The Curse Of Cleaning-Brain

Evolutionary psychologists would no doubt tell me that I “see dirt” better than any man, regardless of my shortsightedness. But evolutionary psychologists would also tell me that I like the colour pink, possibly because of menstruation, so I think we can safely ignore them.

On the other hand… I do see dirt. When I have my glasses on, I see dirt all the time. I think of it as my cleaning-brain. The one that tells me that I’m a disgrace to femininity. I’m hearing from it more than usual at the moment, actually, because revising at home means that you notice the cleaning that you haven’t done. And we have hard floors (as opposed to carpet) in almost every room. You really notice the dirt when it doesn’t get ground into textiles!


I live with a man. Not a man that I’m in a relationship with – he’s a friend; we have separate bedrooms – but a man nevertheless. And this creates a certain dynamic, whether I like it or not.

For instance, I get very touchy about how much housework we both do, because I don’t want him to revert to a stereotype. I don’t want to have to ask him to “help”, because it’s his flat too. And I don’t want to divide the housework by task, because frankly, I don’t care if he doesn’t like cleaning the bathroom, it’s a life skill that he should know. Likewise, I don’t always want him to do the washing up, partly because I can wash up my own damned plates, and partly because – cynic that I am – I don’t want him to have an excuse to not do other housework.

All of this is making life quite frustrating at the moment. I don’t want to do any more of the housework than I do already, but I keep seeing the dirt. It is a dilemma. Thankfully, not one that I’m spending too much time over. My mother’s excellent example has shown me that in the long run, exerting your willpower over your own cleaning-brain and refusing to do more than your fair share makes for a more equitable household. Even if it does get a bit dusty while the other party works out that there isn’t a magic bathroom-cleaing pixie.

4 Comments on “The Curse Of Cleaning-Brain”

  1. Butterflywings says:

    Ha – like the conclusion. I wish my mum had done that. Instead of expect everyone to notice by magic psychic powers, hinting, and eventually blowing up. Ah, passive aggression. NOT a healthy pattern of behaviour to learn.

  2. Rachel says:

    Yeah. Although I feel for your mum, because it’s a crap place to be, feeling like you’re being taken for granted.

    Which is what’s really the problem, I think – that other people (a) don’t recognize your cleaning efforts and (b) don’t reciprocate in kind.

    (I’m not trying to be a moralising bastard here, by the way, just musing. After all, I was a self-obsessed, grotty teenager – I had the “this kitchen doesn’t clean itself” lecture! Also, passive agression gets REALLY tempting. Like writing “clean me” in the pink residue that builds up in the shower. So far I’ve resisted, but you never know…)

  3. Butterflywings says:

    Oh yeah, I can understand where she was coming from now. The thing is, with self-obsessed grotty teenagers and students, passive aggression doesn’t work. Which is why I recommend strategy of just not doing their share of housework for them. Eventually, they will click that kitchens and bathrooms don’t clean themselves.

    Meh, women are trained to be passive aggressive though. I have tended towards that myself. My ex housemate used to leave pans that weren’t just dirty but actually had leftover food in them (which is a waste…ah…blood pressure rises as I type at the memory) on the side for days. I wanted to say something but never did. I just moved them towards the bin as a hint. Sigh.

  4. Rachel says:

    Yeah, I’ll second you on the femininity implying passive aggression.

    My housemates last year, all of whom were female – and, unsurprisingly, more feminine than me – were SHOCKED! Shocked, I tell you! when I said “hey, I’ve washed your manky pans because they were making the kitchen stink, and there wasn’t enough room for me to cook. Please can you make sure you do them next time?”
    I think they felt like I’d overstepped the bounds of propriety by saying something, rather than just, you know, delicately hinting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s