Nov 9, 2009

How to get a Guy to Clean Bathrooms

My wife was amazed to see that the bathroom in our basement positively sparkles at the moment. This not typically the case; we have two bathrooms, one upstairs and the other in the basement. She generally uses the bathroom upstairs while I tend to use the bathroom downstairs.

Why the separate-but-equal bathrooms? Whiskers. My bathroom tends to be accented with stray whiskers in the sink, on the countertop and pretty much everywhere else. As my wife will quickly point out with little prompting, any out of place body part, component (or fluid, for that matter) is disgusting. Therefore, she is happy to avoid the downstairs bathroom to the extent she can.

Things changed this weekend, however. I applied "shop mentality" to the problem of bathroom cleaning, and in so doing, I think I made a mental breakthrough that has all kinds of interesting possibilities. What do I mean by "shop mentality"? Consider the typical home repair shop:

Yes - there is a little clutter, but these are all projects in progress. I have my tools organized in that red metal tool chest. Big clunky tools like a rubber mallet and a hack saw, plus the tire levers and patch kits are in the top part. Small tools like spoke wrenches and measuring tools are in the top drawer; bike-specific tools like the crank-puller and pin spanners are in the next drawer. Open-end wrenches and cone wrenches are in the third drawer, along with a cable puller, and the bottom drawer has the big flat stuff like a chain whip, a lock ring remover and a headset wrench. The black rolling thing has spare parts, degreaser and other large junk squirreled away in it.

I like this set-up because I have been working at amassing it for some time. What that means is:

1.) it's relatively complete; I rarely have to make do with a tool that doesn't fit or is not intended for its purpose;

2.) I know where everything is and it's handy, usually no more than a step or two away, and;

3.) I know how to use all of this stuff (generally speaking).

This kind of preparation helps to remove one of the most common barriers to doing a good job - laziness. Laziness is an incredibly pernicious quality suck; most of us would try to use a butter knife if it was handy and screwdriver was more than a flight of stairs away (even though we would all admit that a screw driver does an absolute shit job of tightening a screw). Another benefit to this is that the right tool simply works much better and is much more satisfying to use, which can be rewarding in itself. Therefore, in my book, one of the best things a person can do to improve their level of bike maintenance is to get their home shop relatively complete and in some sort of order that works for them.

What does this have to do with bathroom cleaning you ask? This weekend, I used the same rationale and constructed a tool kit for bathroom cleaning:

I went to Menard's and headed to the cleaning aisle. I sized up my maintenance job (shower stalls, mirrors, sinks, toilet, etc.) and scanned the shelves for what seemed to be the best products at the best value and got a small arsenal of cleaners, brushes and rags, all for less than $20. At home, I assembled my cleaning tool kit, taking care to ensure that it was organized and portable, so I would have all this stuff within reach, and promptly applied myself to cleaning the bath with a craftsmen mentality rather than a chore mentality.

I am either very simple-minded or brilliant, because this worked like a charm. I now derive satisfaction from my clean mirror and spotless sink, and I admit to a certain pride in my shower floor as well.

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