A Fair Amount of Complaining About Cleaning the Bathroom

I only need to do ONE thing today, I mean in addition to the usual things like dishes and laundry and meals and child transportation, just ONE extra thing, and that is to clean the bathroom. And not even the whole bathroom but just the sink and toilet and maybe I will dab a paper towel in the corners of the floor and that is IT, no one is asking me to do anything actually difficult. I don’t need to negotiate for a hostage or clean an entire house or stand at a cash register all day, ALL I need to do is clean one sink and one toilet and then I can play Candy Crush with a clear conscience, it is impossible to comprehend the privilege and luxury of my life, so why am I instead sulking at my computer? Gah. I will just write this ONE post and then I will do it. So soon, I will do it. Before you know it, you will glance up and there I’ll be, smelling faintly of lemon 409, proud and a little grossed out, and the bathroom will be about half shiny.

I don’t even have anything to write about, so what if I went and cleaned it NOW and then came back? I even have my radio in there! I could be thinking of what to write while I worked and listened to music! Ug, I don’t want to. And to think that just last night I was bragging about how good I was at making myself do things I don’t want to do, which is a complete and obvious lie: I am TERRIBLE at making myself do things I don’t want to do. Or, let’s think positively: I am strong-willed!

This morning instead of cleaning the bathroom I toasted some pecans, which is one of those things that seemed like way too much fuss to me until I did it the first time, and now I’m like “What is the big deal, you just put them on a baking sheet at 350F for four minutes, stir them, put them back in for another four minutes and then you have TOASTED PECANS.” I also made another batch of the vegetable dish because the oven could be efficiently shared with the pecans, and we still have leftover turkey. Then I planted an amaryllis bulb. Meanwhile the bathroom waits in vain for an equal share of my housewifely attention.

One issue is that we have one of those toilet seats that’s easy to completely remove, for easy cleaning. (It’s this one.) This is such a great feature, so why does it increase the mental burden? Partly it’s that it increases the grossness: now the toilet seat has been in the tub. I don’t really HAVE to remove it, I could just clean it as if it were a regular toilet seat—but the toilet seat and I both know that I could do better. Plus, it’s gross but satisfying to scrub the hinges under hot water.

It’s also discouraging that Paul leaves his nail clippers to rust-stain the countertop instead of lifting his arm slightly higher to put them into the cabinet, and it’s discouraging that a number of years ago William lit cotton balls on fire in the sink and stained it with yellow-brown marks. The sink/counter never looks clean even when it is, and every time I clean it I’m reminded that I’M NOT THE ONE WHO MADE ANY OF THOSE UGLY AND AVOIDABLE AND PERMANENT MARKS. Why DO we live with other people?

Seriously, it doesn’t even take very long. I’m going to do it right now, and I’m going to time how long it takes, and then won’t I feel silly for spending so long avoiding it?

*there is the sound of country music, and someone seems to be attempting to sing along*
*the faint lemony tinge of 409 drifts to your nostrils*
*followed by a rather stronger scent of bleach*
*someone just swore, and there was a sound of a toilet seat landing too hard in the tub*
*there is muttering; it seems to be directed at people who don’t sit to pee*
*oh god oh god oh god okay that part’s done*
*the singing is sounding more cheerful*
*there’s the sound of the trash being emptied, so we must be close now*

Okay, DONE. It took 30 minutes almost exactly. I myself won’t feel clean until my next shower, but the bathroom is looking pretty good. The bowl water is bluish and bleachy, and no one else is home so I will get to be the one to flush it down later after it’s soaked for awhile. The mirror is cracked but shiny. The sink is stained but clean. The toilet seat…well, I won’t say WHO, but apparently SOMEONE let the bleachy spray soak too long, because there are now streaks in the whiteness. But we will not worry about it! It’s fine! It’s absolutely fine!

27 thoughts on “A Fair Amount of Complaining About Cleaning the Bathroom

  1. Liz Miller


    Particularly the parts about it not looking clean even when it is because YES. YES MY BATHROOM TOO.

    Thank you, Swistle, for posting this. Really. I mean it.

  2. Ernie

    Hilarious! Been there! So many times. I make the kids clean there bathroom now. I try to avoid evening entering the room. Occasionally when I am in cleaning mode I go all Rambo on their bathroom. Because apparently it is not physically possible for one of them to do a good job of cleaning it. I find that I gear up for the bathroom cleaning duty before I can completely dive in. And yes, I try to do it just before I shower so I can completely rinse all of the filth from me.

    1. Swistle Post author

      This is the SAME child who stuck a PIPE CLEANER into an ELECTRICAL SOCKET and is lucky to have nothing more than some permanent scarring on his hands.

  3. Jessica

    Why DO we live with other people?

    That is the question of my life. Frankly, I’m not too thrilled about the opposite, either – why do other people live with ME? I would like to not clean up their messes/negotiate sharing space, but I would also very much like to be able to have my OWN quirks of messiness without inconveniencing others. (I mean, yeah, that’s sort of the same question and the opposite would be ‘problems with living alone’ but whatever.)

  4. LeighTX

    This is me when it comes to washing dishes by hand. I hate it so much, I don’t know why but I do, and I put it off as long as possible without being gross. Then I suck it up and wash them, and it takes like three minutes max and I wonder why I put it off, and then the next day someone uses a non-dishwasher-safe coffee mug and I’m like, “WHYYYYYY now I have to wash it ugh I don’t want to.”

