About this project

This is a place for people to share stories, memories, and images of cleaning house. Please follow us, participate and connect:

Share a cleaning story

Pick one or more of the prompts below. Submit text or photos in response.

Click on a prompt to see responses posted by others.

1. What’s your favorite cleaning task? Why?

2. What's your least favorite cleaning task? Why?

3. When you think of your mother (or grandmother) cleaning, what do you see her doing?

4. When you think of your father (or grandfather) cleaning, what do you see him doing?

5. When you think of cleaning, what image comes to mind? Take a photograph that approximates this mental image.

6. Pull out the cleaning supplies, tools, and products under your sink (or wherever you keep them). Take a group portrait of them.

7. Do you have any unique or unusual cleaning tools? Take a photograph and write a short caption describing what it is.

8. Think of the last time you cleaned house. Take a moment to remember the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations associated with that experience. Describe what you did and how you felt.

9. Take “before” and “after” photographs of a room, or part of a room, that you clean.

10. What does cleaning represent in your life?

11. How would/do you feel about hiring someone to clean your house?

12. How would/do you feel about being employed to clean other people’s houses?

13. Take a photograph of what’s in your kitchen sink right now.

14. Is there something culturally specific about the way you clean or your relationship to cleaning? Explain.

15. Do you have any recurring arguments with family members or housemates about cleaning? Describe.

16. Describe a memory about cleaning when you were a child.

17. Take a series of photographs of an area in your house, such as a table, your dish rack, your bed or bedroom floor, one a day, for nine days. Take the photographs from the same angle, so that the space doesn’t change, just the objects in it. You don’t have to do it on consecutive days, just whenever you think of it.


15. Do you have any recurring arguments with family members or housemates about cleaning? Describe.

I currently live alone, but for a long time I lived in a cooperative house, and dishes were always a source of contention. We only had one kitchen sink for seven people living in the house. Some people cleaned and dried their dishes right away (like me), and others would leave their dishes to soak and only sometimes remember to clean them later, or the real slobs would just leave their dirty dishes on the table or the counter where they'd used them. This came up as an issue at a solid majority of the many dozens of house meetings we had, and even when it wasn't raised as an issue, oftentimes it was lurking in the background. The cleaner people, such as myself, felt that it was easy for the kitchen to get very dirty very fast, and so we'd better keep on top of the dishes. The "soakers" wanted to feel relaxed at home, and leave their dishes sometimes without feeling hounded. And the ones who just left their dirty dishes around tended to be young and male, and perhaps more used to being cleaned up after by their mothers.

Brooklyn, NY, USA