HomeGems: Housekeeping

Housekeeping as an attitude

When most of us think of housekeeping, we think of hotels and hospitality establishments, but because the word “housekeeping” has the word “house” in it, it actually refers to the home. The online etymology dictionary states that housekeeping is “management of domestic concerns”. Housekeeping has taken on a wider scope in modern times. It also refers to offices and workplaces.

Some years ago, when a colleague, who was a manager, was picking up bits of cake from the floor of the conference room after a birthday celebration, I commented to him that he was always the only one doing it. He replied that the office is an extension of home. We spend a greater part of our day at work than at home, so we should take care of our workplace as if it were our home. We should switch off the lights when rooms are not being used, and save costs where we can. He was doing things so naturally and quietly that his good deeds could have easily gone unnoticed. It was one of the many lessons I learnt on my visits to India.

I did an online workplace safety and health course last year. Good housekeeping was emphasized. If the basics of good housekeeping are observed, a lot of dangers can be avoided. I ran an informal survey on homemaking recently. Most of the respondents had never thought about safety and health in the home. Perhaps this is understandable. I might stand out as being a bit unusual because I have been in a building that was on fire; in a house when there was an attempted break-in; and in another house when there was a flood. Probably the strangest dangerous experience I have ever had was being in a house when the pest control technicians found a cobra in the CPU of a desktop. It had gone into the CPU to lay eggs and was keeping the eggs warm.

Homemaking implies creating a safe and healthy environment for everyone at home, which starts off with ensuring that there is order in the house and that it is clean. The home has to be safe from intruders, pests, harmful chemicals, and electrical and structural faults. Homemaking includes maintaining the home in good condition by taking care of repairs and maintenance. My father was always seeing to these things. Somehow I had learnt from his example.

For a house to be truly a home, it has to be safe and clean, and this requires constant effort, that’s why we talk about housekeeping because we have to keep doing the same tasks to keep the house a home.

By Chayo, Homskil Editor 1, 9 January 2021

Housekeeping is like accounting

Housekeeping is like accounting. If you do your accounts daily, doing the summary at the end of the month won’t be a nightmare. Housekeeping is the same. If you do a little everyday, housework isn’t a big chore, it’s many little ones.

Recently, I heard of someone in another country who spent an hour cleaning his own bathroom. It was something he had never done before. The lockdown meant that housekeeping services which were outsourced had to stop. I was wondering how anyone could spend an hour cleaning a bathroom. It only takes me five minutes on a regular day to clean my own bathroom. It might take a little longer if I do some extra cleaning, but the reality is that there isn’t so much to clean.

My mother used to say that the bathroom is the cleanest room in the house, because it is cleaned everyday. I suppose the bathroom only becomes a nightmare if it isn’t cleaned everyday.

Just some quick tips for those who still think that cleaning the bathroom is a major battle (the battle of Waterloo?):

  1. Make sure you have the basic cleaning items
  2. Follow a few simple steps
  3. Repeat the simple steps everyday

Basic cleaning items

  1. Cleaning basket for cleaning items
  2. Toilet cleaning liquid
  3. Toilet brush (and brush holder)
  4. Bathroom cleaning spray bottle
  5. Bathroom cleaning liquid
  6. Gloves
  7. Sponge
  8. Wet wipes with alcohol/disinfectant
  9. Scrubbing brush
  10. Broom and dustpan
  11. Cloths for drying the wash basin and the shower floor
  12. Micro fiber mop
  13. Squeegee (scraper)

Basic steps

  1. Empty the bin
  2. Pour some toilet cleaner into the toilet bowl, brush the toilet bowl, leave to soak
  3. Wipe the toilet with a piece of wet wipe (with alcohol or disinfectant), starting from the cistern, to the toilet seat on (both sides), then the toilet bowl (last). Dispose of the wet wipe.
  4. Spray cleaning liquid onto the surface of the wash basin and the tiles of the shower area
  5. Sweep the floor
  6. Wipe the wash basin with a sponge and rinse, then dry the faucet and the wash basin with a dry cloth.
  7. Wipe the mirror and shelves with the same dry cloth
  8. Rinse the shower tiles then dry with the same dry cloth
  9. Spray cleaning liquid on the shower floor and scrub with a brush, rinse, scrape the water into the drainage hole with a squeegee, then dry the floor
  10. Flush the toilet
  11. Check that there is toilet paper and soap
  12. Lastly, wet the floor with water and a bit of cleaning liquid, then mop with the micro fiber mop

If you clean the bathroom everyday, there shouldn’t be a need to use air freshener. Make sure that there is good ventilation by leaving the windows and door open for a while.

If you don’t have time, you can skip a few steps, but make sure you clean the wash basin and the toilet, sweep the floor, remove hair from the cover of drainage hole in the shower (if any), and dry the shower floor.

