A couple weekends ago, I finally got around to doing a chore I hate: cleaning mildew off of my bathroom walls. I could think of a million good reasons to put it off — it’s messy and annoying, my landlord should just repaint the walls, I didn’t know which cleaning products would work best. But a trip to Muji had removed the biggest obstacle — not having the right tools. I’d bought a square-edge scrub brush to add to my arsenal of products from the brand’s cleaning system, and after I mixed up a white-vinegar solution to tackle the mildew, scrubbing the stains from the corners of my walls was straightforward — I clicked the brush head onto a long wooden pole and got to work.
I became a convert to the Muji cleaning system two years ago, when, a few months after moving into a new apartment, I bought a telescoping aluminum pole, a broom and mophead, and a dustpan. What distinguishes the Muji system from other cleaning sets is its modularity: There are four poles and seven heads, which are sold separately. The heads and poles have compatible plastic joints that lock together with a push button, and the heads can be popped out and replaced quickly. It’s especially useful for apartment-dwellers. You only buy what you need, and it saves a ton of space when every separate cleaning tool doesn’t come with a four-foot-long pole attached. (It helps that the set is inexpensive — you get a mop, broom, and dustpan for less than $20.) The brand sells cleaning accessories like mop pads and sponges, but I’ve used the system with mop pads I’d bought on Amazon, and it’s also compatible with Swiffer single-use pads.
Since 2020, I’ve swapped out the telescoping metal pole for a sturdier wooden one (maybe I’m pushing too hard, but no matter how firmly I’d twist the aluminum pole’s locking mechanism, it had a tendency to shorten when I didn’t want it to) and bought more mop and dust pads plus the square-edge, firm-bristle scrub brush I used to kill mildew, which is also great for cleaning tile. Everything works exactly as intended: The broom sweeps, the scrubber scrubs, the dust mop gobbles up dust, and the pole is sturdy and comfortable to hold. I like the system so much that I catch myself trying to invent uses for accessories I don’t need. I don’t have a pet or a fuzzy couch, but if I did, there’s a lint brush attachment, and my shower doesn’t have glass doors, but I’ve briefly tried to justify buying a squeegee.
A great way to trick yourself into cleaning is to get out the supplies you’ll need and move them to the area where you intend to use them. It’s something useful to do while procrastinating, and it saves you time once you’re underway — similar to mise en place in a kitchen. It’s a very effective gambit that you won’t put away your buckets, brooms, and sprays without actually finishing the task. Converting to the Muji system has made this tactic work better than ever. The kitchen corner that would otherwise be a tangle of brooms, Swiffer poles, and stick vacuums is instead a neat, four-foot-by-one-foot space where I hang the most-frequently used items — right now, the pole, broom head, mophead, and dustpan — with extra stuff stowed away under the sink. I no longer have to go rooting around in a corner for a broom or jerry-rig a solution using the wrong tools, and when I reach for the pole, I can convince myself that sweeping up or scrubbing tile will be similarly breezy. With the Muji tools, a lot of the time, it is.
[Editor’s note: The Muji broom attachment is currently out of stock, but the brand expects a restock in November.]
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