Last weekend, I found myself ironing my jeans. This is not a crime of course, but, in the grand scheme of things, do I really need to waste my precious Sunday afternoon doing this? No. And, yes, I probably do need to give myself a bit of a talking to.
Ironing is a contentious subject. A quick straw poll and it seems I am the only person in The Pool office (the world?) who likes a nicely pressed jean. For some, though, ironing their bedlinen is a life goal: “I think it's SO nice to slip into smooth sheets." For others, it’s up there with pulling teeth. More than half of the team admitted that they never iron and quite a few admitted to putting something back on a shop rail because it looked like it would crease. A fashion editor who will remain unnamed confessed to me she doesn’t even OWN an iron and, when pressed (sorry), admitted she sometimes takes a pile home for her mum to do. Make of that what you will.
In my defence, jeans ironing is one of those chores that I do automatically and, if I stop to think about it, yes, it's maybe sometimes a wee bit unnecessary. But I don’t think I am alone – we all probably have certain things we do around the house on autopilot, out of habit or some deep-rooted obligation that the sky might fall down if we don’t. I’m obviously exaggerating about the sky bit, but what I am trying to say is why are we even listening to experts like the Good Housekeeping Institute telling us to do stuff like wash our bedlinen every couple of weeks? Surely, if we want to leave our sheets a few weeks more because we had a busy weekend, and we are totally happy sleeping in our own dead skin cells, then we only have ourselves to answer to?
I’ve made a list of the Unnecessary Domestic Chores I do on autopilot that I may be don't need to do, as well as ironing jeans:
Making my bed every morning
I may not wash my bedlinen as regularly as the domestic sergeant majors want me to, but I do make my bed every day or, rather, I make sure the duvet is on and looks tidy. Apparently, though, I shouldn’t be doing this because of dust mites. Scientists say there are as many as 1.5 million of the critters partying away beside you of a night, feasting off your skin cells. If you make your bed immediately in the morning they’re left trapped underneath, to breed and do whatever unmentionable things they do. If you don’t, and leave your sheets exposed to fresh air and light, most mites die from dehydration.
I’m taking that to mean that if I start not making my bed, I can then leave my bedlinen unwashed for even longer, which is a win-win situation all round.
Washing things that don’t need washing
Full disclosure: sometimes I bung things in the laundry basket that probably don’t need washing, as it’s late at night and I’m too tired to stop and think about whether it really needs washing or not. Wasteful, I know. According to this list by American lifestyle bible Real Simple, trousers and skirts should go in the washing machine after every five to seven wears, jumpers after two wears, pyjamas and bras after three to four wears. Obviously, this is just another “expert” telling you when to wash stuff, so may only be useful for people who over-wash like me, also I’d suggest using it as a general guide only.
Rinsing plates before they go in the dishwasher
Apparently, you don’t need to do this – according to research it can actually confuse the machine and make detergent ineffective. Soap is designed to attach itself to food particles, so if the plates are clean when they enter the appliance, it won't have anything to attach to. The study also says that newer, high-tech models of dishwasher have sensors that monitor how long it takes to clean dishes, to calculate how long a cycle should last. If plates are already rinsed of all food particles, then the cycle won't take long – and could mean you're stuck with a very short default cycle that won't clean your plates properly in the future. Plus, it wastes water doing both. So, scrape off food scraps by all means, but don’t rinse.
Hoovering “aggro” rugs
I have a cowhide rug in the living room that is dark brown, increasingly threadbare (thanks to my over-Hoovering) and shows up every bloody bit of fluff. It drives me mad. But if I just asked people to take off their shoes, then I wouldn’t have to get the Henry out so often, would I? I am also saving up for a deep-tufted Berber pile rug – the reason being that fluffy rugs gobble up grit, so it never sees the light of day again.
Drying dishes by hand. And washing up
Apparently, it's better to air-dry your dishes than to use a tea towel, because a tea towel can carry all sorts of bacteria. According to a study from the University of Arizona, enteric bacteria was found in 89 per cent and E. coli in 25.6 per cent of kitchen tea towels. This was the same for washing-up sponges, so I’m taking this as the perfect excuse never to do the washing-up again. Google recommends you microwave a damp sponge for a minute or so every day, which will kill those germs, but that, in my mind, is again veering into Unnecessary Domestic Chore territory.
Dusting my bookshelves
I could think of a million more fun things to do than dusting: taking my car for a new exhaust, sorting out the recycling, watching paint dry… plus dusting is one of those chores that the more you do it, the more you need to do it. So, I found a genius tip from Mr Google for you: align your books to the edge of the shelves and you never need to dust again. Ta-dah!
On a final note…
Be wary of anyone who tells you to deep-clean your upholstery, wipe lightbulbs and wash curtains – even if they say you only need to do it once a year. Personally, if I can go through life without wiping a lightbulb, I’ll be a happy woman.