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 just cleaned my kitchen a half hour ago. There're a big table on the dining room, but my husband and I usually have dinner on a small kitchen table when we don't have other guests. It's winter now; we closed all windows and turned on the heat, so it's warm in the kitchen. After dinner, my husband went out to cut his hair at a barbershop downstairs, then I began to clean the kitchen. I turned off the TV which hung on the wall of the kitchen. I don't like it, it's always too noisy. I usually turn off the TV when I stay alone at home. Then I feel quiet. I washed all the bowls and dishes, like many other days. And, at the same time, I boiled a pot of water on the stove. I was thinking about what I would do after cleaning work: I would sit down in the reading room, have some green tea, finish a project plan which I will give to my boss tomorrow, write two emails to someone whom I will interview next week. When I finished washing bowls and dishes, I began to clean all the tables and desks in the kitchen with a wet cloth. All the work didn't take long time, maybe 15-20 mins. I was doing things, thinking things, but I didn't feel something. I didn't even take a look from the window when I was standing beside the sink in front of the window.

Shanghai, China