msnbc.com
updated 3/12/2008 4:38:41 PM ET 2008-03-12T20:38:41

Some neatniks have their own brand of good, clean fun — take Drema and her husband.

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"For fun, I turn the canned food goods in our pantry so that the labels face in opposite directions and wait for my husband to open the pantry doors," writes Drema, who lives in Pittsburgh. "However, I can't wait too long because the thought of the labels being out alignment drives me nuts after about 10 minutes."

In response to a msnbc.com story about life as a neat freak, readers wrote in with their own stories about keeping it clean, even when living with messy housemates.

One chronically clean reader realized he might have crossed the line at a doctor's appointment. "I actually straightened up my doctor's desk in front of him one day — on that day I had a rude awakening," writes the Salisbury, Md., resident, who didn't give a name.

Keep reading for more responses.

When I cook a meal, as the last plate is placed on the table, all of the pots and pans are washed (yes, the food arrives at the table hot). ... My daughter-in-law will sometimes move an item and see how long it takes me to notice it and replace it back to its original position. They get a laugh from this and I am OK with that. Sometimes my wife's sister will visit and suggest rearranging my furniture. This I find irritating, but after some disagreement, I give in and let them move what they want because I know it will end up back where it belongs once she leaves.
— Richard, Tucson, Ariz.

No junk drawers in my house! Everything has a place. Even the plastic bags I bring my groceries home in from the grocery store. (They fit my kitchen waste basket perfectly. I don't like a lot of trash in the kitchen.) I don't just ball the bags up and stick them somewhere in a drawer or cabinet. I neatly fold up each bag and put a rubber band around them to be tucked away on a shelf. All of my clothes are either folded in a drawer or hung by category (skirts, dresses, tee shirts)and are organized by color. Each pair of shoes I own are in a shoe box. I could go on and on about my compulsiveness. There are times when I have important work to do (I am a student) but I can't start until I have everything around my in order.
— Sheryl, Memphis, Tenn.

I only use certain hangers for certain things but all are the same color. Clothes are hung in order from tank tops to long sleeve facing the same direction; short skirts to dress pants. Also lighter to darker colors. My husband's side of the closet it the same — but only because I do it! Underwear has to be tri-folded mine and his alike. Shirts in the dresser are sorted folded and stacked all short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, long sleeve, sweaters by color and in separate drawers. Fitted sheets have to be folded so that the corners and inside and folds neatly into a square. Pillows have to be faced so that the open end is facing the same direction. The canned goods in my pantry are stacked 3 high, 4 deep so I know exactly what I have at any given time. Pasta boxes are faced nutrition panel out so I know what's what — also in alphabetical order. My cooking utensils are sorted plastic from metal. I recently had knee surgery and am unable to cook and when my husband would look for things in the pantry he would just push things aside and it made my skin crawl! Call me crazy but it makes it much easier when you know where everything is.
— Sarah, Ga.

My house is clean. I spend HOURS every weekend making sure that it is. I had 3 sons, 2 years apart & after living in filth & clutter (I tried cleaning, but they just dirtied the house behind me), I resolved that after they were grown & gone, I would NEVER live that way again. I'm happy to say, that even though my husband is a SLOB, I haven't had to!
— Julie, Windham, Conn.

At home, I have organized clutter. I know exactly what is in each pile — bills to pay, bills paid, etc. I live by myself, so it is very rare that things get moved around. Last summer my daughter stayed with me and "cleaned" up for me. I was so mad — I couldn't find anything. I'm still looking for things I thought I knew where they were, but I'm afraid my daughter threw them out. However, at work, I am just the opposite. Everything has its place. Everything is labeled and very neat. All junk is thrown away. I still don't know why or understand the difference in my habits at home and at work.
— Valerie, Calif.

My problem is that I love to clean and organize around the house but I can't seem to be constant with my organizational system. So I guess I'm mentally messy. For example, I change around way to often the places where I put stuff. They look great but they are not always on the same spot. Which drives me and my poor husband crazy because he has to ask me where I have put this or that. And sometimes I don't even remember. He is afraid of my cleaning days!
— Amarylin, Toccoa, Ga.

I am not neat clothes-wise. Neither is my wife with her clothes. But she can't stand my clothes lying around. She cleans on the weekends. Stuff lying around doesn't bother me, it stresses her out. Only if its someone else's mess. I recently saw she left a can of microwave soup on the counter, I didn't throw it away. Instead it sat there for three days, but if was my soup there would have been a remark about it. we love each other and they are petty arguments, but the fact is she is just as messy as me.
— Philip, Dudley, N.C.

I live with my boyfriend and I clean all the time. We live in a loft and the kitchen is small so I do the dishes immediately. He works from home so there are many times I come home and dishes are hanging out of the sink!! Really, how many dishes does one need. ... Another pet peeve I have is the bathroom sink. I mean really — when you are our ages, late 30s and mid 40s, you should be able to clean up your toothpaste AND hair stubble from shaving.
— Barb, Covington, Ky.

I can't leave the house for work in the morning until the beds are made, laundry started, dishes in the dishwasher, pets' cages cleaned, pets fed and everything is in its place in the house. I get up two hours early to accomplish these things because I don't want to come home to a messy house. My family thinks I am obsessive compulsive, I do not. I was raised in a messy house and was embarrassed to bring friends home.
— Linda

My girlfriend is way over the top when it comes to neatness! in the middle of a conversation she will wipe off the counter or straighten the pillows on the couch. I have seen her adjust the same centerpiece on our table five times in ten minutes. She will clean a room and later on say it needs it again when nobody has even been in the room. She has gotten better, but due to my constant requests to just relax. It is hard on our relationship at times, because I like balance. To me there is time to clean, time to relax, and time for all other daily activities. Her family is all the same way so they don't understand when I tell them that her behavior drives me CRAZY. I drop hints all the time and she laughs, because she thinks it's funny. Hopefully it will get better!!!
— John, Queensbury, N.Y.

I can't help it, but I LOVE walking into my home and find the carpeting vacuumed daily going in straight lines, dust being wiped down weekly, fresh linen/towels weekly and hung neatly on a rack and the beds made in military style (crisp and tight) but I extend it to clothing (I actually iron linens and towels before using them). When I cook/bake, I fill the dishpan and wash/clean as I go! If I happen to step on something on the floor, I immediately find the source and have to sweep/vacuum the entire room which drives my teens BALLISTIC. ... I could go on, but I fear my children would spot their mother!
— Ms. M, Loganville, Ga.

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