On Scrubbing Tubs

It is not too much to say that I have scrubbed more tubs in the last three months than I have in the previous fifteen years. “What does this mean?” I hear you ask. “Are you really scrubbing more than normal now? Or did you just never scrub your tub until now?” The truth is … a bit of both.

The house I am renting was originally a little brick home built in 1955 on the outskirts of Savannah. The town grew though, and apparently so did the house. Over the years, previous owners added on and changed the house many ways, one of which was to add a one-bed / one-bath apartment at the back. The apartment is attached to the main house, but has a separate entrance, separate laundry facility, and separate thermostat. It’s also no longer on the outskirts of town, but relatively close to a number of attractions. All perfect for COVID-era hospitality in a tourist town! I decided before even moving in that I would turn the space into an AirBnB, so I spent most of August and September getting it ready – finding furniture and supplies as affordably as possible, painting cabinets, and preparing the listing. I finally got it up on the website at the end of September and it has been booked almost continuously since it first listed. Seventeen sets of guests have come through my little Bungalow so far. What does that mean for me? Lots of cleaning!

When it comes to housekeeping, there are plenty of tasks that I tolerate and some I even enjoy. Laundry, ironing, dishes, sweeping, dusting, vacuuming are all pleasant in their own ways. Taking out the trash and wiping down the inside of the fridge are less pleasant but over quite quickly. Toilets, however, gross me out. Sinks and tubs are both gross and time consuming. Thus … I am ashamed to admit that I have sometimes ignored these essential spaces until they were simply too icky for me to look at anymore. Only then would I roll up my sleeves and scrub them until they no longer offended the senses. More recently, during my cancer recovery process in South Africa, I got out of these tasks completely by hiring a housekeeper to come once a week. She kept the bathrooms sparkly without me ever lifting a finger. (God bless Olga!) All that to say, I have been a chronic scrub avoider for many years.

When I first started setting up the Bungalow, I was dismayed by the shower/bath. Though my landlord had gotten the house professionally cleaned before I arrived, it still looked like there was at least ten years of soap scum crusted on the plastic siding. I gave it the most vigorous scrub-down I could, but was discouraged by the results. I might have knocked off about five years of scum, but it still didn’t look great. I let it go and hoped my guests would either be forgiving or blind.

Earlier this week, while scrubbing the tub in preparation for my 17th guest, I stopped and looked at it again. I examined the various flat surfaces and the grooves between the “tiles”. Could it possibly be cleaner than three months ago!? Though numerous people have used the space, it looks fresher and newer now than when I first started. Could my weekly scrubbing have actually begun to reverse the calcification that had happened over so many years?

I laughed to discover that I was elbows-deep in a little lesson of redemption. I may roll up my sleeves and try to scrub all the scum off in one go, but I am not likely to win. Some scum is too thick. Too hardened. Too stuck. But if I scrub off a little each week … if I am faithful to always take away more than gets put back on, the scum doesn’t stand a chance. It will go. And the tub will be fresh and beautiful again.

God give me the strength to be as faithful with my heart as I am learning to be with my tub.

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