• Helen McNutt

Why Mum's Shouldn't Clean Cars

The last time I offered an adult a lift in our car I warned them before they got in that it was a mess. ‘I’m sure it’s fine Helen, can’t be that bad…OH MY GOD!’ The reason it’s got so bad is that our car is so old and cost so little that we keep expecting it to die. It never seems worth the risk of investing all that time and effort into cleaning it. But we’ve been thinking this for two and a half years now and yesterday I could stand it no longer.

Plus, we all know the image of the dad cleaning the car on a Sunday afternoon, don’t we? Well this would be a very good opportunity to subvert it. As Andrew recently pointed out, I’ve been quite lazy on the getting-out-on-the-farm-and-doing-the-dirty-‘boy’-jobs front. Not only are all the children, including Edie, probably massive chauvinist pigs by now, I’ve also veered dangerously off message on my blog.

Then again, there is something gloriously empowered about not doing the cleaning, isn’t there? By letting things go to shit perhaps I’m not just being a slattern, but a trailblazing feminist, who’s got better things to do than get down on all fours and contort herself into unlikely positions?


I started mucking out the car. Andrew and Bear were out at rugby, and before you say it, I had already taken Raff down to his rugby training, so there. It was as disgusting as ever. Sticky, dirty, full of things that shouldn’t be there, (although not the dog's foot as shown in the picture. That was definitely still attached to the dog, fully where it should be).

A few minutes in and Raff called me inside to wipe his bum. Fine. I did so then went back out and carried on with the car. Then Edie called me in to wipe her bum. Fine, again. As I went inside to help her Raff started hoovering the passenger foot-well.

When I came back out I began to smell burning. Then I realised the foot-well floor was soaking wet, and the wet had gotten inside the hoover. I felt very fortunate that it hadn’t blown up. I took out the bag, dismantled the insides of the hoover and lay it to dry in the sun. I continued to try to clean the car with a dustpan and brush instead. Really glad that I’d bothered to wash my hair that morning.

Then Edie called me. She had been playing naked in the sandpit and was now covered in sand. I had to drop everything to put her in the shower. Then went back outside to have another go with the dustpan and brush.

At some point Andrew and Bear returned. Andrew tried to tell me how tired he was and went to lie on the couch for a little rest. Although watching rugby and eating McDonalds is pretty exhausting, poor thing.

By now the hoover had dried off, so I had another go with it on the back seats of the car. Funny how the same burning smell had come back? Although not really when you consider that I’d entirely forgotten to put a hoover bag in.

As I was finishing – and by now, the project had taken up nearly the entire afternoon - the boys turned up. Soaked and caked in mud from playing in the stream. Every single piece of clothing needed a wash, as did they. As they got into the shower someone spilt the dog’s water bowl all over the floor.

So this. This is why mums shouldn’t clean cars. The sexist image of the dad cleaning the car on a Sunday afternoon is just perfect as it is.