Wednesday, October 26, 2011

There's Clean, and Then There's Clean-Clean.

Dear husband, my honey, my one, my only, you may want to skip this one.

And dear people who think I'm throwing my MIL under the bus: (1) You know you've wanted to do this at some point yourself; (2) this is my place to vent, after all; and (2) well, just pretend I'm not taking to someone whose family I married into. That should make it OK.


As I may have briefly mentioned, while I am a germaphobe in a hardcore way, I'm not so much a clutterphobe. I mean, don't get me wrong, clutter drives me apeshit. Apeshit I tell you.

I get near panic attacks when I look around and see how much goddamn junk, trinkets, decorations, accoutrement, and useless stuff on shelves we have in the house, or how dusty things might be, but while those drive me crazy, I don't seem to have the energy to be arsed to always deep clean those things, and my OCD level only gets to about blue, maybe yellow on a bad day.

So while out countertops are practically sterile in my home and you could eat of any surface of your choosing, the kitchen table is always piled high with my daughter's art projects, or the food pantry shelves are always shoved tightly and spilling over with bags and boxes and cans of food, and there may be a fine coating of dust over the harder-to-get to areas. My house, as mentioned, is not a Stepford home, not by a longshot. I have OCD, but I am a lazy fucker.

In stark comparison is my mother-in-law's house. Her house is the naked eye. I mean, this woman cleans the base molding, the ceilings, the underside of cabinets, everything. She has boundless energy to keep things tidy, which is admirable. But I've seen her clean, and her cleaning method is thus: Take a white washcloth and "Wipe Things Down." Everything. With that same white washcloth. The result is stunning--a gleaming white, pristine abode.

Every nook and cranny wiped, wiped, wiped. With that trusty old white washcloth damp with plain old white water. So you will have a dust- and surface- dirt-free home...but you will have germs ga-fucking-lore. You will have floor germs on your counter, and you will have sink germs on your faucet handles, and you wll have bathroom germs on your kitchen table, and you will have a small black poodle named Argus sitting next to the sink, on the food-prep countertop, at any given time, next to the dinner and dessert she's making. You think I'm kidding? Take a peek at this, amigo:

So basically, you will have bum-bum germs on every other touchable in your entire homestead. Dog bum-bum germs and otherwise.

schooch scooch, anal worms, ain't no thang, where's my trusty white washcloth?

So while her home looks positively sterile, and I'm am jealous of that fact to some degree, it is probably one of those more unsterile places you can go. There is nothing clean about taking a damp, dank washcloth to every surface in your home just to get the visible dirt off, especially in a home where no one ever washes their hands and there is never even any usable handsoap in the bathroom. You'll find fancy lotions, and decorative, unwrapped Indian imported soaps, but nothing to actually clean your got-damn hands with. I've actually been known to go into her shower and dig out some Oil of Olay Body Wash and place it passively-aggressively next to the sink and then leave nonchalantly as if to say, "Uhhh, you FORGOT something here."

No, I'd rather live in my somewhat dusty, very kids'-toy-cluttered abode, but where all the touchable surfaces have been Cloroxed clean, than her immaculate-looking white, sparse, beautiful condo with bum-bum germs all about.

No offense, honey. And please never tell your mother about this blog.

I think I mentioned this before, but while I'm burning bridges and alienating those I love, let me add that this is a lady who I witnessed wipe down a toilet and then continue on wiping down everything else in the bathroom with that same rag, including countertops. She also one time flushed a paper towel down the toilet with her bare hands (lifted the toilet seat, flushed said offending paper towel, then closed the seat and lid), and then, without washing her hands, continued straightaway--we're talking IMMED.--to finish preparing our Thanksgiving meal. Wait, not quite immed.--in between, she wanted to hold our infant daughter. My husband and I were, awkwardy, like, "Oh, did you, um, want to wash first?" and she, offended and totally obliviously, said, "Why? I didn't use the bathroom. I didn't go potty." And we, dumbfounded and sputtering, were like, "But you...the touched the flusher never mind." We just had to bite our tongues. Because she just didn't get that she touched one of the germiest places in the home, even though, no, she didn't USE the bathroom to, say, defecate. I mean, why does she think people do this:

She just doesn't get it. There was no getting through to her that the flusher itself was full of shit-germs that we didn't care to have, say, in our cranberry sauce or stuffing or mashers and gravy or on our firstborn.

