Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Red Dirt and Other Housekeeping Challenges

Maui’s a surprisingly dirty place to live. I wish I had a cleaner on retainer who would come by every day or at least every week to help keep my house clean.

Our dirt is red, the kind of red that stains sheets, towels, and anything white. One owner of a vacation rental says she has given up on white bath towels, and now uses coral bath towels which don't show the dirt. There is even a red dirt shirt company which stains its T-shirts with Hawaiian red dirt.

A friend who works at a car dealership says, they have to clean the cars constantly! He’s worked on car dealerships on four Hawaiian Islands and Maui requires the most cleaning. I have to agree with them. I have never had to wash my car so often in my life. I even wax it weekly to keep the dirt and pollen from staining the car.
Tourists on vacation often complain to me of dirt on the patio (what we call the lanai) or dirt on the deck chairs, or dust here and there. The dust and dirt can come from sugar cane burning or from strong winds. Even if it was clean the day before arrival, the wind can trash a deck the next day.

A friend's post on Facebook about her cleaning routine on Maui, 
used with permission.
The wind, which is very strong on Maui, blows red dirt from agricultural fields, construction sites, or wherever red dirt is exposed all over the island. The wind also blows dust, pollen, construction dust and any particles in the air so they land on cars, windows, houses, ceiling fans…North Kihei is especially prone to more red dirt because of the prevailing wind direction.

Martha Stewart has housekeeping advice for window screens - clean them maybe every 4 months. Gasp! On Maui, I have to clean them every few days or even more frequently. Our window screens look like zombie fuzz if left alone too long.

I have two vacuum cleaners, which seems crazy for such a small house! One is for my home office and I vacuum under the desk, around the computer, on the desk, because there is a daily dirt buildup. I’m not even a neat fanatic. You’ll know if you ever visit me. The other vacuum is for the rest of the house, which is under 700 square feet.

If I do not wipe the top of the toilet tank daily, there is a film of dust on it. There is a layer of dust every night on all horizontal surfaces, and I think the dust gremlins love Maui. I wish I was a better housekeeper, but it's an ongoing effort. Another friend says she could easily dust three times a day!

Besides red dirt, there is also:

By the way, cleaners are always in demand on Maui. Cleaners can charge at least $20/hour. More efficient and skilled cleaners can charge $25-$30/hour.

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts. I could have also written about Rent or Real Estate but have touched on those topics in Ohanas and Other Rental Experiences and Housing on Maui Can Make You Cry

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt.

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May!


  1. That red dirt sounds like a cleaning nightmare. Yikes!

  2. Yes, our friends told us a story of some friends visiting. They had left a big mess in the bathroom, all the sand from the beach and whatever else was tracked into the bathroom. They told their hosts they would clean it up. They did clean it up, but dried the bathroom with white towels, which became permanently stained by red dirt.

  3. You could go back home with a full set of matching red dirt outfits - pants, shorts, blouses, jackets!

  4. I'm glad you stopped by! We have a lot of feral cats (abandoned house cats gone wild) here too. Some people feed them and take care of the cat colonies and try to get them fixed. Others are upset at the cats because they eat the native birds, diminishing an already dwindling population.

  5. I suspect Maui may be the worst for cleaning, since I also lived on Kauai and Oahu. On Kauai, there's still extreme entropy, like putting canned food on the shelf and discovering rust rings on the shelf a few months later... Not sure how bad the Big Island is, because they get vog - volcanic smog, which I am writing about today. But in any case, it's a constant process.

  6. On Maui, I feel like I can spend a lot of time cleaning here and the house doesn't look much different! But if I wipe down the window screens, it does look better - or at least I notice something different. Cleaning the windows frequently also helps.

  7. Hi! I am in Qatar and have the same problem. We had a big dust storm last month that got everywhere! Now my beach towel has these horrible red stains and I can't take them out :( I tried washing, pressure washing... nothing! Any ideas??

  8. I visited Hawaii with some friends last year and stayed with family on the islands of Oahu and Maui. If it wasn't the humidity on Oahu it was the red dirt on Maui. Still loved the experience in Hawaii though and yes, even paradise has it's ups and downs. Even though we were on vacation we had to do some cleaning to my rental unit and that didn't do much since the windows were opened to take advantage of those great breezes. Also, we'd remove our slippers Hawaiian style before going in (we do this back home too in Canada) with hopes of not tracking in the red dirt but the winds blew it all over our slippers so by the time we put on our slippers and headed out for the day the bottoms of our feet were covered in red dirt and lots of other dirt and we ended up tracking it into the rental home anyway and (unknowingly) into the home of a local. I laughed at my GF for having dirty feet but it turns out mine were even worse! There's no winning! Still, I love Hawaii.

  9. LOL! Dirty feet are a challenge here. A friend puts a towel by her bed so she can wipe her feet before she goes to sleep. I give them a good wash at night. May has been surprisingly rainy, cool and MUDDY... not normal for this time of year, so I've really had to check my feet. Thank you for stopping by!


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