Can a Germaphobe be a Slob?

I installed a sitemeter about two weeks ago to see if anyone was visiting my blog. It is the coolest thing ever. It tells me how people found my site. I can see how many visits I got from linking up on Tackle it Tuesday, Menu Plan Monday, or wherever.

It also tells me if someone found me by a google search. Someone, and I don’t know if you’re reading this, found me by typing “Can a germaphobe be a slob?” into Google. This cracked me up, but also made me realize that maybe I’m not the only one.

Can a Germiphobe be a Slob at

These seem like such total polar opposites that they can’t go together. It has always irritated me that, even though I’m paranoid about germs, I didn’t get the obsessive cleaning part that people think goes along with that. I often wish I had that problem.

So I thought I would share my own weirdness with you. This is in no way a scientific analysis, but here goes.

I wasn’t always a germaphobe; it was an acquired neurosis. I do remember pitching a fit if someone in my family drank out of my glass, but I also remember sharing lollipops with my best friend, so I think that was just being a brat, rather than any deep psychological issue. But as I’ve said before, I was a slob from birth.

I went to a small high school, and when I got my first lead in a musical, I realized that since we didn’t have understudies, I couldn’t get sick. So I started to be paranoid about washing my hands. I would wipe down silverware in restaurants, not touch bathroom faucets or door handles, etc. Let me tell you, if you let yourself start thinking about all the ways germs are spread and how to avoid them, you can go pretty far.

So this just continued. I have always worked hard to not let it affect our lives too much. My husband graciously salts and peppers my food in restaurants, but I talk to myself a lot to keep from actually being crazy.

How does it go along with slobbishness? I’m definitely not going to blame my slobbishness on my germaphobia, but the two do coexist. Cleaning bathrooms grosses me out. When I do it, I have to then be able to take a shower. I also hate to disturb dust. I know that’s crazy, but if I leave it alone, it doesn’t fly up and get breathed in.

Last night, I realized I should write this post when I had just washed my hands, and then looked over and saw that my lovely son had put his dirty undies and dirty socks on the bathroom counter. NOT on the floor, but on the counter where I put my makeup, hairbrush, etc. My first reaction was that I didn’t want to touch them because I would have to wash my hands again. They ARE undies after all. Then I remembered my non-negotiable task of keeping the bathroom counters clutter-free. So I put them in the dirty clothes. And of course, I re-washed my hands.

But that’s how my brain works. If I just don’t touch them, I haven’t gotten the germs on me. I think, “I’ll wait until I have the time to remove them, disinfect the counter, and then take a hot shower.”

But I moved them, and this morning I had forgotten about them. I put on my makeup without ever remembering they had been there. I’m a little grossed out now to realize that I did this, but I’ll live.

My germaphobia is not as severe as someone you would see on Oprah. It’s something we laugh about and something my friends make fun of. I work very hard to keep it in check and not let it affect our lives. But this blog is helping me realize how it affects my housekeeping. Really, in this area, it is just another great excuse for not picking up, cleaning, whatever, right then, but putting it off for later, which is usually much later.



  1. 1

    I understand completely. They call me monk, but you wouldn't know it by looking at my house. I make lists and plans, but the germs get in my way. How about dishes. I'm worried about bleach being bad for us, but have to kill the meat germs. A vicious circle I'm in.


  2. 2

    I love this post! I totally get where you are coming from, Im the same way! Mine germaphobia came from having NICU babies, can't get sick, have to constantly wash clothes, its been a neverending cycle and yes I am a slob too.

    Housework totally does not come naturally to me at all. Oh and bathrooms, ICK ICK ICK!!

  3. 3
    Anonymous says:

    Okay, I think I have a problem. i just discovered your blog, I am reading backwards, and I can't seem to stop. Yhis is my third comment. I never comment on blogs!

