narrow closet in a narrow hallway (it’s actually supposed to be a laundry closet, and it just fits a washer and dryer!), and because of the sheer amount of junk in there (like an invisible corner except an entire closet!), I decided to take everything out, make a decision to keep or discard it, and then put what really belonged in there back in a more orderly fashion!
I’ve used the UFYH app for the 20/10 timer constantly (and actually photographed my process quite a few times but never posted), and I used it again here. I wasn’t really keeping track of how many 20/10s it actually took, especially as I took a few longer breaks to get away from the dust. Probably about 12? That of course counts all the time I took assessing the contents of the closet!
The narrowness of the hallway does not lend itself well to photos so I had to resort to iPhone panoramas.
One of the challenges at Unfuck Your Habitat recently was to clear out a “hidden” corner. The one that you walk past because it’s become part of the landscape. One of those in our house is the wall in our computer room. It was also directly across from the area where the kids’ computer has been sitting unhooked for probably over a year now, with us telling them frequently that we were going to get that desk cleared and the computer set back up.
Today I tackled it:
Hidden Corner Before
Hidden Corner after:
Computer desk Before:
Computer Desk After:
I don’t know exactly how long it took me. The goal was to get the computer up and running, so I didn’t time it. The kids were very excited when they realized what i was doing.
After recently discovering Unfuck Your Habitat, I’ve been itching to start getting my apartment back in order. I’m prone to letting things… accumulate… and so the idea of having external motivation and support to get tidy seemed awesome. Today I tackled my first room: The bedroom. Now, it wasn’t horrible… it’s definitely been worse in the past… but why not? I ended up doing five 20/10 sessions (bursts of 20 minutes of cleaning, followed by 10 minutes of freetime, repeat repeat repeat; it probably would have been fewer, but I did two loads of laundry that had to be folded and put away). Results are as follows:
Me: Did you see how beautiful and sparkling clean the bathroom is?
Me: Well, that is how it SHOULD look when clean. Sparkling! Pristine!
Sister: Ok… I’ll take a mental picture when I go upstairs
Me: I took actual pictures.
This is my first before/after post. This is the bathroom I share with my sister. So it doesn’t stay clean because she forgets to clean it when she is expected to, then I reach my grossness limit and do it myself. I’ve never shared cleaning progress in my room because I rarely get it to look like I think an after picture should. I think I am overly ambitious, and my room is overly cluttered. Also I forget to take before pictures and would hate to show the world afters when they’re still pretty cluttered. But the bathroom is easy! I can do the whole thing in 15 minutes! AND YOU CAN TELL IT IS CLEAN!
So, before pictures. Here’s the sink, gross!
Toothpaste ick on faucet, idk what you call the scuzzy brown water stuff all along the back, and little black spots (lord help me it is probably death mold) starting to form on the drain.
also dirty washcloths (got Sister to remove a pile of what I think was 10 or so of them a few days ago) and dusty counter top. How one side gets slimy while the other gets dusty is that the house has a gentle slope to the back.
And then after photos! Here we have the sink, sparkling!
No slimy bits! No death mold! SHINY FAUCET!
I would also show you the pretty clean mirror above, but camera angles/flash make that impractical.
Because of the shape and size of the bathroom, you’ll have to trust me that the rest is cleaner now than before; the pictures fail to demonstrate the difference, with the exception of the window in the shower, which was growing some kind of horrible bacterial growth along the bottom edge, right where you are supposed to push down to close it. Yuck.
Also old razors. Here’s some close up yuck:
More close up yuck:
This was the part that skeeved me out the most. The slime bacteria growth what-have-you is pink. PINK.
Clean! Sparkling! Not quite but close to pristine!
See how much better that looks?!?!
This weekend I unfucked my house!
Yesterday over the course of two 20/10s I did 2 loads of laundry, swept my kitchen floor, did dishes, tidied up my living room, and turned my kitchen and living room into neat and clean spaces! My boyfriend even hung up some art on our kitchen wall (which sucks because they are plaster and require drilling and screw anchors) and finally finishing his parking-meter-lamp project. :D
Living room before: worse than it looks, as there are dishes hiding out of sight and LOTS of dust. Notice the parking meter on the table to the right… unfinished lamp of sadness
Living room after: everything has been dusted and the meter now is a real lamp!
Kitchen before: again, there is grime that doesn’t show. The tablecloth was FILTHY omg.
Then today, I folded my laundry and ACTUALLY PUT IT AWAY, which prompted me to tackle my hidden corner— the couch in the bedroom I share with my boyfriend. Instead of being a couch, it is 99.9999% of the time a massive pile of clothes that I am too lazy to hang up in the closet. Oops, my bad.
It took me close to 30 minutes to do this one, but I feel so much better about walking into the bedroom now!
After: the bag and jacket belong to my boyfriend :)
I don’t have a before pic, but our dressers were both covered in a horrific amount of dust and clutter. My boyfriend did a 20/10 of his own and cleaned them off. Voila!
i’ve lived in this house since sixth grade and i’m currently a junior in college. i clean my bathroom counter every now and then, but over the years i’ve just accumulated so much stuff and i’ve never really dealt with it…. until now. keep in mind that not only did i never finish unpacking from recently moving out of my apartment, but i also just got back from a trip to the mountains so there’s that stuff laying around too. i’m also just a packrat. don’t judge me.
behold, The Great Bathroom Unfucking of 2013:
[after the break]
There should be an Alternative Cleaning Service, where you pay them about half or a quarter of what you’d pay a cleaner to just come in and tell you what to clean next. “Okay, now scrub that crud off the counter. Good, now the windows. Yes. Okay, now dust that shelf. Then that one. No, use the vinegar for that, you don’t need the harsher spray.”
They can just sit there and have coffee if they want, let you do the work, and everybody’s happy. Especially the people who go “But I don’t know how to clean!” They’ll show you what, how, and why.
The only flaw is that after a while of that, you won’t need them anymore. XD
UfYH Home Services: We Yell, You Clean