Introducing 3 Typical Indian Cleaning Implements

by Sharell शारेल on December 11, 2011

in Culture Shock in India

Post image for Introducing 3 Typical Indian Cleaning Implements

Following on from the typical Indian bathroom and typical Indian kitchen, I thought it was about time I introduced some typical Indian cleaning implements.

It’s these three cleaning implements that made me give in to getting a maid, because I have to admit, I just don’t have the skills to use them properly (and don’t particularly want to learn).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these implements, they’re different types of an Indian broom (also known as a jhadoo, and not to be confused with jadoo which means magic and they certainly don’t do any of that!)

The pink one is made out of plastic and is used for sweeping water.

The one with the purple and green handle is made out of some sort of fine plant-derived fibre (that I can’t identify) and is used for sweeping dust and dirt off the floor.

The brown one is a bunch of sticks and is used for sweeping rubbish in open areas, usually outdoors. And, I kid you not, an expat blogger mistook it for a decorative home accessory (bless her, I’ve thought about putting it in a vase too).

Thanks to these implements, living in India has rendered me quite useless at housekeeping. There are two main reasons for this.

The first is that I’m not used to throwing water all over everything as a method of cleaning (give me a mop and bucket any day!). In India water will commonly be poured all over the floor, and then swept away with the pink jhadoo. In the apartment building we previously lived in, the kachra-wala (rubbish guy) once attached a hose to a tap in our bathroom, and hosed down the common first floor landing to clean it. Water ran down the stairs and into the lobby. And, of course, people walked all though the area with their shoes on and left it dirtier than it was already.

The second reason why I’m not comfortable using these cleaning implements is because of the size of them. They don’t have a handle of any significance, or have a handle at all. To use them, one must bend down and sweep in a sideways motion. It huts my knees and gives me a back ache. And, for that, my maid is happy because it gives her work!

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© Copyright 2011 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 115 comments… read them below or add one }

Truth December 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm

You can also use the purple broom to threaten you husband when he goes on hunger strike!


Sharell December 11, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Oh, I like that idea!


Sharell December 11, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Ha! I just told him and he laughed and said “don’t ever do that to me, that’s very insulting!!’ ;-) No doubt because it’s used to clean the floor.


Truth December 12, 2011 at 12:06 am

I am sure he must be hating people like me who gives his wife new ideas everyday! :-)


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 12:12 am

Yeah, as if I don’t torment him enough already! :-P


Cyn December 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Is it wrong that I laughed at your describing the wetting the whole surface to be cleaned only to have people walk with dirty shoes and drag even more dirt around the house? I’ve stopped trying to explain things to maid, they don’t get that the bathroom can be mopped like the rest of the home! I resign myself to the fact that my bathrooms will be wet for hours, that in fear of slipping and breaking my neck I will wear flip flops and then drag dirt back into the rest of the flat, or that my dog will leave paw print barealy one hour after the maid left and that my daughter will plunge the plastic jhadoo in the toilet thinking it is fun rendering the thing unhygienic :)
In 8 years in India I still can’t sweep the floor with that soft grass broom as well as a maid though, when I try it inevitably leaves grass bits behind while I sweep dog hair or a box of sequins my daughter found in my craft supplies, leaving me wonder if I’m better off leaving the glittery stuff on the ground, or deal with grassy bits instead :P


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

Oh my gosh, the amount of times I’ve nearly slipped over on wet floors… I’ve lost count! :-( It’s dangerous!!!!


Cyn December 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

Oh yeah I slipped a countless time too! I keep wondering how bad it could be for senior citizens, with less quick reflexes and weaker bones, these bathrooms become a real hazard after shower and clean up.


Vivek December 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

Firstly remove grassy dust from the new broom. Once the broom gets used it will not leave grassy dust. If the broom is worn out, it will leave it’s loose branches behind, then you should buy a new one.


Cyn December 12, 2011 at 10:08 am

Yeah but the grassy dust takes forever to go off, I even had a maid who thought it was unecessary to remove it, and when the broom stopped leaving grass behind she would announce my broom needed replacement…sigh!


Hélène December 12, 2011 at 12:02 am

The pink thing looks really girly cool although I can’t imagine how to use it ;)

Believe it or not I tried to bring back a No.3 broom for my mum but couldn’t get it to fit in my suitcase…. I believe it’s still waiting for me in Delhi airport somewhere as I chose not to miss my connecting flight for it after all :)

(before you think I’m totally nuts, it’s because a friend of hers was Chinese and gave her similar Chinese brooms)


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 12:15 am

That’s funny! I bet the broom has been put to good use somewhere by now….


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 12:17 am

I must add, that I find the pink thing rather freaky. It reminds me of a huge, deformed, squid with tentacles! :-o (Weird imagination, I know).


prashanth December 12, 2011 at 3:15 am


It’s high time for you to go to Hogwarts school and learn some wizardry. You could then use that Indian broom and fly to France! :P


Hélène December 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

@Prashanth. Yes, that would be great, although given the long distance :)


Chanakya December 12, 2011 at 12:59 am

the only question is ‘do you use them?’


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

No, that’s the maid’s job!

