Organizing Theory & Artistry

Memorial Day Scrubbing

North versus South at the 150th anniversary of the Chancellorsville battlefield earlier this month.
North versus South at the 150th anniversary of the Chancellorsville battlefield earlier this month.

Everyone loves Memorial Day weekend. It’s the first long weekend before the start of summer and the transition point for many people from the day-to-day grind of regular work and school schedules to the excitement of summer activities and vacations.

We spent the weekend at home continuing the war on dirt in our home. Two of these involved scrubbing out some of the toughest areas to clean in our home. When you have older surfaces in your home, you have to work a little harder to keep them looking good. While they may not attract dirt any faster than newer items, even a little dirt just looks worse on older surfaces.

The first problem area was the carpeting—particularly on our stairs. It is time to replace this carpeting. It was time to replace this carpeting when we first moved into our home, actually, but there were other areas where we needed to spend the money first. In hindsight, with three small children in our home, it was a good choice to wait on replacing the carpeting! They have been very hard on it and the fact that it is old and worn out reduces our stress level when they inevitably spill something on it.

To keep the carpeting in minimally passable condition, we do need to steam clean it at least once per year. This is a major pain. Over the years we have experimented with various carpet cleaning solutions. While I have yet to find a “magic” solution that seems to remove all stains with ease, I have found that laundry products tend to do the best job for me on the carpet and don’t smell as bad as most carpet cleaning products.

For tough carpet stains, we spray with a spot remover like Shout or Tough Stuff and let it soak in for a bit. We then put a small amount of laundry detergent in the soap compartment of the carpet cleaning machine, wash the carpet and rinse well. This time around, I heard good things about using Oxy Clean for carpet spot removal so I gave that a try on my stairs.

This is a great project to get some help with from your children.  They love to spray!
This is a great project to get some help with from your children. They love to spray!
After the Oxy Clean solution had sat for a while, for the heavily soiled areas, I used a brush to give it a little extra scrub.
After the Oxy Clean solution had sat for a while, for the heavily soiled areas, I used a brush to give it a little extra scrub.
I found some remnants of our bathroom remodeling.  Paint rarely comes out of carpet after it has dried.  The only option is to carefully snip it out.
I found some remnants of our bathroom remodeling. Paint rarely comes out of carpet after it has dried. The only option is to carefully snip it out.

Carpet cleaning the stairs works best as a two-person operation. The carpet cleaning machine is so heavy to lug upstairs as you clean. With my husband lugging the machine while I cleaned, it went far more quickly and we weren’t totally exhausted by the end.

Carpet cleaning is one of those thankless tasks. It doesn’t always make a huge visual difference and it always takes a ton of work. Freshly cleaned carpet feels good beneath your toes, though!

Before and after carpet shampooing.
Before and after carpet shampooing.
A clean entry.
A clean entry.

I also used the Oxy Clean to bleach out the grout in our hall bathroom tiles. This was a lot of work. We had to spray then wait then scrub then rinse.

You can mix the Oxy Clean in different concentrations.  If you put a lot in, this is what happens!  Kind of a cool chemistry experiment, though.
You can mix the Oxy Clean in different concentrations. If you put a lot in, this is what happens! Kind of a cool chemistry experiment, though.

At first, it didn’t look like it did much but after the grout dried overnight it was sparkling the next morning.

Before and after Oxy Clean bleaching of the grout lines.  Apologies for the bad lighting in the first shot.  You only get one chance to take the "before" picture.
Before and after Oxy Clean bleaching of the grout lines. Apologies for the bad lighting in the first shot. You only get one chance to take the “before” picture.

The only downside of the Oxy Clean was that it leaves a lot of residue. I had to rinse the floor again in the morning when I noticed my children had white powder all over their feet from the bathroom tiles.

While we were busy scrubbing, we forgot about the best tourist event of the year here in Fredericksburg — the nighttime luminaria at the Fredericksburg battlefield. I forgot that it is usually held the Saturday evening before Memorial Day. I am penciling it in my calendar for next year.

We did watch the movie “Lincoln,” over the weekend though. I know we are behind the times but it was a fascinating interpretation of President Lincoln. I had no idea he had such a folksy, disarming temperament. From the grand Lincoln Memorial and the bold nature of his famous speeches, I had the impression that he would be more of a loud and serious person. Clearly, his heartfelt nature served him well.

We have been learning to view the Civil War with new eyes in light of the 150th anniversary events that we have attended. In December, it was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg. A huge number of reenactors brought the terror, excitement and sadness of conflict to life.

A scene from the reenactment of the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 2012.
A scene from the reenactment of the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 2012.
Flags, fire and smoke at the Battle of Fredericksburg reenactment.
Flags, fire and smoke at the Battle of Fredericksburg reenactment.

If you have the chance to attend any of these events, you should. They are not all that well publicized so you have to seek them out. There is a listing by state here.

Finally, this Memorial Day, I found myself often thinking of the brave and strong women who have forged careers in the armed services despite what we now know to be a high risk of rape. The documentary “The Invisible War” was positively shocking to me. I am glad to see policy makers and particularly the President paying attention to this issue.

For us, it was a weekend full of hard work and reflection. We send our thanks to all who serve and have served this country in the armed forces.

Any weekend news to share?

*I have no affiliation with Oxy Clean or any other product mentioned here.