We here at Esquire are at home. Just like you, we’re not used to it. Our free time, when we’re not checking emails and updates and push alerts, stretches on and on. And so we’ve figured out a few ways to fill it that we can’t recommend enough. Here’s one.
My husband and I have a running joke about which of us is a minimalist. Like many jokes, the humor lies in the fact that we are emphatically not minimalists. I wouldn’t say we are in danger of being ambushed by a Hoarders film crew, but we are low-key “collectors” of very specific things: him, books and decorative bowls; me: grooming products and kitchen gadgets. Our habits, while they haven’t encroached (too much) on our ability to actually walk through our apartment, do tend to accumulate dust, requiring way more cleaning than we are actually willing to do.
But that was in our old life. Now that my new normal is working from home and staying inside, I noticed that my apartment was filthy. It started while staring at my ceiling fan during a conference call; had the blades always been black with dust? Then lying on the floor stretching after a Zoom workout class; why hadn’t I noticed the blanket of dog hair covering the hard wood before? Being confined in my apartment wasn’t narrowing my view, it was opening my eyes to a swirling vortex of dirt.
Once I saw it, I couldn’t ignore it. And what really changed the game for me was the arrival of a cordless vacuum cleaner. When the new Dyson v11 Outsize, the Maserati of vacuums, showed up at my door, you would have thought it was an actual Maserati from the way I flipped out. Within fifteen minutes of its maiden voyage, every walkable surface in my apartment had a like-new gleam. Cordless vacuums are nimble and can reach places inaccessible by corded cleaners, sure, but they also take away the need to lug a bulky vacuum out of the closet, find an outlet, and lasso miles of cord like a rodeo clown during the actual process of vacuuming. That made a difference in my mentality; cordless vacuuming feels like much less of a time-sucking chore.
I’ve vacuumed every day for the last couple of weeks, and I’ve finally figured out what all those attachments are for, too. Did you know you can vacuum your blinds? Or that you can get between your couch cushions? As someone whose vacuum previously had more dust on it than in it, this was all news to me. Not all cordless vacuums come with attachments, but I don’t think that matters. Some, however, do convert Transformers-style into dust busters, which I’ve also done with mine and I now dream about at night. And yes, for the record, you can also vacuum a ceiling fan, as long as your vacuum has a hose and you have access to a step ladder.
The one downside to cordless vacuums is battery life, but what I’ve finally realized is something my mom spent my entire life trying to drill into my head: Cleaning a little bit every day means you don’t have to spend as much time doing it. It takes roughly 15 minutes to vacuum the entirety of my small New York City apartment. And that 15 minutes every day has turned into something I actually look forward to—a type of meditation.
I realized that vacuuming right now isn’t about getting rid of dirt or dust. It’s something I can control. When what is happening outside the walls of my apartment seems to be spinning more and more into alternate reality, I find comfort in sucking up dust bunnies from underneath a chair. It makes me feel like I’m changing something, even if it’s a change only I can see. Seeing it, as well as doing it, is the point; my apartment actually does look bigger and airier after I’ve vacuumed—a not-so-subtle metaphor for my frenzied mind. Taking the time to physically and metaphorically clear the debris allows me to breathe just a little better.
The big question is whether I’ll keep this up once I’m able to leave my apartment again. I’d venture to say yes, now that I know how damn easy it is, but does it really matter? Vacuuming is a small thing I can do right now to help keep me sane. Looking too far into the future isn’t going to make my floors sparkle.
My new best friend Dyson v11 Outsize is the undisputed top of the line when it comes to cordless vacuums, but there are still plenty of options that are just as handy for a quick, daily meditation—I mean, clean. Here are a few.