    However this is cracking me up again, because I'm not the germaphobe slob, I'm the OCD slob. I have had to wade through rooms most of my life, but whatever in them or my home was organized was done "RIGHT". One folder of filed out of date bank statements all facing the same direction, in a room you couldn't walk through. My dorm room hip deep in laundry, nothing to wear, 5 papers to write, and I would balance my checkbook to the penny.

    Even as I reform myself to clean what I see, I was getting the house ready for company, and I had given myself 2 crucial assignments: clean the filthy microwave, and get the floor ready. 1 1/2 later one corner of my kitchen had had everything removed, scrubbed behind, my company called to say they were one their way, and I still had to do the floor and shower.

    Is there a 12 step program for being addicted to this blog?

  4. 8
    Nony the Slob says:

    Oh my word, I totally understand! And I love the 12 step comment!!!!

  5. 9

    As I read your blog, I feel like I am reading about myself! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. It makes me realize I am not alone.

  6. 10

    I’m in Starbucks reading your blog and I can’t help but chuckle. You are so me! I detest cleaning the bathroom. I like it clean & fresh-smelling but I can count the number of times I actually put on my gloves and worked on my bathroom. Good thing, where I am, there’s a housemaid who can be relied on to do the dirty work.

    When it comes to clutter, I’m close to feeling hopeless. I’m taking baby steps towards better home organization, for uhm, the past decade. I do have small victories though like organizing a corner space in my home office.

    I will definitely bookmark this site to inspire me to persevere in my goal to live and maintain an organized home!

  7. 11
    Lindsey J says:

    I’m totally this way, but it’s not with GERMS it is with Noise – I will leave all of the cabinets open, the microwave open, and the dishwasher open just because I don’t want to hear the sound of it closing. Strange.

  8. 12

    I am reading backwards, right behind Lindsey it appears!

    I have the germ thing. I have to be pre shower to clean anything toilet or shower related. Plunging the toilet is the WORST thing ever! I would like to just throw away the plunger and bucket I carry it in every time. Unfortunately my oldest daughter went through a phase of clogging at least one if not all three toilets EVERY day!!! (She was afraid to touch her bum and wrapped her whole hand in toilet paper til it looked like a bee hive) Since I was pregnant I had to plunge quite often eeww, eewww, eeewwww! Often when discovering all the toilets were clogged I would cry. Plunging always makes me feel like the whole area is splashed with yuck. I usually move everything out of the bathroom so it can’t be splashed and I put my face inside my shirt, I may have wrinkles now from my squinted up “eeewww gross” face.

    Also, the chicken from an earlier post-I always want to put up yellow crime scene tape all around the chicken area. Just think, some people just slap their chicken down and pound it flat with the hammer thing without encasing it in a ziploc bag first-I feel a little faint just thinking about it.

    And a new one for you- hand washed dishes. I put my drying mat as far away from the sink as I can because the dirty water might be splashing on the clean dishes and we know what our sinks have been through right? I get absolute heebie jeebies when someone lays the clean dishes right there touching the edge of the sink-getting all splattered with who knows what!!!!!

    This is from a Messie who sometimes has dirty diapers flung about on the floor.

  9. 13

    I love this blog. The previous commenter, even though I’m not an ocd person with germs, I can totally hear you.

    I feel like Gonzo who has finally found out that I’m an alien and have found my planet of people. (Only people who’ve watched Muppets from Space will get that I guess. sigh….)

    • 14

      Comments like this make me feel all warm-and-fuzzy inside. It is always such a relief to be reminded that I’m not alone in these struggles!

  10. 15

    I thought I was the only one that was freaked out by germs, but didn’t have a very clean home! I detest cleaning and like to shower afterwards if I do it. I’ve been trying to keep my counter tops clear, but that means I have to rinse (okay wash) the dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher as we use them. That also means washing my hands 800 more times a day than I already do. So, most of the time they clutter up the counter and get washed all at once and then I can wash my hands just once and get on with my life.

