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559 of 563 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you get out of it depends on what you read into it
I bought this book without knowing anything about it. As a thirtysomething single man who just bought his first house, I've been looking for the practical information that I never got growing up (more my fault than mom's), and after idly flipping through this book in the store, I was convinced that I'd found it. The amount of venom contained in many of the reviews...
Published on August 17, 2000 by J. Greely

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good start, but could be better
I was excited to find this book, since it seemed to be the encyclopedic book on housekeeping questions I always seem to have. It covers a wide range of subjects from fabric construction to great detail on bacteria found in the kitchen. The first part of the book is dedicated to how to make a house a home. It is strongly opinionated in a [certain] way about what and how...
Published on August 14, 2001 by A Reader


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559 of 563 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you get out of it depends on what you read into it, August 17, 2000
I bought this book without knowing anything about it. As a thirtysomething single man who just bought his first house, I've been looking for the practical information that I never got growing up (more my fault than mom's), and after idly flipping through this book in the store, I was convinced that I'd found it. The amount of venom contained in many of the reviews here was frankly astonishing to me, and for a moment I wondered if I'd wandered onto the wrong page by mistake.
Home Comforts is not "the fascists guide to spotless houses at the expense of friends, family, career, and joy". Indeed, the author repeatedly stresses that her methods and schedules are suggestions, nothing more, and goes to great lengths to explain why each task should be done in the first place, and how to balance the effort against the benefits. I found nothing in it to suggest that I, living alone in my brand-new house, should be forced into hours of weekly drudgery in order to meet an irrational white-glove standard; what I found was a set of clear explanations that would allow me to make informed choices on how to set my own standards and keep up with them in a reasonable and realistic way.
Attempting to read it from cover to cover in one sitting is indeed overwhelming, and I can see why it left some people feeling inadequate or with the false impression that the author was looking down her nose at the readers. I didn't know most of those things either, and much of what I thought I knew was wrong.
Some aspects that others find off-putting added to the charm for me. Who but a lawyer would, when faced with the complications of laundry care labels, reach immediately for the federal regulations governing them? The book gets a bit chatty, but if I didn't know what sort of person the author was, how would I know what motivated her advice in a particular area? I don't think I'd reached page seven before I was wondering "if there were any more at home like her", and not because I wanted to hire one as a full-time housekeeper; Mendelson is a "rational romantic", mixing equal parts of enthusiasm and sensibility into her writing.
As for omissions, I'm hard-pressed to find any significant ones. Doesn't say anything about doing your own plumbing or electrical work? Why should it? The information it does supply is geared to living in a home, not repairing or renovating one. For those who choose to do more in that area, she makes a point of recommending other sources. Personally, the only thing I've noticed so far that it doesn't say anything specific about is getting stains out of concrete floors, something I'm willing to research on my own, since she's saved me the trouble for pretty much every other kind of floor and wall covering I'm likely to encounter.
Oh, and I bought Mom a copy. Hopefully she'll take it the right way...
-j
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465 of 475 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential reference, February 11, 2000
By A Customer
"Home Comforts" is a massive guide to the fundamentals of keeping house. An engaging writer (on a subject I NEVER would have thought I would care about), Ms. Mendelson provides a thorough reference to caring for one's home and possessions, from the proper way to clean wood floors to how to lower one's dry-cleaning expenses to safety matters. For someone like me who never really learned how to keep house, this is an essential reference.

Yes, the author is often obssessive--and she freely admits to that charge. (Has Martha Stewart ever done so?) In fact, she details which chores she believes are essential and which tasks are obssessive. But her advice seems to be generally sound and thoroughly researched, especially when it comes to explaining the scientific & medical reasons of why certain tasks should be done in certain ways. (The chapter on dust mites is, frankly, slightly terrifying.)