But, her house always looks lovely. It is merely a horror house of cross-contamination. Bygones.

I wish there were a happy medium. I wish my house looked at nice as hers, but was freaking DEAD STERILE like mine is.

I wish I could find a nice happy mixture of this:

Still, I'd take true cleanliness with clutter, over the mere appearance of cleanliness, anyway. If, that is, you can forage a path through the kids' toys and ignore the dust on the baseboards and the junk up on the shelves.


  1. i love that you have a category called "am i still married?"
    i can see how distressing it must be to go to her house knowing the way she "cleans" things. my MIL cleans much the same way. and we live with her. eek.

  2. Aimee - fellow OCDerOctober 26, 2011 at 6:56 PM


    There is nothing I think about more than this. In reference to one of your posts below, it is why I always dream of, but will never hire, a house cleaner.

    Funny how some people think that the collective act of "using the bathroom" makes your hands dirty; as if mommy and daddy told them this when they were little, and they never stopped to examine WHY and HOW exactly it makes their hands dirty. Jesus Christ, surely you don't need to have OCD to understand this kind of things.

    On a slightly unrelated note, I am inviting people from work over for poker nights soon. I am having to find a way to make my house-rules known, whilst striking a fine balance between "I have OCD, if you don't obey my rules, you will die" and "I am the weird new girl with OCD looking to alienate all you more senior people". How do you deal with the issue of inviting new people to your home?

    PS: I no longer seem to be able to comment using my Google Account :(

  3. Sherilin, ewww, there's another friend of mine here who lives with her MIL where the MIL doesn't clean right either (actually, after hearing her tale, consider yourself lucky that your MIL "cleans" at all, but isn't it awful when they just wipe it down and call it good?).

    Aimee: I've found no good way to make adults follow my Slider House Rules except for the take-your-shows-off one. I have a sign on the door, and if they miss that rule, I will outright ask them to take their shoes off. VERY awkward, but I'll do it. As for washing their hands, I can't do it. I just can't ask a growed-ass person to go please wash their hands (unless it's someone coming to visit the baby), so I spend an entire evening COMPLETELY miserable, trackig EVERY GERM, and when they leave, I whip out the Lysol spray and go nuclear on that shit. I've just found no other alternative.

    You can leave giant vats of Purell about, but I've found no one will use them, because people are filthy hogs.

  4. I'm so glad I found this blog. Your OCD reminds me so much of my own. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  5. Anonymous: Your comment just made my day. I'm so glad I can be of any help or any use or even just...I don't know the word, but, like anyone. I'm glad you found my blog too. :) Thanks for reading.


  6. HI...its your friendly stalker. Few things:
    1. You could never. never never never never never come into my house. I am afraid you would go into some kind of anaphylacitc OCD shock. It is a cesspool becuase we are the forementioned filthy hogs. And sadly, I'm okay with that.

    2. My child dropped the deuce in the tub tonight. My FIRST thought. The very first thing that came to my mind: Poop Slide Girl would totally have to rip her tub out and throw it away. And maybe have to burn her house down.

    Until next time...

  7. Thea, you'd probably be surprised at how NOT-sterile my house looks. I'm sure chesea would corroborate my story. My house is nothing like you'd imagine, so I doubt I'd fall into TOTAL anaphylactic OCD shock (lol btw). But I would die a thousand deaths if my child dropped said deuce into said tub. Twelve gallons of bleach would not be enough.