  11. 16

    Oh, yeah. I get it. Just ask the family.

  12. 17

    This post and the comments are hilarious. I don’t like the word slob though. I prefer messy. So because I’m messy and cleaning doesn’t come naturally to me (like someone else mentioned above) I don’t think my husband understand how I can be a germophobe. I’m so glad that I’m not alone.

    If I even get started with sharing how much we’re alike, I might as well start my own blog.


  13. 18

    Raising my hand. I am a germaphobe, who happens to be a slob, I also have a tendency to hoard, and I have a touch of OCD, just not the kind that would be conductive to a clean house. I truly believe that for me not seeing the mess is a coping mechanism, If I were to actually see the constant disarray and the germs that go with it I would stay in a state of panic.
    Thank you so much for this blog and showing me that there is hope.

  14. 19

    Jennifer from above I have the same issues. I also am going through nursing school right now and let me tell you Mondays and Fridays are my hardest days for school because I have microbiology! The first day out we had to take a swab from our bodies and one from somewhere in our environment. Let me tell you I wanted to cry. (Tip: sandals that we all so love to wear in the summer wash them frequently especially the toe strap, also noting that there is a reason why normal people who have clean homes take their shoes off when they come in. The bottom of the shoe grew out so many bacteria, some very dangerous, that they were to numerous to count. Now with that being said their is a dairy barn right outside the science building but think about what your shoes pick up when you walk through a public restroom. Wait try not to think, don’t put your child or purse down, see I’m starting to panic thinking about all the gross things. It’s only going to get worse for me as I get through nursing school) by the way I have commented on a few posts and I’m not a blog commenter, you have actually inspired me to start my own blog like this “just for myself” to keep accountable. I know I’m not as great of a writer as you but this is just for me. Thanks

    • 20

      Thanks for commenting! And I also have to NOT think about germs. I try to remind myself of all the times I haven’t gotten sick (or DIED) when I start thinking too much about it. I can’t imagine doing what you do in nursing school, those biology videos where you see the trail of germs left by one sneeze affected me enough as it is!

  15. 21

    So good to read that I’m not the only one! I’ve always been a slob–piles of stuff follow me. My tolerance for clutter is abnormally high, but I can’t stand filth–and I think you and the commenters here get the difference. I’ve shoved piles aside to clean underneath. It got worse when my youngest boy was diagnosed with leukemia at two years old–chemo = no immune system. Keeping things germ-free was one thing I could pretend I was in control of. He’s 12 now and very healthy, but my clutter issues have only gotten worse. I like to joke that I’m only a couple dead cats short of being on an episode of “Hoarders”. Just started your e-book and loving it! (I’m a failed flybaby as well.) This is waaaaaay longer than I meant for my comment to be, but I’m just so excited to have ‘met’ you, Nony! 🙂

  16. 23
    koorchezie says:

    I just found your blog on a late night read about how to “cure”my slobbiness
    And I CAN NOT stop reading…this post is so me…I am a complete germaphobe, but I dare not open my door to guests unexpected…I would DIE! You are very encouraging and I will continue reading backwards.

  17. 24

    This post and the comments are so priceless and timely! While tackling some clutter pile in the bedroom I turned on the lamp (that I NEVER turn on, because who needs it, I know my way to the bed :)), and right there on the top of another pile on the dressing table, (that I haven’t used for a million years….) was DUST! Oh the dilemma! I did indeed ‘dust’ it up, knowing all along that all that dusty debris was really going to float around. Seriously, I didn’t sleep very well that night, and was convinced I couldn’t breathe. I learned not to turn on the ‘other’ lamps in the dimly light spaces around here until I am truly ready to do battle. Keep on, keeping on, be strong. 😀 Thank goodness for your blog Noni!! Large blessings to you.

