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.


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

My mom cleaned the kitchen counters and cupboard doors rather meticulously. She'd use a scrubbing sponge to start, wipe the big crumbs and things into her hand and then empty them into the in-sink-erator. (Funny, it only occurs to me just now that "in-sink-erator" is a play on "incinerator," whereas I'd always thought that an "erator" was the generic name for some sort of grinding tool, and that in-sink just qualified it.) Anyway, then she'd use the scrubber to get at some of the finer bits of dirt that were stuck to the counter, and if necessary would scrape at them with her fingernail. Finally, she'd wipe the counter down with the soft side of the sponge. There was a slightly anxious quality to this particular kind of cleaning, it seemed to me, and I don't think she liked it that much; she did seem to find some satisfaction in cleaning the dishes, however.

Brooklyn, NY, USA