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Confession: I Hate Cleaning

Instruments of Torture

Instruments of Torture


I spent almost the entire weekend cleaning my house. Like major cleaning. This was the first time since probably December that I’ve scrubbed baseboards, cleaned out closets, and actually made my house look the way it’s supposed to. I hate cleaning with a passion, but the house was finally messy enough that it was driving me insane.

I wasn’t raised to be a total slob. My mom, who is diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a one-woman cleaning service (we call her the Stain Master behind her back). We weren’t allowed to wear shoes in any part of the house when I was a kid. I couldn’t eat or drink anything outside the kitchen, not even water. I couldn’t even set my car keys on the counter; Mom would whisk them away to a cabinet or closet before I had time to blink. To this day, it’s impossible to tell that anyone lives in my parents’ house because it looks like a museum. I would eat out of my mom’s toilets without hesitation – that’s how clean the house is.

So since I’m not adopted (as far as I know), how did I end up with a house that takes an entire weekend to clean?

I never learned how to clean growing up. Mom was afraid my sister and I would fail to keep her impossible standards, so we never really had chores. Or she would assign them and drive herself nuts trying to monitor and redo what we’d done. I guess she expected us to learn by watching, except we never stuck around to watch. As a kid, it was awesome to stick my hands in the dishwater and immediately be shoved out of the way by my mom. Oh, you want to do these boring chores while I play outside? Sweet! Until I got married at 19 and moved out of the house, I had seriously never washed a dish, done laundry, or cleaned a bathroom.

Living independently was glorious. I could leave mail on the coffee table for an entire week if I wanted. Unlike my mom, I could easily fall asleep at night knowing there were dishes in the sink or unfolded clothes in the laundry room. Sometimes I even ate food in the living room. With upholstered furniture and carpet and everything.

After a few weeks of being married, I looked around and realized there was junk everywhere. WTF? Where did all this stuff come from? I thought. Realizing my mom wasn’t there to clean up after me was a rude awakening. So I called her to ask what kind of cleaning products I needed to buy. Seven billion dollars or so later (a conservative estimate), I left Walmart with rubber gloves and a thousand bottles of cleaners with names like Mean Green and Zap-It! (Seriously, who comes up with these product names? They should be fired.)

For the first five minutes, it was sort of fun to clean stuff. I sprayed my little bottle, scrubbed with my cute pink sponge, and watched the yucky stuff magically disappear. Then I started to realize why my mom was so obsessed with keeping things clean. Nah, just kidding. Honestly, I started thinking she needed to be committed.

Cleaning SUCKS! You get all sweaty, then you rub your eyes and get cleaner in them, then you have to rinse out your eyes with water, and naturally you get a shower since you’re already sweaty anyway. Then the phone rings and you get distracted and the next thing you know it’s time to pick up your kiddo from preschool. You come back and you’re going to resume cleaning, but it’s dinnertime and then American Idol is coming on and you don’t want to clean the tub before bathtime, lest your little one be exposed to bleach and other harsh chemicals. When you finally do get something clean, these little dust fairies come out and ruin it again.

Please tell me again why anyone would enjoy doing this.

So what does this have to do with personal finance?

Well, I need to pay off my debt so I can hire a cleaning lady, for one thing.

My attitude toward cleaning is a lot like the attitude I used to have toward keeping track of my finances. It was gross and boring and not fun at all, so why would I do it? I would wait until disaster struck to take action, then I would find every reason in the world not to follow through with what needed to be done. In the end, it took way more time and effort to fix the problem than it would have taken to avoid the problem.

I’m stiff and sore this morning after busting butt cleaning all weekend. I’m tired and don’t want to go to work. I didn’t get to do anything exciting ALL WEEKEND LONG because I had to clean. I remember feeling this way after spending the WHOLE weekend figuring out how to make a bank deposit before a check bounced. Or arguing with my ex about who spent the money that was supposed to pay the electric bill. Or trying to buy groceries knowing we had more bills than money.

I have a choice: I can either work a little bit each day to maintain the major overhaul I just did on my house, or I can let it go for months and months and spend another weekend cleaning frantically.

I also had a choice when it came to my finances: I could pay attention every day and keep up with what’s going on, or I could wait for a catastrophe and wear myself out to try to put a Band-aid on it.

My finances are a work in progress, but they are much better now that I’m actively involved in improving them. I’m working very hard to do the same around the house – I know it will never be as perfect as my parents’ house, but I can at least make an effort. It will seem like a huge hassle at first, then after awhile it will become habit (i.e. less of a big deal). I know this but I’m still working on finding the motivation to actually do it. Maybe I could get my mom to do surprise inspections or something.

What kind of housekeeper are you? Does your cleaning style (or lack thereof) say anything about how you deal with financial issues? Let me know in the comments!

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Hunter @ Financially says:

    Great storytelling. I can relate to your cleaning agony. We usually trick ourselves into deep cleaning by inviting friends or family over. That usually takes care of it. With three kids it's more about mess than cleaning.

  2. hahaha I HATE cleaning. I've been living in my single one-bedroom apartment for about 2 weeks and I'm already trying to work a cleaning lady into the budget (seriously, my small place would only take an hour or two and at $25/hr why not??). I generally like to pick up things so my apartment looks clean at first glance, but I hate scrubbing. The bathtub is essentially my arch nemesis. I would rather scrub 40 toilets than clean 1 bathtub =(

  3. Check out Flylady.  she has a very good system for keeping the house clean and it's geared to those who hate cleaning.  🙂  I did it for year and my house never looked better.

  4. MommaStar says:

    I'm a little weird I hate cleaning but when ever I do it has to be perfect completely spotless perfect, I also can't go on for more than a few days before I have to have to clean. When things are messy and dirty I get a little tense ahah.

  5. I actually don't mind cleaning – it's not something that I love to do, but I have a pretty good routine for handling the chores.

    Daily maintenence is so important to keep the grime and dirt at bay. We have a dog (a black lab who sheds like crazy) and two cats so I have to sweep and vacuum the floors every day just to stay on top of the fur – usually it's the first thing I do when I get home from work (I won't even sit down first or else I won't feel like doing it!).

    I'll wash the dishes and wipe off the counters in the kitchen before bed (I hate waking up to a dirty kitchen!).  And I try to never leave a room with out picking something up.   On Saturdays, after a cup of coffee and some relaxation time, I'll tackle the big jobs – cleaning the bathroom, deep cleaning the kitchen sink and stove, dusting, mopping,  etc.  It only takes about an hour or so and the result is that I have the rest of the weekend to enjoy a clean house! 

  6. We usually  break things up throughout the week so it doesn't add up to one overwhelming day of cleaning. 30 minutes each day is all you need to keep a house clean. In the past I have used a cleaning schedule which helped keep things on track.

  7. I totally sympathize. My husband and I don't have children but you cannot believe the mess we make. I hate cleaning and all related household chores. Good cause for having a smaller home (less to clean and maintain). 

  8. It's really hard to keep up with cleaning that's why when we buy our house, we're just gonna buy a decent size. Right now, our apartment is very manageable (1 bedroom 1 bath) but I'm pretty sure things will go crazy once we buy a house.

  9. I really don't mind some cleaning but have so little time that it gets in the way of more fun activities.  I don't enjoy it, but I do enjoy having a clean place even though it doesn't happen often or last for long.

  10. FUCK cleaning! It’s not that I hate to clean…. I hate that it never stops!! So basically I feel forced to be OCD or forever play catch-up 🙁 going to wash MORE fucking dishes now. dirty humans…

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