She’s “Allergic” to Cleaning. It Makes Me Insane.

This post should be renamed: [I’m] So.Fucking.Resentful. I find myself getting into these circular arguments and circular situations regarding house cleaning. They go like this:

1. Me: I do some serious deep cleaning for 2-3 hours. 

2. Partner: Says “looks nice”… does absolutely NO cleaning for a MONTH. On her days off, she sits, reads, watches TV while the mess around her piles up. 

3. Me: As a result of the above, I become resentful and don’t want to clean because partner does no cleaning at all… so on my days off, I sit *wanting* to clean (staring at the mess in disgust and building resentment) but refuse to because it should be a *shared* activity.

4. (Month goes by) 

5. Me: I do some serious deep cleaning for 2-3 hours. Get angrier. 

(Repeat steps 1-5…over and over and over and over and over and over again.) 

House: Gets nasty. 

Okay, it’s a ratchet way to live. We both have 2 days off per week from work (different days of the week from each other). She cleans MUCH slower than I do.. I can get 5 minutes of cleaning done in the same time she cleans for two hours, no exaggeration.  That doesn’t even bother me – what bothers me is she doesn’t even put any effort in.

I’ve tried all of this:

  • Threatening to hire a house cleaner (this makes her crazy because we don’t have the $$ to spend on it).
  • Threatened to throw both of our things away because we don’t take care of it.
  • Made “chore lists” for both of us like we are 17 and in our first apartment (I end up getting even more angry because she only completes 1/10 things on the list and it all goes to hell).
  • Let HER make up the chore lists (tried to give her autonomy over the situation)
  • Let HER go through all of my stuff and throw anything out she thinks I haven’t used/worn in ages (even this doesn’t work…)
  • Switched to disposable everything (cutlery/paper things/etc) – I really hate this.. #CarbonFootprint
  • Bought REALLY cool cleaning stuff/gadgets to try and make it fun

So at this point I just throw my hands up in disgust – and every once in a while I freak out and get angry.  Every single time that happens, she gets up and cleans for 10-15 minutes, then goes back to whatever she was doing. Why does it have to get to that point?  I hate living like this.

Full Disclosure: I grew up in a house where if I left a cup out on a table for five minutes after I finished it, I’d get smacked. Hell, sometimes my mother would take the glass away before I was finished  – it’d end up in the dishwasher. 


Okay so I spent all of the above time venting about the cleaning thing. The question is how the hell do I attack this situation from this point on? January is just around the corner. Gotta make a plan.



  1. This is an issue I have with my husband as well.
    Have you ever heard of the cleaning oriented site (& linked tumbler) called “unfuck your habitat”? (I think equally fitting to call it unfuck your habit, since cleaning is mostly about habits)
    It has a lot of great suggestions on how to clean, and some inspiration. Perhaps you could show it to her? It might get her motivated.

    It also has a post motivating other people that I really like, even though it was hard for me to read the first time.
    It has a bottom line statement about motivating others: You can’t.
    It’s not being “down” on anyone with that statement, it’s just being realistic.
    You can only control your own actions, not those of your partner.
    This one is hard, because our partners still make messes even when they don’t clean them.
    Chances are though, your partner, just like my partner, is not making such a huge mess that most of the house couldn’t stay “okay” if we( you or I with our respective messy partners) cleaned up just our part of it.

    The writer of UFYH had things to say about this, and she wrote it really well so I’m just going to quote her on the three most relevant points:

    1) — “This is your priority, not theirs. This one might sting a bit, but it’s true. You’re on board, you’re energized, you’re motivated. Something spoke to you to get you going with this. They are not there. They have different priorities, other things occupying their time.”

    2) — “With very few exceptions, they are not actively sabotaging your efforts. I’m just going to come out with it, because this can be a hard one to hear, but: chances are, they either don’t notice, or they don’t care. Before you make any progress with how you look at this situation, it’s really important to fully understand this. You’re seeing ill intent where there’s likely just apathy and/or laziness.”

    3) — “Sometimes it’s better to be happy than be right.This one’s going to ruffle some feathers. I’m not saying be a maid for the people who live with you. I’m not saying to clean up after them. I do advocate putting all their shit somewhere (after telling them you’re going to do it) so that it’s not in your way, but if all you’re getting is upset and annoyed, you have to weigh whether it’s more important for you to have buy-in or to have a clean space. Again, you don’t have to be their maid, but cleaning your half of the stuff is still a 50% improvement from total disaster.”

    (The post this is quoted from:

    It really sucks that we can’t get our partners on board, but being angry with them is likely to result us miserable, and won’t get the mess cleaned.

    Also, cleaning something might be better than nothing. I can’t seem to get my house organized, and my living room remains in a permanent mess-state, but I can at least keep the bathroom orderly.
    Having at least one room I can keep clean at all times makes me feel much better about my house, and I’m hoping to move it up to two when I get the bedroom rearranged.
    Perhaps this might be true for you as well?
    Sorry for the long comment. <.<

    hope it maybe helps. 🙂

    1. Wow thanks – you win the ‘most helpful comment award’ this month for sure. That website is a gold mine. This whole situation feels like one of those self-help statements: “You can’t help others until you help yourself,” and your comment kind of reiterated that. I can’t motivate her for sure – no amount of trying is gonna make that happen… But one thing I haven’t tried doing is creating my own island around her mess – that is, making sure every bit of my OWN mess is cleaned up and maybe she’d get the hint that only hers is left… her clothes/dishes, etc…

      You are SPOT ON with #1, 2, and 3 – it is totally my priority. I know she’s not deliberately sabotaging my efforts – I just wish she made a few herself. So my new goal will be to clean 50% of the disaster.

      It’s funny, your last statement… I’m the same way – I can live with one room being clean, too. For me it’s usually the bathroom or the front room (house is shotgun style).

      Anyway – all awesome things to think about – thank you.

  2. Oh that’s rough. My situation isn’t quite so bad but I am the one in the house that wants to clean. If it’s my day off I’m sure to get out of the bleach and the comet…. the wife, not so much. My answer to this is partly in accepting that I like to clean more. I might as well enjoy that feeling.

    Good luck to you! Hope you find an answer.

    1. I think that’s part of the key — just accepting that I like to clean more… and I can dig it for a while, but eventually the resentment sneaks in, and the cycle starts all over again. Thanks for your message :0)

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