For me a clean bathroom is the acid test of how clean a home is.

By Chayo, Homskil Editor1, 14 January 2021

Home Protection: Monkey-proofing

I never imagined that “home safety and protection” could include protection from monkeys. Although, come to think of it, when I was a child, I had a shock when the neighbours called out to us from their fence to tell us that there was an intruder in our garden – an iguana! It was huge and it looked like a crocodile. That was probably my first encounter with intruders of the non-human kind.

Recently, a whole family of monkeys has been wandering around our neighbourhood looking for food. I was tasked with finding a way to keep the monkeys away without harming them, so I googled and found out that monkeys are afraid of snakes. Oh great! I am more afraid of snakes than monkeys. An idea came to mind. I will look for a green rubber snake, and I knew just the place that might have it. Yes, Daiso. I bought two. I had to soak them in water overnight. They grew and looked quite real. We left one snake on a balcony and another one in the garden. The monkeys didn’t come back for a while. The gardeners came and thought that the one in the garden was real, and they had a discussion about what to do with it. We forgot to tell them about it, fortunately, one of the gardeners realised that it didn’t have a head (the rubber had disintegrated).

In the unlikely event that you should have to deal with an invasion of monkeys, remember that green rubber snakes are a good and inexpensive means to keep them from coming back.

By Chayo, Homskil Editor 1, 17 January 2021

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com
“The Coconut is Not a Nut” Story

I don’t know if you have heard Ryan Cayabyab’s song “Da Coconut Nut“. It talks about the coconut not being a nut. The coconut is not a nut, it’s a fruit, although there has been lengthy discussions on the issue. But it’s not just a fruit, it’s an amazing fruit. I discovered its amazing properties over time, especially in the Philippines where it kept appearing in different forms and for various uses.

When I celebrated a birthday in the Philippines, we had adobo (a stewed meat dish with coconut milk) served in a coconut shell. I was very moved by the detail. There were many craft items made from coconut shell. I found the native craft items creative and charming. Apart from being used as ornaments and for serving food, the coconut had other more practical uses. Coconut husks were used to polish wooden floors.

There is the coconut broom which is used for sweeping in many Asian countries. It’s made of coconut leaf sticks. It’s good for sweeping wet floors and corners of rooms. I once heard a Eurasian lady, who was writing a cook book, say that she had a recipe for fruit cake that required the use of a coconut broom. It was used to stir the cake batter. I suppose it is like using a wooden spoon.

I would agree with Ryan Cayabyab’s song that the coconut is not a nut, because it has juice and flesh in it, but the botanists would have more to say about it. From the coconut, we get coconut milk and coconut oil. Yesterday, a friend WhatAapped me to tell me that she applied coconut oil to her rashes and they disappeared. But since we don’t know the scientific reason for it, it is not something that we would recommend. She is reading my favourite book entitled The Gift of Pain (originally The Gift Nobody Wants) by Dr Paul Brand, in which he mentioned coconut water (which is usually sterile) being given intravenously to soldiers, who were dehydrated during the Second World War, due to a shortage of saline solution. I was surprised to find that a lot of research has since been done on coconut juice and its properties.

On one of my trips to India, a friend had surgery, and since I was free at the weekend, I kept her company in hospital. I noticed that she was given a glass of liquid to drink soon after surgery. I was curious because it looked a bit unusual. It was coconut water! I don’t know if it is common practice anywhere else to drink coconut water after surgery. I had only taken coconut water at the beach on holiday when I was growing up. It was a treat to have a whole coconut to myself.

Some years ago, I went to Nakorn Nayok, a small province in Thailand, with a group friends and students to teach English at a village school for a week. We were welcomed by the principal with a sack of coconuts. A whole big sack. She smiled and told us that we could enjoy coconut juice with our meal every evening. The question was: “How to get the juice out of the coconut?” The answer was: “With a chopper, course.” Being city folks from several countries and unaccustomed farm work, it was a challenge for all of us. But I was the “lucky one” who got the honour of chopping coconuts every evening. The same friend who used the coconut oil on her rashes donated S$150 to fund a lunch treat for 100 village school children. The children had generous helpings of chicken rice and free flow of coconut ice cream from what looked like an oil drum (without the oil) with ice inside to keep the ice cream tubs cold. It was quite a sight to see the children running back to the drum for more helpings. You could say, “It was cool”.

The coconut might appear to be a humble fruit, but it has a song written about it, it has many uses, it has saved lives, and it has made many people happy. And best of all, the coconut doesn’t seem to mind being called a nut!

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 7 February 2021


The bathroom cleaning basket

Home Security: Protection from Monkeys

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com


Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com


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