Mopping Tall

The Hubby's Guide to Housework and Other Dangerous Jobs


Lou Delena


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction and Bathroom 7
Chapter 2 Vacuuming 10
Chapter 3 Floors 13
Chapter 4 Dusting 16
Chapter 5 Changing the Sheets. 18
Chapter 6 What To Do with an Old Pizza Box (intellectual
stimulation at its best) 20
Chapter 7 Back to the Bedroom 21
Chapter 8 Laundry 22
Chapter 9 Ironing 25
Chapter 10 Windows (We do them!) 28
Chapter 11 Changing Closets 30
Chapter 12 The Lichen (an interesting plant, no doubt,
but I think I mean)
The Kitchen 32
Chapter 13 Using the Stove 39
Chapter 14 Food Shopping 41
Chapter 15 Surprise! The Boss is Coming to Dinner! 43
Chapter 16 Your In-Laws 47
Chapter 17 Time Management 49
Chapter 18 Leisure-Time Activities 51
Chapter 19 Recipes 54
Chapter 20 Quiz 62
Epilogue 66

You probably realize, as you thumb through the book, that most of these titles don't match those in the chapters themselves. There's an excellent reason - these topics are about as dry as the toast you'll be cooking up in Chapter 19. I had to do something to dress them, to spice them up, to give them flavor. (Geez, is it me or am I making food references? Maybe I should have had more than those celery sticks for breakfast!)


Consider all of the information in this book as friendly advice. Use it at your own risk. Don't bother to sue if you vacuum your cat, fall out of a window onto the hood of your brand-new Corvette, or poison your ex-boss with your cooking (you ought to thank me for that!).


Greetings, and thanks for buying my book! Hey! Don't just stand there thumbing through it - Take out your wallet and cough up the ca$h! (I need the money - badly!)

You are about to embark on a voyage into the wonderfully fulfilling world of housework. You'll discover the joys of bleach, the evil of dirt, the secret mysteries of baking soda, and the magic that is garlic. And you won't be alone, I promise you.

This book is written with you in mind. It is designed for those of us who have been recently unemployed and now find ourselves with a dust rag in our hands, trying to determine where the dirt ends and the floor begins. It is also written for folks who want to do more around the house than take out the trash, but who don't want to hurt themselves or their loved ones in the process.

For the sake of convenience, I will use the term "you" to refer to you (what a novel idea!), and "wife" to refer to your domestic partner. Whatever the case, the fact is that you are about to encounter the unknown. Don't worry - I'm going to be at your side, tongue firmly planted in cheek, to get you through those daily routines we all took for granted when Mom was around. I'll help you to become a King Kong of the Kitchen, a Picasso of the Potty, a Superman of the Scrub Brush.

To make things even easier, I'll keep all the important stuff together, such as what you'll need to complete the task at hand, how to perform said task, and the time it should take. The rest of the chatter I'll keep separate, so in case you're in a hurry and just want the bare-bones information, you'll be able to find it with ease.

If you follow my instructions closely, you'll even be able to cook dinner while drying clothes while cleaning the floor - truly, you will be


Chapter Won -
The Dirtiest Detail

Some of us have some experience in keeping up a home. Face it, there were times when we knew that action had to be taken, such as when we found the shower mildew actually handing us the soap during our morning constitutional or when some unknown creatures in the rug ate Fluffy, our faithful pet and companion.

Most of the time these weird rituals of spraying, wiping, and rinsing were performed only when necessary. We never could do it more than, say, once every six months. Unlike Mom, who could make dirt run and hide with just a glance toward the storage cabinet, we face an enemy who laughs in our face. Well, it's time to put the gloves on and tackle the SOB where it stands (underfoot, no doubt).

The Bathroom

We're saving the worst for first. After all, this is the place in your house where small children faint and large pets die. It's dirty, ugly, and disgusting, yet your Mom always handled it with the aplomb of Clark Kent's alter ego confronting a slightly tight bottle top.

