I Have to Keep My Home Clean and Spotless — Here’s Why

published Oct 10, 2023
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The other day, I noticed that my kitchen sink’s faucet was leaking. So I did what is probably the best part about renting: I made it someone else’s problem. My maintenance guy and I have a friendly rapport, and when he was finished fixing the faucet, he said this line that made me laugh: “Damn, it’s spotless in here.”

Whenever I have guests over, they remark on the cleanliness to be found just beyond my front door — or at least, the absence of stuff on the floor. Even on virtual calls, people who peer in remark on how it looks as if I’m living in a model home. It’s true, I’m a neat person, but I’ll share the underlying reason for it: I’m disabled. 

My cerebral palsy mostly affects my legs, and they create a scissoring gait that can easily be thrown off balance whenever there’s an obstacle in my path. Because of that, I routinely put my toys away as a child and never was the type of 20-something who had to search for a top through a tornado of clothes. When it’s easy to fall, it becomes even easier to learn how to avoid it. 

Now that I’m older, I make a point of keeping pathways clear within my home, prioritizing my overall comfort after quick Mary Poppins-esque moments of tidying. This means always pushing chairs into my dining table and tucking shoes directly under the bench by my entryway. My bed is perpetually made, as I’d likely trip on sheets hitting the floor, and countertops are often empty in case I need a spot to lean. 

Bigger design decisions are at play here as well. All of my area rugs are low-pile, and the smaller, more moveable ones are strongly adhered to the floor. I have side tables next to my sofa, but opted to forego putting a coffee table in the middle of my living room. Not only do I think this makes the space feel larger, but it also saves me from any potential run-ins with one. 

I’m used to throwing my clothes in a hamper or hanging them up immediately as part of my morning and night routines, and I pick up whatever else might become an obstacle if I’m not paying attention: groceries, luggage, or outdoor equipment especially. And to ensure that all of this cleaning feels more like fun than a chore, I usually play music in the background. There’s no stowing away without a lil’ sashay!

There are a few things to note about this habit that I also feel compelled to disclose. I don’t live with children, and when they are around, I’m extra careful about the stuff that may be underfoot. There are days when I don’t have the energy to pull things together, and others when I take advantage of such bursts to do deeper cleans. But here’s the overall lesson: My home doesn’t look different from that of someone who is non-disabled. No one wants to worry about falling, whether that’s personal or regarding a loved one, and keeping paths clear can soon become a habit. It takes a few extra minutes here and there, rather than dealing with a much bigger pile-up later. 

As a disabled woman, my mostly clutter-free home makes me feel safe. When the paths are clear, I can relax — and yes, also joke about living in a model home.