A New Problem: My House is TOO Clean!?

Over the years I’ve received numerous emails and comments at RE from women who may deal with a different problem than most of us face.

Most of us worry that our house isn’t clean enough to invite others in, so we either don’t invite, or we think twice about it!

But my friend, Gina, deals with the opposite problem. Her house is SO clean … keep on reading …

I do struggle with perfectionism sometimes, and interestingly enough sometimes I struggle with the opposite. When I hear “your house is so clean! I love your decorations, how do you do it? my house could never be this clean,” comments like these make me feel like people think I’m too perfect and I know I’m not. It makes me feel like I do too much, am too much of a perfectionist or something like that. I know there is a balance and the bottom line is whether I am obedient to how God wants me to live, keeping house included. I appreciate the reminder that my house is not all about me. It’s about others (my family included!) – Gina, Not So Random Stuff

I appreciate Gina’s honesty, as she shares that it actually makes her feel uncomfortable that her house is so sparkling clean.

One thing I’ve learned after entertaining is that when I go to bed at night, after everyone has gone, is to think about the things I had FEARED. And then how those fears never came to pass. The night actually turned out great, far better than I had imagined. My guests were blessed and so was I. And no one seemed to notice the fine details of my house!

Are you a fanatic about your house being “perfect,” that it makes you feel uncomfortable?

Is your home and your philosophy about entertaining designed to “bless” or “impress?”

37 comments on “A New Problem: My House is TOO Clean!?”

  1. Alas, I will never have this problem…but my mom does! Everyone in the neighborhood talks about how clean Mom’s house is, so I can kind of relate to Gina’s situation! :)

  2. I’ve been in houses like that and my first thought is that she can’t have any children. LOL! Not always true but that’s the thought that runs through my head because no matter how hard I try (and I don’t try THAT hard) my house is never spotless because it is lived in 24/7 with 3 homeschoolers home all day long. LOL!
    But I know for a fact that those spotless houses can still feel welcoming and cozy and that makes all the difference in the world.

    Have a great day Sandy!

    • I love your comment. It’s so true!! I try, but I’m not a perfectionist, and with 2 girls home all day, there’s always something out of place.

  3. I can so relate! I have always been very neat, clean and organized. And, have heard those very same comments. But, have to admit…I realized it didn’t have to be “perfect” all the time. I’ve learned to let some things go, so that I have more time for the things that are truly important. The good news, my girlfriends love me and my home just the same! But, I’ll admit, having them over in the “not so perfect home” for the 1st time was a bit scary!!

    • Great advice to all, Lauren! Thanks for your words of wisdom and sharing what you’ve learned.

  4. I have definitely heard this comment several times. For me, a clean and organized house makes me happy so I spend some of my free time working on it. For many people, cleaning is NOT therapy so spending their free time focusing on it sounds like misery. Different strokes for different folks. :)

  5. Thanks for sharing Gina’s story, Sandy! I know a handful of people like her who are pretty on top of things. I appreciate her story because now I understand how some people might react when I make those comments. I’ll be more conscious in the future. Thank you both!

    • It’s good to think about our comments before we say them, is what I’m learning, too! :)

  6. Sandy I love your closing and I think my new mantra will be….”Am I doing this to bless my guests?” Maybe I should print it out on a card and post it on my fridge….
    Thanks for your always thoughtful insights!

  7. Sandy-when I saw this statement on twitter I wanted to invite you over to help my house be that way. It is for sale and never seems to stay clean. I get the dreaded call and find this house full has left it full of a mess. We definately LIVE in our house. We need a fine balance.

    • Sallie, here’s a short story. Our first house that we tried to sell SOLD on the day that I left early in the morning with dishes in sink, beds not made. It was a mess. But it sold.

      It taught me that the SELL of the house was not about my tidiness but about God’s timing. :)

  8. I get comments like this from people too. I explain to them that I really have them fooled – that my house is certainly not perfect – I’ve just faked it! I did an entire series about it:


    I have also realized that I needed to relax a lot every time we had someone over and not worry so much about the first impression and whether everything was to the T. I sympathize with Gina, but I also know that I needed to make my home feel more homey and let go of worrying about dirt and stuff getting messed up when people came over :)

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  9. I’ve had occasions where this has happened. (I know *shock*, right?) LOL

    I love the question, is it to “bless or impress?” Somehow I think keeping that in mind helps it all to find more of a balance.

  10. Wow-who would have thought my little comment would make such a stir? After reading through I realize it’s about learning to find balance, for me cleaning is therapy and prayer time too. And that is okay, I need to not be so concerned over what others say. This is a great conversation Sandy, I’m eager to see what others think!

