Home page Psychology blog Self-Development Self-Discipline How to love cleanliness? 8 steps to personal care

How to love cleanliness? 8 steps to personal care

24.10.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“Who else has a sloven husband, what are you doing with him? My daughter is just like him. They can’t do elementary things, such as cleaning up or putting the plate in the sink. I used to think that the socks in the corner came from anecdotes. But no, my husband seems to be marking territory like that. At least my daughter washes often, she doesn’t wear dirty clothes, she just makes a mess. Whereas, my husband is a sloven and dirty creature. He may not wash his head for a week and does not use deodorant. I don’t require him to have a pedicure or manicure, but at least he should be clean! I’m tired, I don’t know what to do. Is it necessary to re-educate an adult man?”

— Tatyana, 31

Not only Tatyana faces such a problem. Unfortunately, sometimes adults do not know how to maintain cleanliness and personal hygiene, and some do not even know what it is and why it is necessary. Excellent, if the family has shared views on cleaning and order when a lot of dirty dishes and socks accumulated together irritate no one. Another thing is when one of the family members is cleaner or more sleazy than everyone else. Is there any way to influence your household? Why do people even become sleazy and untidy? Let’s take a look at this in today’s article.


  1. Why don’t people practice proper hygiene?
  1. Sleazyness in women
  2. Sleazyness in men
  3. Sleazyness in teenagers
  4. Sleazyness in children
  5. Why do you need to practice proper hygiene?
  6. How to get rid of sleaziness and untidiness?

Why don’t people practice proper hygiene?  

Why don't people practice proper hygiene

To know how to approach the sleazy person (or yourself, if you want to become better), it is helpful to first understand the reason for his or her behavior. The retraining strategy will depend on this to some extent.

1. Lack of habit

A person just wasn’t taught it when he was a kid. He was not told how to clean up after himself, parents did not remind him that it is necessary to brush his teeth and so on. There are no special psychological motives or hidden reasons, it is simply the lack of everyday skill. Probably, the parents of such a child themselves are not particularly clean. Now that this child has grown up, he’s behaving the way he’s used to. For him, dirty hair or a plate of mold under the bed is the norm. Even if he realizes that something is going wrong — he does not have a formed habit, so any “hygienic” action has to be done consciously, making willful efforts.

2. The assimilated pathological pattern of behavior

This reason also comes from childhood. The child was so often told that he was clumsy, sleazy or swine, that he has believed it. As a result, now he does nothing because he does not see the need or knows in advance that he will not cope with this. “Well, I’m a slut, and the sluts do not clean up after themselves, why shall I try?”

Another reason is the formed negative attitude towards work and personal hygiene. If parents tried to accustom the child to order and purity by rigid and authoritarian methods, then he can simply rebel in adulthood. To some extent, the approach of “just to spite Grandma, I’ll freeze my ears off ” is explained by emotional immaturity and some infantilism of the person.

3. Depression, anxiety disorders, and other diseases

Depression, anemia, hypothyroidism and some other diseases are often accompanied by a decline in strength, weakness, dizziness, and rapid fatigue. As a result, a person is simply physically unable or does not see the point in taking care of himself and keeping order in the house.

It is also possible to distinguish pathological collecting syndrome. It is an obsessive disorder in which a person begins to collect unnecessary things, turning the house into a kind of warehouse. As a result, there is simply nowhere to wash dishes or take a shower. But it is difficult enough to miss this syndrome. If your loved one just doesn’t clean up after himself, and at the same time doesn’t fill up the apartment with things from floor to ceiling, then this is not about him.

4. Lack of own territory or things

Sometimes sleaziness is caused by the fact that a person does not feel this place as his own home or territory. For him, this rented apartment, the apartment of the husband/wife, parents, is temporary. Since it’s someone else’s, then there is no sense and desire to invest in or adapt to the rules of others.

5. It just seems to you

Let’s form personal hygiene skills

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What other people think is sleaziness may be a variant of the norm. For example, someone washes their head every day, and someone — every 2-3 days. Someone thinks that a manicure is necessary, and someone is satisfied with just clean nails.

“I constantly swear with my mother-in-law. More precisely, she swears with me, and I say almost nothing. She thinks we are terrible and dirty. I change my linen only once a week, I don’t starch my husband’s collars on the shirts, and, I don’t change my kid’s clothes right away if he/she gets dirty on the walk. I am talking seriously now. In her opinion, if my child fell and got dirty, then we urgently need to run home and change clothes. Only then we can go for a walk again. We are somehow already accustomed to her kinks. We have different ideas about cleanliness. I don’t plan to change my habits, and to become a hygienic maniac.”