  18. 25

    I’m here to tell you that being a slob co-exists very nicely with being a germaphobe. I was always a hand washer, thanks to a father who was a stickler about that. But then my son was born weighing less than two pounds…and in neonatal intensive care until he got to just under four and a half pounds…a little over two months. For most of that time, we had to scrub from elbows to fingertips with betadine…for a couple of minutes, and then don a sterile gown in order to just reach our arms through the holes in the isolette. And let me tell you, if you so much as scratched your nose (and trust me, once you’re sterile, your nose WILL itch), you went through the entire process again.

    Throw in one too many Prime Time Lives after that and I was washing my hands 30-40 times a day. I’ve since discovered hand sanitizer (I mix it half with alcohol for extra cleansing power), and disposable rubber and food service gloves…and I keep a good stock of them in my house – and use them for everything. Sorting clothes, breaking eggs, handling raw meet, doing dishes. You name it, I’m wearing gloves. And I don’t care that even extended family members tease me about it. That’s just me.

    But just me is also a slob who closes her eyes to clutter. It wasn’t too bad until I decided to buy a house in the country….with much less cupboard and closet space (and NO basement) than the apartment I’d lived in for fourteen years. Add a serious car accident after the move to the mix, and three years recovery time, and I have even more stuff.

    So this germaphobe is finding much inspiration in your posts. I am also a Flylady dropout. I wish I could follow her routines, but like most everyone else, the sheer volume of her emails overwhelms me. Not to mention the fact if I were as disciplined as those who are successful with her system, I wouldn’t need a system.

    So anyway, I’ve gotten the motivation I was looking for tonight. Time to tackle another corner of my office that somehow turned into a storage area. I’m in the process of reclaiming it as mine. 🙂

  19. 26

    Exactly. Exactly exactly exactly!!!

  20. 27

    Thank you! I no longer think I need therapy!

  21. 28

    This is very real for me. Although you make it funny, its not. I attribute my messy home to the 4 kids living in it. In reality, it is the anxiety and yes, physical illness that comes on from touching gross things. Mud…. no problem. Coffee spilled on the counter I’m good. You pee on the toilet seat, i loose my mind. That’s with gloves and clorox wipes. Do you hold your breath while you poop? I do, with the fan and glade spray xan. Omg! I can go on.
    Really, I just want to know how to treat it? Over come it? Suggestions welcome.
    Ps…. that glove in your mouth on your profile pic, I’m sure it new out of the package but ick! I threw up in my mouth a little.

    • 29

      Honestly, if it’s that bad, you might need to see a doctor. I firmly believe you need to do whatever you need to do to be able to do what you need to do!!

  22. 30

    YES! This is me, too, because it is the gross, disgusting and icky jobs (like toilets and cat poo) that I hate to do. And, of course, the worse they get, the more I dread them and procrastinate. I wash my hands so much they are always very dry and often just plain cracked. Lotion doesn’t help much because I wash my hands right away, again, LOL. Gloves, and I buy multiple boxes at a time, from Costco help a lot, but I still have to wash my hands, of course, and the gloves don’t cover my entire body, LOL, so I still get grossed out. But, I’m trying really hard not to procrastinate because of this and it truly is a little less traumatic to clean these areas often, when they are not so dirty, than to have to do it when they are really bad.

  23. 31
    capitalkid says:

    Interesting posts. Sucks for the other people who have to do the work the OCD sufferer doesnt do though, and re-supplying the soap is expensive. My dad is really bad with the Germs and hand-washing he is using about half a quart a day of dish washing detergent. I have to clean my house and his house, take the garbage out(he wont go to the dump) clean the counters, clean his table, his bathroom, vacuum ect ect..I have my own to do as well after I am done doing his house daily. I also do the dinners at both houses as well because he just wont do any food either. At times it is quite exhausting, we are trying him on some new supplements so we will see how that goes.

    It would be easier to live in the same house, but we cannot live with the OCD Germ thing.

