The Big Question

What’s your most shameful housekeeping secret? #NoJudgement

by Maxwell Tielman


We’ve got a dirty little secret to share with y’all this morning. You know all those pretty photos we post of our houses, all immaculate and clean with nary a dust bunny or speck of dirt in sight? Yeah, we knew you were coming over so we cleaned up for you. Come any other day of the week and you’ll find socks on the floor, fingerprints on our stainless steel appliances, papers cramming our junk drawers, and God-knows-what in the bathtub drain. I know, I know. You thought we were perfect. It’s an easy assumption to make—we are pretty awesome. But I’m here today to clear up any misunderstandings there may have been on that front. Us Design*Droits-Humains editors? We try to make our homes the beautiful, peaceful oases that we want them to be—but that certainly doesn’t mean we have the spare time, energy or sanity to keep things spick-and-span 24/7. It’s just not gunna happen. So today we decided to share some of our most shameful housekeeping secrets. And readers? We want to hear yours, too. None of us are perfect and it’s high time we started admitting it. #NoJudgement Max

Grace: I am a notorious dish stasher. I’ve been known to leave breakfast plates next to my bed and cups of tea just about anywhere. I’m definitely not proud of it, and I’m trying to get better by doing a run-down at the end of every night where I make sure I at least get everything in the sink for washing the next day. I now know why my Mom always wanted me to get things in the sink ASAP. Sorry, Mom. 

Amy: I have the teenage problem of not putting my clothes away. I throw them on a chair or the floor. I have to say, it sort of feels rebellious, but I don’t know who I’m rebelling against—my future self?—because sooner or later, I’m the on who has to pick them up. So when people are coming over, sometimes, it’s a mad scramble to pick up clothes. 

Max: I went through most of my life assuming that I was a neat freak to the core. When I moved in with my boyfriend, however, I quickly learned that is not the case—there are even more extreme cleaning nut-jobs out there. While I love to keep everything in its place and obsessively organized (clutter of any kind drives me completely up the wall), for some reason I am absolutely blind to the more minute aspects of household maintenance. Need filing and closet organization done? I’m your man. Dusting, washing or scrubbing, though? Not so much. If you looked under my bed and saw all those dust bunnies, you would run away screaming.
What are your shameful household cleaning secrets? We want to hear them! Seriously. Comment below.

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    • Katrina

      I feel your cat upholstery pain. It is the story of my life. I’ve given up and just shrug now. People without cats think I’m crazy but at the end of the day, I’d rather have my best fuzz bud by my side than stress about having perfect upholstery :)


  • Laundry…oh my goodness dirty laundry. Like to the point where I’ve had to take my hamper outside of the room, before my roommate noticed the smell in our dorm room type dirty laundry… #nojudgement, right?

  • cat litter everywhere, no matter how many times a day i sweep (forrest finds a way to track it over the apt – i think it’s his secret mission and revenge for not getting prosciutto every day (his favorite!))… i have two bete noires so to speak: magazines/newspapers/mail seemingly everywhere (also receipts since i’m supposed to keep physical receipts for 7 yrs – eek!!) ; and cables, cables everywhere – i am hoping we can utilize grace + julia’s brilliant faudenza + no cables solution sometime soon!

  • am totally the same as Max. if you need anything ‘sorting’ i am fine, love a good ‘system’ to be put into place so most places have somewhere they are meant to be but actually the ‘cleaning’ aspect…… especially the bath… i try not to look and it really can get quite shameful especially if the kids have used some cheap bubble bath stuff that literally clings onto the sides for days !

  • My boyfriend is a paramedic and part of his shift cycle includes staying 48 hours at the base. When he’s home, I’m neat and tidy and put everything back in its place. When he’s away, I live like a teenager – piles of dishes in the sink, wet towels and dirty laundry on the floor, unmade bed, my knitting takes over the living room. About an hour before he gets home, I scramble to clean everything and pretend as if nothing’s happened.

  • I’ve left dishes in the sink so long that the smell being produced became so offensive, it induced the gag reflex in my husband. Also – laundry. I WILL re-wear something until it starts to smell noticeably bad. What can I say, I just can’t be bothered to be a clean person! One time, my friend and I ran out of clean underpants during finals week, so instead of doing laundry, we just ran to Target and purchased some new panties. #nojudgementplease

  • Clean, folded laundry will sit on the sofa for days and days. I HATE putting laundry away. I love to separate it, load it, wash it, fold it, I just can’t stand putting it away. My sister always jokes that whenever she comes over, there’s laundry on the sofa and she’s totally right!

