Why are some people obsessed about drying up water ?
September 21, 2006 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Why are some people obsessed about drying up water ?

Why are some people obsessed about drying up water ?
I am talking here about miniscule drops of water. I have witnessed an extremely annoying habit in some people is that they cannot bear the sight of even one drop of water in their living or working environment. They spend an obsessive amount of time with a mop or a cloth drying up tiny droplets of water.

During my time in college - there was one student in the dorm whom we all called "robocleaner" because even when everything was tidyed up and clean - he would still go around the kitchen area drying up any drop of water that could be seen. I thought this sort of behaviour was unique. However, in work life- I have seen the odd few people with the exact same trait. What is it called ? Is it some sort of compulsive disorder ?( like what some people have about washing their hands ) Or is it some sort of evolutionary throwback to when we were living in caves. Whatever it is - it really irritates me!

Metafilter views and comments please.
posted by jacobean to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In the kitchen, drying up the water is a necessary thing to do if you want to have clean and mold free surfaces. Wet, warm places are where bacteria live, that includes a room temperature countertop with some water left on it.

Warm, wet places. Yep, that's where it all happens.
posted by zhivota at 10:55 AM on September 21, 2006

"Whatever it is - it really irritates me!" Actually, I find this more interesting than the question. The definition of obsessive and compulsive from a clinical perspective is whether the thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) significantly interfer with the persons day to day functioning. It is a bit more complicated, but if the answer is No then it is a quirk or idiosyncracy. If the answer is Yes then it is a compulsion. If the behavior (drying up drops of water) interfers with your relationship with the person, and if you are important to then. then it may be a problem. I doubt if it is an evolutionary throwback but who knows. I am curious as to why you find this so irritating?
posted by rmhsinc at 10:57 AM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I am talking here about drying in a compulsive sort of way.
posted by jacobean at 10:57 AM on September 21, 2006

When water air-dries on a surface, it often leaves a mineral deposit that is an eyesore.
posted by muddgirl at 11:08 AM on September 21, 2006

What is this? It's different perceptions of cleanliness and order. That's all. I haven't observed a specific "obsessively drying up water" behavior. What's an obsessive amount of time?

(Are we possibly talking about surfaces, like some desks, that are difficult to dry completely? Because it's easy to ruin a document if the desk under it is damp.)

Personally, obsessive cleaners bug me, as do folks who are seemingly incapable of noticing a dusting of crumbs, puddle of water, or smear of sauce across the countertops. I strive for a nice, reasonable middle ground, myself. Which means that half the office thinks I'm a slob and half think I'm OCD, probably.
posted by desuetude at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2006

Why is it irritatiing ? well you know when you go to a cheap restaurant and sit down to enjoy a meal and some cleaner starts cleaning underneath your table with a brush -
- but it is irritating in that sort of way.
posted by jacobean at 11:12 AM on September 21, 2006

desuetude - you got there before me on that one...
posted by jacobean at 11:13 AM on September 21, 2006

If I leave puddles water on the countertop or floor at home, it could ruin the surface. Therefore, I have gotten into the habit of wiping the vast majority of it up. Also, it just looks better when you get it all, because then you don't leave streakmarks behind on a shiny surface.
posted by SpecialK at 11:19 AM on September 21, 2006

it seems to me like its incredibly easy to dry off countertops with small droplets of water. it takes the sweet of a hand with a cloth. I am perplexed by what this person could be doing to make this task so tedious?
posted by ZackTM at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think it's a deep-seated potty-training thing from babyhood.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2006

I am so guilty of this.

In the bathroom, at least, a wet sink allows lots of nasty shit to stick to it, like towel fuzz and stray cat hairs. I prefer not to brush my teeth atop kitty fuzz and bits of shaved-off beard stubble.

And yeah, on tables dried water leaves rings and other such unattractive markings. I have cheapo IKEA furniture, but on a more expensive surface water could ruin the wood.

Who knows, though. Maybe I'm just weird.
posted by timetoevolve at 11:43 AM on September 21, 2006

jacobean, I still don't get ya, here. Are these people laboring over water droplets on your desk? Do you just dislike sharing sink space? Get back to work and quit obsessing over water droplets. /aspiring curmugeon
posted by desuetude at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2006

You phrased the question in a rather biased way, don't you think?

Here are some questions yours brings to mind:

-Why are you so judgmental?
-Why do you let the things other people do affect you so much?
-Why do you assume that wanting a clean, dry space indicates some sort of pathology?
-How often do these people get sick compared to you?

And as for it being evolutionary...[[shakes head]]

Yes, I suppose that you could consider it an "evolutionary throwback"...if by evolutionary throwback you mean that humans and other animals naturally have the desire to keep their possessions and their living space dry and free of mold.