I’ve never used the pink one or the bunch of sticks. Sometimes I use the other one though. It’s good for getting cobwebs from the ceiling.


Chanakya December 12, 2011 at 1:12 am

You know what , you are a magician.You can make a post out of nothing and make thousand people actually read it.Just like magicians produces stuff out of thin air.hmmmm… If I had such talent..


Dommi December 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I thought it was really interesting myself. Guess everyone can’t find everything interesting but I think everything Sharell writes is highly entertaining! Yes wouldn’t we all love to have Sharell’s talent, she is so inspiring!


prashanth December 12, 2011 at 3:26 am

You western folks have never used brooms? Hmm…surprising! How would you clean the spiderweb or any other stuff hanging off the ceiling? or how do you folks clean the verandah’s or surroundings of your house/apartment? How do you folks clean up the snow filled driveways?

I do agree that the Indian ways of cleaning up are pretty inefficient and laughable, but then for the Indian ways to change, the people should learn first (unfortunately, many don’t even want to apply some intelligence and learn) and also the population should be controlled, so as to use the vacuum cleaners or any other electrical stuff. I also find it odd that many Indians (middle-class and upwards) always want the servants to do that. I don’t like that and whenever I’m in India, I sometimes volunteer to clean up, using the broom.


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

Of course, we use brooms! ;-) But they have long handles on them, so one doesn’t have to bend down into uncomfortable positions.


flydye45 December 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Why do I think that the average Indian purchaser doesn’t have to bend over in uncomfortable postions to use these? Just saying…


Hélène December 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm

In France traditionnally we use a feather broom for cobwebs, although now they’re made of plastic, and for leaves bamboo rakes or long brooms made with rice.


Mary December 12, 2011 at 3:59 am

Ah Sharell, you’ve demystified the cleaning implement area of my local indian market here in Texas. The plastic pink squiddy things have always given me squidgy feelings of generalized unease, isn’t that funny??? Guess it’s the combo of plastic and pick that triggers a longheld distrust of things Barbie.

On the other hand, the brown sticks tool looks honest and determined, and kinda Scottish.

Is it an indian thing that maids clean in their own way… dirt floor dwellings are excellently cleaned with the water & brush method, however modern hi-rise apartments are a different beast and doesn’t that necessitate the common sense of different technique? The watery floors deal sounds like a recipe for broken limbs… unless one is gone all day from the apartment…


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 10:24 am

Hi Mary, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels uneasy about the pink thing! It puts my mind at ease a little. 8)


anon December 12, 2011 at 4:15 am

next,on indian chairs
then on indian sofas
followed by indian beds,buckets,pans and pots.
haven’t you done something already on indian flowers,birds and animals.
is this for your parents and friends? telling them about indian things,one thing at a time?


Mural December 12, 2011 at 8:11 am

you sure do love complaining


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

No, it’s not for my parents and friends — it’s for anyone who is unfamiliar with these kinds of Indian things (there are a lot of people who read my blog who aren’t Indian you know…. and I didn’t start writing my blog for Indians).

Too bad you missed my post about the sofa cum bed… it was one of the first:

Warning: there may also be a future post regarding the Indian obsession with multiple sized stainless steel tins and buckets. :-P Chairs in India, unfortunately, are too western to qualify.


Dommi December 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Some people love to have a whinge don’t they? Maybe they need to look at something else on the internet that they find more interesting instead of wasting time complaining about Your choice of article on Your blog? I was interested to learn about these brooms! Thankyou Sharell for enlightening me! :)


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Yes, and look how they like to do their complaining in the disguise of being anonymous!


Laura December 12, 2011 at 4:53 am

What you need for you own safety is a rubber broom. I have one, and it is great for squeegeeing water off a wet floor — or sweeping a dry floor; it works equally well either way. Then, after the maid leaves the floors all wet, you can run the rubber broom at least through a walking path and squeegee yourself a safe place to walk!

I don’t understand why people insist on using tools that require them to bend over. Perhaps it’s because I’m nearly as tall as you, but it just makes me hurt sympathetically!

And in the US, they’ve even outlawed short-handled tools for field work, so that the workers who harvest so many of our crops aren’t required to stoop over all day to use their tools. You’d think that making longer broom handles would provide more jobs, not fewer, since people would also be needed to make the handles!


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

I don’t understand why people insist on using tools that require them to bend over. Perhaps it’s because I’m nearly as tall as you, but it just makes me hurt sympathetically!

Thank you! I appreciate you understanding! :-) You know, when we lived in our old apartment and I refused to get a maid — I used to clean all the floors myself with a bucket and wet cloth every second day. I got a very sore knee from all the squatting down. I don’t think the western body is made for such ways of cleaning!


Monishikha December 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

Hi Sharell,

Im so happy that you wrote this post, because of late I’ve been hearing a lot about how Indians are too lazy to clean their own houses, mostly from people who have never actually lived and run their own house,in India. What these people don’t realise is that in most Indian houses,cleaning is extremely labour intensive and back breaking,and if one has to maintain some semblance of a well run house without househelp, that is practically all that one would be doing the whole day! Which is why , maids are so important to a typical Indian housewife, like me, who would like to be able to get some time in a day,to do something other than cooking, cleaning, dusting etc..such as being the principal care giver to a very naughty little boy and reading the odd blog or book once in a while :D

@ Prashanth,

You said,
“I also find it odd that many Indians (middle-class and upwards) always want the servants to do that. I don’t like that and whenever I’m in India, I sometimes volunteer to clean up, using the broom.”

