Facebook Pixel

Are we too hung up on being clean?

By December 5, 2008 - 5:20pm
Rate This

A recent article in Psychology Today questions whether our obsession with cleanliness can actually be backfiring in unsafe behavior. Furthermore, we may be more susceptible to infections and illnesses that we're trying to prevent. Sound crazy?

An excerpt from the article:

Because we seem never to feel clean enough, all our scrubbing and scouring only stokes the anxiety it is meant to allay. But it may be sabotaging our physical health as well. Just as overprotecting children can keep them from developing coping skills, sanitizing ourselves may be undermining the immune system, which requires germs to keep it viable. What's more, overuse and misuse of cleaning products directly expose us to toxic chemicals. And, quite possibly, they even encourage what germophobes fear most—the rise of resistant "superbugs."

Do you agree that we may be overly germaphobic?

Cult of Clean

Add a Comment4 Comments

Well, miscortes, I can sympathize with you because I have a compulsive disorder (actually, a couple) and am normally meticulous. However, I'm married to a completely opposite personality (and that's a good thing because he has a great sense of humor) and, over the years, I've just given up trying to keep up with the mess. So, my house may looked very lived in, but, by golly - the baseboards and door jambs are clean and disinfected, LOL!

December 8, 2008 - 5:29pm
EmpowHER Guest

WOW! I can only say that this is really true in my life. I am a compulsive cleaner, sanitizer, and scrubber. There has been no doubt in my mind that I have become anal retentive. The Thanksgiving holiday is an example. I was mopping my floor as people were still at my house and I expected my two year old niece to not walk on the wet floor.

After thinking about my nonsense I was creating, I stopped what I was doing and let my house get dirty until they had left the following day. It actually created a sense of urgency in me to get it clean the next day too. I am not sure why but there was almost a sense of insecurity of cleanliness is the only way I can explain it.

Question is, how do we stop the urges?

December 6, 2008 - 10:46am
HERWriter Guide

I think I agree with almost everything in this article yet am guilty of many of the behaviors deemed unnecessary!

I over-clean, I do believe that minimalism and order in the home helps organization in the mind (and I'm sticking to that belief!) and I would have to be really sick or in childbirth to go a day without a shower! In the summer I often shower both morning and night.

I also notice that every cleaning product touts "anti-bacterial" or "removes 99.9% of known household germs!" in big letters so that we know we're doing something 'good' for our homes by purchasing them.

As the article stated, some people find that cleaning helps with anxiety. I get what I refer to as a "cleaner's high" much like a "runner's high". After cleaning, my mind feels better, my entire mindset feels better! It's a very odd kind of therapy for me. Like exercise, I don't enjoy the process but love the feeling afterward.

December 6, 2008 - 6:23am

I have a teenage daughter that is obsessive about sanitazing her hands. I think there are many people who are too hung up on being clean, but have not spent much time trying to understand the psychology behind it. My daughter's obsession comes from her phobia of germs (as she states it) It will be an interesting thing for me as a parent to try to understand the roots of her phobia. On the other hand my 12 year old son is the opposite and I literally have to chase him around the house to ensure he gets cleaned up, especially after playing with the dogs, coming back from a game, etc. Both kids, raised in the same household are totally opposite.

As for me, I try to keep a reasonable level of cleanliness. However, I always stay away from anti-bacterial soaps and prefer those made from natural ingredients. Since my husband is on a trach, we have no choice but to be very careful and make sure we maintain a fairly sterile area around him to avoid exposure to airborn germs or contamination.

I think I will look further into this to ensure my daughter is not becoming too obsessive at the expense of her own health...thanks!

December 5, 2008 - 11:31pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.