When you hear the word ‘cleanliness’, what comes to mind? For me, it’s the good old maxim- ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. Cleanliness has been defined by the Encarta dictionary(the one currently on my PC) as the degree to which someone keeps clean or a place is kept clean. Cleanliness has also been thesaurus-ed with words as hygiene, sanitation and the like. Here’s what I think- cleanliness is in the detail. Yeah I said it, cleanliness is in the teeny weeny little things.  It is a two pronged fork though:

1- Cleanliness is all about the little, little things we often overlook. Most times, we sacrifice actual cleanliness on the altar of general, overall, superficial neatness. I’ve realized that a number of people pay attention to the supposedly obvious details than to the petty seemingly inconsequential aspects of their homes, offices, cars, even lives. That’s why some people have exquisite living rooms with state of the art but also state of the grubby furniture, Persian but bug infested sandy carpets/rugs, fully air conditioned apartments with massively cobwebbed ceilings.  Well, probably a guest would most likely not be looking up at the ceiling when they come in. Some office tables are practically breeding spiders underneath but spotless and well arranged on the top. And some folks really do have beautiful curtains on their windows but extremely dirty louvres, cozy bedrooms with almost always neatly laid out beds with very dusty under-beds because nobody ever looks there. Some dashboards are a classic example of the word ‘dusty’ yet the car is all glittery and shiny on the outside. Some people wouldn’t even air out their living room or room, as you like it; they keep saturating the atmosphere with air fresheners at the expense of free and fresh God- given natural air.
      Let’s not even talk about personal hygiene. Shiny white teeth (that breaks barriers) but fungi infested, plaque coated tongue; hot, polished but dirt harbouring nails, expensive glam glam weaves on lice infested sandy hair. You find a gorgeous, all made up lady with very dirty back of the ears and popliteal fossa. Sometimes, the shirt looks so smart and the cologne is nice but we still get a whiff of sweat every now and then from a prior wear… the list is endless.
      While I do not believe in being overtly finicky or pedantic, here’s what I believe works- pay attention to the details. Don’t just pick up the litters, vacuum clean the carpet/ rug, sweep under the bed too, air out the room first thing in the morning, brush your tongue, clean the inside of the car as well, remove cobwebs regularly… Cleanliness is a whole business, not in part.

2- Cleanliness is in bits and pieces. When I was growing up (I still am), my mother taught me to clean in bits and pieces and in a way that has been my philosophy towards cleanliness. Now I have lived with people who could pile up several days’ plates and more. I know others who would fill up the laundry basket with several weeks’ clothes. Most times, they have a particularly designated and over glorified cleaning day. Now on the day they decide to clean up, you see them and you’re like, ‘well done eh, you’ve been working all day!’. Thus they unduly earn the ‘very dutiful’ title when all they’ve actually been doing all this while is leaving their duty undone.
      I have also come across people who turn the whole kitchen upside down to make one simple meal, create a post world war set in the pantry because they were looking for a chopping board or sachet of thyme; or disarrange the freezer to get a bowl of soup…
      Rather than work so hard at building Rome in a day, how about cleaning in drops of water, so as to end up with a mighty ocean of cleanliness? The idea is to clean up after you. That’s my mother’s philosophy. That’s my philosophy. Salt goes back in the salt spot immediately you add what’s needed to the soup. Knife goes back in the knife rack, washed and wiped immediately you’re done cutting. Sieve is washed and re hung immediately you’re done using it, the splatter of oil get wiped off the pot while it’s still on the cooker, and the splash of broth gets swabbed off the cooker almost immediately… That way, there’s always less cleaning to be done afterwards and less stress and worry about cleaning up.
      And that’s the song and dance of my maxim- CLEANLINESS IS IN THE DETAILS. What’s your take?


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