I think if you try cleaning up an Indian house more often than “sometimes” ,i.e once or twice a day with a “jhadu” , you will no longer find it odd that some of us Indians like to have househelp.


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

Hi Monishikha, I totally agree with you! Not only do homes get so dusty and dirty, cleaning is time consuming and labour intensive. The amount of effort that has to be put into it on a daily basis really would leave little time for anything else. By the end of the summer, after 7 months of no rain, the dust settles again the same day even! Not fun. Unfortunately, my house isn’t the cleanest house (there’s usually dust around) because I just don’t have the time to devote to it every day and the maid just does the floors. It’s not like when I was living in Australia and working, and the house only needed a clean once every couple of weeks! ;-)


Monishikha December 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm


Good to have a point of view from someone who’s seen both sides! My house is sparkly clean ONLY when I know Im going to have guests visiting or my mom is coming to stay,in which case, she takes care of places like my kitchen cupboards, which I generally ignore beyond the superficial organisation required for finding everyday things.

As far as Im concerned, if it looks neat (and I know it’s clean) then Im done, for the day :D


prashanth December 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm


I very much know that it’s a lot of work, as I do all that household stuff, everyday. I was generally asking for improving the efficiency in many things and also, I was against being totally dependent on the maid, as I’ve seen work come to a standstill, when the maid is absent. So, no offence meant and all respect to ya, lady! :)


Monishikha December 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm

@ Prashanth

No offence taken and thank you for the respect :)

I agree with you about not being entirely dependent on a maid, as in if required(and it has been quite often) work does go on without one, though not as easily and with a few more explosions from self. As far as labour saving devices like vacuum cleaners etc are concerned,I’ve found it much easier to use things like a broom for everyday stuff rather than take out the vacuum cleaner, lug it around from point to point in each room, and still spend the same amount of time cleaning.

That said, I do hope that we’ll be able to get better labour saving devices soon, because the way things are now, having a maid(let alone a reliable one) will not be an option in a few years from now.


Maeve December 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

@ Prashanth
It took me a long time to learn not to be dependent on the maid. Moving to Mumbai, when my Indian flatmate wanted to get a maid, I figured “Awesome, everything will be spotless all the time.” Well, i quickly learned it’s not the same as a hotel maid! After being frustrated for months, finally I’ve learned that just because I pay someone to clean doesn’t mean she is the ONLY one who cleans. We have to participate in our own homes’ upkeep! (which somehow bears reminding in India, but living in US I would have never considered employing someone to clean for me!)


Kelly December 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

Try having a malting German Shepherd – no maid – no vacuum – and having to use these?? It’s NEVER ENDING!


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Eeeek! I don’t like the sound of that at all. :-(


DA December 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hi Sharell
The pink one could be either bamboo stick or plastic.
The purple handle one is usually dry grass plumes .
And the third one could be from any dry palm leaves.
My mum used to clean bed and sofa’s with the third one. And remember as a child waking up to the noise of the jhadoo (we call it Jharu ) outside every morning.


Rain December 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Hi Sharell,
The purple and brown brooms are used in Indonesia too :)
But we have a lil bit different shape for the purple type. Here, it is not as long as u have (search: “sapu ijuk” on google image). It is made from dried palm fiber.
And the brown one, we use it for cleaning up our bed and sweeping rubbish in outdoor area. A clean brown broom is effective to sweep dust/small things from bed before we go to sleep ;) And for outdoor area type, we add a long handle to make the sweepers more comfortable and easier to finish their job.


Piu December 13, 2011 at 12:39 am

Yes! The pink one is used to beat the bed and smooth out the bedsheet. I could not find anything like that abroad and it was frustrating.


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 10:01 am

This is another revelation! :-)


Piu December 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

Yes. It is used as a dust beater for sofas / chairs – like the ‘little house on the prairie’ movies


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

I have new found respect for it now!


NJladki December 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm

You know, now that someone mentioned it, maybe you SHOULD do an article on Indian beds. I can’t understand why most Indian beds have two separate mattresses put together, they’re usually no more than two inches thick, and they’re placed on a hard slab of wood! I get the need for storage underneath that slab, but I’ve never been able to get a good night’s rest when I visit my relatives, sleeping on those beds! I’m happy with my 19 inches thick Tempurpedic. :) The softer the better for me! :) How did you adjust to that Sharell? Or did you get one of those “modern” mattresses in India that are like 5-6 inches thick instead?


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Ugh, those mattresses! We started out with one of them (and it was darn hard and uncomfortable), but when we got a new bed we also got a new mattress. It’s a 5-6 inch thick one with springs! :-)


Piu December 13, 2011 at 12:38 am

Uh NJ Ladki. Actually it is the other way round. Indian relaxon mattresses are used only one. While Americans pad one spring mattress on top of the other. Too springy for me.


