Thursday, June 01, 2006

Little Idiosyncracies

We all have them, right? One of mine is that I'm very particular about my kitchen and bathroom. I'm strictly a toilet-lid down person, and it bothers me no end when a guest leaves the lid up. There is something about an open toilet that just strikes me as unspeakably rude (though only in my own house - it doesn't bother me in other people's homes, though I will close the lid if I use your bathroom). But more to the point, we have cats, and when we got them, I didn't want them drinking out of the toilet as have the cats of some (pretty disgusting, actually) people I've known. And then we had a kid - ditto (um, that is, I didn't want the kid throwing toys in - I don't know anyone whose kid drinks out of the toilet, and if you do, please don't tell me about it). So the toilet lid rule has been in effect for over ten years.

And still, people who've been visiting us for that long and who know us well leave the lid up.

I also have a thing about the way my dishes are washed. Right now we have houseguests who drink tea. And tea, if you have noticed, leaves a stain on cups and the teapot. Now, it never fails to amaze me how a person can take a clean mug - sans tea stain - enjoy a cup of tea, wash the cup, and put it back away with a new tea stain and see nothing wrong with that. These particular house guests do this ALL THE TIME. And they do it to the teapot, too, which never gets used unless they are visiting, so I know that they are the tea stainers.

The thing is, the tea stains come out easily with a little scrubbing - if you get at them right away and don't let them sit. But, for whatever reason - and I've had occasion to spend plenty of time wondering what the reasons might be (they're losing their eyesight? they're so accustomed to the tea stains in their own dishes that they no longer see them? they don't realize that tea stains come out? they figure tea stains are just a part of life, so why not embrace them?) - they don't seem to notice the stains, and so I am left to sneak into the kitchen later and re-wash things so they are not permanently stained.

And then there's the matter of the dish scrubby. I have a whole dishwashing system. There's the dishrag, for actually washing the dishes. I knit these myself and wash them in the washing machine every so often. There's the scrubby, which I buy at the store, for scrubbing pots, but I use this sparingly and take time to get the bits of food out of it each time so that I won't have to keep replacing it. (I really, really hate filthy dish scrubbies - ick.) There's the steel wool, which I never use but which is there for the occasional steel wool emergency. And then there's the old, filthy and disgusting scrubby, which is used for cleaning the sink.

Guess which one guests always use on the dishes?

What boggles my mind is that they ALWAYS pick that one, and it's not just our current houseguests but others, too. And I always say, "please don't use that one, it's for cleaning the sink and counters," and they are perplexed as to why I'd be bothered by them washing my dishes with the same dirty-looking scrubby that probably has AJax or whatever still in it. And then next time, they use the wrong one, again.

Along similar lines, I rewash anything that comes into contact with the mat under the dish drying basket, just on principle. I'm surprised and revolted by how frequently people will put silverware flat on the mat - I mean, ick. Or maybe everyone but me scours their mat on a regular basis. Even so, my mat does not even *look* clean.

Furthermore, I have a very picky dishwasher, and it needs to be loaded a certain way. And everytime these house guests visit, we must go through it again - please let me or my partner load the dishwasher because it's really fussy and it won't wash the dishes if you don't stack exactly the right way. And yet, I find things like upside-down silverware in the silverware basket.

It's not that I'm especially clean. I am perfectly willing to let dishes rot in the sink until I can get to them, and every so often, that means a week. I know that's disgusting to many people. I'm not thrilled about it, but I'm used to it, and I can live with it. But if I'm going to clean, I do it right, and that means that I follow all of the above "rules" and that when I wash a dish, it has no food particles or anything left on it afterward. (Unlike SOME people.)

Now, I'll be honest. You caught the title of this post, right? These are MY little idiosyncracies. I know that. I know that the world won't end if the silverware is loaded upside-down or if the toilet lid is up. I know that, at bottom, this is Plainsfeminist being OCD and not entirely an issue of cleanliness. But then - it's my kitchen, isn't it, and my bathroom. And I suspect that, what's really going on is that our houseguests are trying, from time to time, to teach me a lesson, because we end up having the same discussions each visit about these things.

(You might be thinking that any host who would let her guest do the dishes deserves to be taught a lesson. But really, I implore them not to. The only way to prevent it is to always do the dishes immediately after using them, which is so totally not my style. But seriously, if you come over for a meal, please don't do the dishes. It will cause me enormous anxiety. If you feel you must do something, just bring some foodstuff to serve with dinner, and we'll call it even.)


math4knitters said...

My mom taught me this trcik years ago -- efferdent (or whatever fizzy denture-cleaner) will strip the tea or coffee stains off of anything. Just fill the offending vessel with water, pop in the tablet and leave it alone overnight. You might still want to wash it after, since it will be minty-fresh, but it will sparkle.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Aaaahhhh...THANK you, Lara!!!

Someday Maybe said...

Baking soda will also erase tea stains like magic. Just sprinkle on dish rag and wipe the inside of the cup.

Someday Maybe said...

p.s. people messing about in my kitchen drives me nuts too. Everything has a PLACE. If it's not in the right PLACE, the earth wobbles on its axis. So I just prefer to do things myself.

Sally Pepper said...

OK, let's talk about dishwashing methods. First of all, you should wash your knitted dishrags in the washing machine way more than "every so often"! Lots of germs and yucky stuff can gather there. And your pot scrubby, even though you've removed bits of food, can have nasty crud on it which is invisible to the naked eye. Also, why would you even use a "filthy and disgusting scrubby" to clean your sink? You should use a clean scrubby to clean your sink! Buy more scrubbies! If you'd rather not, then wash your scrubbies in the washing machine. And one final thought. I am opposed to those little mats people put in their sinks, so I can understand why you wash stuff that has touched the mat. I know, they're there to keep the sink from being scratched (at least that's what I think the purpose is), but they are nothing but gunk collectors.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Sally Pepper, I would let *you* wash my dishes! I heart you!

Just so you don't have too big a heart attack - I rarely use the pot scrubby. I actually clean off most of the crud with a utensil or something before the scrubby even gets to it. So it's quite clean. The sink scrubby is what happens to the pot scrubby after it gets old.

Anonymous said...

Using a little bleach in water will remove tea stain, it will also disinfect your utensils and other dishes. A little bleach can make a difference. Just be sure to rinse well so that your dishes don't taste like bleach. After each use, hang your rags to dry before putting it into the laundry. Each day, use a clean dishrag.