This isn't a book about decorating or crafts for the home or time management (though there is some advice about organizing). There are dozens of other sources for those subjects--take this for what it is. It's fantastic, and it's changed the way my husband and I keep our house. I wish more books--fiction and non-fiction--could be so well-written.
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237 of 242 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I'd had this years ago...., June 1, 2000
Mendelson's lucid prose transforms the hot-button subject of homemaking (which is more than just housekeeping) into an activity worthy of time and attention. Without the slightest preachiness, she covers everything you need to know to run a home efficiently. Her gentle, practical tone eliminates any need for defensiveness, so it is possible to glimpse her vision of the pleasantness of order.
The book is more like a detailed, well-organized textbook than a "helpful hints" manual. For example, the "Cloth" section begins with descriptions of modern fabrics, and thoroughly discusses everything relevant to choosing, laundering, ironing, folding, removing stains, sanitizing (for contagious diseases, lice, or poison ivy), and troubleshooting fabric difficulties. And she manages to make it interesting!
My mother, whose home was perfectly maintained, used many of Mendelson's techniques and scheduling ideas, but never passed them on to me (she preferred to do it herself so that it would be done "right") so I grew up feeling that housework was something I couldn't successfully do.Since there are few things more depressing than feeling incompetant, I've tried to learn homemaking through trial and error. This book would have eliminated much of the error, and provided a much shorter and more pleasant learning curve.
I recommend this book to anyone who has a home or wants to be prepared to maintain one. It's well worth the price.
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142 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comfortable Home and Week-ends Too!, November 27, 1999
By A Customer
One of the highlights of the Cheryl Mendelson's book is the suggestion for schedules - what should be done daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
In the past, the only cleaning I did during the week was wash the dishes, clean the counters and take out the garbage. That left weekends as the only time to launder, dust, vacuum, and on and on.
Needless to say, weekends were not a lot of fun and the feeling of peace that you feel when you're in a clean home only existed for one or two days.
Thank you, Ms Mendelson, for helping me find a way to have a comfortable home 7 days a week and time to enjoy my week-ends!
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140 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!, November 9, 1999
I can't believe I am writing this, but this is the best book I have read this year. I have always been considered hopeless at cleaning house and now I find that it is not so bad, that I am just disorganized. I have learned things from Ms Mendelson that are actually interesting about keeping the house organized (like having more time to do other things, for one.)I like the fact that this is not a "hints" book (those never worked for me, and just forget about all that Martha Stewart stuff.) This is the basics and I have been sitting up at night reading it as if it was the latest murder mystery (my usual reading! )Thanks Cheryl, great job!
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105 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Hate to Clean and I Loved It !, January 10, 2000
I hate to clean but have always loved a clean house - go figure. I have been converted by this book. The size of this text seems overwhelming at first, but it reads like a dream - in fact it sucks you in. This is not one of those - "How to clean your house without any effort..." type books - but rather a comprehensive volume that will inspire as well as enlighten. I have been following the frame work of her advice for the past month and we have been reaping the rewards as a family. We wake up on Saturdays without feeling like "Today we have to clean the house". We live in a clean house. Try not to be overwhelmed but be inspired by this book. It is a real gem!
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116 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for at-home women, January 18, 2000
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is the best book on this topic I have ever seen - I collect old housekeeping books, but so much of their information is completely out of date. This is a great book for anyone, whether male or female, single in a studio apartment, or married with many kids! I work a 40 hour week and cook from scratch, and not only have I found time to read this (it's not like you lose track if you put it down after a few pages), my house is already cleaner and neater. I've resisted all previous good intentions and advice - don't know what this author did to me but the bed is made, the clothes are put away, and my cutting boards are sanitized. I can dispense with a lot of her advice, which she invites you to do, but a lot of this book are little things that take very little time and make a big difference in keeping on top of dirt and clutter, and making your living space feel like home. Wish I'd had it in college!
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95 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dust Bunnies Be Gone, March 7, 2000
By A Customer
I have a job, large home, relaxed husband, a couple of children, dogs, cats, etc. Maintaining a clean and organized home is something I aspire to but never seem to achieve. Heavens, when my Italian mother comes to visit, I go into a cleaning frenzy because she adhers to the cleanliness is next to godliness philosophy and I dread disappointing her with my casual household.
So with all this on my plate, why did I find Cheryl Medndelson's book so fascinating? Probably because it was so well written about a subject I thought I knew something about. Boy, did she open up my thinking to new and productive ways of managing a home. I am trying quite a few of her suggestions, although I still continue some of my slovenly ways. As a reference book, this is outstanding. If you have any questions or concerns about the most appropriate way to handle household problems, this book will have the answer and then some.
Give it a try, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
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153 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally changed my attitude and approach to housekeeping!, November 19, 1999
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As a professional woman, I always felt like my home was never as organized as my work life and it frustrated me no end. Cheryl Mendelson's "broken windows" therory in the book alone has made all the difference in my approach to housework. I also appreciate all the research she has done on each subject she writes about. It is a wonderful reference book as well as enjoyable to read. I am buying 2 more for my daughters. Cheryl is correct, many of us were never taught by our mothers to clean, they always had bigger plans for us.
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86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful and inspiring, February 17, 2000
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I thought this was the most informative and inspiring book on housekeeping that I have ever read. I don't understand the comments of other readers who say the author comes off as snobby or that you will feel guilty after reading the book. I found neither to be true. The author never says that things have to be done a certain way. She only tells you the reasons behind her suggestions and the rest is up to you. I got a lot of good ideas from this book. Other ideas I read and decided they were not for me. For example, changing bed linens. She says changing them twice a week is a good idea but that doing it once a week is fine too. It's up to you. I thinks the section on setting up schedules for daily, weekly and monthly tasks is great. A lot of good ideas and very inspiring.
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Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House
Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson (Paperback - May 17, 2005)
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