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Signs Of OCD: Insights on Obsessive Cleaning OCD

Signs Of OCD: Insights on Obsessive Cleaning OCD



OCD can be hard to detect but knowing the signs and symptoms of OCD can help in seeking timely professional care and can help in better management of the symptoms. OCD care has to cater to different needs of both the patient and the caregiver. At Cadabams, our multispecialty team of experts focus on tailoring a treatment plan that addresses all aspects of OCD and is just right for you and your loved one. With psychotherapy, medication management, supportive and family care, we are with you every step of the way. We are here to help.

Cleaning OCD

10 Signs that May Indicate You are Suffering from OCD

As per WHO (World Health Organization), about 2% of the world’s population suffers from OCD which is roughly 1 in 50 people. OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is a type of anxiety disorder that causes obsessive and compulsive thoughts to a person. Listed below are 10 obsessive-compulsive disorder signs that may indicate you may have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

  • Washing hands: One of the most common OCD signs is washing hands often. The individuals who experience this sign of OCD are preoccupied with being contaminated. This thought may also surface after shaking hands with a person or with just the thought of being contaminated. These prolonged thoughts can cause them to wash their hands excessively.
  • Frequent checking: Double-checking things once in a while is normal behavior, but what if the person performs it repeatedly all day long. The individual with this type of symptom constantly feels the urge to check whether the door is locked or not or if they have turned off their oven, etc. Without completing those specific patterns which they follow, they can’t start or stop their work.
  • Obsessive cleaning: The individual having this sign is obsessed with cleaning things. Even after all the scrubbing, cleaning, and shining, they won’t feel like they are done with it. Over time, the individual becomes more obsessed with the cleanliness of things.
  • Counting: Performing tasks according to some specific numeric count or pattern is a sign of OCD. For instance, it might be counting the stairs while climbing or walking into the tile boxes that they feel right. Sometimes, the behavior could also be dangerous, such as applying the brakes a certain number of times while driving the vehicle.
  • Perfectionism: Yes! An extreme and unhealthy form of perfectionism is a sign of OCD. Individuals with this sign can’t resist their urge to set any improper arrangement in order, and they will have their reason for their compulsive actions.

    They might be compelled to involve in such activities because they might think that their loved one will die or get hurt if a random object isn’t arranged properly. This situation makes the individual feel intense anxiety and stress, which may lead to compulsiveness.
  • Dwell on the relationship: The person may be excessively worried or stressed about future events on what could go wrong to them. Eventually, they might end up with stress and overthinking. For instance, a small misunderstanding might make them break-up the entire relationship permanently irrespective of the bond – it could be their loved one, family member, or co-worker.
  • Asking for frequent reassurance: Asking opinions to others is normal behavior, and there is nothing wrong with it. But when the reassurance creeps several times repeatedly, it could be a red flag for OCD personality disorder signs.

    This obsessive action may be due to their anxious overthinking nature or their insecurity. Examples of such cases could be asking friends to come home and repeatedly asking them whether their house looks dirty, or remarking their embarrassing situations and reassuring their actions towards it.
  • Obsessed about their body: Most people aren’t aware of this particular sign of OCD but it exists. The person might feel their body looks unattractive and abnormal. This mindset makes them undergo plastic surgeries multiple times. This obsession is known as BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). Such obsessive thoughts are associated with the signs of OCD.
  • Unusual sex thoughts: The individual may experience obsessive thoughts such as having sex with a stranger, groping a co-worker, abusing a younger one, or doubting themselves whether they are gay or straight. In some other cases, the person may have obsessive thoughts on tabooed sexual behaviors. All these behavioral signs come under OCD.
  • Lack of control over obsessive thoughts or compulsive behavior: The individual might feel intense stress and anxiety due to their obsessive thoughts or compulsive behavior. These actions and thoughts not only hamper the mental well-being but also take a toll on their physical health leading to symptoms such as a severe headache, sleep issues, and preoccupied thinking. If you find any of these symptoms with your loved one, don’t hesitate to reach for professional help. Early interventions of treatments and therapies might reduce the risk of OCD.

Do you think you have Obsessive Cleaning OCD?