  • Our floors… I have 3 children and we moved into a ground-floor apartment with a garden 6 months ago. Even though we have a no shoes policy in the house, the amount of dirt, snow, not to mention food, that ends up on the floors is insane. I vacuum or broom every day but never mop… And when I do, the amount of black water that appears is frightening!

  • Clothes! Our closet situation is difficult (our landlord renovated the unit to look cool vs. be functional, so the very beautiful but very stupid sliding barn doors on our closet don’t slide far enough to actually get to the middle section, wtf), so we end up piling clothes in the nearby vicinity. In all honesty, it’s only about 1% the closet’s fault – it only takes about 5 minutes effort to put them away, even with the wonky door. Oh well!

  • Max – youa nd I are 100% in sync. I am the same way. I think I am extremely organized and I’m definintely not dirty, but my husband puts my bathroom cleaning and kitchen floor scrubbing to shame… I need to work on that :)

  • I am a tidy, organized person but when it comes to REAL cleaning I hate it, especially the bathroom. I always fold the clothes, do the dishes, rearrange the cushions on the sofa… But when people come over I close the shower curtain and wipe down the bathroom sink.

  • I’ve worked as an interior designer for years, our house looks amazing when, once a month, it is perfectly cleaned up and dusted. BUT…we have a never ending supply of Reeses Peanut Butter wrappers crumbled throughout the house. My husband has a peanut butter/chocolate addiction, which I support with bowls of Reeses throughout the house. When friends come over, I’m either picking up balled wrappers from the living room, kitchen and bedrooms or I’m kicking the wrappers under the rug while I gesture wildly to the art on the wall, hoping no one sees the glimmer of a gold foil ball rolling out of sight.

  • We’ve lived in our house for 2 years, and I think I have mopped twice. Three times max… It stresses me out on an almost daily basis, but not enough to make me actually want to just mop.

  • Definitely clothes for me… I’ll come home from a trip and leave my clothes in (and around) my suitcase for a week! I have good intentions, but just can’t make myself do laundry or organize right way. #someday #nojudgement

  • I have a major stashing problem. I hate having anything out on my work surface in my office, but if you open my desk drawers… well let’s just say, don’t. This goes for househould drawers… medicine cabinet… anything you can close and forget about, in my apartment it’s full of junk. I’m disgusting.

  • Oh my! Is it completely terrible if I share all three of your habits? I swear my house isnt a complete mess but there are definitely tea cups, clothes flung over a chair, and dust bunnies hiding in corners! Thanks for inspiring a Wednesday night clean up!

  • Moving in. I rent, in a boom town, and I like variety so moving happens. I have a terrible habit of getting about two thirds of the way moved in and getting completely distracted by projects after I’m moved in enough to know where most things are.. and then I just drop the ball on getting the house the rest of the way there. I lived in a place for a year, just moved out and actually moved boxes I hadn’t unpacked from the last move yet. :x

  • My guilty housecleaning secret is that I usually never vacuum under stuff. If it is something big, I don’t bother to lift it up or put the vacuum under furniture. My brother is charge of mopping and vacuuming but he hardly ever does it. I think he waits for someone to do it and so for the most part, I stubbornly live with dirty floors.

  • I identify with everyone here who mentioned laundry! I am a neat/clean freak and manage to keep a pretty tidy home consistently, but for some reason I just HATE doing laundry with a vengeance. I’ve been known to leave piles of washed and dried laundry on the floor/bed/counter/dryer waiting to be folded and put away…never. Until we’ve gone through it all and it has to be washed again. Drives my husband crazy because all the clothes get super wrinkled, but I mean whatevs, that’s why we have a steamer..

  • -I only clean the bathroom (like, a real cleaning with a mop and bleach) when it starts to smell like pee…other than that just wipe downs and a closed shoer curtain.
    -Laundry accumulates at our house like crazy. I’m never out of laundry, dirty or frshly washed.
    -Freshly washed/folded laundry will sit out for days. Also, I hate hanging stuff up, so the clean stuff that needs to be folded just lays flat in a basket until i have absolutely nothing else to do. and sometimes it stays in the basket even then.

  • Toys toys and more toys! I like having a tidy space, but wonder how much fun it is for children? I let mine leave their toys out (in their own rooms) indefinitely. I do however only purchase toys that are ascetically pleasing… i.e.: wood blocks and cute crocheted bowling set etc…

  • The top shelf of my closets. It’s so tempting to cram hats, scarves, gloves, and yarn up there willy-nilly when I need them out of the way. I just try not to look up ;). Everything else that’s been mentioned is going on at some point or another in my apartment. Can I count it as an accomplishment that it’s never all at the same time?

  • Definitely dishes, for me. I try to wash them every night but I usually let them sit for a few days (especially when my husband is out of the country haha!).

