I’m cleaning house. Literally. Yesterday was my longtime cleaning lady’s last day. A few people think I’m crazy for letting her go. She didn’t charge too much, only came every other week and kept me from having to clean the toilets. (You don’t want to know about my husband’s digestive system.) And there are a few people that think it was crazy that I actually even employed a cleaning lady since I only work part-time. She hasn’t been doing a great job as of late and ate the leftover Shake N’ Bake that I was planning on serving for dinner. Plus the kids are older and it’s time for them to start doing more around the house.

But honestly, I haven’t cleaned my own house or apartment since I got married the first time, 15 years ago. I’ve always done all of the laundry though. No small feat with having a few kids who change their clothes with the frequency of actors in a Broadway musical and a husband who comes home smelling of chicken guts and bleach. (Read “Circus In My Laundry Room.) And of course, I’ve had to do some cleaning in between the times that the cleaning lady was here, especially if we were having one of our dinner parties. (Read “Excuse Me While I Kiss The Cielo). But that usually entailed only cleaning the downstairs.

So, over the last few months, I’ve been preparing for this day by cleaning out closets and bathroom drawers and reorganizing my filing cabinets knowing that the less stuff you have, the easier it is to clean. And I’m by no means done. I still have to clean out my closet plus a linen closet and two other closets where I throw everything else. Plus get rid of all of my tchotchkes, the things that sit out and attract dust.

Probably my best preparation for this new endeavor was buying a Shark Steam Pocket Mop. My tile kitchen floor is the area of the house that gets the dirtiest the fastest. My husband is a great cook but a messy one. And though the kids are older, they still manage to drop food on the floor, frequently. And we don’t have a dog. Add to that having a back door that opens in to the kitchen and you have all the makings for a festival of dirt.

I did some research on the Shark and checked it out at Target one day when I was with my daughter. She had seen the infomercial while at her grandmother’s house, where the TV is always on, and could recite all the different things the mop can do. It has two interchangeable heads (rectangular and triangular to fit in corners and behind the toilet), reusable pads that get thrown in the washing machine, is safe to use on laminate floors and uses high temperature steam to clean so there are no chemicals involved. SOLD!

I was very excited to get it home and try it out. I vacuumed first because that’s what the manual said to do. Then I put the Shark together, which was extremely easy to do. Filled the tank up with water, let it heat up for a minute and got to work. I’m easily impressed by something that seems so easy to use yet works so well. So I was impressed. But the real test was my husband. Because he owns a restaurant and is constantly working on keeping the floors clean, I thought that he would be dismissive. But I was pleasantly surprised by him being impressed, really impressed, by the results.

So, today is the first day of the rest of my cleaning life. And so far, so good. I’ve had to bleach some red wine stains off the white Corian countertop and clean some Cocoa Krispies up off of the floor. Hopefully, I can find more products like the Shark to make the chores easier. A cordless vacuum cleaner, an automatic window cleaner, a self-cleaning vibrator. Oops, that last one is in the wrong blog post. But now that I’m thinking about it, a French Maid’s outfit might make it more fun.