Good Questions: How Clean is Clean Enough?

Good Questions: How Clean is Clean Enough?

Gregory Han
Jun 22, 2007

ATLA reader Jessica wanted to inquire about other people's housekeeping habits :

Recently, my partner visited her parents, and during the week she was there, realized her mother is suffering from a not-so-mild case of OCD when it comes to a clean house. Morning, noon and night she is "washing" something, or was instructing a family member to do so. When I've spent time at their house, I've felt rather uneasy, due to the fact that there are certain off limit hand towels, decorative soaps and rules that must be followed. Their home is immaculate.

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Once, after a nice dinner with them, we all agreed to go to the movies. We would have to leave the dirty dishes in the sink and do them upon our return. well, that idea didn't fly with her mother. she said she wouldn't be able to enjoy the film knowing her kitchen was a mess.

Everyone has a different version of what a clean home is. I've lived with roommates who have dumped their dirty cat litter in the kitchen trash and never picked up a cleaning product the entire time we lived together. On the opposite end, there are those whose stomachs sicken over the sight of a crumb.

I'm curious as to other people's housekeeping habits. When does clean become creepy ?

Jessica, there's obviously a wide gamut of cleanliness, each of us meriting different degrees as "acceptable" or "excessive". There are neat freaks, anal retentive organizers, Slobba the Hutts, Lazy Larrys/Lucys, and many other degrees inbetween. But those with OCD have an actual mental condition that isn't intentionally "creepy", but a psychiatric disorder which causes real intense anxiety. We hope your partner's mom seeks some medical help, as living in a museum of a home is difficult for just about anyone, including herself.

Personally, I'm bit of a neat freak myself. If left to my own devices, I'm often busy cleaning, reorganizing, fixing or trying to improve things. I don't get overly obsessive about it, but it's definitely a process that brings me satisfaction upon completion. My girlfriend on the other hand has a more laissez-faire attitude about the state of our home's clutter. Ultimately, I try to balance the desire to keep things orderly and presentable, while realizing a home is place to live within and not just showcase.

That being said, I'm looking forward to cleaning the house tonight after work. Talk about a wild Friday night. Adrian Monk would surely approve.

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