    From the outside, it seems like an awful affliction. I have panic attacks related to hormone imbalance that I am working on currently. But really I carry on daily for two households and have anxiety as well, actually it gets worst with his excessive hand washing. I just pummel through it though. Sometimes I guess I just dont understand how he can be germophobic yet never clean his house/car/yard. It seems counter productive, obviously there are germs because its not clean right?

    I never could figure out why he didn’t come with me to the hospital when my son was born, or hold him after he was born until he was 2 YO-must have been the Germs.

    Anyway, Thanks for the insight , I guess its widespread of an issue.

  24. 32

    Yes. Yes. Yes. You described me. I too must shower after basic cleaning of the bathroom (& other things as well) & so it just waits. My kids have told me I am a germophobe. & I always say “I am not a germophobe, I am just conscious of the germs. & besides a germophobe wouldn’t be as messy as I am” LOL. Oh Denial. I also leave dust in order not to breathe it!! My dad always insisted that we not dust when he was in the house (& my nose is itching just because I wrote this.) LOL omgoodness. I go to a group called Celebrate Recovery & a couple months ago picked up a beginner’s chip in order to work the program regarding the chaos & clutter in my life. I am so glad to find your candid, transparent site where I can find help & support!! Thank you.

  25. 33
    Laura Wiles says:

    If I find my kids gross stuff somewhere, I make *them* put it away/clean it up, unless they are unavailable and it really can’t wait. The theory is that if they know they’ll have to do it sooner or later, they’ll just go ahead and do it on their own. Sometimes that even works! 😉 At the very least, I still didn’t have to touch it. 🙂

  26. 34

    Oh my gosh! Discovered your website through friends on facebook and have been reading through the posts from the beginning. I have really been enjoying it all along, but – oh my goodness – the COMMENTS on *this* post in particular. I was CRACKING UP reading all of these!! 🙂 Oh, the joy you bring to me!! And, it’s so early in the process – I am so excited to have so many more posts to read. This could represent MONTHS of entertainment (and hopefully an influence for me to keep a slightly cleaner house, myself. . . . I have already adopted the “non-negotiable” of making my bed every day. Two days and counting – WOOT-WOOT!!)

  27. 35

    What about spiders and spider webs. I have to be really feeling brave to face the spiderwebs. Hubby is meant to do them but he doesn’t it, I’m realising I have to learn to do them on my own. But I just don’t want to touch them. It makes me skin crawl and I feel like I need to shower, wash my hair, wash my clothes. I remember thinking all this the first time I read this bit. Germs gross me out but not as badly as spiders do.

  28. 36
    Jazz Slater says:

    I am a total perfectionist but my house is a wreck…its like my mind cant get off all the little things to see the big picture…

  29. 37

    Total Germaphobe, but still a Clutterbug. Once I get sick, it takes a long time for me to get well, and I’m allergic to most antibiotics, so I try to stay well. HATE handling raw meat. I feel like I have to disinfect everything it comes near, including the car it came home in. I can’t stand actual dirt in the house, so the clutter & messiness makes me crazy, knowing all the dust & germs are just multiplying under the piles. I’ve been known to take an old toothbrush to one area, while 10 have mile high clutter. And many people have told me I’m a perfectionist.

  30. 38

    I do understand it – having OCD since early childhood and being a slob since… er, womb? Over 10 years ago I started living on my own and my slobbiness reached Himalaya. Maybe because my depression?

    PS. I discovered your blog last week and I LOVE IT!

    • 39

      I’m so glad you found me!! This post is a perfect example of how I once thought I was THE only one out there who had these bizarre struggles!!!

  31. 40

    New reader. I laughed out loud about the salt and pepper, how your husband does it for you at restaurants, because I can relate to the germaphobe thing. In our staff room at school, I use a napkin to pick up the shakers. I try not to touch the chairs and bring a bleach wipe to clean the table before I eat lunch. I use the corner of my sweater to open all doors at school. A friend gave me a set of four bleach wipe canisters for Christmas. Best present ever! Oh, what do I teach? Computer lab for 1000+ students. Can you say giant hand sanitizer bottle? I have one for the kids and one just for me that I hide in my desk! Pretty bad, huh? Lol.

