Do you clean or organize first?
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Are you a Tortoise or Hare When it Comes to Cleaning? I’m a..

by Alicia in Cleaning & Cleaners

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My husband and I have been married for 13 years. I consider myself lucky that my husband ‘cleans’.  Notice I didn’t say ‘cleans the house’.  Here’s the thing.. he is OCD about some things like the way the curtains hang and the way the soup cans face.  But he’s not OCD about putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

I’m going to discuss the two types of cleaning styles that happen in my house: hare-cleaning and tortoise-cleaning.

Clashing Cleaning Styles

First, here are a couple of definitions:

Hare-Style Cleaning: The act of cleaning fast.. like a hare and most likely sweating while doing so.
Tortoise-Style Cleaning: The act of cleaning really slowly.. like a tortoise.

While it may take me an hour to clean the one floor of our house including vacuuming, dusting, cleaning counters, washing sheets, cleaning the microwave, sweep hardwoods, clean sticky handprints off of the kitchen cabinets, it takes my husband about 3 hours to ‘clean’ the kitchen.  I sweat when I clean.  I move so fast I hardly know what I’m doing.  I just want to get done and move on.   Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE that he ‘cleans’ but sometimes I wish that he would speed-clean (aka hare-cleaning) like I do so that he could get MORE done in a day.

fast speed cleaning

The pro of hare-cleaning is that I get a lot done in a short period of time.

The cons are that I may not get the crumbs out from behind the toaster or clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen or organize the cabinets like my husband does.  I don’t consider the organizing to be absolutely necessary except for maybe once a month.  He thinks that organizing the drawers and cabinets is more important than cleaning because “if someone comes into our house, they may see clean floors and counters, but when they open a drawer and see clutter and chaos, they’ll think we’re slobs”.  Really?  So you’re telling me that if our neighbor comes over  to get a cup of sugar (it could happen) then you’d rather the cabinets be organized than the shoes in the hallway be put away or the floors be clean or the dirty dishes be put in the dishwasher?  Yes, that’s exactly what is being said.  But rather than get upset about it, I’m learning to let his cleaning style complement my cleaning style.  It’s all about expectations and I guess it took about 13 years for me to realize that my expectations when it comes to cleaning are different from my husband’s.

Deep breath.. I can work with it. I really can.

cleaning vs. organizing


Can the Tortoise & the Hare Cleaning Styles Compliment Each Other?

It’s more important to me that the house is guest-ready, than for the cabinets and drawers to be organized.  To each his/her own though.  Wait, that’s my point. I feel like the tortoise-cleaning style causes more harm than good.  When he is home and says he’ll clean, I almost (almost) dread it because I know I’ll be doing the real cleaning later or the next day.  Yes, the cabinets and drawers will be organized and will look amazing but the dishes may still be on the counter, the kid’s laundry might not be done, and there might be crumbs on the floor.

My hope is that our different cleaning styles will compliment each other.   Meanwhile, he needs to speed it up.. like a hare!  🙂

Again, I love that my husband is willing to ‘clean’ (aka organize) so don’t hate on me for complaining.   This isn’t even a topic that we really discuss because it’s not a big enough deal to actually spend time talking about.   Things could be so much worse, I know that.

On that note, do you clean first then organize or vice versa?


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