Ruzi December 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Oh God, I remember myself having the chance to deal with this broom a couple of times while visiting my fiance in Delhi. That was really impossible to sweep the dust from the marble floor with its scattering branches. I think the best solution for me will be purchasing a vacuum cleaner after I move there. Regarding the pink one, I never happened to see anything like that. Maybe luck of time to experience incredibility of India :) What is more problematic about Delhi is the dust on the furniture surface is laid every 1 hour after removing it.


Luiza December 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Very interesting post. I saw on tv before that a house maid cant be a dalit beause this would make the wole house impure but the house maid would never do the bathroom floor because that a dalit job (not sure if i spelt this right) is this information correct? And if so how do you get your bathroom cleaned?


Piu December 13, 2011 at 12:36 am

Very interesting. The item you saw on tv is for a cleaning of the home in rural or remote regions that practice centuries old obsolete beliefs.

Per these customs, a bathroom inside the house makes the house impure. The bathrooms are built outside the house.


viksdes December 13, 2011 at 8:19 am

@ Luiza: I often get questions about caste divide in India, but just sticking to the topic on hand, I think it’s fair to say in major Indian cities with people of modern values the caste divide is not there. However it’s been India’s biggest problem and there may be many exceptions in the Indian society still. My family would employ someone based on trust, work ethic rather than on caste, religion, creed or sex.:D


Chanakya December 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Unfortunately , this is true for *many* household in India’s town and villages.But in cities , it almost non-existent.

No body in cities care if the domestic-help are Brahmins or Dalits.Its all equal with some exception.


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

The most common thing is the aversion to cleaning the toilet!


Sam December 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Hilarious post – funny that common invaluable equipments can prove to be a source of inconvenience:-).
The decorative jhadu is actually made from coconut leaves – remove the green part from each leaf leaves the stick. And they are only Jadoo(magic) wands for us and the maids to give the house a clean look – a vacuum cleaner is mostly of no use in Indian context.


Chris December 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

The long-handled floor-mop is now indeed available in India. It’s starting to show up in more places in India, and may soon become the preferred method of mopping floors.

For really clean floors in India :

1) Use the fibrous-broom (Exhibit B) to sweep the floors of all the dust.

2) If required, use a hand-brush-and-plastic-dust-pan combo ( yes, also available in India) to clear off any dust that the fibrous-broom may have missed.

3) Use the long-handled mop and a pail of water (with addition of liquid floor-detergent, if required) to mop the floors.

A simple daily sweeping of the floors with the fibrous-broom will suffice, with the mopping being done every other day, or maybe thrice a week.


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Wow, can you please come to my house! :-)


Kelly December 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm

and mine! you sound so good at it!!


Cyn December 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Oh yeah the long mop broom is now really starting to hit India but it is best to stick to high quality ones, the cotton ones aren’t working too well, my previous maid in Bangalore used one and it was hit or miss, the maid I have now initially wanted a simple mop (we ask our maids what they like to work with) but my dog sheds hair like mad twice a year and 3 days in the job she asked us if it was possible to get her a mop broom because my dog’s hair would get stuck in her dress when she was kneeling to clean and was a pain in the butt to remove while handwashing, we agreed to that, and we found what we’ve been looking for years, scotch brite makes a long handle mop broom with a removable/washable and replaceable microfiber mop. It’s a bit costly at 800 rupees, but seriously I never had my marble floors so clean ever! And it doesn’t leave too much water behind to break your limbs on it, and my maid can mop twice better with it and in half the time she would with a cloth mop, she thanked us a million time the first week we brought it home.


Sashank Poduval December 12, 2011 at 9:07 pm

We also use the brown one to make delicious dosas.. :D

BTW it is a broom made from the leaves of the coconut tree , and used for cooling/cleaning the stove ONLY (not anything else unhygienic, before people start getting ideas) with cold water..


Abhishek Singh December 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm

The original Indian Jhadoo is the purple one and the brown one. The plastic type is a recent entrant and that too to replace the brown one as they don’t last longer and also because of westernisation ;) . The purple one is called Phool Jhadu and the Brown one is called Nariyal Jhadu. There are few more type which you missed it
and if you donate it , you may become rich also.

and don’t underestimate the power of jhadu… Jhadu is also offerred to Lord Shiva… (get it translated, if you don’t understand Hindi)

and these days, indeed nariyal jhadu is being used as a decorative item.. you can find it out in some good malls.

there are many other ways jhadu is used all over India especially in the hinterland..


Sharell December 12, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Abhishek is the jhadoo raja! 8)


Abhishek Singh December 13, 2011 at 12:06 am
Abhishek Singh December 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm
Piu December 13, 2011 at 12:31 am

grrreat! I can offer an indo-western perspective, as I try to do some type of mopping / cleaning myself

I find the pink or brown twig one useful for the following:
- For a deep pre-clean, I pre-soak the floors with vim liquid solution for 30 minutes minimum before mopping. One way is to spray the solution on the floors. Another way is to do a quick swipe using these two, and the coverage is pretty large. Spreading a thin solution can be done in no time. and no it is not a pond i am swimming in.
- Same for the bathroom walls. Abroad, I used to wipe the walls with a scrubber and wipe them. No more with the pink jhadoo. Spray a solution, and wipe and rinse them in NO TIME.
- As for a puddle in the bathroom floor it needs a wiper.

