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 rarely - almost never - clean my entire apartment all at once; I'll do little parts at a time. The last time I did a pretty thorough cleaning was in anticipation of having a friend come to stay in my apartment while I was away. I occasionally have back trouble, and one of the triggers is staying bent over to scrub the floors or the bathtub. This cleaning job strained my back. I don't have the best sense of smell, and I'm just not attuned all that much to smell, so I don't recall anything particular there. I suppose the sounds of cleaning for me are running water while cleaning dishes or the tub or sinks, or the scratching sound of a scrubber on countertops. For whatever reason - it strikes me as odd now that I think of it - I generally don't listen to music or the radio when I'm cleaning, so the sounds of cleaning really are the sounds of cleaning. I generally feel detached or dissociative when cleaning, I don't usually enjoy it and I've got my mind on other things - so as a result I don't pay that much attention to the sensations associated with it.

Brooklyn, NY, USA