Thai Clean

Allie Holtzer, 127

My site visit is tomorrow. It’s been in the books for a while. My lesson plan is written and printed, I told my co-teacher to try to speak minimal Thai to the students, and two teachers have almost finished a book of very flattering pictures of me doing things within the community this past year. I’m not terribly nervous about Peace Corps staff watching me teach, or them talking to people at school, but something is nagging at me. My house is not American clean.

Growing up, whenever company was coming to the house my mom whipped out the vacuum, handed me the can of Pledge and a rag, put on show tunes, and we cleaned (well she did most of the work but I like to believe I put a dent in it). As time went on beautiful things were added to this process: cordless vacuums, Swiffers, Lysol wipes, Febreze! I have to admit, as I became older I put less of a dent in the pre-company cleaning due to hormones and general anger towards everything but I still enjoyed a freshly vacuumed carpet. In college I would sometimes go on cleaning sprees but shortly after my room would be covered in clothes, unless company was coming.


My site visit is tomorrow, and an American staff member is coming to my house. I know she was a Peace Corps Volunteer too, but the anxiety of someone coming into my space and it not being American clean is getting to me. I hear show tunes faintly in the background as I pick my clothes up off the tile floor. I am haunted with the sentence, “Al! Change the vacuum cord outlet for me!” as I sweep my kitchen with a broom that works…kinda. The smell of Ajax invades my nose as I literally hose down my bathroom.


My house would not pass a white glove test, but it is Thai clean. You might be wondering what exactly is “Thai clean”? Well. First off I live in North Eastern Thailand. It’s pretty dry here, so dry that I haven’t had running water in over a week. My wonderful school director has been so gracious to get me a giant container that is filled up with water by local government when needed. This blue, plastic, savior has a spout with a hose connected to it that runs through the backdoor of my house and the hose ends up in my bathroom. Normally, I get the water for my bathroom from a spout that jets out of the wall, but that is currently out of service, so I must fill my bucket (that I use to bathe) with the hose from the outside. I’m fine with this. I really am. I was very privileged to grow up in a house that consistently had running, clean water. However, that was in New York, this is Thailand so I take the differences as they are.


My site visit is tomorrow, an American staff member is coming, and I can’t clean my porch where like five dogs sleep because I have minimal water. My mom sent me Lysol and Windex wipes per my request, so they help calm my pre-company nerves. I know it will be fine. I know I’ll make excuses for how my house looks and they’ll be rebuked with high pitched assuring voices. Thai clean will have to suffice…and I just watched a gecko poop on my wall.

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