William Bethea

Experts of the 6×9 CLEANING NOT JUST A SPRING THING! by William Bethea

Living in a cell (or any close quarters) can be absolute hell ! Not exactly — no one has an idea of how bad hell really is — that’s a topic for another time. Right now, however, The Experts of the 6×9 would like to offer some suggestions on how to maintain order within a highly congested space.

The first thing we need to realize is that the cell is not just a cell. it’s a bathroom, living room, rec room, and kitchen all rolled up into one huge heap of cement and iron. The bathroom and kitchen can produce harmful bacteria and odors. The bathroom, living room, and rec room gather dumps of dust. If we still lived in a house, we would have more to clean, but would have to do it less frequently. But, because we are inhabitants of a 6×9, we have less to clean, we just have to clean it more often.

Let’s statr with the sink and toilet (the bathroom in our case.) Take a moment to really ruminate about what the sink and toilet are actually used for. These two wonderful inventions were created so that we could discard filth and waste that accrues due to what comes out of us ! consider how many times we use the sink and toilet in a single day. Consider what we use them for. Now consider all of the stupid reasons we don’t clean them regularly ! Institutional rules require that we clean them once a week; that’s not nearly enough.

Your mind may be giving the sink and toilet a toss – around, but it’s time to move on to the bedroom; more specifically, your bunk. For the most part, we do a good job when it come to keeping clean linens… but not as good as we may think. Not only are sheets, blankets, pillows and pillow cases important for our resting places, thay are also – though no fault of their own – perfect places for festering funk ! 1-3 hour naps, 6-8 hour nights of sleep, these are the times when the linens collect all of the vile. crap that your body tries to rid while sleeping – drool, flatulence, odors, hair, skin oils, and many other things that need not be mentioned. Having the linens cleaned once a week (once a month for blankets) is just asking for an out – break of irritable skin conditions and rashes.

Another place for festering is the cell itself, mainly the walls and floor. After all of your travels through out the day, after touching the handrails, doorknobs, bars, after every hand – shake, after every place yours shoe has trekked, you will end up back in your cell, and you will not be alone. Everything you touched and stepped on will be accompanying you for days to come. How do we deal with such unavailable filth ?

Passing out cleaning supplies once a week is down – right trifling. This doesn’t mean that the Experts of the 6×9 don’t want you to participate during clean – up on the weekends. it’s the opposite, in fact. We want you to be clean on the weekends and every other opportunity that presents itself. The question is… how do we get around not having the supplies ?

1. Sweeping can be tackled by using a twenty – cent washrag from the inmate commissars. Rags will tend to collect more dust then we are accustomed to and we would have to wash the sweeping rag regularly, but it will definitely be effective. If the rag proves to be too much of a burden, then purchase a hairbrush – an excellent replacement for a hand broom if we are willing to get down on our hands and knees.

2. For mopping, the rag, again, comes into play. Rags are abrasive and they carry less water than an actual mop which will allow your floor and walls to dry much faster. Although, if you have to scrub something, i.e. your floor, wall, or bottom of your shoes, we advise the use of a hairbrush again.

3. Obviously we’re not suggesting to mop your floors and clean your toilets simply with water; you’re going to need some cleaning agents. The prison frowns upon hoarding disinfectant, bleach, and comet in our cells, so we have to use a little ingenuity here. Laundry detergent works excellently for the floor, sink, and toilet because it is a concentrated solution and leaves behind a desired fragrance. Another good cleaning agent is a simple shampoo. Shampoo is not as abrasive as laundry detergents, but it does leave a pleasant smell and it is concentrated enough to remove most filth. Both laundry detergent and shampoo, however, need to be rinsed away thoroughly ! There’s a reason washing machines send our clothes through a rinse cycle, and I’ve never met one person who washed their hair, then didn’t rinse out the shampoo. These products clean well and they leave a pleasant lingering fragrance, but that fragrance will become an awful odor if the collected filth is not properly rinsed.

There’s a lot more that we can do, most of which is common sense. Our job is to point out the obvious and the not so obvious. So think clean, be clean, and stay clean. But most of all, know that cleaning is not just a spring thing.


William Bethea
DOC #000371779-D/684745

Categories: William Bethea

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