FILED IN: House & Home

Be My Baby Wipe

I am a bad housekeeper. No, it’s beyond that. I don’t keep the house at all. The house (or apartment in my case) keeps me: keeps me in a perpetual state of guilt and ineptitude. While my husband is adept at mopping floors, scrubbing pans and shouting out stains, I, sadly, am not. What I am is lazy and while I eschew brooms and vacuums and scrubby bubble foams, I have managed the fine art of cleaning my entire home, not to mention my two children, with a tub of baby wipes.

Ah, the wipe. When my first son was born nine years ago, my friend Ann brought over some hand-me-down toys outgrown by her four year old. That was nice. She also brought a tub of baby wipes. That was nicer. “They’re great for cleaning toys” she said, wiping away the dusty smudges of a Fischer Price piano. Little did she know that my love of wipes would grow exponentially and would soon leap from the toy box to encompass every corner of my family’s existence. I have wipes in the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom, wipes in my purse and wipes in the car. There are wipes on the changing table (that is a given) but also wipes by the cat’s dish and wipes by the front door. Here, for the uninitiated, a sample of all a wonderful wipe can do.

The Kitchen: My husband mops the floor. I get down on my hands and knees and scrub with a wipe. There go scuff marks, there goes the residue from the evening’s burgers and fries. And forget sponging down the table, use a wipe on the counters, the tabletop, the refrigerator door, the stove, the oven door, the cupboards and the walls. Do I wash the dishes with a wipe? No, I do not. (For those of you who may have dined with me.) But I have been known to wipe a dish before stacking it in the dishwasher. Do I clean the inside of the oven with a wipe? No, I do not. But I’ve never cleaned the inside of the oven with anything. How do you do that, anyway?

The Bathroom: Again, the floor is easily cleaned with a wipe. So is the sink, the toilet (the outside, not the inside) and the tub. The shower (and the shower curtain) is removed of its gunk with a wipe. And the toys that go in the tub, once they’re covered in soap scum, can be cleaned with a wipe and they’re back to their shiny plastic selves. The kids in the tub? I wash them with a washcloth. But when they’re NOT in the tub, they are wiped down from head to foot, after the playground, after a snack or a meal or an adventure in finger painting, with a handy, dandy wipe. (Note to self: why not contact wipe manufacturers suggesting flavored wipes? The better to clean off sticky, yucky mouths. Another note to self: better not. Might encourage sucking on wipes, which is probably not preferable to thumb, but may need further consideration.)

Things you might not have considered: My husband cleans his golf clubs with a wipe. I have cleaned the insides of fans and the tops of air conditioners with wipes. You can get dirt out of cleats and mud off of stroller wheels with a wipe. You can dust with a wipe. You can de-smudge computer screens, tv screens, gameboy screens, video screens (we have a lot of screens in our home) with a wipe. You can wash the windows with a wipe, as long as you dry them afterwards so they don’t get all streaky. You can wipe down hardwood floors. You can wipe down a crib, a changing table, a dresser. You can wipe off the phone after you use it, especially when you’ve got a cold. The wipe as anti-germ warfare may seem like a puny weapon, but it’s better than nothing when snot is flowing freely in the home.

(And don’t get me started on the tubs: after the wipes are used up, the boxes can be used in a myriad of ways, including building blocks for toddlers and for storing toys — or to be more specific, to separate and categorize action heroes, magic markers, playdough, match box cars, stickers, crayons, etc., etc., etc. And my absolute favorite use for the empty wipe tub: we keep one in the car so that when our youngest is carsick, he has a convenient place to throw up. Just snap the top shut on the vomit and voila! The car is clean and the mess is disposed of.)

What you can’t do with a wipe: Clean the toilet. Wash the dishes (see above). You can’t vacuum with a wipe. Nor can you iron. My rugs aren’t spotless, my clothes are wrinkly. Sue me.

In conclusion: oh mighty wipe, you are cheaper than Fantastik, you are more convenient than a bucket of soapy water. You help me keep my home, if not in tip top shape, at least in a shape that’s presentable. Sort of. If you don’t look too closely.