I wonder why you're so focused on this behavior. Do people around you routinely engage in such behavior? If so, perhaps it has something to do with you—do you leave "miniscule drops of water" all over the counter? If so, are you consequently annoyed when people clean up after you? Maybe that's the real problem—perhaps you don't like the feeling that people are judging you, so you prejudge them instead.

[/speculation and rhetoric]
posted by limeonaire at 12:04 PM on September 21, 2006

- it's a growth space for bacteria
- it could damage the finish of whatever surface it is on
- it could leave behind a mineral deposit water mark
- you could accidentally get something wet later that you did not want to get wet
- you could step in it later and get the dreaded sock-soak

seems pretty simple to me, just wipe it up.
posted by Cosine at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2006

When my GF lived in Germany she noticed that Good German Women left not a drop of water in the sink when they finished cleaning. I'll let others make the obvious jokes about the German mentality.

I've picked up the habit myself and it's terribly addictive (and satisfying). Especially since I found these sponge cloths, which are just like the "German sponges" that my GF saw in Germany.
posted by santry at 1:16 PM on September 21, 2006

There are two possible answers here:

1. It truly is compulsive, in which case there is no rational explanation for it. It's a compulsion. Or,

2. It's not really compulsive. You're exaggerating. There are plenty of good reasons to wipe up small bits of water, which is why they do it. None of the reasons are particularly grave, which is why it seems unnecessary to you. A small difference in preferences, nothing to worry about.
posted by lampoil at 2:21 PM on September 21, 2006

When women leave huge puddles of water splashed all over the sink in the ladies' restroom at work, and then another lady, especially one with a bit of a round tummy, leans forward toward the mirror to check her makeup, the puddle soaks into the front of her (ok, my) shirt, and leaves a big dark spot. I hate that.
posted by matildaben at 3:48 PM on September 21, 2006

Even small amounts of water on a floor can be a slip hazard. The older you get, the more falling is worrisome, and the less likely you'll fully recover. For me, a fall which would damage my artificial joints is a $40,000 hospital bill, and 3 months of rehab.
posted by paulsc at 4:34 PM on September 21, 2006

I used to work in an office where there was someone so obsessive about water droplets that she would leave notes taped to the mirror in the ladies restroom asking people to wipe up any spare water drops that hit the mirror or the counter -- I mean explicit directions. It seemed nutty to me. But I'm a certified slob.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:55 PM on September 21, 2006

jacobean, I have often wondered the same thing. Water spills on a piece of cloth or tile. It IS going to dry. So why do people take another cloth and sponge the water off the first cloth? I sincerely don't understand it. If it were a safety hazard, likely to mold, or likely to stain wood, I would understand. But I don't see people taking two seconds to think through "do I really have to bother wiping this up?"

Maybe it has to do with childhood. Where I grew up, it was dry and often fairly hot. Nothing stayed wet for long. I could see if you lived in a damp place, you might get in the habit of trying to keep things dry and of transferring wetness from one cloth to another.
posted by salvia at 5:53 PM on September 21, 2006

Maybe it's a nesting thing? Just wanting the place to look nice?
posted by 999 at 6:00 PM on September 21, 2006

I do it. I do it all the time. This is why.

- ants - they drink water, you're less likely to have ants if you don't have water around
- socks - I walk around in socks, water on the floor makes my socks squishy
- weird spots - depending what else is around, water can leave a ring or a spot and if you like things unspotted, getting rid of the water early is the best way to do this
- leave it like you found it - since I found it unwet, I leave it unwet
- getting other stuff wet - like papers and stuff, all surfaces in my house do at least double duty, if there isn't water around it won't get papers accidentally wet
- mold/mildew - not so much for surfaces, bet definitely important for sponges and anything porous

Once I got into the habit of drying things off, it just became part of my normal clean-up routine, so I don't really notice it anymore. If I'm not otherwise cleaning up, I usually don't go to special lengths to dry things.
posted by jessamyn at 9:32 PM on September 21, 2006

I can easily see that a German or Brit would aquire this habit. The water in both places is hard. Hard water leaves deposits that are very difficult to remove. Germans call it 'calc' (calcium?) and Americans would call it 'lyme' (like the stuff left in a kettle). I've never seen such terrible deposits in the States.
posted by Goofyy at 1:42 AM on September 22, 2006

I've never seen such terrible deposits in the States.

In California, I got in the habit of leaving my dishes to air dry. Now that I'm in Texas, well UGH. Air drying leaves these horrible white calcium deposits on my pots and pans. Yuch.

When women leave huge puddles of water splashed all over the sink in the ladies' restroom at work, and then another lady, especially one with a bit of a round tummy, leans forward toward the mirror to check her makeup, the puddle soaks into the front of her (ok, my) shirt, and leaves a big dark spot. I hate that.

Me too. I always try to wipe the counter down after I use the sink.
posted by muddgirl at 1:54 PM on September 22, 2006

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