Down With Cutesy Cleaning Supplies

I didn't even want to buy the hedgehog dryer balls in the first place.

I've been using dryer balls almost exclusively in place of dryer sheets for a few years now, and I think they're great. I'd like to get you all into a pair! Dryer balls come in sets of two, and somewhere along the way I'd lost one. Being the Half-Sack of the laundering community was fine for a while, but then the time came to wash the comforters, and I really needed the power of both dryer balls for that operation. (They fluff up the filling, you see.) But for whatever reason, when I went out to buy a replacement set, I couldn't find the plain old spiky blue ones my mom had given me for Christmas one year. All I could find were those blasted hedgehogs. So I bought them, and got to work on suppressing the feelings of shame they caused.

Then one day the washcloths came out of the dryer with some odd black marks on them.

Odd black marks are a thing that have happened before, a side effect of being laundromat-dependent, but these were different somehow. One after another, I folded the washcloths, noting that almost all of them were marred with dirty-looking streaks. Eh, I shrugged. They're just washcloths. If it were the sheets, I'd care.

But on the two-block walk back to the bar where my husband was waiting for me, guarding my glass of wine with ice, I got mad. Everyone is guilty of saying things that they regret, and I'm no exception; I apologize in advance for this, because it was wrong and unfair of me to say, but here's what I said:

"FUCKING WOMEN AND THEIR FUCKING HEDGEHOG DRYER BALLS."

Like I said, it was wrong and unfair. (Though I suspect you understand the sentiment.)

But first, let me explain what happened: The hedgehog dryer balls have adorable hedgehog faces with adorable hedgehog snouts, and those snouts are black. One of the snouts fell off/disintegrated/was nibbled away by a neighborhood rodent while the washcloths et al. were tumbling about in the dryer. The other snout came out with most of its black peeled away. Now, there is no way of knowing which of the two snouts was responsible for causing the black marks on my washcloths, but I can be certain that one or both of them are to blame.

Most of you reading this know me by now, and know that I'm a pretty lax Clean Person when it comes to things like telling people exactly when and how to do things. That attitude is more or less informed by spending my formative years in liberal Boston and Cambridge in the '70s and early '80s, and is what I generally describe as being very Free to Be You and Me. I dunno, it's just not my thing to get all dictatorial with you guys. That seems like it would suck for everyone, so I approach my job with the outlook that I'm not here to tell you how to live, just to answer some questions if you'd like them answered.

But there comes a time when a line needs to be drawn, and so today I'm drawing one: Enough with the cutesy fucking cleaning supplies. ENOUGH.

Not everything in life needs to be adorable. Function over form is just fine when it comes to homekeeping tools. And under no circumstances should you or anyone you know wear these fucking things.

Down With Cutesy Cleaning Supplies

Almost nothing can send me into a rage quite like a pair of those stupid dish gloves with the stupid trompe-l'oeil varnished fingernails and the stupid faux engagement ring. I didn't even want a REAL engagement ring, for crying out loud. (Uch, and you can't even imagine the shit I took for that, because apparently being practical and sensible are terrible qualities in a woman. But that's another post for another day that won't ever come, because I've got practical and sensible things to write about first.) Why would I want a fake one on my dish gloves?

Now, look. I do feel kinda bad saying that, because obviously there are loads of ladies (and probably some men, too, in fairness) who really dig on these kinds of dish gloves. And on the hedgehog dryer balls. And on pink vacuum cleaners. Those people, I'm constantly chiding myself, should be allowed to enjoy those things. Who am I to tell them otherwise? And in fact, I am in possession of a pink handvac.

But it was a gift. And when I'm being really honest with myself, I resent it. On most days, I make the best of it by enjoying the fact that it matches my bathroom. (That's just a happy accident; it was purchased many years before I moved into my current home.)

The main problem with these things, of course, is that they're highly gendered, and reinforce the notion that cleaning is for women. Which we here in this very masculine space know not to be true, but we are a more evolved species, and the rest of the world is still hanging onto the antiquated idea of cleaning as women's work.

But the other problem is this: They suck at what they're meant to do. For example: the hedgehogs. Also: those fucking gloves. And then also, the more people buy these things, the more manufacturers see that there's a demand for them, and soon enough everything will have to be cute. It's already happening with dryer balls. But it's not too late for us to stop it.

So let's solve feminism and the gender gap in cleaning—and also take a stand against cleaning products that suck*—by making a pact that from this day forward, we shall band together and tell the world that we are not down with the Cutesy Fucking Cleaning Supplies Industrial Complex.

*Vacuum cleaners technically suck, but in the good way. So they can stay. Just not pink ones.


Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume); more cleaning-obsessed natterings can be found on Twitter, Kinja, and Tumblr.

Image by Sam Woolley.

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