I know I run the risk of sounding too damn negative all the time — “I hate this”, “I can’t stand that” — but these are truly the phrases people search for that lead them here. I could write a catchier title, but then how would people find us, and discover they aren’t alone??
One of my biggest pet peeves is sweating or getting dirty when I didn’t expect it.
For example–if I wear jeans and it ends up being a hot day. I can’t stand sweating while wearing jeans. The feeling drives me bonkers. The only thing I can think about is changing clothes or getting out of the heat immediately.
Also, if I’ve sweat a lot, I have to take a shower right away. The feeling of having lots of sweat dried on me bothers me. It’s got to be bad for the skin, right?
If I can’t get to a shower, I at least want to get to a bathroom and rinse off my face and neck. Even that small act helps so much.
And, living in Southern California, I wear sandals and flip flops most of the year. So I wash my feet with soap and water almost every night before I go to bed. The idea of being in a bed with dirty feet seems gross and wrong. On nights when I forget to wash them, sometimes I remember as I’m lying in bed and I have to get up and go wash ’em. Otherwise, I’ll just keep thinking about it, and thinking about it….
The Awesome Feeling of Being Clean
Contrary to my filth pet peeve is one of my favorite feelings in the world: after a hard workout, or being in the hot sun and sweating for hours, I adore taking a shower and then just lying on the bed for a few minutes afterwards, reveling in cleanliness after a hard day. This is especially awesome when traveling and staying at a hotel with a pristine, clean bed. Ahhhhh.
Also — when I wash off a face of makeup, it feels so good. I can’t wait to get it off. The same goes for sunscreen.
Real Life Examples of When My Need for Cleanliness was Problematic
Oftentimes, it’s when traveling that I’ve had to endure being dirty, because I don’t always know where the next shower is coming from.
Several years ago, my husband and I visited a small, sparsely populated island in the Pacific Ocean. Our hotel was quite grim, and the water was often turned off in town for many hours at a time. Since I was covered in sunscreen and sweat, I simply had to take a shower. I felt grimy and oily.
The hotel’s alternative—when the town’s water supply was off–was a 5-foot tall water container behind the hotel, in the unkempt grass. I saw another guy back there, holding the spigot with one hand while washing himself with the other. So, I put on my swimsuit, got into position (bent over) and did my best to soap up while holding the spigot open with one hand. Hah, it’s funny to think about now–I wore glasses at the time, and I left them on so I could see what I was doing. So I rinsed off, outdoors, with glasses on! But darn it, I did feel a lot better afterwards…
The next day, we befriended another couple and I mentioned to them how our hotel hadn’t had running water for over 24 hours. The couple offered to let us use the shower in their room, in a nice hotel, and I was absolutely giddy. I couldn’t get there fast enough.
Another time we took a multi-day boat ride in Australia. We were to sleep on the boat. I remember asking the tour company prior to the trip, “How do we shower?” And they said, “You don’t.”
On the end of the second day of the boat trip, we docked somewhere and had some free time. While all the other tourists in the boat ran around, having fun, I was obsessed with finding a place to shower. That’s all I cared about. I snooped around a big hotel resort and found showers by the pool area. It felt SO FREAKING GOOD to wash off two days of sweat, sunscreen, and insect spray. I simply couldn’t relax until I was clean. I also thought it was so odd that no one else was bothered by not showering for so long!
When I know I’ll be getting dirty, I can mentally prepare (and wear appropriate clothing) and it’s not as bad. When I played tennis a lot, I remember enjoying extremely hot days, because it felt good to struggle through it with a good sweat—and be rewarded at the end with a shower!
And as I mentioned earlier, if I can’t bathe, simply rinsing my face and neck makes a world of difference.
I bring extra clothes with me almost everywhere I go. If I think I might be hot—I throw an extra pair of shorts into the trunk of the car. I always bring a hat and sweater, too. It’s annoying always bringing extra things, but it’s come in handy so often. In fact, I permanently keep a bag in my car with an extra hat, socks, sweater, and sunscreen.
Being prepared is the key to avoiding discomfort!
thanks again for this funny and true blog – I like your writing style especially when it comes to real life examples ;-)))
By the way – have you heard about Elaine Aron’s newest project?
Let’s see whether it is worth a blog on your side 😉 I would guess – yes!!! 🙂
Cheers from Germany, 1753
By the way:
At home and in the office I have a regular need to wash my hands. Do you know that as well?
Hey! I don’t personally have that issue. That’s a behavior I often hear associated with OCD, but I don’t know much about that so I can’t comment on it. Although I wonder if HSPs are possibly more inclined to have OCD?
no, it’s not that OCD-thing 😉 I am working all day on the computer and I hate it having dirty hands on my keyboard – this is also the reason why I don’t wear rings or bracelets on my hands…
Looking forward to your next blog and have a nice weekend!