  32. 41

    Loving your blog. Starting from the beginning. I have listened to all the podcasts so far as well. You really inspire me!

  33. 42

    I am exactly like you! My biggest fear is human feces (with the exception of my newborn). If anything is closer than a foot away from the plunger, I will never touch it again. If it’s something I need I will pretty much have a panic attack n go into full depression mode. We wouldn’t own a plunger if it was up to me. I always say if someone came and disinfected my whole house once then I could keep it that way, but I’ve come to realize that is only possible if I lived alone.

  34. 43

    I also discovered this site by googling germaphobia and hoarding, looking for comfort in numbers. In fact, I could have written the very first comment, and the third. OCD is an interesting thing when it interacts with chronic disorganization and procrastination. The story about not wanting to pick up your son’s undies because you just washed your hands–so familiar! I’m now working my way through your posts and podcasts and taking comfort from the struggles and eventual successes discussed here.


  35. 44

    I just found this – hoping it’s a godsend. I have a son who since aboit age 7 has become an obsessive germaphobe – excessive hand washing, won’t touch doorknobs with his hands, hands & forearms red & sore from excessive washing, takes four times as long in the bathroom, (here comes TMI) won’t sit on toilet seats (even in his own bathroom) & squats/hovers instead, puts his t-shirt over his nose at any odor – even his mother’s lightly applied perfume, etc., etc. – BUT, he is an utter slob – room, bathroom, takes care of nothing, used caked handsoap & toothpaste residue all over sink/mirror/floor, his toilet always looks like a gas station toilet – even a day after cleaning. OCD? Sure seems like it – but not – personal hygene except for his elbows down is horrendous. Aspergers? Again some signs – but not enough. Any insight? THANKS

    • 45

      Deb, I don’t know if you’ll see this reply since this was posted back in August but I just wanted to say this absolutely sounds like OCD. I struggle with many of the same things. I love when things are clean but even the idea of cleaning anything in the bathroom gives me a panic attack so I continue to just use the tiny little space I know is clean. I use so much soap that there is always soap residue on my sink. I think about cleaning it but have to give myself a pep talk to try to talk myself into doing it and most of the time it leads to me feeling panicky and I just can’t do it. I freeze. Your son may WANT to have better hygiene but just can’t get past the OCD to do so. Talk to him. My husband was the first person who ever really just sat and listened to why I did some of the things I did and knowing I had the support of at least one person really helped me. If he is as bad as you make it out to be then he needs your support more than anything else in the world.

  36. 46

    I totally get what you are saying. For the first 41 years of my life, my home was impeccable. I was a stay at home mom, so cleaning was my thing. Couldn’t find a speck of dust anywhere in my home. At 41, that all changed. I was the unlucky recipient of a c diff infection, an antibiotic resistant superbug, from somebody, somewhere not washing after using the bathroom. I was sick for 10 months and almost died. When I hit 93lbs, I joined a “support” group for people with c diff. They proceeded to drill into my head that I needed to bleach every thing I ever touched. Being a stay at home mom, that was pretty much every thing in my home. Very overwhelming to say the least. I threw away thousands of dollars worth of stuff. My husband bleached everything but the ceilings. Now, I am afraid to touch anything in my home. The infection is gone, but I fear it is lurking somewhere in my home. Dust is everywhere, the floors need vacuumed etc. My clothes reside on top of my dryer because I fear putting them in the dresser so as not to contaminate the clothes I havent worn since I got sick. I have been told by drs that none of this is necessary, but the damage has been done. Therapy has not helped at all. If I could go back, I would never have joined that group and would still be blissfully ignorant on how germs can spread. I feel for all of you.

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