  11. We usually keep our house REALLY clean b/c we all function better that way :) However, I purposely do NOT go out of my way to make things extra clean for company…b/c I do think it makes them feel uncomfortable.

    I want our house to be clean, organized, AND comfortable.

    I’m actually having 20 friends over next week and half our house is under construction and I have 700 sq. ft. of wood flooring in my living room right now…how’s that for “lived in”!!

  12. Having and living in a clean home is what I have always tried to do….never perfect but clean and comfortable…..that being said we have lots of people over for dinner and they all seem to enjoy it very much….even asking when our next get together will be…..but one thing that is very hurtful…some of these same people never invite us to their homes….their comments to me are something like this….”Oh I love coming to your home, but I could never invite you to mine, it’s not as clean as yours.” Always hurts my feelings…..can you image how she would feel if I said “Oh I can never invite you to my home….your home is too dirty.”
    I have a close circle of friends and we love each other for whom we are, clean house or not.
    My HD says not to worry about hurtful comments like that…..because apparently they don’t know me good enough to know that I would not be judging them on the cleanliess their home…but by the kindness shown there.

    • Clean and comfy is the key. As I said in another comment, we women need to “evaluate” our statements before we make them. And I agree with your husband, your true friends will know you well enough. Thanks for sharing, girl!

  13. I receive the same compliments Gina does. It often makes me feel uncomfortable because–and this is just my own thinking–I’m hoping I do not make anyone feel bad. I often find myself “explaining” away the compliment, i.e. “Well, you have more kids!,” “I’m just neurotic hahaha”, etc. etc.

    But along with being a “perfectionist” as Gina noted, when I first had my first home it was very hard to LET GO and remember that if our house wasn’t a HOME to be shared, it would mean nothing. Who cared how clean it was if no one could come to enjoy it? But in the beginning, and even to an extent now, I was constantly fretting about crumbs, spills, and the like.

    Good post and good reminder!

    • It sounds like you’re learning along the way. As we all are! I think we have to let comments roll and just be who we are made to be. Quit comparing and just enjoy … right? Thanks for sharing!

  14. Oh, goodness! I almost wish I had Gina’s struggle! Mine is more along the lines of I didn’t have time to Swiffer one last time and the kids tracked stuff in the house. I’m learning to let it go though– it’s the phase of life that I’m in. Is that a lazy thought process?

    • Just talked about “phases of life” today on a radio show. Love your attitude about this … and kids can RUIN a clean house! LOL!!!!! :)

  15. Yep. This is a post I have yet to write. One time we had friends tell us the reason they never had us over was because our house was always “so perfect.” It made us step back and now we actually leave it a little messy, just so people can feel comfortable with us ;-)

  16. So good to hear that I’m not the only nut with this problem. My house is always in state about 30 power pickup min. away from being “company ready” so when we are planning on having company over (especially first timers) I give it the super power clean.

    I recently had a friend from work over on a Saturday afternoon and she went back on Monday and told everybody “you won’t believe how they live….they don’t even have any stuff on their dressers”….it was like my worst nightmare in reverse….I’m always afraid that everyone will think I’m a slob…but now they all think I’m a super clean freak.

    eh….do I really care….not that much :)

  17. Sandy, going through your book has been a blessing. I shared it on my blog today. When my boys were babies and even highschool age, I kept a house so clean that at anytime the white glove ladies could have come by and been in awe. But as I’ve aged, I’ve let the cleaning not be so important. It’s clean and it is what it is. I just finished studying Philippians in our bible study and the phrase that sticks out most is to be content in any situation. I’m still learning! But thanks for the book, it’s lovely and quite helpful.

  18. I enjoy cleaning, and I resonate with the people who said cleaning is therapy for them! Sometimes I consciously leave it a little messy, just so it is “lived in” looking.

    Bless or impresss….that’s such a good question! I’m afraid I err more on the impress side than I’d like.

    I’ll be sharing this post in my Sunday weekend reading post. I hope my readers will find it as challenging as I did :)

  19. I can say I’ve never been accused of having a too clean house. I have at time been in homes that have been sooo clean that I felt like I couldn’t relax (especially when my girls were little), but I’ve also been in homes that were sooo clean and yet I felt like I could still put my feet up. I don’t think it has anything to do with the “cleanliness”, but the woman behind the cleanliness, she sets the tone of how it feels to be in her home.. I love my house clean, but you could probably find dust here and there and spots on my windows.

    When I enter someones home I never think to comment on the cleanliness or messiness of their home. I do try to find something I like and comment on that…”oh, I love your new wall color, I love that vase, etc” Often when I leave one friends house, it inspires me to do a bit more organizing or cleaning, but not in a competitive way. I also take into account a persons season of life. If they have little kids or if their kids are grown and out of the home, things are obviously going to look different.

