How to Prevent and Get Over Obsessive Cleaning Habit Disorder


Meesha is a mother of two lovely daughters. She is strong, easygoing, fun-loving, and full of parenting advises. As her husband needs to travel for work, she takes care of the daughters on her own. However, not many people are aware of her obsession – obsession with cleaning. She wakes up early in the morning. Not spending much time preparing food, straight away she takes stock of her arms and ammunition – her cleaning equipment and supplies. Letting television babysit her 2-year old, she makes sure that the entire house is spic and span by afternoon. The same procedure is repeated after dinner in the evening. She mops the house after guests leave, rubbing off their non-existent footprints. She is not able to make friends for the same reason. Even her daughters are not in the habit as well. But alas, Meesha is not aware of her obsession and has not been seeking help.

Meesha is not alone. Many people around the world have an obsession with cleaning. Such people are so involved in cleaning, mopping, wiping, washing, dusting that they do not realize that there is a life beyond all this.

It is good to keep your house and stuff clean. Staying tidy and organized is one of the prime traits of successful people. But you should not go to the extreme with this habit. Obsessive Cleaning is a kind of disorder that has been gripping people around the globe. Sadly, people gripped with this obsession might be slowly ruining their lives. It degrades their peace of mind. They are not able to maintain relationships at times. It might even tax their health in the long term. The most important thing is to keep a balance when it comes to cleaning.

How does cleaning become an obsession?

There are several reasons for cleaning becoming an obsession. Meesha (mentioned above) was not always like this. She had a long successful career before she accepted being a homemaker. As per her mother, she liked cleanliness even when she used to work but during those days she did not have much time in hand. Maybe, Meesha got obsessed with cleaning later in life when she did not have anything better to do. Further, she might have even thought that cleanliness will keep her kids away from ailments. Even her mother-in-law is obsessed with cleaning and she might have got this trait from her. As her husband used to travel, there was no-one close to her who could prevent her cleaning habits from becoming an obsession. Cleaning becomes an obsession when –

  • One is trying to impress someone present in their lives
  • One has been with someone obsessed with cleaning
  • One does not involve in hobbies or other activities
  • Lack of interest in other things
  • Finding difficulties to make friends
  • To prevent ailments related to dust and mites or others

Is obsessive cleaning harmful?

No. It is pretty harmless. There are several types of obsessive cleaners and even the level of obsession varies. However, obsession might make such people secluded in their lives. People who carry their obsession with their workplaces find it difficult to work in teams. Even others are not able to adjust with such people. Mothers obsessed with cleaning might pass on this trait to their kids. It is also possible that kids find it difficult to cope with such mothers. However, it is contagious if one stays with such obsessive cleaners for a long period. Some obsessive cleaners explain the reason behind every step they take and other weak-minded persons fall to this trap set by them.

How can one stop getting obsessed with cleaning?

When one gets trapped with obsessive cleaning, only one thing occupies their mind. And there are no points for guessing – it is “how can I keep the stuff clean?” Such people are not able to live their life freely. They cannot meet people easily or make friends as there is always something else going on in their minds. If you are obsessed with cleaning, you can follow this route.

1. Calm Down before you begin cleaning

This might seem simple. However, people obsessed with cleaning are often very anxious. They are stressed all the time. They are not aware that they are obsessed with cleaning at times. They do everything they do, unconsciously. It is a vicious circle. Obsessive cleaning leads to stress and abate stress, people resort to excessive cleaning. They do not find relaxation in other things but cleaning.

You need to nip this obsession in the bud by calming down first. It is time to find things that help you cool down. Peace of mind is a much-required thing and it should not come from cleaning but doing other better stuff. Meesha was so obsessed with cleaning that she would spend the entire day cleaning – cleaning a home that was already spotless. She used to plan that she would hire help for cooking and babysitting so that she could concentrate on cleaning. It is difficult to reach a state of perfection for such people.

How to calm down

Overcoming this obsession can begin by relaxing first. It is difficult to get rid of such a habit suddenly. Do not stop cleaning, clean as much as you did earlier. Listen to songs that relax your mind. If you can, practicing yoga will be quite beneficial. Before you begin cleaning, calm down all your senses and then start the routine. Relaxation techniques will prevent you from cleaning frantically and doubting yourself.

2. Bring a change in the routine

It is time to break up the daily rut that you have gotten into. The problem with this obsession is your routine. You eat, sleep, drink, and most importantly, clean at the same time. You need to pull your self out of this rut. Now, the question is how you will do this.

