Life

Household Chores: Ranked!

I have to tell you that "washing up" does not fare well.
12 May 2020, 8:30am
How to Deal with Household Chores During Lockdown
All photos by Emily Bowler.

"ICYMI," there’s a lockdown on, as the result of a deadly pandemic. As such, many people are spending much more time in their homes, fucking them up with complex hair dye projects, kitchen disasters and something sinister called “arts and crafts” (possibly a sex thing, not sure). More mess and debris in the home will necessarily result in more chores to do than usual – or at least it has in my flat, after some questionable attempts at bread – so I’ve been thinking about household tasks a lot lately. And here, I have ranked them here from best to worst.

I will say that the following placings are affected by my own current physical, spacial and resource limitations (see: the very, very low ranking of "washing up," which would have done better before Everything Happened, and the thing about how my hoover always falls apart), but I do also believe them to be somewhat reflective of general truths about chores. And so:

1. MAKING THE BED

Objectively the greatest and nicest chore, not to be confused with "putting the sheets on the bed," which as you can imagine features much later, because it is, how you say, dogshit. Making the bed, however, is an objectively enjoyable thing to do, both for present self (I find that it cleanses my thoughts in the mornings, gently reaffirming that no, I won’t be getting back into the bed, a hope which I think some part of my brain holds out for until it is told otherwise) and future self, who will be infinitely happier getting under a lovely tucked duvet than trying to arrange a tangled ball of blanket, pyjamas a couple of books and for some reason, hair scissors, when she goes to bed.

2. DUSTING

The point of all cleaning is to make your space nicer and more hospitable, but what’s specific about dusting is that it is also easy. Nice little cloth, maybe a bit of polish here and there, little wipe, lovely. The Mariah-Carey-dancing-and-putting-absolutely-no-effort-in-but-still-kind-of-achieving-an-amazing-result of household chores.

3. THE SURFACES

Similar to the dusting but does tend to require slightly more elbow grease, depending on how long you have left it since you last did it, or what you have been doing on the surfaces (no judgement here, live your lives.) Surfaces are good because there’s usually a spray involved and it is very satisfying to see your item get clean in real time, in the same horrible but faintly fascinating way as squeezing a zit.

4. THE HOB

See above, but with the added slightly arduous task of removing the gas rings and more specifically, finding somewhere to put them (why is there never anywhere to put them?)

5. PUTTING THE BINS OUT

Fundamentally disgusting but over quite quickly, like episodes of Man Vs. Food and, in many cases, sex.

6. PUTTING THE WASHING ON THE CLOTHES HORSE AND THEN TAKING IT OFF AGAIN

Actually doing the washing doesn’t count because that is just moving some clothes from one place to another, but I think that putting the clothes out to dry is a different thing entirely, and the shitness of it is often overlooked, particularly in a house sharing scenario where for some reason, everyone seems to be on the exact same clothes-washing schedule, like periods. Usually this results in there being zero clothes horse space, and therefore you end up having to hang your knickers off the end of your bed post, hoping they’ll be dry by the weekend.

7. BED SHEETS

I am very vocal about my hatred of doing the bedsheets, because I am not much over five feet tall and therefore attempting to change my bed is, for me, not unlike doing a HIIT class with the amount of physical exertion it requires. Because I am lacking in wingspan, putting on a fitted sheet is a waking nightmare, and to watch me doing it is probably like watching a dog do Total Wipeout. Attempting to keep all the corners of the sheet around the bed at once is my Tough Mudder.

Once – often as the result of a spell or some kind of satanic bargaining – the sheet is on, there is the issue of getting the duvet cover on the duvet, which again leaves me at a disadvantage because I am short. There has been more than one occasion when I have put the duvet cover on and ended up with my head inside it, trying to understand which corners line up where, and how the laws of physics can make that true. Matching the duvet corner to the cover corner is my New Yorker crossword, my white whale. I will never do it correctly the first time, and if I ever do manage, I will only be able to take it as a warning sign that I have crossed over into a different, more dangerous reality.

8. WASHING UP

Photo by Emily Bowler

I actually used to quite like washing up as a chore, but that was when I did not do it at least three times a day, sinking my reluctant, degrading hands into scalding water like suspected witches being dunked in the 17th century. The washing up has become to me like a troublesome Tinder date who simply will not stop texting; the reply guy who insists on commenting on my every tweet, insipid little “:)” at the end of all his sentences and all. Sometimes I forget about it, merrily going on my way to bed after yet another scintillating evening of The Television, and there it is, piled by the sink, lingering like a squalid little “u up?” text from someone who I thought I had exorcised from the furthest reaches of my memory. Awful, awful task.

9. DRYING UP

One of the only things worse than washing up; comparable to getting home from holiday (in this analogy the holiday is "eating dinner") and having to unpack your suitcase straight away.

10. HOOVERING

Photo by Emily Bowler.

The vacuuming, or as I like to refer to it, the Devil’s Suck, is the worst bastard on the list. For me, there is no chore quite as bad as dragging the poor, unsuspecting Henry round like a phantom limb – his eyes wide not in merriment, as is frequently assumed, but sheer terror – trying to get individual bits of hair out of the carpet.

My main problem with hoovering is its inherently Sisyphean nature. There is always *something* with hoovering: it is the friend everyone has who is never just "fine" and is instead always involved in some sort of drama which, when described to you, sounds a lot like the plot of Cruel Intentions. By this I mostly mean that the hoovering never feels properly done. There is always more floor that could be more thoroughly hoovered, and also in my specific case, the constituent parts of my hoover frequently just... come apart in my hands and I just end up standing there thinking about how I’ve never been closer to death than in this moment. Essentially: if the “chore index” is mapped with “arduous” on one side and “time consuming” on the other, hoovering scores terribly for both metrics. It is, undoubtedly, the worst chore. *bangs gavel*

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