Don’t Let A Dirty House Kill You

The other day a friend dropped by unexpectedly, and instead of being happy to see her, I started worrying about the state of my house. Dog blankets were spread over the chairs, the coffee table was dusty and piled high with papers, books, and electronic toys. I hadn’t vacuumed in almost two weeks.

I steered her to the sofa (the only clean place to sit) and whipped a blanket off the dog’s favorite chair for me to sit in, breathing a sigh of relief that I had cleaned the bathroom the day before.

Isn’t it silly to let housekeeping (or the lack of) spoil a visit with a friend?

Well, it’s even sillier to let housekeeping concerns kill you.

That’s right. In a recent study, only half of the women surveyed said they would call 911 if they were having heart attack symptoms. Why? Because they wouldn’t want the paramedics to see their messy house.


Unfortunately, I can almost relate to this irrationality. After all, I’m a member of  the generation who grew up with the “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday…” routine and my mother was pretty religious about keeping her house spic and span at all times. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, a lot more entertaining was done at home than is now, and people were likely to pop over at any time for a cup of coffee. There was always something fresh baked in our house, just in case a friend stopped by. The wood surfaces always gleamed, the carpets were always vacuumed, and fresh towels were always at hand in the powder room.

Although I’m not even close to maintaining my mother’s high standards for housekeeping, I’m not above wishing I were. I’d like to have at least one picture perfect room I could usher my guests into, should they happen to pay an unexpected call.

It could also come in handy should I have a heart attack and need to call the paramedics.

Heaven forbid they should find me lying in a puddle of dust.

*February is Heart Health month, and you may not be aware that heart disease is the Number One leading cause of death among women. Many women don’t recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, as women’s heart ailments don’t always present themselves in the same way as men’s. The Go Red For Women website is a great place to educate yourself about heart health and the symptoms of heart attack. Above all, if you have chest pain, cold sweats, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, or upper body pain, call 911 immediately, no matter what condition your living room is in!



18 thoughts on “Don’t Let A Dirty House Kill You

  1. Becca, this post gave me a sense of relief to know someone else feels this way! I’m not of that generation but I was raised by women of that generation. My aunt Cat is in her 80s and if I went to her house right now I’m positive I could eat off her floors. I don’t keep my house nearly that spotless but when guests visit, I want my house to be clean. It’s the one big irrational stressor I’m having with the new baby coming. My mom was telling me it’s no big deal and I’m like “You and Mema made me this way!”

  2. The potential ‘drop-in’ guests were the entire reason that our living room was OFF limits to us. We were relegated to the family room, basement, our bedroom or better yet, OUTSIDE! The living room was to remain pristine…hence the sofa and chairs remained in tact LONG after they looked very dated. My Mom did not go as far as the visqueen covers, but I walked THROUGH many a friend’s living rooms that did. I think photos before the dance and a few bride at the window photos were taken there…but that was about it- other than company sitting up straight in tall in the uncomfortable-ness of it all. ~ CAROL

  3. Last week I got a call from friends I hadn’t seen in ten years. They were traveling, and would be in my area in two days, hoping to stop by and visit.

    You can’t believe what it was like around here. I took a day off work to do everything I haven’t done in forever. When I saw the top of the refrigerator, I nearly died. Had it really been THAT long?

    But honestly – not to call 911 because of the state of your house. I suspect some of those women have problems other than their cardiovascular system!

  4. The Lovely Miss TK and I don’t make much of a mess of the house with it just being the two of us. A little dusting, a weekly vacuum and we’re pretty much done with the whole housekeeping bit.
    I grew up in a house with two brothers and we were wild in the house to say the least, playing all outdoor sports inside as well. The Lovely Miss TK grew up with three sisters so you can imagine what that might have been like re the housekeeping.
    No stress….it’ll keep. 🙂

    • You would think that with only the two of us around here, things would stay pretty clean. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the two four-footed creatures that are creating the bulk of the mess 🙂

  5. My mother was a cleaner. She taught me how to dust as though I was a cat burglar or private eye, not wanting to leave behind a trace of my visit — except a clean surface. Everything lifted, put in place exactly as it was. She did floors. I think she must have loved the floors.

    My house is a mess. It’s clean — I hire someone to do that twice a month, and by the time they come, they are needed. And more than once, when someone has popped in, I’ve apologized like crazy and felt embarrassed to the max. But I got over it. And yes, I WOULD call the paramedics!

  6. Every spring my sister and I had to scrub the house. We’d lean ladders up to the eavestroughs and with wooden brush and buckets of sudsy water, we had to scrub from the top, down every piece of painted siding and down to the concrete footings.
    Cleanliness, in my mother’s domain, was truly next to godliness.
    Needless to say, my house has not seen a scrub brush on the outside, never mind on the inside. It’s clean enough.
    And you bet I’d call the paramedics, but then, we still haven’t talked about the clean underwear/car accident factor yet 🙂

    • My husband says that every Saturday his mom made him “buff” the basement floor – get out the big floor polisher and go over the whole tile basement. Needless to say, he hasn’t done that once in the 36 years since we moved in here and his mother moved out!

  7. Thank you for posting this! A good message about women’s health. My house is messy – I am pretty embarrassed when unexpected company drops by, and I do a lot of hiding clutter behind closed doors when I am expecting someone, but wow – to not call 911?!?!? Yikes!

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