When you use a keyboard, to me it seems you can feel the gunk crawling up your hands. Not really, but I am very aware of how disgusting they are and it gets on your hands. I absolutely don’t mind if you 3 year old spills his drink on my keyboard. Great excuse to clean it thoroughly. Otherwise I’d be too lazy and I would endure and eventually dismiss the feeling. And that’s the difference with OCD, with OCD there is no stopping the compulsive behavior w/o some form of therapy.
OMG, I have recently started feeling this way….I have to be clean before going to bed. When I step out of the shower I make sure my flips are there to step on. I find this behavior unsettling as I love to garden and do lots of yard work and am fine with being dirty and sweaty until I step into my house…I have to shower. Even when I shower and if I have to do some little cleaning in the house, I still feel I need to shower again before going to bed. I had to google this and now I feel somewhat better after reading HSP.net that this is not uncommon.
Boy, do I relate to this! I need to be able to shower or bathe EVERY DAY, no matter what. I can’t stand to feel sticky or dirty at all.
EVERYONE should feel this way! Why don’t they?
I just discovered your blog and I am excited about both your blog and podcast!
I dislike being dirty as well, especially my hands and feet. Interestingly, I have never associated this with being an HSP.
I went camping recently for three days (no running water whatsoever!) and brought with me the largest size baby wipe container I could find. I ended up using the entire container on the trip. It wasn’t as good as a shower, but it kept me clean and non-stinky! I would definitely recommend it.
Hi Becki! Baby wipes are a good idea. I’m not really into them, because I feel like they’d leave yet another residue on my skin, but that’s probably not true. I should give them a try!
That is another thing…no creams or lotions on me before I go to bed…It makes me feel dirty. I also sleep with a fan on to keep me from sweating….otherwise I would probably feel the need to shower in the morning too.
Great post – I can only say ‘I thought it was just ME’ ;). I’m a martial artist & a runner (in N.C. no less), so getting sweaty is a daily thing for me, but I notice that – like the author – a quick hand wash & neck rinse will really refresh me until I can get into the shower ;). I’m also a bit of a neat freak – just thought it was OCD – never thought it might relate to my sensitivity (which, now that i think about it, would really make sense).
Thanks again for an enlightening post! Best… LDA
Lois, thanks for the comment!!
Aahh! I feel the same way about sweat. I don’t mind sweating but need to get it off me as soon as possible, or wipe it off so it doesn’t dry. I work a later shift and sometimes sweat on the way from to work. My car is not in a garage, so it gets hot in the summer time. Sure enough, if I sweat on the way to work (it’s also irritating that I just took a shower before leaving) I must go the bathroom upon arriving and rinse off the sweat. I thought I was the only one who was this way. It’s like we are twins. I guess all HSP’s are in a sense.
To me this was very strong when I was younger (say in my early twenties and before). But somewhere along the way I learned that, even though I’m aware of being dirty or sweaty, it is not the most important thing in the world and that feeling can subside. Don’t get me wrong, I very much need my daily shower. But if something happens and gets in the way of said shower, it doesn’t put me off as it used to do. At first this was an active decision, now not so much. But that could also be because, since having a (very sensitive) kid, sleep is priority #1. Or as the wise Taylor Swift mentions, I guess I just “shake it off”.
Oh my gosh, you just reminded me that I wanted to write a post about sleep. I also find that it is #1!! Thanks for your comment. 🙂
I need to wash my hands every time I come back home from city, otherwise I feel dirty. Showers yes every day. Not support feelings when my hands or legs are sticky or sweat. This feeling when you go to bed, lay down in the side and put on leg on another and they has sweat a stick – Ahhgggg very disgusting feeling!
Thank you, fellow hand washers. I’m OK You’re OK, Okay? And I covertly wipe down driver surfaces in my vehicle after my husband uses it.
I just read 6 or so of your posts. I’m so glad I found this blog. I wish my husband would take the time to read it so he could understand me better. Oh man. I feel like you are talking about me. With everything. It’s insane and amazing all at once. The cleanliness post really got me. Everything about it including washing feet before bed. I have baby wipes by my bed just in case I need a quick wipe down. I have always been bothered by people who don’t shower or even wash their makeup off at the end of the day. I might seem judgmental but really I just wonder how they can tolerate not cleaning themselves before bed. How uncomfortable. I am so so glad I can read and enjoy all these posts. Makes me not feel so alone in my strangeness. LOL! Thank you thank you. This really is the best!
Ughh how can people not wash off their makeup before bed? Heck, I would wash off my makeup the second I got home from work/going out!! Thanks so much for your nice comment, it makes me very happy that the site is useful to you. Maybe just use baby steps with your husband–start introducing the concept of HSP slowly 🙂
One more thing…in regard to the needing air movement because you feel you cannot breathe…I live in Illinois and there is currently 4-5 inches of snow outside my window. My ceiling fan is on, my window is cracked and I’m sleeping without a shirt on. LOL I feel ya, homie! I am so grateful to have this little blog to go to when I’m feeling like nobody gets me. Because now I know at least one person who totally gets it!! Woohoo
haha!! you’re funny 🙂 Sleeping with a fan is the BEST.