    My girls are home all day, we are always going here and there, and if you pop into my house unannounced who knows what you’ll find, especially if it’s a day where there’s two soccer games and we had to be up and out of the house early. It’s okay. It won’t be spotless, but it won’t be a disaster either.

    I do appreciate going into a home that while may be a little cluttered, feels “clean”. It’s harder to feel comfortable in a home that has odd odors, pet hair everywhere, a kitchen that has food that looks like it’s sat out for awhile, or really dirty floors.

  20. Oh man can I relate to this. For years people would say the same to me You have four little girls how can you keep it so clean? Truly I was killing myself living up to the expectation I had set. Over the years I have relaxed enough to know that others feel much more at ease if even a few things are a bit amiss. It is after all about hospitality and being together and not about me

  21. I feel like I have a clean house. It is usually quite “company ready”. But, I never fret when people are over. We have large parties, celebrations, and get-togethers, and if a child spills, then we just clean it up. Actually, I usually hand the mother the towel. :-) I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they “messed up my house.” I do believe that people love coming to our home. However, I see no reason to lessen the level of cleanliness for guests. If we are all sharing our home with others as an extension of ourselves, why do we need to lower our standards and no longer be ourselves? (Those with messier homes are encouraged to be hospitable anyway, not change themselves beforehand, right?)

    If we keep this line of thought, we won’t be able to decorate the way we want, because the guests we are inviting never decorate seasonally. We won’t be able to buy that new dining room table that will fit us all, because our neighbors don’t have the money to do likewise. We won’t be able to bake that yummy dessert, because our new friends don’t know how to cook very well. I say let’s just be ourselves, be hospitable and do our best as God commands, but not worry about the trivial things — whichever way we roll.

  22. Thank you, Sandy, for sharing this. And thank you, Gina, for your transparency. It is yet another reminder to me of how much the sharing of our own struggles can help others.

    I fight perfectionism daily. It’s not as bad for me as it used to be, but it sneakily creeps into parts of my life to which I am often totally blind. And it’s paralyzing.

    I recently heard someone differentiate between hospitality and entertaining: entertaining is showing off your stuff and hospitality is sharing your stuff. I just have to remind myself that it’s not only sharing my best stuff; it’s all my stuff. There’s a lot of humility required here. But, there is also a lot of freedom to be had.

  23. The pros and cons of perfectionism :) I totally understand how she feels. I hope someone will tell her that it’s okay and a lot of people understand and it doesn’t make her less of a person ;)

  24. I associate a messy house with mental illness and bad relationships. When I start feeling depressed I take fifteen minutes to straighten up some clutter and I feel better. (I use a timer, because I don’t want to obsess).

    My husband also associates mess and clutter with Very Bad Times. So we keep our house mostly neat most of the time. While not perfectionists, we are never embarrassed at the state of the house when someone drops in.

    If things mostly neat and mostly put away was too clean? To be honest, I wouldn’t change it. I live in my own home and am not going to live in a level of clutter that makes me unhappy. I don’t CARE how other people keep their homes, mind. They live different lives and have different things going on in their heads, so it CAN’T be my call.

  25. I just had an encounter with my sister in law lastnight about my home being a “show house”. I am the type of person that my home has to be clean at all times. I do not go to bed without dished being done and the house being picked up. I have two girls and they pickup after themselves. They are 8 and 5 and plenty old enough to pick up their own toys, put their laundry away, ect. No my home isn’t always spotless all the time but for the most part it is.
    I have been told by my sister in law that no one likes to come to my house because of me and my attitude towards having a clean house and they are afraid that their kids will make a mess. We tell them that messes can be cleaned up. She still won’t come to our home and neither will anyone else in the family for this same reason. It really hurts my feelings that I am being discriminated against because I keep a clean home. Maybe I do go overboard sometimes with the things I clean, but “I” like it that way, my husband is just a clean as I am so it is double the clean all the time. How do I make his family realize that my clean house shouldn’t be the reason they don’t want to come over. Does anyone else have this problem??

  26. This is one thing I will never have to worry about!!
    But it makes me think that we should really be careful about commenting on how things, or people LOOK! For example, in saying “you are so skinny!” to a friend, we mean it as “you look great!” while SHE might take it as “oh…I knew I looked awful!”.
    It’s the same about a house….I would DIE if someone said (and no one I know would be this mean….or truthful!) “your house is a mess!”, and this story shows us that saying the opposite could make someone feel just as uncomfortable and think poorly about them selves.
    Note to self: “only say what is good for building up, and gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29)

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