So in my own culture I am considered to have a good cleaning standard and I am quite organised. When I went to Turkey I was so offended that people didn’t think I was clean. It is so funny when I look back now because I actually think some things which I did/didn’t do were not clean. Like entering the bathroom without shoes, I used to think that was ok but now I would never to that. But there are a few things that still annoy me. These are definitely the things you don’t learn about until you live in Turkey! Don’t be surprised if your partners family comment on your cleanliness to your face. It is not considered rude at all and rather it is rude if you react in a negative way to their advice.
Some things just don’t make sense though..
I think number one has to be bed sheets. I hate making the bed in Turkey because it is not enough to fix your blanket and put your pillows in order. God no, that is well below Turkish standard. You have to remove everything from the bed, shake the sheet out the window in order to air it and remove any old skin/hairs. Then you have to bang your pillows. You can leave them to air on the windowsill for a while. Once a week you can leave your duvet hanging out the window to air also. Uh it is such a nightmare. It is not just making the bed it is completely re-making the bed. I used to pretend that I had aired the sheets but my mother in law would always know! I gave up faking it now and I actually do remake the bed. Still don’t enjoy it though.
Then also carpets have to be aired over the balcony too. I am totally against this airing system especially since the majority of people live in apartments in Istanbul. So it is great if you live on the top floor but if you live on any other floor and you have your windows open, peoples old skin cells may enter your window. Yeah I don’t like it. It would be so much more convenient if we could just use those mini vacuums on our sheets. Besides the sheets are definitely washed once a week we are hardly going to get infected by our dead skin cells.
Number two has to be cleaning the dishes. I am sure some of you know exactly all about this. I will have to break this into two parts; sink cleaning and the dishwasher. So basically in Turkey it is weird if you rinse the dishes under the sink with some washing up liquid and leave them to dry. Everything of course has to be prolonged. Firstly never fill the sink up with water and wash all your dishes in that water. That is just disgusting from a Turkish housewives point of view. Well I have to agree too now, after all you are washing your dishes in dirty water. Anyway, forget water conservation, cleanliness comes first in a country where water shortages are on the rise. You leave the tap running, you get your sponge and washing up liquid, you scrub the dishes/glasses. Then you do not rinse them.. I repeat you do not rinse them. You leave them on the side so that the suds can do their thing. You know, let the suds work their magic. Then you continue on with your other dishes. So basically when you’re finished you go back to the first thing you washed and you then begin the process of washing the suds off. Now you are probably thinking that thank God we are in the days of having dishwashers but even with dishwasher some families go through this process. I know it is ridiculous. Even if they don’t do all of that they definitely rinse everything under the sink with a sponge so that it is at least 80% clean. Because you just couldn’t put a dish that is any less clean in the dishwasher. Now think of this process and think of Ramadan where iftar meals are attended weekly by generally 10 people. That’s 10 plates, 10 soup bowls, 10 glasses, 10 knives, 10 forks, 10 spoons, multiple meze dishes and the worse oh the worse….pots! By the way after we finish dinner in Ireland there is absolutely no rush to the sink/dishwasher. We leave things on the table or on the kitchen counter until our guests go, because we actually want to talk to our guests. This system is diabolical to Turkish women who are removing everything from the table as soon as you finish your last bite. I really hate this because being the slow eater that I am, I always feel pressure to eat fast when plates are being taking away. For the love of God sit down and let your food digest and speak with your guests. ‘Oh no we can’t let them think we are dirty!’
The cleaning routine in Turkey also sucks if you have the privilege of being a young woman. If you are younger you are expected to do a lot more. Especially if you are a gelin, you better be making an extra effort to impress your mother in law. I used to be offended because of certain comments but now I take them in my stride. I have to remember that these women grew up in a culture where caring about what the neighbours think is important. It may seem strange at first but really they just want you to fit in and for people to like you.
I am just too laid back to care what people think. Like I just don’t understand why we must panic when a guest rings up unexpected. What is the need for getting the vacuum out when we just vacuumed yesterday? Put the bleach down they aren’t going to be licking your kitchen counter top. It is like 15-30 mins of nonstop cleaning for a guest who is on their way. I mean obviously things should be in order but really it’s too much for me. I’d rather not smell like sweat when my guest arrives after all I will have to hug and kiss them. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue because really they are not going to change. There is no point stressing out just go along with it because eventually you will have your own home. Although I have heard stories about MiL going to their sons homes and cleaning for them! It doesn’t surprise me at all. Just accept the help lol.