Dealing with Domesticity's 'Three D's' Time-Short Householders Turn to the Pros, Do-It-Yourself Gurus, and Designers to Defeat Dust, Dirt, and Disorder

By Marilyn Gardner, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 1996 | Go to article overview

Dealing with Domesticity's 'Three D's' Time-Short Householders Turn to the Pros, Do-It-Yourself Gurus, and Designers to Defeat Dust, Dirt, and Disorder


Marilyn Gardner, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Every other Wednesday noon, housecleaning partners Dianne Kraus and Peggy Jackson pull up to a beige two-story house in Ithaca, N.Y. Although the owners are at work, the two women unlock the door and begin their carefully orchestrated routine. For nearly three hours they vacuum, dust, polish, and scrub, upstairs and down.

"It smells so good and looks so clean when we come home," says Linda Klena, a nurse at Cornell University. She and her husband, Dennis Lynch, an assistant dean at Ithaca College, used to share the cleaning. But "there just was no way we could live our lives and clean the house simultaneously," she says. "I don't see how people do it when they work full time."

Samia Langlade of Needham, Mass., takes a different approach. After putting in long days as a travel agent during the week, she spends up to eight hours every other weekend cleaning her three-bedroom house. While favorite operas play on the CD, she moves furniture to vacuum, washes floors, cleans kitchen appliances inside and out, dusts picture frames and light bulbs, and cares for her plants.

"When I finish, I feel like a bird - free," says Ms. Langlade, the mother of 19-year-old twin daughters. "It has never crossed my mind to hire someone to clean my house. It's not that I don't trust people. It's just that the way they work doesn't satisfy me."

Call this a tale of two cleaning styles and consider it a 1990s microcosm of Americans' ongoing attempt to conquer the three D's of domesticity: dust, dirt, and disorder. With more families earning two incomes and working longer hours, questions such as "Who will clean, and when?" and "How clean is clean?" loom large.

"We don't have cleaning days anymore - we have hours, we have minutes," says Don Aslett, an author and lecturer on housework.

To maximize that time, more households are turning to cleaning companies or independent cleaners, contributing to rapid growth in the industry. One of the largest chains, Merry Maids, which operates 800 franchises in the United States and 200 internationally, grew about 15 percent last year and between 15 and 20 percent for each of the past five years, according to spokeswoman Sarah Smock.

Yet the cleaning industry as a whole, Mr. Aslett observes, remains "a struggling business," with a failure rate of nearly 97 percent. "People start janitor businesses and maid businesses, but they don't always hire professionals," he says.

Among those hiring outside help, two-career couples with children make up the largest group. Senior citizens rank second. Seventy percent of Merry Maids customers use weekly or biweekly services, Ms. Smock says. The rest are divided between those who want help monthly and those who call for one-time or sporadic cleaning.

For some families, hiring outside help is a priority even when budgets are modest. "Some people can't afford to hire me, but they can't live without me," says Laura Sullivan of Norfolk, Mass. "They'd sacrifice anything. They say, 'We won't go on vacation.' "

New tax laws simplify task

As a professional cleaner, Mrs. Kraus observes wide variations in customers' cleaning patterns. "Some people are kind of obsessive, some are real lax, and most are somewhere in the middle."

Equally varied are people's views on the choice between cleaning services and independent cleaners. Some clients say services provide greater reliability: If one employee can't make it, the company sends someone else.

Those who like services also point out the advantage of not having to pay taxes, Social Security, and insurance for household employees - details the company handles. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dealing with Domesticity's 'Three D's' Time-Short Householders Turn to the Pros, Do-It-Yourself Gurus, and Designers to Defeat Dust, Dirt, and Disorder
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.