If it could be wiped, I wiped it.
If it could be disinfected, I disinfected it.
If it could be scrubbed, I scrubbed it to within an inch of its life.
If it could be squeezed out of a rodent's behind, I attacked it with no less than seven different exclamations of disgust and no less than five different cleaning products. “Kills 99% of bacteria” read one label. “Hmmm.” I thought. “That’s not going to do. Better get another couple of products in here.”
Yes, today was my Major Classroom Cleaning Day. I’m a week away from the first day of school and spent many hours today wielding Goo Gone, cleaning spray, nail polish remover, white board cleaner, sponges, rags, paper towels, and cleaning wipes.
Dust, stray tape, pencil marks, crayon streaks, label residue, mouse poop, sticky blobs—you name it, I conquered it. When I had finished with all the hard surfaces, I rounded up all of the pillowcases, rag rugs, and fabric shelf covers in the classroom and headed home to hit the laundry room. On the way out I stopped in to check in on another teacher who had spent the afternoon in a similar cleaning frenzy.
“Wait—you’re washing your stuffed animals?” I asked, eyeing a bag of fur. I guess I had thought that plush alligators were somehow immune to the layer of grime that accumulated everywhere else in the classroom. As images of sneezes, nose-picking, jellied fingers, and pencil shavings flashed through my head, I calculated that I had never. Actually. Ever. Washed those stuffed animals. Ever. And some of them I’ve had for 10 years.
At home, I crammed heaping armfuls into the two industrial sized machines in my apartment’s laundry room. Who knew that stuffed animals could just be…washed in the washing machine? And who knew that the kangaroo’s belly was actually white and not a dull gray?
Tomorrow everything in the room will be multiple shades lighter than it started off today, and closer to being ready for the first day of school. I plan to request that the children refrain from sneezing, nose-picking, eating, and sharpening pencils until at least the second day.