Friday, 26 April 2013

Are we too obsessed with being clean?

First of all a disclaimer: I am not talking about my house here, as any friends reading this who have visited our house know that I don't clean it every day! I need to clean regularly of course - particularly the kitchen and bathroom, for obvious reasons of hygiene - but I don't dust and sweep on a daily basis, unlike the local Spanish seƱoras that we spot every morning, throwing bucketfuls of dirty water onto the streets. I hope that I haven't shocked you too much!

Personal hygiene is important and I have a bath or take a shower at least once a day. This means that when I get dressed in the morning I am putting my clothes onto a clean body, and I am putting clean clothes on too. Yes, I've come to the point at last, which has been highlighted by my current capsule wardrobe experience. Do we need to wear different clothes every day? Underwear maybe, but I put on a clean top every morning, though I will wear the bottoms several times so long as they look clean. As I have limited myself to five tops, which I will be wearing over a nine day period, I have already hand washed a couple of them, but was this really necessary?

I wore this outfit on Monday, but with different accessories. The purple top wasn't dirty and neither were the trousers, in spite of getting wet, but I still washed the top without even thinking about it. This meant I was using water, which is a precious resource in Spain, when I didn't need to. Whenever the laundry basket is full the washing machine goes on, which is using electricity as well as water.  If I wore my tops a couple of times instead of just once, the washing machine wouldn't need to be used as frequently. If I wasn't as clean, the environment would definitely benefit.

I'm not sure when this habit began.  When I went to school we wore a school uniform, and I cannot remember having more than a couple of blouses and skirts.  I joined the Women's Royal Navy and wore a uniform - again, I didn't have enough items to change them everyday, and I only did the washing at the weekend.  Perhaps it was after I had children?  Children do get dirty and sometimes have to wear more than one outfit a day, plus mothers find it difficult not to get messy too, so the washing machine was on almost constantly. I think I will have to blame it on the children!


  1. I have reached the point of not washing tops every time I wear them except in the summer when it is soooo hot and humid that nothing can be worn twice. I think the convenience of our modern washers and dryers made us forget that things don't need to be washed unless they are dirty. Washing/drying unnecessarily wears out clothes faster too.

  2. Juhli, thanks for mentioning the fact that unnecessary washing and drying wears out clothes faster - I meant to say that but forgot! I agree about the summer months, however between October and April it isn't usually too hot and humid here.

  3. Agreed on all points... except I have 2 dogs who like to sit on my knee for long periods of time. Apart from the dog hairs they do tend to leave clothes feeling in need of a wash to refresh them before wearing again, but I do use a quick 30 minute wash to reduce amount of water and electricity used. I also change out of work clothes as soon as I get home and put on my casual 'comfys' so my work clothes can be worn for 2 days before washing (although I mix them up so people don't notice I wear them twice).

    As well as clothes not being washed as often I remember having a weekly bath on Sundays before school on Monday and sharing the bath water between the 3 kids because in those days we didn't have boilers or immersion heaters, it was done in an electric boiler and carried upstairs in buckets to fill the bath.

    How times have changed... for the better.

  4. Sue, Interesting how we tend to pay more attention to certain things when someone mention it...

    Thanks so much for writing about it... I shave and shower every day and is I do not, I get an itch on my head and some parts of my body... so if I do not shower.. I will know by the end of the day when the itch gets worse.

    Ho, and every time I shower, I change clothes as well... and I do my laundry every week... Not bad for a single man he?

    Thanks so much.

  5. No need to wear stuff only once unless, as you and others have pointed out, it's a hot humid day or you've been especially active and sweating. Or, in my case, dropped stuff on yourself! Especially if you use a cami or you layer clothing--why wash the outer garment?

    I'm with you on not mopping and scrubbing daily.

  6. Jacqui, yes dogs do make it harder to keep clean and when I sweep it's amazing how many hairs our dog Lisa has managed to scatter round.

    It used to be a weekly bath night for most of us over 60s (as well as you over 50s!) with a strip wash and reminders to wash our necks and behind our ears on other nights!

    Nick, I'm impressed! You were obviously very well brought up!

    Robin, I'm glad that I'm not the only one who doesn't mop and scrub daily - though I do a thorough clean if we've invited Spanish neighbours around!

  7. You made me laugh Sue when I read about the weekly bath. Those were the days. And I do remember that we were playing in the dirt and had to scrub it off at an outside tap:) I agree with you that clothes don't need to be washed every time, I have also mellowed with the cleaning in the house. There must be some advantages in getting older.

  8. There are definitely some advantages in getting olde, Gertraud! Regarding the outside tap - it was always cold water, wasn't it? Not good in winter!