I have never found the classic jhadoo useable in any way – some of them leave a trail of dust. blech.

I hate bending down too, but if it is within 1-3 minutes I’m game

Makes sense ?


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 10:00 am

OMG, Piu!!!! I think you have inspired me to try the pink jhadoo!! Kamal ki baat hai. :-o I clean our bathroom myself and get so sick of doing the spray and scrub/wipe with a cloth, cos the whole bathroom is almost completely covered in tiles. Today I’ll spray, and then get the pink jhadoo onto it. I’m actually excited to give it a try!


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Well, I tried it and it actually works! I’m so impressed I’m going to use it again. 8) Ha! Funny how my view of it has changed now (although I still think it looks like a giant freaky pink squid!).


Piu December 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Thumps up !

BTW my maid jhadoos standing up and the result is there for all to see. A wasted effort !

Out of frustration i reapplied and reinvented my knowledge of disposable swiffer pads, and attached disposable lint cleaner type cloths that are available in beauty supply stores as disposable towels to my swiffer (disposable cloths) mop. I believe it is doing the same job much quicker.

Big bazaar has these large scotch-brite hardwood floor dusters for 300 bucks while the microfiber pad is a whopping 900 bucks! My father bought a cheaper replica from a roadside vendor, and uses the lint cloths now. (he had purchased cheap microfiber replica types from a road side or newmarket, kolkata or something) the microfiber maybe technically better but needs washing.

Good luck !


Hélène December 14, 2011 at 2:25 am

Sharell, I’m also interested in that technique but I can’t picture it. How did you do it ?


Sharell December 14, 2011 at 11:32 am

Oh, it was really something! I fully embraced the concept of the wet bathroom! :-) After spraying the walls with cleaning liquid, I took off all my clothes to have a shower, went in there and turned on both the shower and the small tap near the toilet and basically splashed water everywhere while “wiping” it off the walls with the pink thing. It covers a lot of area, and you can do it really fast. And you don’t have to worry about having to repetitively rinse a cloth out to avoid residue on the walls, if wiping them that way.


Piu December 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Oh, the walls and bathroom floor do not need to be wet after. You can squeejee / wiper / or towel / cloth dry them in no time.


Piu December 13, 2011 at 12:50 am

This is such a deja vu article because yesterday in the wee hours of the night I saw a teleshopping commercial for a steam mop in India now for 9000 Rupees, h20 steam mop.

I hate the traditional mop too, and used to use a disposable wet jet cleaning mop when living abroad.


V December 13, 2011 at 1:45 am

Hello Sharell,

I wondered all these days why you did not blog about the ‘jhadoos.’ :) But, now its up on your your post as usual!
The pink one is fairly new, may be decade or less old. I remember amma (mom) or the maid would use #3 – bunch of sticks – to clean the bathroom floors. Amma is quite tall – 5’10″ – by Indian standards and cannot bend now. She now uses the rubber lined bottom with long handle to clear water off of the bathroom floors after bath.


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 10:03 am

Amma is taller than me! ;-) It did take me a while to get onto blogging about the jhadoos…. they went “under the radar” for a while. But the maid has developed this collection of them now… she kept insisting that a different type of one be bought, which left me quite confused and amazed.


shihab December 13, 2011 at 7:35 am

hi, sharell .if u hav free time please try to make a post on difference in cleaning households in india and will be good.


TAMASHA! December 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Y’know to properly use the ‘jhadoo’ you can’t just bend over you must ‘squat’ and then sort of ‘waddle’ scooting the pile of dust & debris before you. I’ve never managed to do it as well as my sister in laws or maids can. BUT I did pack my Dyson vacuum cleaner, a long handled OXO broom, long handled mop, jumbo size American dust pan, American style ironing board, & a long handled ceiling fan brush in the 20 foot container of stuff I had shipped to Delhi. Damn am I glad I did.
Mind you the Dyson vacuum cleaner is quite the ‘status symbol’ in our household, as well as the Whirlpool washing machine. In fact the vacuum cleaner & washing machine are now prominently displayed in the hallway, not hidden in the closet or the laundry room as at my house in the US.
I have marble hallways throughout my house, also the floor & counters in the kitchen & the front porch are marble. In the US I would NEVER be able to afford all this marble in my house. I’m not sure all this marble on the floors is such a great idea safety wise though, they really need to be mopped daily & are soooooooo slippery! ;)


Sharell December 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Ah yes, the marble floors. Our whole house, except for the bathroom, has marble slab floors including stairs. I think the kitchen bench is a granite slab. But hence the reason why I have almost slipped over so many times. :-(

I tried the “squat and waddle” once, and failed dismally. Even my husband can do it, and it’s not like he’s spent much time sweeping. It must be another of these inbuilt abilities, like the squat with heels touching the ground. Impossible for me without toppling over!


TAMASHA! December 13, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I can’t squat with my heels touching the ground either, maybe all those years of wearing high heels shortened our Achilles tendons? I do yoga too!!