— Anna, 24

These 5 reasons are common to all people, but some features are unique to certain groups.

Sleazyness in women

Inflated requirements create a feeling that a girl or woman does not follow the rules of personal hygiene. Women are often required to do more than men. It is necessary not only to have clean and combed hair, but also to make a complex hairstyle. Not only wash and brush their teeth but also use makeup. Some women do not feel the need for such care procedures and deliberately refuse them. That doesn’t mean the girl is sloppy or dirty. The main thing is cleanliness and the absence of an unpleasant smell. The rest is a matter of taste.

Sleazyness in men

The belief that “a man should be a little prettier than a monkey” or “smelly, mighty, moustached, and hairy” lie at the heart of untidiness in a man. Some men believe that they can be untidy and smell bad – they are men and should be brutal. However, it’s a woman’s responsibility to wash their things. If a woman has not washed them, he can walk in dirty and make excuses like “Well, it’s not my fault that my wife is dirty and didn’t wash my shirt. Because of her, I had to put on a dirty one.” 

Sleazyness in teenagers

Teenagers often have problems with personal hygiene. One of the reasons for sloppiness is adolescence with its protest, rebellion, and unwillingness to follow the norms. Another specific reason is a change in hormonal levels. Yesterday’s child, who smelled sweet toddler, turns into a lanky teenager who spreads a pungent and unpleasant odor. Often it is caused not by a rare wash in the shower, but by the hard work of sweat apocren glands, which are most active in puberty.

Sleazyness in children

Children’s hygiene skills are not yet honed to automatism, so even schoolchildren can forget about personal hygiene, to say nothing of very young children. Children need the support and help of parents to form healthy habits. We have already written about how to help a boy or girl to form personal hygiene skills.

Why do you need to practice proper hygiene?

Why do you need to practice proper hygiene

This is necessary not only for people to reach out to you (it is difficult to reach out to a person who smells unpleasant and looks repulsively). Lack of personal hygiene harms health and can cause the development of certain diseases. For example, intestinal infections and SARS (rare handwashing), tooth decay and periodontosis (rare brushing), cystitis, urethritis, and balanitis (insufficient intimate hygiene).

At the same time, the personal hygiene of a male or female includes not only keeping clean the body (teeth, nails, hair, skin), but also clothing, shoes, and home. It also prevents the development of various diseases. For example, a large amount of dust can trigger the development of allergies or asthma. Therefore, adherence to the rules of personal hygiene is a natural and important part of a healthy lifestyle. [2]

How to get rid of sleaziness and untidiness?

How to get rid of sleaziness and untidiness

“It’s a shame to admit, but I’m sloppy and lazy. No, I can be tidy and keep order when other people are around. But as soon as I’m alone, I’m blowing everything off. If I’m on medical leave for a week, I can never brush my teeth, except by the time the doctor arrives.  When my husband is on a business trip, I pollute our flat, I can not take a shower for 2-3 days. How to get rid of sloppiness and learn to take care of myself for my own sake? ”

– Tamara, 27

Step 1. If your loved one is a slut

If you want to become tidier yourself, you can move on to the second stage. If the husband or wife is dirty and sleazy, then first it is important to convey him/her the need for such changes. This is not always possible — some particularly stubborn individuals consider hygiene unworthy and indecent occupation. In other cases, you can try. To make the conversation look like an attempt to negotiate rather than an attack, try following these rules:

  • Choose a good time to talk. Don’t start when you’re both tired, annoyed, want to eat or sleep.
  • Make your claim in the form of a request, not a reproach.
  • Avoid generalizations like “never” and “always.” It is unlikely that the phrase “you never brush your teeth in the morning” will be true.
  • Use “I-messages” (I’d like to, I think I feel like).
  • Start with the main, speak directly, not with hints. Clearly articulate the result you want to get.
  • Remember that you are allies, not opponents. You are a family and act together, not against each other.

For example, a request might look like this: “You know I’m very sensitive to smells. Sometimes when you don’t have time to go to the shower, you don’t smell very good. I love you anyway, but I’d like you to have a nice smell. In this case, I want to hug you more often.”

You may need more than one conversation and patience. But if your partner is ready to negotiate, sooner or later you will succeed.

Step 2. Exclude diseases

As we have said, some diseases can cause a decline in strength and a reluctance to look after oneself. People who suffer from such diseases often do not admit it even to themselves. But until a person cures, for example, depression, all attempts to learn new habits and become neater fail.

