How much filth is too much filth?

We have just one strict rule in our house – never create unnecessary washing up. Most other things, such as indoor plants, grotty toilets, unmopped floors and a hungry dog, are tolerated and almost encouraged. But washing up is an activity more hated than early Sunday morning exercise. I would rather do any other chore than the dishes and my live-in handyman/lover/gardener has an even greater hatred of the soggy chore. 

It’s not uncommon to see our sparkly modern benchtop glistening with days-old fragments of rice and toast crumbs while piles of dishes and soaking pots are haphazardly strewn across our stainless steel washing space. Perhaps my penchant for cooking with every dish in the cupboard is not helpful.

Usually this fills me with a sense of satisfaction – surely I am just too busy with my stimulating and interesting life to bother with mundane chores. Or, simply put, I am lazy. In any case, recently I have started to think that things might be getting out of hand. I began to prepare some leftover Mexican food for my lunch earlier this week and needed some fresh guac. I absent-mindedly picked up a fork off the bench and began mashing the avo in it’s shell. Using a bowl would have defied the only house rule we have. Next I picked up the knife that was conveniently placed next to the fork and sliced up some garlic to ensure I had peachy breath for the afternoon. This is when I realised just how much of a grott I had become. The bloody fork was the same fork I had used the night before to mash the avocado and the knife was the tomato chopper. A deft lick of the guac the previous night was apparently all the cleaning I needed. And I still wonder if the noises at night might be mice…

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about my living conditions. Our dirty clothes basket often borders on empty while the clothes line is nearly always full. Washing is my favourite chore – when the clothes are really greasy it can be as good as a beer at the beach, but with a greater sense of purpose, and in our new indoor laundry there’s very little chance of sunburn.

Vacuuming is another favourite chore. Running that sucker around is certainly better than doing an uncooperative crossword or playing any sort of team sport. So, despite our ageing, moulting dog insisting on a rigorous shake any time I feel charitable enough to open the door for him, we have a pretty clean floor area.  Unfortunately Ben likes these chores too, so even though the rug is hair-free once a week and our clothes smell of a pine forest, the mop has only been touched once since we moved in six months ago and the sink provides a steady point of disharmony in our domestic relationship.

Living in filth is an interesting idea, especially seeing just how far some people can take it. Cleanliness standards are definitely not universal, they’re perhaps even more varied than religious perspectives or body types.

I’m still trying to figure out where I draw the line. In my share-housing days I always defined my attitude to cleanliness by the people I lived with. I was certainly cleaner than Michelle who still wonders which side of a scrubbing brush to use, but I was a pig compared to Aleisha, who would even put the chairs on top of the kitchen table when she mopped. 

Ideally, I like to think I’d be the cool-but-cleanly person in the middle. Obviously not if I’m mashing avo with spoon that’s been cleaned by saliva. But who I am to judge, perhaps that’s normal and I’ve been wasting my time and angst at the sink.