Manny December 14, 2011 at 4:14 am

“Mind you the Dyson vacuum cleaner is quite the ‘status symbol’ in our household, as well as the Whirlpool washing machine. In fact the vacuum cleaner & washing machine are now prominently displayed in the hallway, not hidden in the closet or the laundry room as at my house in the US.”

LOL :)


vinod December 13, 2011 at 11:35 pm

This discussion brings back my childhood memories. My dad had found novel way of infusing responsibility to us early teen brother and sister duo. In addition of we maintaining the accounts, each one was given a room, which we were supposed to clean up in the weekends. And then parents would come and inspect who did the good job.

I hated even older style of “poncha” or floor swiping, which usually is with a wet cloth.

I had nice way of getting even with my sister, as after petty fights, I would pull the bedsheets, make a mess in her room and rum away, leaving her all fuming and complaining about me. And after 2-3 hours play would return back to face her and parents.

Its much easier to do housekeeping in the west as most of the effort is mechanized. I guess one reason housekeeping was never mechanized in India is that the manual alternative is still cheaper.


Hélène December 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Housekeeping is easier in the west ?
That’s it I’m never going to live in India.


Sharell December 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

OMG, housekeeping is 100 times easier than the west. I get so frustrated with the never ending onslaught of dust here because it doesn’t rain for 7 months!! Cleaning just never ends….


Chanakya December 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Sharell ,

“OMG, housekeeping is 100 times easier than the west.”

Are you sure you still agree with what you just said ?


Sharell December 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I meant to say “100 times easier in the west”. Oops.


Piu December 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Yes. So now you would understand why 80% of the furniture in our house is covered. The sofa, table, tv, computer, etc.. are all covered, and the covers are cleand and changed frequently.


Sharell December 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

And I should add that during the 3-4 months that it does rain… it’s so humid that mould grows on everything. :-( (Well, that’s Mumbai anyway. It’s not like that in the north, but is in the south).


Tamasha the Choto Rani December 14, 2011 at 10:46 pm

That fine, silty gritty dust that covers everything and anything in India for 8 months of year drives me nuts.
Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about the dust of India.
The color ‘Khaki’ is named after the dust that covers India & chosen for soldiers’ uniforms as it hides the color of the ubiquitous dust.
I was telling my husband just the other day how we don’t have ‘dust’ like this in California. He looked at me like I was nuts.


vinod December 15, 2011 at 6:00 am

I know that its worse in Tamilnadu, which is in a rain shadow region and does get rain one or two months in the year.

I have seen village women making broom sticks, its made from the midrif of the coconut leaf. Women gossip while tearing off the leaves and then tieing up the sticks together to make the broom.

The other broom is made up some dry plant, and when new leaves its own dirt trail while brooming the floor.

One of the reason why village mud houses are smeared with cow dung is to control the dust. But boy it takes some time to get used to that smell that kinda permeates through the clothes and everything that in that mudhouse smells like the dry cow dung.

Yes housekeeping in India is a tough job, especially for cleanliness freaks. Spiders know that they have to weave their web around the light source. And lizards would fight for the control of space near the light source, which is a good hunting ground for insects. You have to deal with cowebs, sometimes shit and eggs of Lizard. And if it rains, you would wonder why the cement tanks color has changed to green. And if your house is on the road, it will be coated by a fine layer of dust when the bus goes past your home.

What struck me most in the American cities was “where is the dust?”. I never thought it is possible to live without it!


vinod December 15, 2011 at 6:02 am

And I think that primary reason for so much dust is the most of the soil is not covered by grass or vegetation, especially due to the tropical climate and agrarian habits.


Hélène December 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

@Vinod. If gossip is included in the process, then cleaning gets much more interesting :)

I was amazed to see the different uses of coconut products in Tamil Nadu ; for example my MIL uses coconut fiber instead of sponges for the washing of dishes and it’s really effective, ecological and economical ! ;)


vinod December 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm

@ Helene

Thats the benefit of employing a maid, who details what happened at neighbor’s place. All the gossip that one needs to be updated with happens during the cleaning process.

But its a double sided blade, as your neighbor also gets updated by the petty details happening in your house.


Tamasha the Choto Rani December 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm

‘Thats the benefit of employing a maid, who details what happened at neighbor’s place. All the gossip that one needs to be updated with happens during the cleaning process.’
Ha Ha Haaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Between my maid, nanny & gardener the entire town knows what goes on in our house!


Didi December 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm

This is all too funny! we almost have the exact same cleaning instruments in the philippines! The one with the purple handle is called the “walis tambo” used to also sweep dust and dirt indoors. while the brown stickly one is called the “walis tingting” which is used to sweep leaves and whatnot outdoors. And i thought those cleaning instruments were uniquely Filipino!


Sharell December 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Darn, and I thought they were uniquely Indian. ;-) They must be all over Asia!


marcy December 15, 2011 at 6:34 am

If you are into yoga, “squats and waddles” will be easily achieved. As many have commented, the fine grass broom is best used for sweeping smooth surfaces and the stick/ blades like broom is meant to clean rough surfaces such as a driveway or road.

