Cleaning – The Great Gender Difference

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I want to take a moment to point out what I think is the greatest difference between men and women. I’m not talking about how men are from Mars and women are from Venus. There are plenty of books out there already addressing those gender differences. I am talking about what I call ‘guy clean’ and ‘girl clean’ when it comes to making the home look more respectable.

Now, before anyone gets all bent out of shape, I am going to address this topic based on my own personal observations. Of course, there are exceptions. My father-in-law is a perfect example of that, but more on him later. This post is simply pointing out some of the general differences between what the average male considers clean, and what the fairer sex considers an acceptable level of cleanliness.


Guy Clean

First, the guys. For the sake of reasonable discussion, I am considering married men, or at least men involved in some sort of serious relationship. I am not counting bachelors, because for the most part, they have a much lower standard of clean. We all know the bachelor scene; Pizza boxes piled in the corner. Three heaping piles of clothes in the bedroom -the clean pile, the clean enough to wear again pile, and “what is that smell?” pile. Cereal being eaten out of a frying pan with a plastic spork from KFC because they were the only dishes without crusted food. No, I’m sorry bachelors, but you don’t have a part in this. Married and committed men have a reason to at least try to be clean.

So what does guy clean involve? Believe it or not it’s a pretty extensive list. It includes a basic picking up of things off the floor or countertops, running the vacuum, sweeping, wiping tables and counters, washing dishes, laundry, scrubbing the toilet and shower, and occasionally dusting. There are other more specific chores, but in general, this list covers the essentials. If you’re not a bachelor, there is a good chance you have done most of these cleaning activities if for no other reason than to impress a girlfriend the first time you invited her to your place. If you have done everything on this list in one day, I’ll bet you feel like you’ve achieved a major accomplishment, and by guy standards, you have.

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Girl Clean

Girl clean includes the guy clean list, but to a higher calling. Some examples: When a guy uses the vacuum, we do a few passes over the area and call it done. Girl clean includes using the vacuum attachments, getting into all of the corners, and vacuuming more than just the floor. Guys will wipe down counters and tabletops with a wet rag. Women have an assortment of cleaning products that they use depending on the surface being cleaned and the type of debris being removed from that surface. When a guy does laundry, we shove it all in together and use the standard wash cycle. Ladies sort and separate loads and know the difference between the delicate and hand wash cycles. When it comes to scrubbing toilets, we men use the stiff wire brush, give it a few good swishes and flush. Once again, women break out the cleaning products, scrub for a lot longer, and even wipe down the outside of the bowl. I could go on, but suffice to say, women take our basic cleaning routines and kick it up a notch.

In addition to the guy’s cleaning inventory, girls have a whole other list going on. I wish I could write about it in detail, but it’s too complicated. It would be easier to teach my four year old the quadratic formula. I do know this extra list includes making all kitchen appliances look cleaner, changing sheets regularly, and something called dust ruffles. But there is a lot more to it.


Are There Exceptions?

I’m willing to bet that at this point, most of you can relate to these standard differences between girl clean and guy clean, but there are probably a few of you out there still saying you just don’t see it. You are an exception and an anomaly like my father-in-law. This man (whom I respect very much for the record) is very masculine in every way imaginable, but when it comes to cleaning, he can achieve a level of girl clean like no other man I’ve ever met. He asks everyone to take shoes off at the door, he knows how to use all of those cleaning products, and when I helped him move, he carried a rag in his pocket to dust everything off as it went on the moving truck AND AGAIN when it came off . Yes, my father-in-law is a little OCD about cleanliness, but like I said, he’s an anomaly.

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What does this mean for guys?

Now, I don’t want any guys out there feeling like I’m giving us a bad rap, when we’re trying our best. The fact of the matter is we have generations of social evolution against us. Think about it. A generation or two ago saw men bringing home the bacon, and women staying home to cook and clean. I think about my own dad. I don’t think I ever saw him run the vacuum unless it was the shop-vac. He rarely washed dishes. I’m not saying he was lazy or didn’t contribute, it’s just that while he was at work, mom did those things, so he never had to. Our society has changed, and with more women working, we men are being called upon to help more around the house, whether that be helping with the kids, cooking, cleaning, or any other household job that used to be classified as “woman’s work.” The fact that there is a level of guy clean demonstrates how far we’ve come, but it will be another generation or two before what guys are capable of in the cleaning world rivals that of what the women can produce. So carry on gentlemen, keep cleaning to the best of your ability. Someday it won’t be guy clean or girl clean, it will just be ‘clean’.