One day, wake up at the same time in the morning. Enjoy a cup of tea and for a change, watch a movie today, or go for a walk in the garden. Do something unusual – something that your schedule does not permit. This way you delay the time you begin cleaning. When you push the beginning, the time that you have on your hand is lesser than every day. This might help prevent the re-cleaning habit that you might have.

The next day, you can reshuffle the sequence of cleaning. If you clean the sofa first, then begin with windows today or something like this. But remember you need to begin late – later than every day. When the sequence is changed, it happens that obsessed people forget cleaning something. This work is forwarded to the next day, changing the predictable.

The third day, clean the stuff that you had forgotten the previous day. Then, take a break and move out of the house for some time. Return, and begin again. Set fire to your cleaning routine and you will feel less burdened.

While this does not guarantee getting rid of obsession, it certainly helps you do something new every day.

3. Take a look inside

There are different types of personalities – some clean for the sake of cleaning while there are some who clean to avoid confrontation or to hide personality disorders or to cover up their anxieties and so forth. If you or someone you know is obsessed with cleaning, you need to know the reason behind this. If the person is anxious or stressed, help him or her to get rid of the stress. In the absence of stress, there would not be any obsession with anything, even with cleaning.

Some people do not have friends or family to talk to. They live like an island. This makes them resort to stuff that will keep their life busy. Such people need help. If you are one of them, get out of your cocoon, and make friends. It might help. Talk to your obsession with someone close. This might help you get out of it. When you speak openly about your obsession, you might realize the true reason behind the same.

When such people realize the reason behind the obsession, suppose anxiety or lack of warmth and friendship in life, they can easily get over it, without much ado.

4. Will cleaning prevent allergies?

Some people resort to excessive cleaning to prevent their family and their selves from allergies, cold and cough, contamination, or infection. If you fall into this category, then remember that how much ever you clean, dust cannot be permanently removed from your home and your life. Spiritually, remember that you are made of dust and you will return to dust again. Medically, you need to know that too much cleanliness can weaken your immunity. It is also proved that making home too much clean and tidy can prove dangerous for your children as well, again for the sake of immunity. Yes, too much dirt is also not good for health. However, you need to learn how much cleaning is enough. Instead of resorting to daily cleaning, you can clean on alternate days in the beginning and delay the schedule if required.

5. Put your imagination to work

This can help you out. One day, when you wake up in the morning, sit down comfortably, and imagine what would happen if the house is not clean. Do not leap into the future. Stay in the present and see if your house requires cleaning today? What is that that is driving you to clean your home? It might be stress or even boredom or fear of dust.

Some people (I am one of them) clean today so that they are not burdened with cleaning tomorrow. But, this does not mean I will be resting the next day or the day after. I will continue cleaning for the fear of a busy tomorrow. For this, what I do is I consciously take a break by not cleaning once every couple of days. I spend time doing things that I had been missing.

Cleaning is a temporary satisfaction. The place where I live needs to be dusted every single day. So, if I am satisfied seeing a sparkling home today, I will be dejected again tomorrow. Hence, people like me need to hunt for real satisfaction. You need to delve deeper and find out what other things make you happy – it could be watching movies, talking to an old friend, dancing, and other things.

6. A new way of life awaits you on the other side

Truly. You are made for better things in life. By cleaning your home every single day, you do not realize what opportunities await you. Twist your way of living and you might find something delightful that brings a real smile on your face. When you will clean less, you will get a hold on your life. Do not chuck the habit completely, but take turns to clean stuff in your house. Use your time judiciously. You are a talented individual – invest your ideas elsewhere. If you are so fond of cleaning, start a service that helps you put your this talent to work – laundry services, housecleaning services, car cleaning services, or anything that you feel like.

Also Read: 11 Lifestyle Changes to Live a Long, Healthy and Disciplined Lifestyle


Build your life step by step and make things happen. Take pride in your house – it is still the same spotless one – a glitch here and there is harmless. Cleaning can wait but the time to create lovely memories cannot.

Lastly, when you lie on the death bed, what you want to remember about your life – a spotless home or a wonderful life full of activities, hobbies, and interesting things that you did. What you want other people to remember you as “Somebody who had a spotless home” or “Count you among those who lived their life to the full”? It is time to get over the obsession with cleaning. You might think that this route is quite difficult but you can get over this, one day at a time. Happy Cleaning, oops, Happy Living!!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here