Omg im the same way but im a guy. I dont know why but i hate getting dirty. I cant eat french fries or fast food without using up half the stores napkins. I hate eating in a car because its cramped and you get all messy. If i get food on my cheeks like ketchup or just some grease i go crazy. Either way its not like being clean is a bad thing but i dont want to always worry about sweat and dirt and heat and grease.
I’m happy to know that at least SOME men feel this way.
I know that if I’m going to get really intimate with a guy,
he’d better be freshly washed, shaved, use toothpaste and
Maybe that’s why I’m single?
Oh goodness gracious. Isn’t it funny how alone you can feel in the world evends while being surrounded by people.
I’ve always known I was sensitive, intuitive and highly introverted. But its only this last year I’ve realized I am an hsp!
Came across your site today and I can relate with near everything. This post is amazing and hits me right on the nose!
Thank you for taking the time to share and connect with others.
Thank you Chantel!!! 🙂
Yeah I hate being dirty I can’t stand dirty clothe’s I love in a one bedroom apartment with no washer and dryer it Sucks but I live lol the worst is not brushing my teeth for a few days it feels like cheese I also wash thouroughly I prob use too much soap I wash my bad parts twice I’ll keep it p.g I hate when you shower then after you have to poop that’s she worse stupid defecation lol are yoI picky about laundry sometimes I’ll rehash things if they smell,bad I been known to wash one item I know it’s a waste I’m a loser lol
I have always wondered what was wrong with me. i am pretty functional, with the exception of my daily shower. The pressure must be very strong, and things must be done in a certain order or I don’t feel clean. In fact I feel very uncomfortable and can’t actually function. I’m taking Wellbutrin for smoking cessation. I have to stop. I have had “bad showers” for 3 days in a row. I think it’s the medication. Day one bad shower. Left work early and took 2nd shower. It was fine. Day 2 same thing, only 2nd shower didn’t make me feel clean. Day three I didn’t go to work at all. I’m here feeling gross and oily and dirty.
Please, any ideas how to make this stop would be appreciated
My feet bother me a lot. They feel dirty even from walking on clean carpet. I hate when people wear shoes inside my house, I have to make them take them off but I also have a baby who is crawling so that justifies the shoes off obsession.
For a few years now I wash my feet before I go to bed, sometimes re wash if I have to get out of bed for something. I like to put lotion on my feet & then super soft socks & snuggle in bed. Then before I fall asleep I take the socks off.
I also cannot just pass out without feeling clean. Make up off, clean clothes on, clean feet & fan on.
Good to know I’m not the only one, I knew I wasn’t crazy!
Haha…well I consider myself an HSP and am exactly the same way. Unless I’m extraordinarily tired, I can’t fall asleep if I don’t have my shower. And I’ll purposely avoid doing any work, even doing a load of laundry after my shower so I won’t have the slightest bit of sweat on me before bedtime. I can’t stand lotions, body oils, moisturizers on my skin at all (unless hands or feet are super dry), especially right before napping or bedtime. I would rather have slightly dry skin than to feel clammy. Sometimes I like to shower in both am and pm if I’m going to be home relaxing..it just makes my day so much better. I can’t stand the way bar soap makes my skin feel and even most body washes leave a sticky clammy feeling. The makers of my one and only favorite body wash changed the ingredients recently (added glycerin which I hate).Since then I’ve been spending hours online and in stores looking for a body wash that won’t cause a clammy feeling or residue on my skin. I love it when my skin can breathe and as funny as it sounds, it makes a big difference in my happiness level at night lol. Like another commenter said, I can’t stand the feeling of any skin sticking together, especially while sleeping. Sometimes I’ll just use a white vinegar rinse or witch hazel rinse so my skin can breathe while sleeping. Oh, and I have to use baby powder several times a day too to feel dry and comfortable.Haha ..good to know there are others out there!
Wow…never thought of feeling “dirty” as an HSP characteristic but yes, I can so relate. I always hated any kind of exercise because I hate sweating. I now swim and it’s great! I’m sure I sweat but can’t feel that trickle running down my back. My husband and I are sailor/cruisers so I certainly know the pain of not being able to shower daily, but I have found that I can “bathe” in a small sink of water and feel OK. And yes, my feet have to be washed before getting in bed which is quite a feat to get ones feet into a small sink in a miniature closet sized bathroom!!!
Hi Kelly! I know i’m late but wow! i hated feeling grimy and oily while at camp where i could only shower twice in 6 days and iiit wassss tourtureee