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.


8. Think of the last time you cleaned house. Describe what you did and how you felt.

I was about to have my friends over, and I looked at the mess in my home and felt really ashamed. I spent the next three hours cleaning. I picked up all the clothes lying around and put them in the washer. The smell of the detergent was strong, almost anti-septic. With the washer whirring in the background, I moved to the dishes. I scrubbed the pots, the glasses, the spoons. The spoons with nutella on them were the hardest to scrub. My hands started to wrinkle but the dishes were not done. At this point, most of the time, I give up. But, I wanted to have clean dishes for my friends so I pushed through the misery and discomfort of dishwashing. Then, I wiped clean the countertops and the stove with a disinfectant. At this point, the house smelt like a hospital. Sterile. Next, I sorted through the millions of paper hand-outs from CalArts to figure out which one needed to be in recycling. One vicious handout gave me a paper-cut. I bled but I did not give up. I cleared my desk and then moved on to make my bed. Just then, Bernadette arrived, and the first thing she said when she entered my space was how it smelt of America.

California, USA