Before you begin, re-acquaint yourself with the color of your bathroom "appliances." It will help you more than you realize. For example, if you have a green color scheme, you won't be scrubbing the tub for 8 hours trying to remove what you think is an ungodly mold. If your color scheme is brown, you won't get overdo cleaning the infamous toilet bowl because you think it's covered with...well, you get the idea.

Let's start with the sink. In most cases it's the easiest item to clean in the "latrine".

Here's what you'll need:

One cleaning cloth such as an old face towel, or a sponge

Cleaner, such as a cleanser, non-abrasive, or, for the environmentally conscious, Simple Green. Whatever, you choose, THE PROCEDURE is the same.


Wet the sink, then spread/spray your cleaner evenly over the area. Don't use too much cleanser/non-abrasive or you'll find a chalky white substance covering everything later on.
Use a cloth and apply some of that macho male elbow grease you've been bragging about for the past 10 years and rub, rub, rub.

Rinse off and wipe. See how easy it is? You can use the same procedure for the tub, although with its accumulated soap scum, you will undoubtedly need to scrub longer and harder.

Estimated task time:

5 minutes for the sink, 8 - 10 minutes for the tub, longer if there's tile or vinyl surrounding your bathing trough that needs to be cleaned as well.

The Toilet

Now comes the dungy part - the potty. Disgusting, ain't it? Remember, though, it's your dirty work that made it that way! So don that gas mask and get ready to right the wrong.

Here's what you'll need:

The same items as above. You may want to switch cleaning cloths/sponges.


Fire away with your cleaning item of choice.

Flush and reapply if the bowl is truly disgusting.

Then scrub, scrub, scrub! HARDER, DAMMIT!! Don't forget to clean the seat, under the rim, and the outside of the toilet.

Rinse all over and wipe the rim and seat dry, lest you really upset your better half when she summizes that you have once again tinkled without raising the drawbridge.

Estimated task time:

7 minutes

The Floor

Finally, let's tackle the floor. Okay, now get off of it and clean it, Reggie White!

If your bathroom floor is tile, use your sink shammy to rub it down, adding just a touch of cleaner. Wipe dry.

If the floor is carpeted, give it a vacuuming.

If it's wood give it a sweeping and wash, if needed. (Take a gander at Chapter 3 for more information)

If it's anything else, give it a mopping. (Likewise, see Chapter 3).

Estimated task time:

2-5 minutes, depending on the size and type of floor.

What about the...?

Don't forget the medicine cabinet, either.

Here's what you'll need:

Glass cleaner, such as Windex

A cloth

Paper towels


Wipe the interior of the cabinet (only if necessary) using that same cloth that you used for the sink/bathtub.

Clean its mirror (and all other glass reflectors you may encounter in this or any other life) with a little glass cleaner and a paper towel.

Estimated task time:

3 - 5 minutes.

Now pat yourself on the back. You've cleaned your first room.

And a tough one at that.

Chapter Too -
Suck it Up

Vacuuming is one of the easier tasks you will face in your new adventures in house cleaning, simply because the vacuum does the dirty work (sorry, bad pun). All you have to do is guide it around.

To start with, locate the vacuum cleaner. This task may be somewhat harder than others because these things come in many different shapes and sizes. Look for a plastic or metal unit shaped like a dachshund or a funky box, a round metal unit shaped like a huge container of ice cream (you know, the industrial-sized tubs like at Friendly's or Brigham's), or an upright unit shaped like, well, a vacuum cleaner. Also, check for a name such as Electrolux, Hoover, Orreck, or Eureka (a product name, not the motto of California). Chances are, if there is a device with this name on it, nine times out of 10 it's a vacuum cleaner.

Some of these devices were probably designed with newly laid-off househusbands in mind because they even have the words "vacuum cleaner" on them, thus erasing all doubts and preventing yet another call to Mom.

Here's what you'll need:

A vacuum cleaner (see above for details)


If there are any hoses that go with the vacuum, connect them. Just look for the connecting hole at one end of the vacuum.

Do likewise with attachments. Use the one that you think most likely fits the job you are about to undertake, such as the long skinny one for tight corners and the round fuzzy one for above the windows. Use the biggest and meanest one for carpeted floors, and a brushy one for wood.

