(That’s probably because you rolled up nothing but magical cleaning techniques.)
I know that common wisdom says spring is the season for cleaning, but for me this autumn is setting off my cleaning impulse. The last week has seen me taking every spare moment to do things that are usually completely out of character, like taking a damp cloth to the miniblinds. It’s quite lovely to fall asleep secure in the knowledge that all the crevices under and around the bed have been swept, dusted, and heartily scrubbed, but at the same time, the more I clean, the more it feels like the house will never ever actually be free of dust.
For some people, like maybe Martha Stewart, or Tony Stark, I bet this leads to inventing newer, scarier, more efficient cleaning tools and methods. Alas, I am not a ginormously wealthy businessperson, so it just makes me daydream about all the ways I could clean if only I had access to magic. Seriously, have you ever stopped to think about all the magical ways to clean things? Here are a few:
Let’s Tidy Up the Nursery: Otherwise called “Well Begun is Half Done” (which sort of sounds like the story of my whole life…); this is what Mary Poppins says to the Banks children in the 1964 Disney film. Then she starts pointing, and items start tidying themselves up. Honestly, I’d tidy myself up, too, if Mary Poppins gave me a stern look. Jane and Michael are naturally enchanted and astounded by this magic, but Mary rushes them through it so they can go out to have another adventure. Obviously, it’s mundane to her. I give this method a solid 2 out of 5 stars on the Magical Cleaning Technique Scale. Useful, yes. And yet… I think you actually have to know where things belong and how to organize them in order for this to work, and it’s not particularly proven to be effective for dusting or deep cleaning, just tidying. I wonder how Mary Poppins deals with dust.
The Three Fairies’ Method: In Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, young Aurora is raised by three fairies named Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Only when the fairies agree to take on Princess-raising duties, they have to stop using magic. Supposedly. Only, let’s be real here: they totally don’t stop. This is obvious when you see them trying to behave “like mortals” in the preparations for Aurora’s 16th birthday. They have NO IDEA how to do anything. Granted, they’ve switched roles for that day, but still. Are we truly to believe they’ve lived together without magic in one small cottage for 16 years, and the person who cooks has never broken eggs in front of the others before? No. Clearly they were all sneaking magic when other people weren’t looking. And this magic seems a bit better than the Nursery Tidying mentioned above. You need a wand, and it seems you need to have the tools on hand, but basically, this is a point and relax system where your intent directs the brooms and dustrags, who seem to have at least some intelligence of their own. It’s not too taxing, but it does seem to require a little attention. I give this method 3 out 5 stars.
House Elves, Squibs for Hire, and Wandwork: There are a lot of different ways to clean things in Harry Potter’s world, and they all kind of suck. You’ve got House Elves, who are slaves. Awesome. But let’s say you decide you are okay with slavery. The house elves could seem like a decent option. Except apparently they don’t even clean everything. How many times do we see Filch with a bucket? Several. Then there are cleaning spells, but wizarding spells all cost concentration and energy, so as far as I can tell, Mrs. Weasley spends at least as much effort on cleaning The Burrow as I do on cleaning my place. And like mine, Molly’s work appears never to be done. And let’s not forget how often kids have to do things like polish trophies or de-gnome the garden. No, wizarding life is not nearly so glamorous as we’d like it to be. 1 out of 5 stars.
The Other Realm Method: I love Sabrina the Teenage Witch with a fiery passion. I have watched every episode in English, and most of them in other languages, too. I have written fanfic about this show. You might think this means I can’t be terribly objective about it, but no! I am not going to give Sabrina’s method my top score. Sabrina lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, and mostly their cleaning seems to involve pointing with an index finger. It’s not hard on the body, it doesn’t require a lot of tools on hand, and it seems pretty great. Except, as far as I can tell, they have to draw on some sort of theoretical pool of resources in order for it to work. When Sabrina gets greedy, we learn that her pointing things into existence is only possible because other people are deprived of them. It follows that even if you don’t see the brooms and cleaning solutions, the witches have to be paying for them and consuming them somehow. They also do their own laundry in a set of machines, which is apparently somewhat magical, but I can’t tell what the magic there actually does other than occasionally loose pesky lint gremlins on the Spellman household. Magic in Sabrina is inconsistent and tricky, so even though pointing things clean sounds great, I have to give it 4 out of 5 stars.
The Enterprise Method: Before you jump all over me for lumping Star Trek in with magical stuff, I just want to say two words: Dilithium Crystals. Claim science as much as you want, but that screams of magic to me. I wondered how cleaning worked in in the Trekverse, and I thought, surely with the computer being able to replicate any dish from all over the universe, it’s probably smart enough to clean itself. Right? Right! As this thread will attest, in the episode, “Up the Long Ladder,” Commander Riker totally mentions that the Enterprise cleans itself. And the Enterprise is always spotless. 5 out of 5 stars. Why does my house not have a magic computer?