It’s Not the Dust Bunny’s Fault

I’ve got a secret. My house is a mess. And it’s not just a mess because I hate housework. (I do!) But, there’s a story I learned that taught me, it’s not the dust bunny’s fault.

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you? – Erma Bombeck

Image of sweeper and cleaning supplies. It's not the dust bunny's fault.
Vintage Triang dolls house cleaning supplies by AMCSviatko Flickr CC

Time Spent

Unfortunately, I have found very little that doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator, or some other important access point. No matter what you call it: household duties, home economics, domestic engineering, or home management; Women still spend more time doing it than men. According to the American Time Use Survey, women spend 2.6 hours per day on household activities, compared to 2.1 hours for men. To add insult to injury, reported on a Norwegian study that revealed the divorce rate was higher in couples who shared homemaking duties equally.

Shocking how much time women spend doing housework in this modern age of multiple electronic conveniences, isn’t it? True housework in the nineteenth century was difficult, full-time work. And modern conveniences relieved many back-breaking chores.  Yet by the mid-twentieth century, women spent more time cleaning than their predecessors. By 2012 more women work outside of the home than ever, and still, women spent more time performing household duties than in 2011. How can this be?

The Mysteries of Housework

I first suspected a something was amiss when, as a young woman, I lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment. I was proud of that abode and cleaned it till its shine forced any who entered to wear sunglasses. But there were problems. A single girl does not create much mess. Picking up, putting things away, a wipe here and there and it should be good, right? But, nnnoooo. Dust bunnies plagued me. Socks disappeared overnight. And woe betides the barefooted sleepwalker expecting to step onto a warm carpet in the bathroom, for mystery of mysteries, the carpet moved to a different corner of the bathroom EVERY night.

Later, as a married woman, my chores didn’t just double, they quadrupled! Wishing to work smarter, not harder, and determined to uncover these mysteries, I set up housework cams (long before someone stole my idea and called it a nanny cam). I viewed hours and hours of video and could see the dusty, soap scum aftermath and clutter appear mere hours after I’d cleaned, but I could not spy the culprit. At least, not until I slowed the camera speed way down.

Armies of dust bunnies and legions of dust mites whirled around the room, leaving eddies of filth behind them. I was certain I could beat them. I cleaned and dusted and vacuumed around the clock. Alas, I soon collapsed with housemaid fever, a rare and serious malady that starts with a stuffy head and quickly progresses to debilitating joint pain and oh-my-aching-back-itis.

Dust Bunny Trap

By the time I recovered, filth and grime covered my home. It was time to get serious. I laid a dust bunny trap and caught one that very night!

It's not the dust bunny's fault.
Dust bunnies from outer space- by Indieink Flickr CC

I interrogated the culprit. It took hours. But eventually, the poor dust bunny confessed that he was nothing but a minion of the soap scum bubblers.

More determined than ever to rid my home of this plague, I devised a trap for the scum. Catching the darn things was trickier than the dust bunnies, but I prevailed. Lest you follow my lead, heed my warning, interrogating a soap scum bubbler is not for the faint of heart. And after many days of devious interrogation efforts, I learned that even the scum were mere minions. He sent me in search of the notorious web-makers.

Oh, the horror! I dread spiders more than rodents or snakes. Still, I needed to find the answers, not just for me, but for all womankind! I’ll never know where I found the courage, but one dark and stormy night I succeeded! I trapped a spider. A big one! I shudder to remember the torments I heaped upon the many-legged one. Finally, deprived of yet another web and the food it would bring, she collapsed and told me the secret.

Not the Dust Bunny’s Fault

It began, she whispered, in the Garden of Good and Evil. The garden was not only peaceful and beautiful but scrupulously clean. Each creature took pride in picking up after himself, even Adam. And then Eve came along. Adam and all of earth’s creatures adored Eve and she, them. So when Eve dropped the first apple core, the creatures figured she wasn’t feeling well and picked it up for her. Their love for her was so great that when she and Adam moved from the Garden to a one-level, one room condo-by-the-sea, all the creatures went too.

Soon it wasn’t just Eve dropping a few crumbs. Adam began dropping things, too. From a few leftovers, it quickly grew to carelessly tossed togas, waste parchment, and stinky abandoned sandals.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Adam and Eve did the same thing outside. Soon the creatures had to organize three shifts, working 24 a day to maintain the same garden-like quality to their home. Finally, the creatures grew tired and resentful of the humans’ thoughtlessness. So the creatures got together and went on strike.

During the strike, things grew grimy. The filth and clutter piled up. Adam and Eve were oblivious. So the creatures encouraged the soap scum bubblers and the dust bunnies to double their efforts. Soon, there were knee-high piles of dust bunnies and the soap scum so thick that Adam could only get one foot in the tub. Eve screeched at the sight of so many dust bunnies. Adam thundered at the soap scum. And the two of them dove into a mighty cleaning effort. They picked up and scrubbed and swept in a mad flurry. Unfortunately, in their madness, they didn’t see that they were throwing their friends, the creatures, out of the house.

