Saturday, February 9, 2013

New Updated Edition of The House That Cleans Itself

The updated version The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark came Wednesday. That first version has sold over 100,000 copies. Wednesday I sat down on the deck to read the updated version, enjoying nutritious Plant City strawberries, a small avocado and a few almonds. Double treat of food and book The additional subtitle of the updated edition  is "8 Steps to Keep Your Home Twice as Neat in Half the Time". You can order that book from Amazon at the lower right of this blog.

The first thing I was curious about was the donut tray. Did she have it in the second book? Yes she does.

p.  184 in first edition vs. p. 52 in new version

My  Leaning Two-Step Sorting System
I thought about the difference in the 2007 and 2013 editions. In six years the author has been living this book and writing novels. That jelly rack or donut rack holds her research. It's probably more sturdy than my Office Depot file that helps me with the two-step sorting. My drawers pictured include Pending, Correspondence, Receipts, Health, Toastmasters and Taxes. It is so wonderful to now have all my tax information together. These are not projects, but broad category sorting that the author recommends. The white top box includes my daily mail that I sort through once a week and were it not for the paper clutter in Area #7 I am fairly paper clutter free now. However, I do not want a donut rack in my home. It is not pretty. But I do have projects to finish and Area #7 (the guest bedroom disaster area I blogged about earlier this week) can help house projects. What Mrs. Clark's donut or jelly stand translates for me is horizontal places for projects. I do have horizontal spaces in Area #7 on a wall rack that can house sewing and other crafts including photo albums. She suggests:

Create a project area in a different room where anything left unfinished after one sitting will be left alone until I can get back to it. (p. 52)
The updated book does seem to ease up on some suggestions in favor of concepts. Her COVERT
system takes a backseat (chapter 20) to her emphasis on 8 steps in chapters 4-11.  The 8 steps are:
  1. Become a detective. She asks you to try to be detached, analyze the evidence of the problem, figure out the reason, and figure out the root cause. I saw evidence that I had tried a system, that it had gotten out of hand and I couldn't maintain it with all going on in my life, including adjusting to my husband's Alzheimer's.
  2. Change the house to fit the behavior. This point was emphasized in the first edition that I wrote about earlier on this blog. (See labels for The House That Cleans Itself on this blog to read about what I have done beginning last fall.)
  3. Stained rug
  4. Create a first impression of clean. She covers sight zones, but also adds the concept of "inevitable invisibles"which she defines as
    those things that contribute to an overall feeling of disorder or disrepair--staines, tears, rust, grayed edges and nicks--but that you rarely notice because you've been living with them so long that they have become invisible to you. (p. 62)
    An example of one is our rugs which were professionally cleaned, but moisture deep down eventually came to the surface so the surface of the rug was no longer clean. We have our own expensive carpet cleaner in for repair. I will get a lesson in how to operate it when I pick it up, since my husband no longer cleans our carpets as he once did.
  5. Think like a hotel. The author covers stations, up and away, and barnacling (the tendency to pile stuff on horizontal surfaces) so you can't easily dust.
  6. Aim for simplicity. She again asks these three questions about stuff::
    1) Is this item worth my time?
    2) Does what I get from this item provide a fair trade-off considering the time I'll have to spend cleaning and storing it?
    3) Do I want to spend another second in the future fooling with it, or do I want to get rid of it now so it will no longer cost me a single moment of time? (p. 99 in the 2007 edition and p. 81 in the 2013 edition)
  7. BEFORE picture shows my good potential,
    but just collection of projects to go through
     and not any active projects.
  8. Explore the "why". You have to discover why you are housekeeping impaired. Mrs. Clark discusses several senarios, or whys. I am thinking through the evidence in the above photo that point to poor housekeeping.  
  9. Make it a team effort. I must admit that I have a hard time with this one because hubby does very little now and I do not have troops to rally. Perhaps I will step up and ask for volunteers especially in the yard, garage and workshop.
  10. Put God at the center. She quotes Proverbs 16: 3 which says,
    Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Certainly the LORD has been helping my efforts as I go through this house, and the discipline of prayer and Bible study is so important to me. I want God to be at the center of my efforts each and every day. I know He is guiding my caregiving of my husband and I know people are praying for us.

My husband's memory is slowly leaving his mind and I realize that I need to make photo albums soon before I finish Area #7, the guest bedroom. Lots of photos are in that room and I set up the same table that was in Area #4 as a project place now. Usually I would do a project in the den or on the dining room table, but now I have a project place picking up on Mrs. Clark's suggestions. I am now trying to get a photo album of some sort done for my husband by Valentines Day. It is the green drop down one at the right pictured below--much easier than a Creative Memories album, and it will fit nicely on his new DVD coffee table.

Station for creating photo albums

Love having this place to work that is not in the sight zone. When we have overnight company, it will be changed.

The updated book emphasies label makers. I have an Electronic Dymo Labelmaker and am ordering Dymo tape for it so I will be able to mark containers in the home.

This 2013 edition  of the book also has a glossary of terms and a chapter on yard sales. It was so much fun to read this book and gain new concepts about my housekeeping and de-cluttering efforts.



  1. Put a review of book on Amazon this morning. Busy week, but hope to have photo project for my husband done for Valentines Day. Just great to have an out-of-sight place to work on that project with snipppets of time.

  2. LOVE the donut tray! I am turning stuff away now because of you. Stress is leaving the building!

  3. LOL! Marianne, you just plain like donuts which often are a feature on your blog! Wasn't Dunkin' Donuts next to the children's museum!

  4. Shhh. You're revealing all my secrets. (;