How to approach the rage cleaning woman
Essays

How to approach the rage cleaning woman (and survive!)8 min read

I used to think that when the house got too dirty, my husband would take one look at it and decide that instead of cleaning it himself, now was the perfect time to royally piss me off.

Because boy can I clean in a rage.

As my temper explodes like Mount Vesuvius, violently spewing forth a deadly cloud of super-heated gases high into the sky, ejecting molten rock, pulverized pumice and hot ash at 1.5 million tons per second, the tiniest thing out of place becomes a target.

I clean the kitchen with loud determination.

Wipe surfaces clean of dust with forceful intent.

And aggressively vacuum carpets to within an inch of their lives.

I deposit trash by the front door with a fury and purpose that would make Lyssa, the ancient Greek goddess for mad rage, envious.

The house becomes a scene from a disaster movie, with children and spouses running barely ahead of impending doom, squealing in terror and picking up favourite toys and clothes before they’re sucked into the cleaning tornado never to be seen again.

And oh the humanity, the socks. 🙉

Socks EVERYWHERE.

Balled up in between the couch cushions. Shoved into bookshelves. Left on top of shoes. Lounging casually on stairs. Reposing under the kitchen table. Thrown over the armrest of the easy chair. And very rarely in pairs, like they were never meant to have mates.

I always wonder what makes other people scrub the house like the whole damn thing needs to be sent to its room and think about what it did.

I think a messy kitchen and dishes left all over the house are my biggest triggers these days.

That, and floor Legos. There’s nothing like stepping on a Lego to make the rage travel instantly from that pointy sonofabitch up your body until the top of you head blows off like a cartoon.

Approach at your own risk.

Most women who enter a state of rage cleaning are aggressive and unpredictable.

They are commonly found after coming home to a messy house after a long day at work, on the weekends or just before houseguests are due to arrive.

They tend to react violently when you approach them, especially if you make even the tiniest mess or move the most insignificant of items out of place in the house that is currently being exorcised of the Demons of Disorder.

Some wild animals should not be approached by anyone at any time, and this is true for rage cleaning women as well.

If you must approach, it is best to go about this endeavour as you would go about approaching a highly territorial wild animal.

Begin by observing from a safe distance.

The rage cleaning woman will show specific signs that will tell you how furious she is.

Look for signs of deep agitation, such as an angry scowl on her forehead and grunting. If an eye is twitching or she’s exhibiting signs of perspiration, she is fast approaching a point of no return, and contact is not advised.

Hissing and growling are clear signs that you will only incur personal damage should you choose to gain her attention.

Retreat immediately if you hear her uttering rhetorical questions, such as:

  • Why do we even have trash bins?
  • Am I the only one who does the laundry in this house?
  • Where IS that smell coming from?” or
  • Who. The. Hell. Left. The. Sponge. In. The. Sink? Again?!

If you approach at this point, the blame for all these transgressions will land solely on your shoulders.

Always be aware of aggravating factors.

If she has not eaten, is especially tired, has not slept well or enough, is in a foul mood to begin with (potentially due to others dwelling in the same house and/or extended family or friends), or is in pain, take extra caution.

Preparing her favourite food or drink and having it on hand for when she finishes and finally descends from her storm state will make you her favourite person.

You can try to offer it before, but it may do you no good.

Let your presence be known – but make no sudden movements.

If she’s listening to music, you’ll need to get the volume down so she can hear you.

If she’s listening to it over speakers, turn it down slightly, just enough to notice that it’s gone down a fraction.

If she’s using headphones, you’ll have to stand in her periphery and wait to catch her attention with a presence that is persistent without being demanding.

It is imperative that you don’t startle or scare her because she may react defensively and attack.

Move slowly, remain calm, use a soothing voice and be peripherally aware of your potential escape routes.

Whatever you do, never turn the music down to a bare whisper or pull off her headphones: this will result in a Category 5 shitstorm of epic proportions.

Apologise for your existence. Profusely.

Once you succeed in getting her attention from a safe distance, begin pleading for forgiveness.

Show her your palms to demonstrate that you come without weapons and mean her no harm.

Assume a submissive posture by leaning forward and keeping your gaze down.

Getting down on your hands and knees will make you appear less threatening and significantly less annoying, though this may make it more difficult for you to escape if she decides to attack.

Show her you come in peace by mimicking her behaviour.

It’s been suggested that you should mimic the behaviour of wild animals if you wish to approach them – if an animal is eating grass, you can pretend to eat the same grass to show that you aren’t a threat.

A similar strategy can be adopted when approaching the rage cleaning woman.

Picking up clutter as you go, putting items back in their designated places, straightening books on a shelf or holding a trash bag as if you’re on your way to take it out, may give you more success in your approach.

According to unscientific but totally accurate studies, rage cleaning women are more unlikely to attack a person doing chores (vacuuming, dishes, laundry, collecting trash, organising, dusting etc.) than a person showing no sign of shouldering some of her burden.

Be on your best behaviour.

Use the word ‘please’ lavishly.

And refrain from smartassery to reduce the risk of furious, expletive-filled responses.

And whatever you do, never question the cleaning.

Asking “Why is the floor so sticky?” while the floor is still wet from her mopping will only enrage her further.

Exclaiming, “Boy, that is dirty!” when she’s standing in a rain of dust from wiping the top of the kitchen cupboards, that get cleaned once a decade, will only provoke a stare of silent rage and get you on her List.

And, the next thing you know, she’ll want to know why you didn’t act on it sooner since you have such strong powers of observation.

Avoid direct eye contact.

This is critical: NEVER stare down a rage cleaning woman.

Direct eye contact can easily be misread as dominant behaviour or some kind of challenge, and she’ll gear up for a confrontation.

Which you’ll lose.

Because if you think the rage cleaning woman incapable of fighting while cleaning, you’re sorely mistaken.

The argument will only fuel her righteous purging and you’ll get a dressing down as you’ve never had before; you’ll find yourself admitting to being guilty of things you’ve never even heard of.

Even worse; prolonged, direct eye contact may result in a barrage of accusatory questions such as:

  • What is so difficult about rinsing off your own dish and putting it in the dishwasher?
  • Why does everyone in this house insist on leaving their clothes on the floor? or 
  • Do any of the boys in this house know how to aim?!

Be ready to retreat at all times.

If the rage cleaning woman begins to shout at you, talking through clenched teeth or staring at you in seething silence, slowly back away. While you still can.

DO. NOT. RUN.

She may interpret that as an invitation to grab hold of you, faster than a monkey swiping a banana from an unwitting tourist at a temple, and detain you for questioning.

If you use caution as you retreat, maybe even ask if there’s something you can carry for her, you should be able to escape without incident.

The only time you should make yourself scarce like a genie popping back into the bottle is when she barks like an army sergeant at you to do so.

You must always be prepared to walk away from an encounter with a rage cleaning woman without having achieved what you wanted to.

Since she is incredibly temperamental and prone to explosive outbursts in the rage cleaning state, allowing her to realise that you’ve interrupted her solely in order to ask “Where do we keep the towels?” or remind her to pay the car insurance by the due date, is a fatal mistake.

If there is no approaching her, all you can do is wait.

Eventually, her mood will mellow and you can go and – again – begin by apologising for your existence and any wrongdoing you (may or may not) have been party to.

Since your house will most likely be spotless, or some long pushed off task finally completed, offer her your abundant thanks and sincerest praise for how much better the world is because she did the work no one else was willing to.

A glass of her favourite beverage, a ready-drawn bath and a dinner she doesn’t have to cook will only help you.


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