Interestingly I found using brooms with short handles much easier than working with longer handles. I use the broom such as this one to sweep the dust off my hard wood floors. The handle is not too short, not too long, but just right for my average height and the fanned grass ensures greater coverage with fewer strokes. The disadvantage with long handles is I need to use both hands to direct the broom, not so the case with smaller handles, thus work is done more quickly and efficiently as I move stuff with one hand and clean with another. Once all the dust is collected into a pile, I use a small brush and dustpan to collect and voila its done. There is a technique to handling these brooms to get perfect dust free surfaces…..

First you make one sweep and tap the broom gently at the end of the sweep onto the floor to dust off anything it might have picked up. Then proceed to perform another sweep overlapping the first one slightly and do the same tap….so its always a swish and a tap, a swish and a tap, making sure all the dust ends up in one pile…point to note when performing the swish do not raise the broom into the air (like an artists flourish) otherwise you would have kicked the dust into the air (this is where most people don’t get it right). This is how my mom taught me when I was in India (we never had servant maids as none did a good enough job to my mom’s satisfaction….yes I know its a shocker, but there are some of us who have learnt to do their chores and appreciate dignity of labor growing up).

For mopping I like the long handle lightweight swiffer kind of tools, except that I attach an old dish cloth to the swiffer handle with safety pins, spray on the floor cleaner on the cloth and mop away. When all is said and done just throw the cloth in the washing machine and you have a reusable mop pad. I would feel guilty of polluting the earth using the disposable swiffer cloths, but not anymore with this reusable dish cloth. I learnt this from my cleaning lady who comes in few times a year to do some thorough seasonal cleaning of the house.

The worst part is cleaning the carpets. I hate carpets and consider them unhygienic and an allergen magnet. No amount of vacuum cleaning will get rid of all the dust mites. Vacuum cleaners only do so much and they are bulky and good luck trying to empty the canister without a puff of dust cloud blowing into your face.

For cleaning outdoor spaces such as driveways, nothing like a good power wash to hose down all the grime and dirt.

Oh by the way another interesting facts about cleaning products in India, no one gifts broom, dust pans and the like to anyone, its considered bad luck or insulting (like in getting rid off)… in extension it would include vacuum cleaners, dysons, roombas, etc I suppose??? not sure.


Ganesh December 15, 2011 at 7:33 am

Hi Sharell, how are you?

I would like to help you learn Hindi. I found a website for you. Hope you find this useful.

You are getting so many comments from readers. This is my first one. Your blog is written in a simple lucid language that the readers can easily understand. It is really amazing that you have so much to talk about everyday things that we hardly notice. That’s where, I think, a good writer have an edge on the others.

I have referred this blog to some of my students, who wish to improve their English. So, keep up the good work and keep writing.

With Warm Regards!



Madhav Tripathi December 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm

The pink Jhaddo I never used, the green and purple handle one I have at home and the brown one I like most. The one thing I like to share is I am not regular cleaner but native Indian so I can deal with all brooms you introduced here. If there is more dust use it slowly, if you can not bend just sit and do the cleaning job. Never fight with your Jhadoo.


Hélène December 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

@Madhav Tripathi. “If there is more dust use it slowly, if you can not bend just sit and do the cleaning job. Never fight with your Jhadoo”.

And then cleaning becomes yoga ;)


AJ December 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Have you seen “The Dirty Picture” or probably it’s promos? There is a dialog in the movie where Vidya Balan says “only 3 things are needed for a successful movie, Entertainment, Entertainment and Entertainment”

You post reminds me of it…you need 3 things in house for cleaning, jhadoo, jhadoo and jhadoo :)


White Bhabi December 16, 2011 at 11:13 am

I completely agree with your second reason for not using these things. It’s not the same kind of clean that a westerner is used to in the first place because water is certainly not a cleaner (IMO). I’m also not going to break my back trying to use what they call a broom. I have tried and OMG…yeah, not again. I feel so bad for my MIL whenever I see her use these because I know she’s only causing damage to her bone structure and body. I purchased a Scotch Brite mop for my room but it didn’t take that long to get messed up because they didn’t know how to stand upright and use it.


Tamasha the Choto Rani December 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I don’t think the ‘squat & waddle’ jhadoo use is damaging to the body & bone structure. squatting & waddling are probably good for balance, core muscles, & hip flexibility.
The ‘twisting flex’ of the spine when you swivel at the waist to use the ‘long handled’ broom so popular in the West is actually one of the worst movements for your spine. Golf players often sufferback injuries from that ‘twisting’ motion’.


aayush December 17, 2011 at 7:09 am

hello sharell,
i found this blog recently……….
i must admit your effort 2 understand indian culture and analyze it is defenitely praiseworthy………….
hope 2 learn more from ur adventures……….

You can also use the purple broom to threaten you husband when he goes on hunger strike!

well broom does rank highly among weapons of choice of indian wives when it comes 2 threating their husband, second only 2 belan(that instrument u use 2 roll chapatti with)…….if u dont believe me ask chacha choudhary …

BTW most indian wives would rather starve their husbands 2 submission than try 2 break their strike!