    (NOTE: yes the other people with whom I live *could* wash dishes themselves but we have a Deal in which I am responsible for the kitchen and in return I never have to clean bathrooms. For me, this is a very good deal and I am unwilling to give it up.)

    1. juliloquy

      Please tell me you hide the non-dishwasher-safe coffee mugs in the very back so they’re less likely to get used.

    2. Shawna

      I would clean the bathroom many times in order to not have to wash dishes. It is 100% my most-loathed chore, and the reason that almost every pot and dish I own is dishwasher safe.

      I particularly detest washing anything that had tomato sauce or chili in it – those things mixed with water smell like vomit to me!

  5. StephLove

    I literally came here straight from cleaning my bathroom, which I only did today because of an impending mother-in-law visit. I almost left scrubbing the tub for one of the kids because I have a bad knee and it’s hard for me to do that part so I’ve started leaving it to North, but there’s a chorus concert tonight and potentially double homework because they missed school yesterday so I went ahead and scrubbed it myself. I smell faintly of vinegar, Boni Ami scouring powder, and virtue (she’s not even MY mother, right?).

  6. Jen

    I…like cleaning the bathroom. It’s such a satisfying place to clean because I can always tell when I’ve done it. Unlike vacuuming where I turn around and FFS how is it possible dust bunnies are right where I already vacuumed!

    Also I have a child like William and I sympathize. I was a child like that myself (Kleenex burn really fast) and so I can attest he will rue the day his own children subject him to such experiments.

  7. Matti

    I loved this post. I can so completely empathize with every last bit. See also why I just kept not vacuuming. For days. When we started having little kids who needed a smaller seat to pee on the big potty I started making my husband clean the bathroom. It takes him FOREVER, but I don’t have to do it. The compost, the bathroom, the kitty litter, the garbage, dead animals, putting dishes away. Those are his jobs. Hey, he signed up to marry someone with a very low gross out factor. Also, I hate putting dishes away.

  8. hope t.

    Is there any way to clean rust stains off the counter? I can’t even blame the people I live with for that faux pas.

  9. Jillian

    This reminds me so much of Dorothy Parker’s essay about a pencil. Have you read it? If not, you should. Even GENIUSES struggle with procrastination.

  10. Maggie

    At least 80% of the time I allot to cleaning the bathroom is spent just getting past my irritation that the people who don’t sit to pee and, therefore, make the toilet gross are not the same people who clean the bathroom. In theory I could wait for those people to clean the bathroom but then the rest of us would likely contact some heretofor undiscovered disgusting disease caused by the extreme germ load in there. BAH

  11. rlbelle

    Hee hee hee.

    Today, after a morning spent finding the VERY LAST item on my Christmas shopping list, I was supposed to fold about three loads of laundry and put away one load of already folded laundry, which I didn’t want to do, and make a batch of cookie dough, which I DID kind of want to do. Instead, I sat down full of Wetzel’s Pretzel bits and watched the local news go crazy over the horrible fires we’re having here in SoCal. Then I napped in said chair. Then I watched more news. Then I put away the one load of laundry. Then I made myself a smoothie. Then I picked up my older daughter, came home, and watched MORE news about fires. Then I read news on my phone. Then I changed into warmer clothes, because I decided being cold was why I didn’t want to move at all. Then I did move, to my office, where I am on my computer reading blogs, with my space heater going. The three loads are still unfolded, the cookie dough is unmade, and my husband is making dinner while the kids watch TV. I have now procrastinated myself into having even MORE to do on my list tomorrow, but it’s a familiar, cozy sort of place to be, so.

  12. Tommie

    We have two and a half bathrooms in our house and the half bath is the WORST for cleaning because it is on the first floor (right off the kitchen, WHY?!!?) and it is the bathroom my husband, who works from home, used for EVERYTHING except, obviously, showering. Why, then, is it MY job to clean that disgusting room? I always go upstairs to use the master bathroom for ALL my business. And yet…he seems to think I should clean HIS bathroom. And yes, it take a half hour, tops and yet, it is SO GROSS!

    Thank you for this post of commiseration. I needed it today.

  13. Shawna

    By the way, having young boys sit to pee is no guarantee of a clean zone around the toilet. They often point forward, and then you have the pee hitting the top rim and cascading down the side. Ask me how I know…

  14. Krista

    Loved this post. I hate cleaning the bathroom! Just wondering if you have tried Magic Erasers on the sink or rust? They truly are magic and the only way some things get clean in our house.

  15. t

    I was thinking about this post on the way to work this morning and for some reason I feel compelled to add that if you ever need the toasted pecans again, but only a few (i.e. not enough to pre-heat the oven, a chore so simple and completely free of effort that I none-the-less find myself avoiding), you can toast nuts or coconut in a pan on the stove. It takes a little less time and probably a little more effort (stirring more often), but for semi-anxious cooks like me it’s great because I’m constantly watching for burnt-ness and I can throw the skillet in the dishwasher when I’m done (unlike my airbake cookie sheet which i have to hand wash). Hopefully that helps someone somewhere like it helped me when I read it, who-knows-where-who-knows-when.

  16. Ariana

    We have this toilet seat too! But why has mine become crooked and how do I fix it???? I tried taking it off the hinges and reattaching but if anything I think it made it worse.


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