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Cleaning the house can be a man’s kind of work

Dads, have you ever made the bed for your little person, only to be told, “That’s not how Mommy does it”?

Your child probably didn’t get that you made the be in your special dad’s way.

That’s why David Bowers wrote “Dad’s Own Housekeeping Book” (Workman Publishing, 196 pages, $10.95). The chuckle-filled guide is packed with guy-to-guy advice on how to keep a home neat, tidy — and manly.

As a stay-at-home dad of two sons, Bowers does a little more housekeeping than the average Joe. Bowers always did the cooking and would help his wife with cleanup whenever he could. But as he took on more responsibility for the entire home, Bowers said, he couldn’t find a resource that spoke to men about cleaning.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2004, 33 percent of men do some kind of household chore every day. But Bowers says most don’t know how to do them.

“So many men haven’t been taught about housekeeping,” he says in his lilting Irish accent. A native of Dublin, Ireland, Bowers lives in New York City.

He says women take their knowledge of some housekeeping duties for granted, “like doing laundry with all the symbols.” In the book, Bowers decodes the meanings of the little graphics that appear on some clothing tags.

Getting along with women is another reason Bowers thinks dads should learn to be good housekeepers.

“It makes the relationship better,” he said. “Most women are happy just knowing that you are trying to help out.”

Q: What is the “dad’s way” of housekeeping?

A: If the guy is looking after the house, he doesn’t have to fold towels a certain way. Men and women have different approaches. That doesn’t mean either is wrong. Guys are much more minimalist. That’s something that has to be compromised.

Q: How much should dads clean?

A: It varies from guy to guy. You can’t kill yourself cleaning because that makes it unpleasant. It should be something you should pick up as you feel comfy, and most women are happy to know that you’re trying.

Q: Moms still do most of the housework. How do they get dads to do more?

A: Dads have to talk to their spouses, and Moms have to say, “You have to help me out.” It has to be helpful pushing. And guys respond to praise. The last thing he wants is a woman looking over his shoulder to see if something is done. If there is animosity attached to housekeeping, it isn’t going to help the relationship.

Q: Can dads clean as well as moms?

A: Men can be cleaner than women. Look at the ultimate example of guy cleaning: the military. It’s an extreme example, but beds and everything have to be done a certain way. It shows that men respond to a routine. A lot of guys respond to making a system. That’s why I suggest doing five-minute cleanups, half-hour cleanups, because (a guy) can scrub for all that time and then sit.

Q: What’s your best advice?

A: If you see something lying around, pick it up. Don’t let it just sit there. The best tip overall is to set priorities about what chores you are willing to do, make a list and follow it, and take those steps room by room. And it is great if both (spouses) are helping.


Fight odors the manly way

It’s a bathroom, not a meadow. Instead of using bathroom deodorizer, rip off the top of a box of baking soda, place it behind the toilet, and change it every three months. It’s cheap, environmentally friendly and low tech — and it actually absorbs the odors rather than masking them.

Impress the missus with sparkling fixtures

Polish the fixtures with a used fabric softener sheet. The occasional use of chrome polish brightens up the room and makes it look as if you worked harder than you did.

Washing loveys

If you have a young child, he or she likely has a “lovey” — a stuffed animal, doll or blankie that gets truly filthy because children take them everywhere. For stuffed animals and cloth toys, use cold water and mild detergent in the delicate cycle. Add a clean bath towel to the wash to help rub the toy clean. If the toy is extra delicate, skip the spin cycle and squeeze out water.

Real men do dust

An old clean white cotton sock rolled over your hand makes a great dusting glove. Also look for microfiber gloves, which pick up dust like magic. Run your dust cloth over all surfaces including those hard-to-reach chair legs.

Making a bed like a dad

Bowers says traditional bed making is “too girly” and “too daunting” because of all the layers of blankets, throws, sheets and decorative pillows “that are not made to be slept on.” The man’s way: Smooth a duvet over the bottom sheet and straighten the pillows. There’s nothing to tuck in, and it’s warm and comfortable.

Store sporting goods at your fingertips

Store balls in plastic bins separated by size — basketballs, volleyballs and footballs in one container, softballs, baseballs and tennis balls in another.

Hang hockey and lacrosse sticks from hooks on a pegboard.

Assign a different color storage bin for each family member.

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