If your vacuum cleaner has no attachments, either they've been misplaced, in which case you should either play detective or make the best of the situation; or it has no attachments, in which case you should stop reading this drivel and get to work! If in doubt, consult the instructions. These are usually in the last place you would look, so start with the last place first, say the box the vacuum cleaner came in.

When you are all set, plug the vacuum in and get ready for some serious sucking (think the censors will let that slide?).

A vacuum works best on rugs. You can also try doing the drapes, but remember the penalties you face should you suck these babies into the vacuum. Your breadwinning capo di tutti capo just might be a teeny-weeny bit upset, and you'll spend the next three nights shopping for new drapes with her, a thankless task at best.

What I mean is, have you ever visited a drapery store? It's probably the worst place on earth to be, next to an IRS audit. Bad husbands are sent here in the after-life. It is sheer boredom personified. Nothing but cloth. Trust me, an abscessed tooth is a triple-overtime Super Bowl compared to a visit to this place.

Okay, you've turned the vacuum on (you kinky dude!) but it still won't pick up. Have you checked the dirt bag? I mean the thing in the vacuum, not your old boss. You see, the stuff you pick up off the floor does not wander into some magic land of dirt, contrary to what you may have been told as a kid.

(While I'm dispelling kiddie myths, the evil, child-eating Moo-Moo does not reside in Uncle Henry's attic, so don't worry about your parents sending you there for that "D" in history. Hey, folks, somebody had to tell him!).

Anyway, the dirt has to wind up somewhere, and the dirt bag is the place. Open that part of the vacuum where the bag is housed (check those instructions for the exact location of the dirt bag nearest you, or, if you're like the rest of us, take a wild guess). If you stumble upon a bag loaded with dust and other assorted ickies, Eureka! (the California motto, not the product name).

Remove the old bag, throw it away, and install a new one. Wives have a tendency to put these things in the damnedest places, so check with your spouse at a convenient time. Just don't call her at work. She'll only envision a house knee-deep in dirt on her return home.
Why is that? Face it, most men have the same attitudes toward appliances ("Hey, I plugged the SOB in. Why won't it work?") as most women do toward cars ("Why change the oil? We did it last year.") Ask her in the morning, on a weekend, or at some other convenient time when she'll feel safe.

Once you've got that bag installed and get that motor humming again like a '66 'Vette, complete the job. Don't forget the bathroom rug, if you have one.

Estimated task time:

15-30 minutes, depending on the size of your domicile.

A Helpful Hint:

When it comes to rugs, Darker is better. Yep, dark rugs tend to hide dirt and stains, rather than emphasize them. So, when you and your significant other are shopping for wall-to-wall, encourage her to go for the chocolate brown or navy shading, and to nix the off-whites and powder blues. You'll get to vacuum less often (once a week as opposed to every other day) and she'll have peace of mind because a dark rug can hide your best efforts (spilled beer/wine/soda, chocolate slip-ups, and the ever-present mud) instead of announcing them to all who pass, and forcing the rental of one of those rug cleaners the size of a '62 Oldsmobile.

And a word of warning: Whatever you do, DON'T try to suck up any large items, for example the Sunday paper, a soda can, or a Doberman. These tend to catch in the machine and can cause some serious damage.

You may even duplicate my dubious feat of recent times and break the drive belt, then wonder for the next six months why the vacuum can't even pick up crumbs. True story, which kinda makes you wonder what qualifies me to write about this stuff. (Frankly, I'm wondering myself.)

Fortunately a friend of mine with mechanical aptitude (unlike myself, he doesn't hurt himself screwing in a light bulb) caught wind of my problem. After laughing for approximately 25 minutes, he opened the bottom of the vacuum (I use an upright model) removed the old belt, installed the new one (a replacement is usually supplied with the vacuum), and then informed me that a vacuum also has to be plugged in to work effectively. And he did all of this without tools, mind you! The man is a genius. No, you can't have his name - he's all mine!

Done with the vacuuming? Excellent! Now it's onto yet another new and exciting adventure! Bet you can't wait to see what Chapter 3 has in store for you! Well, don't just sit there - FLIP THAT PAGE!!!