Step 3. Tune in to action, not regret.

Focus on actions, not on emotions or reasons for your inability. Guilt and shame are bad helpers. They will interfere more with you than helping you. Therefore, first of all, learn to be calm about the fact that you do not know how to be tidy yet. “Yet” is the keyword. You can’t do it yet, but you can learn. It is better to focus on actions — such tactics are more effective than constant regrets about the unfinished business. [3]

Step 4. Identify the skills you need

What exactly do you lack to consider yourself clean? For example, brush your teeth twice a day, change socks every day, and wash dishes immediately after eating. Keep in mind that personal hygiene standards can be very different for different people, so think carefully about your requirements. Is it a necessity? Or do you aspire to it under the pressure of society and stereotypes? Cleanliness and no unpleasant smell can be taken as a basis. For instance:

  • hair should be clean and combed, but their length is my choice;
  • nails should be carefully manicured and without dirt, everything else is my choice;
  • the body should be clean, but the physique has nothing to do with tidiness;
  • my mouth should smell nice, my teeth should be cleaned, but I don’t have to flash a Hollywood smile.

“From childhood, I was forced to reach some unattainable heights. My mother proudly told me how my grandfather had made them sweep their ground path. It was necessary to sweep so that the bare foot did not feel grains of sand. We lived in the apartment, we did not have a ground path, but the bar was draped to unattainable heights. I have never been neat and tidy enough. Until I was 30, I tried to follow my mother’s covenants. Then I realized that it wasn’t necessary for me. I feel good even if a jacket is hanging on the back of the chair. I’m fine if my hairstyle is not perfect. If children fiddle with paint directly with their hands — I feel good about it too. I’ve learned for a long time not to blame myself for imperfect order, but now I feel that I breathe freely. At the same time, I have not overgrown with mud, as my mother predicted me.”

– Svetlana, 37

Step 5. Organize space

Make sure you have all the conditions to follow your new habits. Do you have pastes, brushes, shampoos, washcloths, and shower gels? Do you like them? Do you have a basket for dirty laundry? Do you have convenient brushes and rags, and products for cleaning the house? Is it easy to put clean clothes in a closet? Even little things like a vile taste of toothpaste or a dirty bathroom can hinder your progress.

Step 6. Get ready for recessions

it is worth considering that kickbacks and failures can occur in the process of learning personal hygiene. Don’t blame or scold yourself, temporary kickbacks are natural. Do not assume that if it did not work out the first time, you can no longer try. When you learned to walk, you tried many times, fell, but continued your attempts. The development of any skill or ability must be treated in the same way It is better not to take immediately more than 2-3 simple skills or more than 1 if the skill is complex.

Step 7. Add some game

If following your plan is not easy, try to include the game element. We respond very well to the numerical display of progress — use it. For example, mark the days of new socks on the calendar, throw in a jar 1 coin for each brushing of teeth and so on. Choose what will stimulate you. Promise yourself a reward for fulfilling a goal, for example, buy yourself a new dress or a new monitor, if more than 25 days will be painted in the calendar.

Step 8. Get support and help

In adulthood, it is not easy to change habits. After all, we need not only to learn new things but also to wean ourselves from old habits. Therefore, it’s okay to ask for help.

You can ask for the help of your loved ones. In this case, formulate what exactly you want to get. For instance:

  • I want to teach myself to shower every day, please, if you notice that I forget about it, remind me;
  • I want to learn how to put my things in place. It’s not easy, so I ask you to be comfortable with the fact that sometimes I’ll throw something out of an old habit.

You can also use the help of a psychologist. It can be both face-to-face meetings and an online behavior modification program.

For example, the 7Spsy behavior modification technique might help you. This is a patented behavior psychology technique based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky, and others. I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky, etc.

Let’s form personal hygiene skills

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When passing the program you will be able to master the habits that you lack in everyday life. Trainings are held in a remote format, that is, you can pass them at home at any time. The psychologist will be in touch, support you and answer all your questions by phone, e-mail, or in online chat.

In 2-6 weeks you will learn to easily monitor personal hygiene, without wasting time on self-persuasion. Moreover, once you have retrained new habits, you would learn how easy it is to change your life for the better and be able to use it when you need it.

Most importantly, be sure that you can change your habits and become better. You have the strength to become the person you want to be.


  1. About pathological hoarding (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356056).
  2. What is personal hygiene (Medical Encyclopedia: https://dic.academic.ru/contents.nsf/enc_medicine/).
  3. Orientation to action is more useful than orientation to an emotional state
  4. Proper goal setting should include planned downturns