Cleaning OCD is a common type of OCD in which the individual engages in cleaning or washing rituals that can interfere with their daily life. It can be directed towards the self or the environment.

In the cleaning/washing type obsession, there is a fear of contamination. An individual with obsessive cleaning disorder fears about getting ‘dirty’ or infected from various things that might make them sick.

Symptoms of Cleaning OCD

Obsessive cleaning disorder can be categorized into the following:

  • The individual cleans themselves and everything around them repetitively.

These individuals try to stay cautious and avoid contamination or ‘germs’ in general. They fear they would fall sick.

  • The individual indulges in cleaning or washing only when they come in contact with certain objects, visiting certain places, or after a particular task such as using the toilet, shaking someone’s hands.

These individuals follow the cleaning behavior to get rid of the ‘dirty’ feel after a particular act or contact with a particular thing.

  • Cleaning directed towards the self

Individuals who engage in ritualistic behavior of cleaning themselves believe they have come in contact with some kind of ‘dirt’ or ‘germ’ and they try to get rid of it. The cleaning OCD behavior can range from simply washing hands multiple times a day to scrubbing harshly with disinfectants.

The individual may clean and scrub themselves to the extent that the skin gets rashes, bruises, red, and even bleed. The behavior of cleaning or washing themselves after coming in contact with something  can be dangerous. 

For example, if the individual ritualistically cleans themselves after using the toilet, they might use a lot of toilet paper, rub their sensitive area too hard, or at times, use a lot of antiseptics. All these activities may harm and injure the area, which is sensitive and takes time to heal. Thus, it could lead to other health issues and infections.

These individuals focus a lot on themselves, and then, there are other types of individuals who completely ignore these areas thinking they would get infected if they touch it. Again, ignoring these sensitive areas would lead to devastating health issues.

  • Cleaning directed towards the environment

Here, the individual cleans their surroundings fearing that they would get infected. Even a small peck of dirt may trigger their thoughts, and they might end up cleaning the entire house. While cleaning, they may use a lot of antibacterial disinfectants and spend a significant time in contact with water; this may cause infection and damage their skin. 

Sometimes, the individual may focus and clean certain areas while entirely ignoring the other regions. For example, the individual may spend too much time cleaning the bathroom but completely ignore that they have a messy bedroom. They become very anxious and they take a lot of stress about cleaning their surroundings.

Treatment for Cleaning OCD

The rationale behind the cleaning/washing behavior makes sense  only to the individual and no one else in the family. Thus, they may fail to understand and support the individual. At times if the individual is interrupted while doing the behavior, they might  start all over again. These behaviors take a lot of time and cause extreme distress to the individual.

 Don’t let your OCD control your life, seek help. 

With appropriate pharmacological intervention, psychotherapy such as Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) offered under the guidance of our certified professionals at Cadabams, cleaning OCD can be managed. Rehabilitation works wonders with people who have difficulty managing themselves at home. If you or your loved one is showing signs of OCD, reach out to us on our 24×7 helpline +919611194949.

FAQs

How are obsessions and compulsions different from each other?

The word “Obsession” comes from a Latin word meaning “to occupy”. In obsession, the patient experiences recurrent and persistent thoughts which are different from normal thoughts. The individual starts feeling anxiety or distress, and often tries suppressing them. 

Compulsions, on the contrary, are repetitive actions which an individual performs to control his/her anxiety and prevent a situation. Repetitive washing, repetitive touching or tapping, counting or reciting are common examples of compulsions.

Are there any risks associated with obsessive compulsive disorder?

Obsessive cleaning disorder is a common disorder that affects people of all age groups (children, adults, etc.) Generally, people start experiencing the symptoms around 19 years of age, typically with an early age of onset in boys than in girls. Some of the popular risk factors for OCD include: 

  • Brain functioning and structure
  • Genetics
  • Environmental 
  • How can family and friends help a patient with OCD?


Having right information about OCD is critical to ensure proper treatment. Family members and friends are encouraged to work closely with the therapists and play a role in treating the OCD patient. In pursuit of helping their loved one feel better, they often reinforce the problem and hence, under the guidance of our expert therapists, they learn how their behavior affects the functioning of OCD.