I read about Dominique Loreau’s „The Art of Cleaning“ for the first time at Mari’s, then at Magda’s, and reading their reviews, I knew I had to Check for yourself how much I have in common with the author, because at first glance it seems that a lot.
But when I started reading …
It was only my announcement of the blog review that forced me to read it to the end. You know very well that I do not need to be persuaded to clean, that I like order and I can see how much the house shows my condition, peace and routine. Sometimes reorganizing one shelf is a „therapy“ for me, which allows me to think through and solve my dilemmas. We agree with the author of the book. We both see cleaning as part of a happy life.
But when I read that when hiring domestic help I give a stranger my femininity , my eyes are wide open in amazement and I think that Mrs. Loreau lives detached from reality. When I see the Turkish proverb “ cleaning in the evening brings misfortune ”, I have the impression that I am being persuaded to believe in superstition. And although I like cleaning in the morning myself, if someone likes to clean up in the evening, I will not force them to change and accept my „only“ truth.
The book is full of contradictions . On the one hand, we are convinced that the greatest harm has been done to us by progress, because we have to use various cleaning products, and on the other hand, we read our admiration for the creation of modernity – a microfiber cloth. The author convinces us that one rag is enough to clean the whole house, and then advises to buy a cloth in a different color for each room and sign the name of the room. I wonder why, since each is to be in a different color.
At every step you feel that cleaning is the greatest value , to which we must approach the most important service. I think it will not be exaggerated when I consider her a fanatic, which I am quite far from.
For while we agree with the general purpose of cleaning , the means of achieving it and the meaning assigned to them differ completely. I don’t want to spend more time cleaning than necessary, I try to speed it up as much as I can, while the author writes: “Take the time to clean and tidy up your home. These are gestures and moments that give meaning to our life ”. Zen Master Deogen is quoted as „ Treat the pot as if it were about yourself … Treat all the utensils as if they were your own eyes.“ I suggest getting attached to things because they define us and to love the concept of zen aesthetics wabi-sabi, which is based on the love of everything that is old, tarnished and worn.
This does not appeal to me at all , for most of the reading, I had the impression that the author was exaggerating . He simply bends, raising cleaning to the rank of sanctity. As with everything, common sense must also be used in this case. Living in a mess is bad, but celebrating every second of cleaning with slow and careful movements isn’t good either.
On the plus side …
In the book we will find an overview and application of natural cleaning agents . And here I have nothing to complain about, although I did not learn much new. Also „my way“ is a part about habits that will improve cleaning, so that it is fast and thorough. Yes, this is another contradiction. At the beginning we read not to rush anywhere, live simple and slow, and then we find advice on how to clean quickly.
For sure the approach presented in The Art of Cleaning is interesting, but I think that inadequate to the times and place in which we live, and the presented beliefs must be approached with a considerable distance. I do not think I would reach for other works by this author, because after a few reviews of „Art of Simplicity“ and my feelings, I know what to expect. It’s a pity, because I started reading with a very positive attitude.
Have you read any of Dominique Loreau’s books? What are your impressions?