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keeping the house clean

 
gardener & author
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I am not a clean freak. If I were to make a scale where 0 was the worst I've ever seen and 10 is the most pristine space ever, I'd say that I probably usually end up in the 5-7 range.

I thought I could handle it when things were dirty. Then I lived with someone who often made the house dirty. In time, I realized that this person did not see the dirt that I saw. Which I suppose is what someone at 8-10 probably thinks when they walk into my space.

This was a major frustration. I tried some things but didn't really succeed in making any forward progress. There was a lot of resentment.

I think that if I were to live in a house with 10 other people, I'd say that we should all just chip in a few dollars and hire someone outside of the community to keep the space clean.

What are some strategies for keeping the house clean in community that have worked for you?
 
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I lived in a co-op with 19 other women, and there was a rotating chores schedule.  But always there was one person who repeatedly flaked.  I don't think anything can be done to eliminate the flakers except expel them from the community.  Most people seemed capable of doing basic cleaning chores.

Unfortunately I think the person/people who prefer a cleaner space are doomed to be the cleaners, or at least the deep-cleaners, because it seems true that people have different abilities to perceive dirt.  Non-cleaners will only do surface cleaning of the most basic kind, and only if pressed.



 
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Hiring someone seems to bring dishonor on the concept of community to many people, but I think it’s a friendship-saver, and pretty cheap when split many ways.

Compromise on cleanliness levels in the sense of “you’re an eight, I’m a four, the house must be a six” does not seem to work. Everyone ends up unhappy.

My (albeit unsatisfactory) conclusion is that the person with the higher standard must do the extra cleaning, so long as the person with lower standards is not at the level of, like, roaches and rats and rotting garbage. The person with lower standards probably really doesn’t notice the mess, as you say, and will resent being coerced into doing what they will perceive as unnecessary make-work to suit someone else’s arbitrary standards. (This does not apply to people who demand a clean house but are unwilling to help—they’re just assholes—but to people who are perfectly happy to live in a messy house). Hopefully the person with lower standards can become aware and polite enough to not actively and immediately undo what the cleanly person has accomplished.

If there is something the cleanly person hates to do that the messy person doesn’t mind doing (grocery shopping, lawnmowing, bureaucracy?) this can be a pretty resentment-free trade-off for the extra cleaning, but even this will go sour if the messy person still goes around leaving jammy spoons stuck to various surfaces right after the cleanly person has cleaned them or whatever. Or if the cleanly person has ridiculously high standards and moans on and on about how martyred they are for having to do invented chores that no one else cares about.
 
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