From that day forward, the soap scum bubblers and the dust bunnies had a new purpose in life–to make themselves visible to the humans so that housecleaning would happen at least once a week.

The spider breathed the last of her story, laid a bellyful of eggs, and died. In honor of their mother’s sacrifice, I released them.

Housework Rebel

And to tell you the truth, I haven’t had the heart to move a single dust bunny nor scour away a single ring of scum bubblers ever since. In fact, after a great deal of thought, I’ve realized there’s no excuse for allowing one creature to be a minion of another. Don’t you agree?

You do? Then join me. Put down your brooms, your dust mops, and scrubbers! Free the dust bunnies, scum bubblers, and spiders! Let’s end this housework conspiracy once and forever!

It's not the dust bunny's fault.
dust bunnies by Stephan Walli Flickr CC

Now confess, are you a housework diva or

a housework rebel?

No real dust bunnies, scum bubbles, spiders, or other filth were harmed in the process of creating this story. Won’t you share how it’s not the dust bunnies’ fault at your house? Please tell me I’m not alone!


  1. Hey Lynette, What a fun post. Thanks. As for me, I hold to the party-philosophy of housework. When my house gets beyond belief, I plan a party. Send out invites and all. Then I ‘m sure to get it cleaned.

  2. Hahah -I hate housework. I’m with Janet. Host Chritmas at my house and know my sister will be here looking in every corner and closet. My kids even get in nija mode, (easier than listen to mom scream.) 😉 My husband does do a great deal of house work, but it was so much eaiser before four kids. We are just plain old out numbered. I remember when I moved into my Greatmothers house in college. The closets were soooo small. My grandmother laughed and said, “When you have to wash your clothes by hand you keep it simple.” That is the problem the bigger our closets the more work we make for ourselves.

    1. Jolene, you hit on it. We really have made more work for ourselves, not just with larger closets – we’ve larger houses, more stuff, and have higher standards of hygiene. But, I’m not complaining. I like large closets.

  3. I loved this post.
    Housework…umm…yeah…I’m not the most dedicated at that. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a rebel, but my philosophy is that I’ll clean enough to keep things healthy. Beyond that, it’s my home and if you don’t like how I keep it, you don’t have to visit 🙂 In all honesty though, I share a house with four cats, a Great Dane, and a husband. I’d have to spend the whole day cleaning every day if I wanted a spotless home!

    1. I hear you, Marcy. Your dog is equal to four or five of my dogs! I share my house with a not-so-neat husband and two small dogs and _I_ would have to clean all day, every day to keep the house spotless. I think you’re right, healthy is a good goal.

  4. Great post! I do enough to keep the health department away. My house is always a disaster, but I prefer to think of it as ‘lived in’ not messy. 😀 Of course, now that we’ve decided to try and sell our house, all that neglect is coming back to bite me :/

  5. “Put down your brooms, your dust mops and scrubbers!” LOLOLOL Lynette!
    I miss Erma Bombeck! She was hilarious. My mother-in-law was so much like her. I loved that woman. So are we on strike Lynette? I’m all over this one. I could use some time off for good behavior, if ya know what I mean. That’s it. I’m taking the week off. Ah shoot. I already cleaned the house. Do you think I’ll still make a statement? I can’t win for losing Lynette. Down with Dust Bunnies! 🙂

    1. I don’t know about your house, Karen, but I can make a statement not cleaning just one day. In fact, I make that statement a lot. Yes! For the good of all womankind, I’m on strike! (Just don’t tell the health inspector) 😀 Thanks, Karen.

  6. I do my best to avoid cleaning! My husband does even less than I do, even though I have a full time job and he doesn’t. Hmmmm…. we have a friend my husband helps a lot, who cleans our house wvery two weeks so I guess that works. As long as I don’t have to do it!

  7. What a great post, Lynette!
    Occasionally my inner Betty Homemaker comes out and is horrified at the state of my humble abode. When that happens, I quickly shove her under a bed where I’m sure she battles for her life against the dust bunny armies.
    I try to keep things clean, but with a 100 pound dog, two furry kitties, a granddaughter, a daughter and my darling husband, it’s a lost cause most days. Sometimes, I give my granddaughter a wipe and let her loose to clean whatever she likes. She also loves to sweep, though the broom is a wee bit big for her right now. But hey, I’ll take whatever help I can get! LOL!

  8. Wonderful post, Lynette! I feel so free because “now I know the rest of the story,” which for me translates as “I always knew there was a reason for my cleaning phobia.” And to find out it has been a conspiracy?!?! Out all the supplies go. I’m thinking I just may have room for books in that closet….


  9. I moved from my parents home to my home with my husband. I knew he was anal about housework and his expectations about a clean house. and besides, it couldn’t be my mess – there were 3 kids and a husband and 4 dogs. soooo.

    but then i moved out into my own house. it’s a much bigger house. and I only have 2 dogs but the dust bunnies still appear. worse, they make messes outside too, under the deck and in the swale. it’s most discouraging. LOL thanks Lynnette

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