Chapter Third -
Floor Me

There are some things you just can't run a vacuum over. These include a live buffalo (wouldn't Kevin Costner have looked silly trying to run an Electrolux over "tatanka" in Dances with Wolves? Where would he have plugged it in, anyway?), hot asphalt, and, unfortunately, a non-carpeted floor. Sure, the old sucker will get some of the dirt, but there'll always be enough left behind to completely destroy your better half's confidence in your homemaking abilities.

Sweeping the Floor

What to do? Simply grab a broom from anywhere in the house but the broom closet. That's where you keep the coats. There are no brooms in there. It's like a glove compartment in a car. Maps, flashlight, pressure gauge, registration, peanut butter crackers from the Nixon administration, but no gloves. If you can't find a broom, borrow your mother-in-law's. Just have it back in time for her big night out, Halloween.

Here's what you'll need:

One kitchen broom

A wet mop

Cleaning agent mixed with water (per product instructions) such as Spic and Span or Simple Green (vinyl floors), tile cleaner (tile floors), Murphy's Oil Soap (wood floors)


Sweep that dirt into one big pile. Sweep in one motion. Don't go back and forth, or you'll just shuffle the dirt around. Grab an aptly named dust pan and dump the dirt into a wastebasket. Wait - you're not finished yet! Why not really impress the boss and wash this sucker?

Pour your product of choice into a bucket and add a proportionate amount of water (pudding mix is not recommended - besides, you'd have to use milk).

Use a wet mop (as opposed to a dry mop) to clean. (Come to think of it, if you dip a dry mop into water, does it then become a wet mop? Hmmmm.....)

Dunk the mop, give it a squeeze, and commence cleaning, using that back-and-forth motion you wanted to use when sweeping.

Repeat this procedure until the floor is clean, or your arms feel like lead pipes, whichever comes first.

Estimated task time:

10 minutes for sweeping, 10 minutes for washing

A word of warning: When you use any product, particularly one that you are not familiar with, follow all of the instructions on the label and take all necessary precautions. Keep especially the poisonous stuff away from the children. Remember, like me, you're not an expert at this, so be careful. We all want to get through our housekeeping activities in one piece, and without any side treks to the emergency room.

Waxing the Floor

Really feeling your oats? Then give this floor what it truly deserves - a coating of floor wax! That is, as long as it's not a tile floor. Floor wax and tile go together like hot fudge and shrimp. Know your floor! Make sure it's wax-friendly before you commit your time and energy!

Here's what you'll need:

Floor wax

A wet mop


Floor wax is clearly marked and simple to use. Just follow the instructions on the package.
Pour a small amount on the floor, spread with a different wet mop, and repeat until the entire floor is wax-covered.

Whatever you do, DON'T WAX YOURSELF INTO A CORNER!! Work toward the doorway, lest you become trapped in yon room for 20 minutes.

Let the wax dry (about 20 - 30 minutes should do the trick). You can perform your cleaning magic in another room while the floor dries.

Estimated task time:

60 minutes (includes drying time)

Time for a Strip Show
(Grabbed your attention, didn't it?). If you have a vinyl floor, and you're really feeling horny for housework, forget about washing the floor (yay!) and strip the old wax instead (boo!) using water and ammonia (a useful but disgusting smelling product).

Here's what you'll need:


Wet mop

Bucket of water


Make sure there's plenty of ventilation. Ammonia is prominent on Jupiter, and when was the last time you met somebody normal from Jupiter? (Not the city in Florida, wise-ass, the big planet with the one red eye!)

Mix a small amount of NH4 (about a cup) with about half a bucket of H2O.

Dip the mop (the one you used to wash the floor with is fine), and slosh it all around.
Let dry, and wax, as outlined earlier in this chapter.

Dump this stuff down the sink or toilet when your done (don't forget to flush), and keep it away from the kids.

Estimated task time:

15-20 minutes

Well, now that the floors are clean, you've certainly earned that lemonade break. Run out to my car and squeeze yourself a glass. When you're quenched and ready, we'll move on to an activity that will put all of your endurance levels to the test!



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