Shrabonti December 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Wait, what about the mop? Not one with a handle (though those are available at supermarkets these days, at least in Bangalore), but the wet cloth thing with which maids swipe the floor after it has been jhadoo’d? In most Indian homes that’s the usual cleaning routine. The pour-water-and-swipe-with-plastic-broom routine is only for the bathroom, AFAIK.


Sharell December 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Oh, that porcha thing? Yeah, that’s the way the maid cleans our floors too. I should’ve included it!


Vivek December 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm

It is not like Indians like the wetting the whole surface, before being cleaned by a jhadoo. I’m an Indian, and my mom had given strict instruction to maid that either use a mop or a cloth “pochha”, so that floor could dry soon.
Many low income houses have a quiet airy bathroom, and don’t have a part as shower area, so the whole bathroom gets wet. So logical for them is to “let a tide of water flow, which takes dirt with it”. also As they are airy and India is comparative hotter, floor get dried up easily.


anjali December 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Ah – cleaning solutions for Indian homes- my fav topic- may i suggest a combo of a maid, a vaccum cleaner and various brooms and mopping implements- plus all those nice smelling antiseptic cleaning liquids . Vaccuuming once a week goes a long way in removing all that fine dust which no broom can get rid of .Mopping up after vacuuming leaves the floors sparkling especially if you add those cleaning liquids to the water . Rubber brooms can be used to wipe bathroom floors once they have been washed with soap and water by the maid. My maid has been trained – over a period of time- to ensure that she leaves the bathrooms dry after cleaning them. I agree with all those who say that cleaning in India is a labour intensive affair . One tip- dust the house after the ‘jhadu’ has been done , then do the bathrooms and finally mop up. By the way, squatting while mopping has traditionally been recommended for healthy , pregnant women to ease the natural birth process :)


Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane August 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I’m a bit mystified here. Not so much by the cleaning implements and the way Indians clean their houses, but by the apparent lack of western cleaning things. Mumbai is a huge city and I expect has a large expat population. My experience in (developing) countries in Asia and Africa is that someone sees a business opportunity there and finds a way to give to foreigners what they want, be it at a price. Isn’t there a single shop in all of Mumbai where you could find a mop and a bucket, a long-handled broom, and so forth?


Sharell शारेल August 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Oh yes, long handled mops are available (I actually bought one recently) however the issue is that western cleaning methods often aren’t as effective. For example, we had a large undercover downstairs area with marble flooring, which the maid would clean by pouring water all over it with a hose and then brushing it away with the “bunch of sticks”. This was much less time consuming than going over it with a mop, because it would get really dirty and dusty. Mop and bucket water would be filthy in an instant, requiring many water changes and rinses. Most expats aren’t interested in cleaning for themselves, when inexpensive home help will do it for them. Plus, the cleaning has to be done every day or two (whereas it might be once a week in the west) again because of the amount of dirt and dust.


Jack Point October 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

We used to have a distant aunt who lived in Trivandrum. Whenever she visited Sri Lanka she would buy an armful of brooms to take back with her. My uncles who had to carry the brooms for her until she reached customs used to find it very embarrassing, now I understand why.

The small broom of sticks (with a red band) looks a bit like an ekel broom without the handle.

(the broom seller is now an extinct species but fellows like in this picture were a feature of my childhood).


cindy November 16, 2012 at 6:37 am

i manage apartments and w/ the huge amount of indians coming to america it is astonishing on the amount of damage to the apartments every single one is causing. they ruin the entire counters due to water damage, sitting hot pans on counters and use as a cutting board. the filthiest people i have ever experienced. the kitchens are never ever cleaned and the stoves have layers of grease built up. its so hard to understand how they don’t see how they are damaging the apts and to live in such filth


Sharell शारेल November 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

I just don’t think these people are used to the western way of living unfortunately. For example, I’ve never come across a fake marble counter in India, — they are the real thing, due to the prevalence of marble there. Hence, no plastic type counters that can be damaged by heat. And yes, the marble counters can also be used as a cutting board! I guess those Indians don’t understand that western counters aren’t so durable.


chopra March 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm


It amazes me how the 2nd largest population in the world can be sterotyped by your limited experience. The incidents mentioned astonish me and make me wonder where you lived or your maid aware of your ignorance took the easy way out.

Indians are one of the cleanest races, cleaning and keep things clean are a standard way of life.

Cleaning is done in a systematic manner. This might be shocking to you but bathrooms are mopped and dried, kitchen counter tops kept sparkling…

Indians that immigrate and move to other countries are usually youngsters who have never had to clean or supervise cleaning or any household chores hence causing damage. Furthermore any immigrating culture might not be aware of the host country’s rituals, norms, cultures…i assume as a caretaker this would be easy to explain to them, if one wishes to make the effort.

Overall I think the comments are extremely uncalled for.


Anamicaarya June 8, 2013 at 5:22 am

Hi Sharell,

Can you please tell from where you bought the purple broom(phool jhadu).


Sharell शारेल June 10, 2013 at 4:55 am

My husband got it from one of those small shops in a market. Sorry, I don’t know which one! I think you can also get them in department stores such as Dmart.


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