  • Socks. I hate matching socks. We have a laundry basket just for the socks, and every six months or so I spend time matching g them all. Then I stay on top of that chore for a month or two, until the cycle repeats. In the middle of a binge-watching session is the best to for that chore.

  • Washing small area rugs. The laundry in our apartment is down a three-story spiral staircase that I’ve fallen on several times, and for some reason I’m willing to traverse it for weekly clothing laundry, but I just never get around to washing extras like our small rugs (like the ones in the kitchen and bathroom). We never step on them with shoes, so it’s not like they’re getting dirt from the street on them. But they definitely need to be cleaned after a while…. oops.

  • I’m a little OCD, so my house is always super neat and clean at all times. But don’t ask me the last time I washed my bedsheets. I do it maybe once a month, if that. My philosophy is that if it doesn’t LOOK dirty, it doesn’t bother me.

  • The cat hair dust bunnies around my apartment are ridiculous. I could probably keep them under control if I vacuumed and swept everything every day, but it can’t be worth it. We have two maine coon cats, and they are worth every floating tumbleweed of cat hair. And picking cat fur off of towels and sheets on the clothesline. And wiping down the sink they love to drink out of and splash water around all the time. And sweeping up the litter the track about. And… well, I’m sure many of you understand!

    Vacuuming the fluffs of fur up is definitely a priority in my panic cleaning routine.

  • I throw everything on the floor. Well, I have to, my tables are covered with books and cats! No room for neatness!

  • Cleaning Venetian blinds. We have big windows therefore, lots of blinds that are dusty and, yes, grimy. Every time we plan a vacation, I get obsessive about not being able to go until the blinds are clean. But then I go without cleaning them. Otherwise, I’m bare to middling okay.

  • The refrigerator. If there is a leftover that is questionable, I wont eat it, but I dont throw it out until there is no doubt that it’s bad. Science experiments. My husband once accused me of trying to grow new friends.

  • I have a freestanding claw foot tub that sits a few inches away from the wall and I just can’t quite reach to clean behind it, so there’s a thick layer of dust I have a ‘don’t look’ policy for.

  • I have an energetic dog who loves to rip toys apart and leave the shreds and stuffing all over the floor. It’s exhausting to keep up with him, so the floor is pretty much always covered with stuff. I don’t clean the floors as often as I should, partly because it’s depressing — I know it won’t be long until he’s covered it in toy pieces again!

    Also folding laundry. It’s the worst. I’ve done that trick where I dump the clean clothes on the bed so my husband and I will be forced to fold before bed, but that doesn’t work. We’ll just pick up the pile and put it on a chair or back in the basket. But hey, it’s easy to shut the bedroom door when company comes over!

  • My house is clean and clutter-free, but don’t ask me when I last cleaned the fridge. My landlords had this apartment before me, and left the fridge so gross that it’ll never be as clean and pristine as I want it, so I rarely bother trying to get it up to code. On the other hand, I try not to leave things in there until they’re years past their expiration date!

  • I leave multiple unfinished glasses of water on my bedside table – and I have no idea why! I, like a few other commenters, hate putting away clean clothes so they usually sit around folded (or laying flat if they need to be hung up) in the guest bedroom until it is time to do laundry again. This issue is mainly do to a lack of closet space and the fact that I have to keep my clothes in three separate areas. And finally our new dog sheds way more than expected so his hair combined with the dog we already had leaves us with dog hair tumbleweed rolling around our woods floors. I usually vacuum in a panic every time we have company (including the furniture)!

  • same as max! I could go a few weeks without swiffering the floor. HOWEVER, now that we have a dog, i can’t go 2 days without swiffering.

  • Oh Amy, I am with you on the clothes thing – it’s all about piles: the “oh hell to the nah did you want to be a hobo today” pile on the floor that requires immediate laundry attention, the “pushing it” pile next to my bed for when I sleep in late and my pride is the last thing I’m worrying about, and the “worn once so it’s all good” pile on one of my dining chairs. It infuriates me, which is rich, since it’s my own fault, but for some reason, I REALLY hate putting clothes away, and can only make myself do it about once a week.

  • I have a very, very long list. We recently moved from an apartment to a 3 story house. The washer and dryer are on the first floor. I am challenged with the concept of taking the laundry from floors 2 and 3 to floor 1, washing it and returning it to the correct floor. In our apartment, the washer/dryer was smack in the middle, I could hear the little song it plays when it finishes go off in the kitchen, living room, office or bedroom. It was perfect. Now, the laundry sits all alone, in the mud room. I don’t know why this is such a big deal for me!?!? It’s a simple concept, taking laundry from one flow to another.

