Step 1: Stop the obsessive cleaning in its tracks by relaxing first
Any form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) thrives on stress and anxiety. The activity is carried out as an unconscious attempt at relieving stress. Perhaps there’s a superstitious sense that “if only I can clean enough, I can avert disaster or make things better!”
Step 2: Break up the obsessive routine
Withdrawing from obsessive cleaning needs to be done in a way not completely dissimilar to withdrawing from a drug habit: bit by bit. Stopping cold can feel too overwhelming (and, after all, some cleaning is desirable!). Break the obsessive pattern by relaxing deeply.
Step 3: Look at your wider life
Obsessive cleaning may be symptomatic of wider anxieties. Once these anxieties are ‘put to bed’, the obsessive cleaning may diminish through lack of ‘fuel’.
Step 4: Do you have a fear of contamination?
Sometimes obsessive cleaning is carried out as an attempt at assuaging fear of contamination, but the feeling is that no matter how much you vacuum, polish, and scrub, there is still ‘dirt’ somewhere, even if you can’t see it – the invisible, all-pervading ‘enemy’.
Step 5: Focus on what you are really afraid of
What really drives you to clean obsessively? Sure, it might be a fear of contamination, a sense of wanting to make an ‘impossibly perfect home’. But let’s go a little deeper.
Step 6: Get yourself a life
Recovering cleaning addicts start to clean less, bit by bit clawing back their life, slowly reducing their cleaning routine until it felt natural to clean five times a week, then three times, and then just once. If possible even consider the idea of allowing someone else to clean for you.