Over the last few months I’ve been inside the homes of at least 3 dozen people. I visited most of those homes because we were house shopping, my family was house shopping, or we were simply visiting. Our summers are wild and busy like that. Since I am a people watcher this gave me some great insight. So what did I learn? We all have a different idea of what “clean” really is.
I visited some homes that looked pristine with nothing dragging, nothing out of place, and everything was shiny. Just don’t open the cabinet doors. Or open the back of the commode. Or look under the microwave.
Other homes looked cluttered and unkept. Toys and books were placed in random places. Cups sat on the counter by the refrigerator. There was also piles of things in various places. But something I noticed in most of these homes is that the sink was spotless, you could eat off of the floors, and the doorknobs, light switches, and appliances were clean as a whistle.
Then there was the other extreme where the homes looked so clean that I wouldn’t want to live in them or so dirty that I wouldn’t want to live in them. After seeing this time after time I recognized the patterns; the styles of cleaning.
Inside Out Clean
This style is more concerned with removing germs, cleaning surfaces, and doing the job thoroughly. We usually get so consumed with cleaning the counter tops that by the time they are sparkling and germ free we don’t have the time or energy to arrange things beautifully back in place much less spend time cleaning in another room. We tend to make full cleaning days or do one room at a time. There is no sense in doing it if you don’t do it right, right?
I fall into this category. I am the type that wants to vacuum out the sawdust when building things. I can’t stand the thought of that being between the boards even though it is nailed shut and no one will see it. I don’t mop with a cotton mop and handle. I use a bucket and a rag and I go square by square because I have to know that each square foot is really clean. And, I can get the baseboards this way too.
My visible areas are another story. I have clutter. I don’t mind blankets on the couch or cups by the refrigerator. I don’t mind a few toys on the floor. I know it is all clean. Really clean. We clean from the inside, out.
Outside In Clean
I remember visiting a relative’s house as a child and always thinking about just how clean everything was. The counters and floors never had anything out of place and everything looked as though it was a showpiece. Things had been scrubbed to perfection. For years I thought this lady was the cleanest person in the world. Then I got old enough to help out in the kitchen.
One day while making tacos I opened a cabinet to get a bowl. Twelve bowls, a stack of paper plates, and a roll of paper towels fell out. Everything had been stuffed into this little cabinet. The outside of the cabinets were in pristine condition while the insides were literally falling apart. After that I became a bit of a snoop checking out other places. The medicine cabinet had medicine in it that expired ten years before. The pantry had food that had long been stale and the garage had stacks of newspapers that had never been brought to the recycling center.
This group spends so much time on the appearance of the home that the insides lack cleaning and organization. They clean from the outside, in.
Obviously others will fall into a happy medium. I have found that some people do both to perfection or don’t do either at all. Those styles likely have other outside influences that drive them to react that way. For the most part, we are Inside Out or Outside In cleaners. Which are you?