    And we have no furniture for the house, so everything just sits out and looks messy constantly. I’ve been slowly buying pieces, but something simple like the lack of a dresser can wreak complete messiness for months. Not to mention the unpacked boxes sitting in a dark corner on the third floor.

  • I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve dumped clean laundry on my bed, gotten too tired to fold it and put it away, and fallen asleep on the pile. Sometimes I will even pick clothes out of the pile for a few days before I finally put it all away.

    As for cat hair dust bunnies…I give up. I just give up. I could sweep and vacuum them up every single day, but it wouldn’t make a difference. They will always be there. Also, I have a life.

  • In response to Bernie and the refrigerator issue–I do the same thing, but have rationalized it for years. If I throw out leftovers when they can still be eaten, that’s wasteful. But if I wait until they are multicolored, fuzzy, and unidentifiable, then throwing them out is part of keeping a clean, safe kitchen!

  • The secret I should be most ashamed of … is that I don’t do it at all. I have ‘a man what does’ in the form of my neat-freak other half who’s also a set dresser for film and TV so he does all the cleaning and housework, the straightening up and neatening, the styling/restyling/recolouring. I do a total of ChuffAll.

    Though it should be said, in the name of gender equality, I’m the one who sets to with tools and mends the central heating, and such!

  • So everyone is on here with cleaning confessions… Mine would be that I have needed to re-caulk the bathtub for about 6 months. Also, I have to confess that a couple of times when my hubby made bacon in our skillet, which leaves a ton of fat in the pan, rather than clean it out immediately, I just put the lid over it and waited a few days (#nojudgement).

    I am the kind of gal who actually enjoys cleaning (weird, I know) so I don’t have too much to share in this department. Now, if you want to get into how I hate cooking and go to great (and ridiculous) lengths to avoid cooking, on my goodness, I have tons… I think it’s natural to take shortcuts and to avoid things that you really, really hate doing (in my case, cooking).

  • I’m pretty clean but I recently tackled cleaning the window tracks in all of my rooms. I moved into my first home back in January and while it was very clean to begin with, the window tracks where kind of a hot mess. I’m guessing this will be a yearly task but we’ll see.

  • I wear daily disposable s and I have a terrible habit of just throwing them on the ground when I’m in bed and done with em for the day…and then I hate vacuuming. There are plenty of dried out s on my bedside table and floor. Oops.

  • PILES and PILES of books, magazines, mail, pictures, bills, folders, etc. etc. Also I drink sodas at my desk out of plastic “go” cups so that I can just stack them until it finally gets ridiculous and I have to wash them all. Thank you all for sharing your dirty little secrets so i don’t feel so badly!

  • I hate cleaning our back bathroom so much, That last Christmas,when family came over, i put an ” out of order ” sign on the door and locked it !!

  • I just loved this post. Thank you. I, of course, am perfect and my house would always be photo-shoot ready were it not for the beloved family I share it with.

  • Some disgusting habits in the comments, you guys actually made all the comments fun to read just as much as the main article.

    I don’t really have cleaning bad habits if I am honest but I do tend to clean other peoples homes because I cant sit in mess :P

  • Piles of clothes, old dishes, etc. that need to be taken to the thrift store accumulate in spare corners and closets throughout our apartment. I do a great job of cleaning out closets and identifying things to get rid of, but then it takes me FOREVER to actually take them somewhere. By the time I’ve finally rid myself of the excess its practically time to start the whole process over again. Procrastination Station over here.

  • This was such a funny article to read. The comments are awesome too! It’s tough coming up with a list of my own flaws (so much easier to complain about my boyfriend and my sister). But, I dug deep and here’s my list some of which are duplicates of other comments above. I’m glad I’m not the only one :)

    – leaving dishes in the sink to ‘soak’ for over 2 days
    – leaving ‘things that belong elsewhere’ out on the dining table, kitchen island or wherever I think will make me put it away asap. Call it my ‘to do pile’. Well, I’m pretty oblivious so eventually, the garden sheers that magically ended up in the house remain on the kitchen counter for 7 days. Next to it are the extra hair ties that somehow collected on my wrist and need to return to the hair accessory drawer in the bathroom. And also next to it would be my Costco ID card which I thought I lost, then found in the kitchen island drawer, took out with the purpose of getting it into my wallet.
    – Taking shoes off by the door and leaving them there, for a LONG time until my boyfriend trips on them or can’t open the door because they’re in the way.
    – Neglecting to clean the fridge out. I forget it’s there and a few weeks later, while searching for something else, I find something rotten. What a waste of money.

    I’m sure there’s more my boyfriend will point out. His problem, not mine!

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