Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 7: Elbow Grease

by Michael on March 28, 2010 · 0 comments

Your feet here. (Photo by Dan)

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

Yesterday we started cleaning the kitchen, and if you haven’t finished you can continue today. However, you can feel free to call it a rest day (read on for details).

Your Home: Oven Cleaning Tips

The one severe impediment to a clean kitchen is an oven coated with drips, splatters and explosions that have burned onto the oven walls. Here are some tips for wrestling with a grimy oven:

  • Always consult your oven’s manual, if you’ve got it. If you don’t you might be able to look it up online using the brand and model number. The instructions in your manual override anything I tell you below.
  • Remove the racks from the oven and clean them separately. Soak them if food is caked on.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, do not scrub it. Run the self-clean cycle to turn that baked-on food to ashes. Make sure the oven door lock is securely locked for cleaning, and be sure to open a window and turn on the vent fan above the stove—there could be smoke. Then wipe the oven out with a sponge and mild cleaner. Never use scrubbers or oven cleaners on a self-cleaning oven.
  • If your oven is “continuous cleaning” (textured), food theoretically burns up during normal use and the texture of the oven walls keeps it from sticking. Use just a sponge or cloth and a mild all-purpose cleaner or dish soap. Again, no abrasives, scrubbers or oven cleaner.
  • If you have a regular, non-self-cleaning oven, get out the gloves and scrubber, because it’s time for elbow grease. If it’s especially grungy, you might consider using an oven cleaner that chemically melts the grunge, then wipe it away. (Use gloves and proper ventilation with oven cleaner—it’s nasty stuff.)

Wiping up spills as they happen will prevent oven cleaning from becoming a major operation in the future. Just let it cool down a bit first.

Your World: Pack a Lunch

With five days of your Crap Detox under your belt, think about what you eat when you’re at work. So many guys are great at eating healthy as long as they’re at home where they control the ingredients, but come lunchtime they’re hitting the fast-food place down the block. Hey, it’s there, you’re there, you’re crunched for time…

Break the cycle now.

If you already make yourself healthy lunches to bring to work, that’s awesome, stand down. Otherwise, get yourself a menu and start packing.

Lunch is actually easy to create for yourself—it’s a cooked meal packaged up for later consumption. Almost anything you can eat for dinner, you can put in Tupperware or foil and bring to the job. Almost every workplace now has a microwave, which means you don’t have to eat a cold entree. Some favorites of mine:

  • Stew or soup made in the crock pot
  • Baked or roasted chicken
  • Roast turkey or tuna sandwiches (since you’re not eating wheat right now, substitute lettuce leaves for bread).
  • Curried chicken or vegetables
  • Salad with ham, chicken or fish
  • Salmon steak, pre-cooked
  • Frozen vegetables for steaming
  • Rice and beans

The list goes on. But just as important as your lunch entree is a snack or two to get you through the morning and/or afternoon. Avoid the receptionist’s candy bowl by substituting some fruit (apples, oranges, grapes, banana, raisins), nuts (walnuts or almonds), carrot sticks, a hard-boiled egg, or some protein powder mixed with water. You could even eat another piece of chicken or fish – there are no rules, other than it has to use basic healthy ingredients.

When you make dinner, keep lunch in mind: make an extra portion or two to package up and bring to work. That way it won’t take a special effort to make a healthy lunch—you’ll have it right there.

Oh, and for meals involving sauces or soups, get yourself 3-4 good leak-proof, microwaveable containers so your backpack or briefcase doesn’t turn into an ugly mess. A trick you can use is to also seal that container in a Ziploc bag.

Yourself: Relax

It’s Sunday and you’ve done a lot this week. If you don’t feel like cleaning, don’t. There are three more days to finish the kitchen. If you just want to loaf in your pajamas and watch basketball, fine. Draw a hot bath or go use the hot tub at the gym. Take a nap. Listen to music. Play music. Spend quality time with your pet. Walk on the beach or by the lake. Go fishing. Whittle. Whatever relaxes you, do it today.

But be ready to work tomorrow.

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