Obsessive Cleaning: When is it Too Much?

Being the kind of person who likes things to be clean is a positive characteristic. When things are in order and in a presentable manner, you feel better. When it comes to keeping a clean house, yard, car, office, etc., you’ll find that tidy people tend to feel less stress and chaos.   But when does the joy of cleaning become obsessive cleaning?

When does cleaning become too much?

But when it comes to cleaning, when is it considered too much?  When do you go from the average neat person to obsessive cleaning? When does cleaning become overboard and cause problems for you or your loved ones?

The answer will vary, but essentially if you’re cleaning has been causing some issue or negative consequence with yourself or your loved ones, it may be bordering on obsessive/compulsive cleaning.

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For example, Shala loves to keep a neat and orderly home.  Ever since she was a child, she felt safe and in control when her immediate surroundings were clean and in order. You walk into Shala’s home, and everything is in place, and just about every nook and cranny is spotless.  Is there anything wrong with that?  Not at all.  Keeping a clean home is a very healthy and honourable thing.

So when does Shala’s love for a clean home become too much?  When does her cleaning become too much?  Let’s take a look at Shala’s everyday cleaning routines and rituals.  Upon awakening, she immediately starts cleaning her room.  She takes a lint roller and rolls her entire bedroom floor in case any hair has fallen.

She then takes a dirty piece of laundry, gets on her hands and knees, and wipes the floors of her home to get up any hair or crumbs that may have fallen.  She then goes and wipes down the toilet and polishes every doorknob in the home.  To brush her teeth, she kneels at the bathtub to brush them because she doesn’t want to dry out the bathroom sink, which is one of her rituals.

She goes to work, comes home, and starts cleaning more.  She wipes down blinds with her hands, one by one.  She then goes on to clean and dust for a couple of hours.  Then, she feels as if she can relax and eat.   She’s more than exhausted, yet she will do these things each day, and on her days off, she will diligently clean even more.

For some, hours of cleaning every day may not pose a problem, but Shala is already taxed due to a hectic and stressful workday.  She doesn’t necessarily want to clean when she gets home, yet she cannot relax until she does.  She also requests that her partner keep things exactly the way she wants and perform certain tasks the partner would not normally do, like drying out the sink each time it is used or cleaning the floors with a piece of dirty laundry instead of a dust mop.  Her partner begins to feel controlled and carry some resentment.

Is your cleaning causing problems for you or others?

When does cleaning become too much?  When it starts to cause the cleaner or the family members problems.  For Shala, her health begins to suffer, as she is physically exhausted each day.  Her partner also begins to grow resentful and feel very controlled.

Those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will have a great need or compulsion to clean or perform cleaning rituals to feel in control.  When they cannot keep up with these things, they feel like their lives are falling apart.

The good news is that there is help for those who struggle with OCD.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven well when tackling those who feel the need to clean too much.  If you are struggling with such compulsion, consider reaching out for help.  I have an online course available to start immediately, and you can read more about it here.  You do not have to continue to struggle with such compulsion.