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Mary Ellen's CompleteHome Reference Book


Table of Contents

Part 1 Finding: Choosing Your Home
Part 2 Equipping: Smart Buying for Your Home
Part 3 Cleaning: Doing It Right, Doing It Fast
Part 4 Washing and Wearing: So Clothes Look Good
Part 5 Maintaining: Electrical, Plumbing and Heating and Cooling Systems
Part 6 Fixing: Home Repairs, Appliance Troubleshooting, Painting, Furniture Refinishing
Part 7 Securing: Avoiding and Handling Emergencies
Park 8 Storing and Saving: A (Safe) Place for Everything
Part 9 Changing: Renovating, Selling and Moving
Part l0 Enjoying: Entertaining, Outdoor Pleasures, and Going Away

From the Introduction

Here’s why I wrote this book.

Years ago, I published a collection of household hints that launched my career as an expert in housekeeping. Since then, I’ve been a regular columnist for two of the nation’s leading women’s magazines, and my columns have appeared weekly in a newspaper with a readership of more than 20 million people. I invite questions about household care, and I get thousands of them. The questions run the gamut. How to buy a new home. How to pack up an old one. How to care for every surface of the house. How to clean everything inside it and a lot of things-- such as the decking, the patio chairs and the whitewall tires--outside of it.

The number and variety of these questions convinced me that what used to be considered common knowledge is increasingly uncommon.

The world is more electronic and more chemical than it used to be. There are new brands, new fibers, new things to buy and clean and maintain.

And while there’s more to know, many of us know less of it. In the past, Mom took care of the white appliances and Dad took care of the others. That’s changed, too. There’s no such thing as “woman’s work” in a home headed by a divorced dad, and a lot of my women friends are as comfortable with a tool kit as with a makeup kit. Even in traditional families, the work is being split up in untraditional ways. It seems that into any life may come a pot that’s dirty, a carpet that’s stained, or a toilet that’s backing up...

From General Thoughts about Cleaning

An interviewer asked me if I thought people cared less about house leaning these days than they did years ago. Absolutely not, I said. There isn’t a house I go into where my hostess doesn’t apologize for how the place looks (and most of the time it looks pretty good).

The big difference is that we have less time to clean house today. Why spend any more time than the absolute minimum? Look at it this way. When it comes to cleaning, if you don’t get it right the first time, you’ll always have another change.

Besides, You don’t need floors clean enough to eat from if you serve your food off plates.

From Professional House Cleaning

Other than having someone mistake you for an attractive celebrity, I can think of no morale boost as great as having a crew of professionals come in to give your home a really thorough cleaning. This sort of assistance does not come cheap. You can pay up to $l000 or more to have the job done on a good-sized house. My husband once asked me if I’d rather have a Day of Beauty or a Day of Cleaning and I told him that in terms of complete satisfaction we’d probably both be better off with the cleaning.

Excerpt from Washing and Wearing

I discovered the quickest solution to the laundry issue once my first book hit the best-seller list. The minute I had extra cash, I started dry-cleaning everything. Fortunately for everyone except the dry cleaner, that phase didn’t last very long.