When I was a kid, my mom told me that no one would ever want to be my roommate in college if I didn’t learn to keep my room clean. Naturally, I looked for the easy way out and stuffed everything under my bed. If you’re like me, you believed laziness was really to blame, but that’s not true.
You can’t keep your room clean because you’re avoiding the discomfort of cleaning, you feel like cleaning takes away your freedom, or your mess is an outlet for your stress. Some people aren’t home for enough time to clean or are too inward-focused to notice the mess.
Before you conclude that you’re a slob, consider the information below. You might find that your inability to keep your room clean isn’t that hard to explain. Read on to learn seven reasons why you can’t keep your room clean and what to do about it.
7 Reasons Why You Can’t Keep Your Room Clean
1. You’re Avoiding the Discomfort of Cleaning
Conditions that get in the way of one’s comfort lead to frustration and interfere with personal responsibilities. For instance, the inconveniences spurred by a messy bedroom create discomfort and interfere with your motivation to clean up after yourself.
Avoidance is a coping mechanism that many people use to postpone or ignore discomfort.
Even if you’re frustrated with the messiness of your room, the idea of cleaning it may be even more frustrating. You might even wonder if cleaning is a skill and decide you simply can’t keep your room clean.
It is hardwired in human biology to avoid pain and to move toward what feels good. Taking on an apparently daunting task like cleaning your room doesn’t feel good, which is why it becomes messy in the first place. Cleaning your room after the mess is created doesn’t feel good either.
2. You Secretly Like Your Messy Room
The way people interpret our interior surroundings is about much more than aesthetic appeal. Individuals associate areas within the home with specific memories and even experience different levels of vulnerability in their bodies depending on where they reside.
For instance, you may choose to sleep on one side of the bed over another, even if you don’t share your bed with a partner. Where your pets choose to sit in your home also influences how you feel in your space. You may not clean your room because the mess provides you with comfort on a somatic level.
Perhaps you have emotional attachments to a myriad of little objects that end up cluttering your surroundings. This can be a way of holding on to the past.
However, if the messiness of your room is causing your other problems, it might be worth it to try to change your relationship with your space.
3. You Feel Like Cleanliness Takes Away Your Freedom
Subconsciously, you associate your material possessions and where they are placed with specific feelings. These underlying feelings influence behaviors like hoarding and explain why parting with material possessions can be difficult.
For many people, the concept of an organized mess is linked to personal freedom. Cleaning up may feel like an encroachment on that freedom because it prevents one from displaying things spontaneously. This is one of the reasons teenagers often struggle with keeping their rooms clean.
Adolescents want to maintain their sense of independence and freedom by claiming their spaces as their own. If they know that their parents would prefer they keep their bedrooms clean, they are inclined to do the opposite.
4. It’s an Emotional Outlet for Stress
For people who lack productive emotional outlets, a messy space can serve as a way to express stress. Think about the last long workday that tuckered you out. Did you come home and clean your room or drop everything and crash into bed?
The ease of letting things go in your personal space can act as a form of relief so that you can let internalized things go, like the stress of your workday.
A messy space used as an emotional outlet can also be a learned behavior. If teenage angst led to a messy room as an act of rebellion, an individual might be more inclined to continue this behavior as an adult.
Here’s a video on the psychological influences of cleaning habits that may help you self-reflect.
5. You’re the Creative Type
It might sound cliche, but highly creative people (musicians, artists, etc.) often keep messier spaces because they focus more on their internal environment.
Creative people may be more likely to move from one thing to the next, which means they’re more likely not to notice the mess of clothes all over the floor as they’re rummaging through the sock drawer.
Some creative people naturally thrive in a cluttered environment and find that extra stuff sparks new ideas.
6. You’re Never Home To Clean
You can’t exactly clean your room if you’re never home. Whether you work long hours or spend your free time out on the town, your messy room is less likely to bother you if you’re not around it.
It’s not just the college rite of passage that keeps dorm rooms and studio apartments so disastrous—it’s also the college lifestyle. If you’re spending your days running across campus and your nights partying, why would you care if your room’s a mess?
7. There’s Too Much Going On
You might not keep your room clean because you have too many things going on. Maybe you’re a single parent trying to care for your kids, a nurse working the night shift, or a student studying for a serious exam.
If there is too much going on, you lack balance and can’t keep up. It comes down to priorities, and it’s safe to assume that, on a busy day, cleaning is the last thing on your mind. Try restructuring your schedule or daily routine to make time for cleaning your room.