Beef Stew and Wet Mops

I was almost 40 years old when I bought my first floor mop. I just never knew you could clean a floor that way.

It’s all because of Jane C., neighbor, friend, partner in crime.bucket

On a sunny, cool afternoon in South Carolina,we sat and shared a bottle of California wine as she fixed a pot of beef stew for her family.

Then it happened.

Somewhere between the simmering of the meat and the chopping of the veggies, she took out a bucket and a mop and began to clean her kitchen floor.

As I lifted my feet so she could go around me, my jaw dropped. Really ?

Here was my version:

First, get rid of the family, especially the kids.

Lift up the throw rugs and shake/beat them outside if they can’t be laundered.

Remove all objects from the floor.

Turn chairs upside down on the kitchen table.

Sweep or vacuum any visible debris.

Get on hands and knees.


This was a process. One that I needed to plan. One that I learned very young.wringer

There was no other way to clean unless you were up close and personal.

This came from the same person who insisted on using one of these, the wringer washer.

It was time -consuming and back-breaking, and I dreaded the task. I always seemed to have white tile of some sort in my kitchen, so every bit of soil, every crumb would show up.

And here was Jane. Without skipping a beat, she went back to the pot of stew.beef stew

The floor sparkled. It all took about 15 minutes.

I loved my grandmother, but some traditions needed to be broken.

I went out the next day and bought myself an O-Cedar sponge mop.

My life was never the same.

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40 Responses to Beef Stew and Wet Mops

  1. LOL! I know I was raised that way too! My step-mother made me scrub the floors on my hands and knees. I remember being 9 months pregnant with my son scrubbing the floors on my hands and knees! Now, I use the Swiffer wet mop. It is too hard to get back up off that damn floor! LOL! ❤

  2. writerinsoul says:

    Good post!

    It’s our friends who show us life-beyond-family, yes?

    I can’t use a mop properly to save me! How did she get it sparkly clean?! All I ever did was moisten the dirt and move it around. I still get on the floor. I feel *environmentally guilty* to get a swiffer with throwaway thingees. What is an O-cedar? (Clearly, I’m still psychologically stuck back on my mother’s floors!)

    • She was only in my life about a year, but there’s so much more to write about her. We became catering partners. Not sure what product she put in that bucket ?? O-Cedar is just a brand of sponge mop. (Get up off your mom’s floor, Colette ! ) ☺ Van

      • writerinsoul says:

        Haha! I probably need to Google “how to use a mop.”

        You know, it’s funny you say that about only knowing her a year. Sometimes you don’t fully know someone’s impact on you till years after the fact. I still think a lot about (certain) people I only knew for short periods.

      • We moved so often, I didn’t waste time on superficial relationships. Would open up and go deep; I could tell pretty quickly who would become a friend. Some short term relationships were among the best. ☺

    • Angie Mc says:

      Friends! Invaluable to see life through new eyes ❤

  3. mandy smith says:

    Lol, blast from the past, Van! I grew up using the old-fashioned mop, thick, stinky rope-strands that I could never get my whole hand around to wring out the water. How I hated that job! That is the wringer-washer we had, too. I was always the curious child and stuck my hand in the wringer (while it was running) when my mom turned her back. Flatten hand–then swollen blue for a week (epsoms salt soaks every few hours…) taught me a lesson! Who knew I’d laugh about it one day? Thanks, Van! 😀 Oh, that stew looks yummy!

  4. Angie Mc says:

    Brava, Van! I’ve never been much of a cleaning gal but at some point I knew I was doing it all wrong. There had to be a better way! My ah-ha floor cleaning moments came in two phases. The first was the ShMop then…now… Scooba (bought at a deep discount) That’s right, these knees don’t touch the floor unless I’m playing or exercising 😀

  5. I was always hands and knees too, friends! Until just last year…I need one of those robot things. Very cool

  6. This post cracked me up. It took me fifteen years longer than you to discover the mop. (I don’t think it does as good a job, honestly, but it sure is easier, and I mop more often). Funny how many of us share these experiences:)

  7. Haha Van – love it! Even though I use a mop, every now and then I still get down on my hands and knees to give it a good cleaning, baseboards and all. ❤
    Diana xo

  8. Thank heavens my mother was ahead of her time. I never felt the urge to get down on my hands and knees except for the infamous bacon grease moment in our early marriage. Too long to explain how it happened, but imagine a sponge mop soaked in bacon grease and the ensuing result.

  9. LaVagabonde says:

    I’ve heard they’ve got little circular robots that do it now. My husband wanted to get one for our place in France, but I thought it was a waste of money. But who knows. I’ve scrubbed by hand a few times, and it actually seems like it gets the floor cleaner, but it’s too much effort.

    • Hey Julie, those robots were mentioned in the above comments…I’m curious, but cheap. I keep thinking I’ll hire someone to do it on occasion. And yes, it does seem to get cleaner when you scrub by hand..or maybe you just see the dirt “up close and personal”. ☺ Van

  10. lbeth1950 says:

    Lord, your knees must have been killing you! Thank God for mops!

  11. Hi Van
    You are crazy! in a good way of course. I’ve been reading some older post. I hope you are well. Will you stop by, look at the mission and give me some feedback about site? I would smile 🙂 so big. You can email me at I look forward to hearing from you, no pressure just when you have time.

  12. =) Oh, how we resist change.

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