Have you ever experienced a “guy clean” or “girl clean” moment that you would like to share?

31 thoughts on “Cleaning – The Great Gender Difference”

  1. While I must admit the tradition began in my husband’s bachelor years, it carried over into our marriage. Now though, he only does it when I’m not home. It’s an “all-in-one” cleaning when he brings in a large air blower from the garage connected to the air compressor and…blows. He eventually chases the dust and dirt towards the backdoor. Done.

  2. I will admit that I do the laundry the “guy” way. After having two kids and doing laundry daily, it’s just easier to throw everything together and wash it on the cold cycle under regular wash. If the sheets and towels need to be washed then I wash them separately and usually in warm water. I do all the housework and take care of the kids, so I cut corners when I can to spend more time with the kids.

  3. My share: hubby loads dishwasher, plates literally laying on prongs. Like he was serving the dishwasher a meal. LOL. Also decluttering: throwing everything in a laundry basket and hiding it. Sigh. Appreciate the effort. Also appreciate the guy stuff he does that I can’t! (Car repair, electric work, heavy lifting). A good balance in strengths is what makes a great marriage!

  4. I have worked very, very hard to make my husband understand girl clean and after years of training – I think he finally understands what I want.

  5. Okay, I will admit that I am a woman who DOES NOT like cleaning. I actually loathe it. I mean, if I can avoid it at all, I will. My husband rarely cleans, but when he does, he’s very meticulous. He’s much better at it than I am. But I am the SAHM, so I really should kick it up a notch! 😉

  6. This is great! My husband and I are constantly talking about the difference between his version of clean and my version of clean and it really sounds a whole lot like your list. Thanks for sharing and letting us know we aren’t alone in this! lol

  7. I would agree with what you put as standards for each gender. Although I have friends, guys, that are also very meticulous when it comes to cleaning themselves and their houses.

  8. This has actually never been an issue with any of my partners. We work together to create a home so we just make a chore list and do whatever needs to be done. We have separate bins to make laundry loads easier, etc. There is no “girl” cleaning and “guy” cleaning.

  9. I am the only girl here in our house. We have 6 men in our house and it makes me tired all day. They didn’t wash the plates or cleaning the house.

  10. My husband was a clean freak, a combination of all of the above and then some! I became the same, but now that he is gone I’m not. I find life is too short to worry about the dust that accumulates in the desert as fast as I can wipe it up! And the dog spots on the carpet? She lives her, too, and everywhere she plops there’s an Abbie spot. I have piles of projects (very well organized but piles none the less) and I know where everything is. The joys of living alone, I suppose.

  11. I think the two things that drive me crazy about my husband’s cleaning habits is the laundry and the dishes. He just shoves everything in both. No separating for the laundry and no rinsing of the dishes. Plus, he piles so much stuff in that it never gets clean, so I always end up having to re-do it anyways. He is, however, OCD about things being neat and picked up.

  12. Oh, I have a good one to share! When my hubby and I met online, before the first time I came to visit him (after he had been a bachelor for a few years since his last relationship), he had a unique way of doing his dishes.

    He didn’t actually WASH the double sink full of dishes; he just boxed them up and threw them out on the porch. He told me recently they are still out there, 12 1/2 years later!

  13. Hehehe thank goodness my hubby is a clean guy! I don’t have to worry about him keeping things to my standards 🙂 totally lucked out lol

  14. Cleaning can be a big task. We really try to do things together. Although since I work and my wife stays at home she ends up doing a larger portion of the tasks at home. I do other things outside like the yard, take care of the vehicles, take care of the finances, and take care of any paperwork that needs to be handled. It works for us. Got to try to find a balance I guess.

  15. In my home, my husband does a lot more of the cleaning than I do. I will deep clean a bathroom, but consider any other room clean if it’s been picked up and the floor is vacuumed.

  16. All the guys in my family are clean freaks. Well, except for my son who’s a teenager. My dad is a little OC, so when he cleans, he leaves no stones unturned. Same goes with my husband.

  17. My husband does most of the cleaning in our home, because I work two jobs (my regular job plus my blog) and am usually exhausted. However, I totally agree that his notion of clean is different than mins. So much that I’m even considering hiring someone to come once a week. Ugh!

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