Italy Explained For Members

Why do Italians have such clean homes?

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Why do Italians have such clean homes?
Italians have a reputation for keeping their homes squeaky clean, but why is that so? Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Italians have a reputation for keeping their homes in spick-and-span condition at all times. But what’s behind the obsession with domestic cleanliness?


If you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in Italy, chances are you’ve noticed how meticulously clean and tidy Italian homes generally are. 

In fact, you may even have experienced that quintessentially Italian situation where your host offers their deepest apologies for the casino (mess) overwhelming their house only to then welcome you into what looks like a show home.

To anyone who hasn't yet have had a chance to see the lofty cleanliness standards of most Italian homes firsthand, the claim that most people in the country are a tad obsessed with cleaning may seem like an exaggeration. Luckily, there is evidence that it’s not. 

According to research by online odd-job marketplace Taskrabbit, around four in 10 Italians spend at least an hour and a half a week on each of the following tasks: vacuum cleaning and mopping floors, tidying up wardrobes and kitchen cupboards, dusting furniture, and washing clothes and linen.

Even more interestingly, Taskrabbit’s research found that 46 percent of Italians allocate an hour and a half per week (that’s nearly seven months over a 60-year period) to bathroom-cleaning duties alone. 

This makes Italians the most committed people in Europe when it comes to cleaning the bagno.

Cleaning bathroom

Some 46 percent of Italians allocate an hour and a half per week to bathroom-cleaning duties alone. Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

For context, only 32 percent of respondents in neighbouring France claim they spend that long cleaning their bathrooms, while over 50 percent say they put aside around 30 minutes a week for the task.

But, as research figures seem to confirm the idea that cleaning is of paramount importance in Italy, is there actually a reason behind it?

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Contrary to what some may believe, Italians don’t actually love doing domestic chores. According to the Taskrabbit study, only 1 percent of Italians like doing housework, while one in four claim they would much rather work their day job than take care of the house.


Naturally, the features of the land sometimes call for stronger cleaning efforts (think of insects and dust during the hot months, especially in the south), but these still don’t seem to fully justify the amount of time spent cleaning.

The reason is more likely to be cultural. After all, a sparkling clean home is essential if you want to fare una bella figura

Fare una bella figura is translatable into English as ‘making a good impression’. But its meaning goes far beyond that in Italy, where it encapsulates a series of unwritten social rules and guidelines that are seemingly hard-wired into most Italians from early childhood.

READ ALSO: How late is it usual to be in Italy?

Fare una bella figura means presenting yourself and your home in the best possible way. It’s about showing yourself, as well as others, that you care deeply about having a tidy and cosy home and that you take pride in it.


And it doesn’t matter if no one’s likely to visit for the next four weeks; you’ll still find Italian nonne regularly scrubbing and polishing everything in sight nel caso qualcuno si fa vivo (in case someone turns up).

Ultimately then, while they may not necessarily enjoy doing housework, fare una bella figura is perceived as a moral and social responsibility by most Italians and that’s the main reason why you’ll hardly ever find an Italian living in a messy or untidy home.


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Rosemarie 2024/04/18 20:23
Unfortunately, in many parts of Italy, as soon as they step out of their home, they don't bother about what the environment looks like, with rubbish abandoned along roadsides etc. I can never understand why!
PMcD 2023/09/02 19:38
By "the average Italian spends x hours cleaning," I presume you mean the average Italian female. I presume the surveys don't explore or even consider that...

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