12 Very Important House Rules That Must Never Ever Be Broken

Photography by Daniel Collopy, Tessa Neustadt, and Zeke Ruelas


Dear Housekeeping Diary,

It’s not a secret that I’m obsessed with life at home. I spend my days designing interiors, prepping “lifestyle” photoshoots (whatever that means), fantasizing about throwing dinner parties, and then actually throwing one every once in a while. As you can imagine, someone as obsessed with the (often failed) pursuit of home perfection as I am has concocted a lot of rules for proper living over the years. Many of these were passed down from my parents, but I’ve concocted some pretty insane ones all on my own. So today, I thought I’d share some of the rules I have about what is allowed and what is not allowed at Orcondo.

I’m lucky to live with a pretty fastidious and well-mannered gentleman, but in all honesty some of my OCD house rules drive even him crazy.  It’s not until you move in with someone that you realize how truly insane your house habits are. So I try not to be too controlling with them. The following are a list of rules that exist in my head, and are sometimes implemented in my house when I can do so without starting an unnecessary argument.


1. Never Put Wine Glasses in the Dishwasher

This is one that I got from my mom. I always doubted about it until one day, as an adult I put a wine glass in the dishwasher. As I closed the dishwasher, the glass exploded and shards of glass went everywhere, nearly killing me instantly. So the logic of this rule is that not only do you risk breaking your wine glasses by putting them in a dishwasher, they also tend to dry spotty and disgusting. The best way to wash a wine glass is with a sponge, by hand (I’m not into bottle brushes because they don’t remove lipstick and chapstick stains very well). Then you hand dry them with a clean dish towel to prevent them from spotting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been embarrassed in front of guests by spotty glasses I forgot to dy. Clearly, I choose really important things to get embarrassed about.


2. When Cleaning, Start at the Top

When I was about twelve, my mom got a book about cleaning that changed all of our lives forever. The book, by Clean Team founder Jeff Campbell, is basically a rallying cry for people who are psychotically obsessed with cleanliness. If you think I have a lot of house rules, they have millions more. One of the most important is that when you’re cleaning you should always start at the top. For example, in a kitchen, you would wipe off the cabinets first, then wipe down the countertops, and finish by cleaning the floor. That way anything that breaks loose while you’re cleaning will be picked up by your final floor sweep. This is one of the most logical tenets of housekeeping I’ve ever heard and if you don’t agree with it I’m going to have to ask you to leave. If you don’t know The Clean Team, I highly recommend their products. They’re a lot more environmentally friendly than most mainstream cleaning supplies these days.


3. No Paper Plates Unless You’re having a Party for 30 or More People

Paper plates are convenient, but unless your water is turned off or you have no kitchen, there’s no reason to use them unless you’re hosting a huge party and you don’t have enough regular dishes. Guests get a kick out of using real plates (and glassware for that matter), and you can get pretty decent table settings at pretty reasonable prices these days (restaurant supply stores are a great place to look for simple white dishes in higher quantities). And don’t even think about using a paper plate if you don’t have guests. That’s just insanity.


4. Never Put Wood or Fancy Knives in the Dishwasher

To me, the wood thing seems pretty self-explanatory. Getting wood wet ultimately damages it. And since dishwasher cycles last for up to a few hours, keeping them wet for extended periods of time will break them down and strip them of oils they need to stay young and attractive (like you). And don’t put your fancy Wustoff knives in the dishwasher either. I don’t know why I believe this, I just do. Hand wash your finer things and they will last longer.


5. Don’t Use Paper Towels Unless You Have To

When I was fresh out of college, I had a boyfriend who used paper towels FOR EVERYTHING. It drove me crazy, because it was so wasteful and unnecessary.  It made me question his moral integrity. How could someone grow up to believe that it was okay to waste so much paper?  Did he have something against trees? It’s on par with leaving the water running while you brush your teeth (which is basically terrorism as far as I’m concerned). Using too many paper towels says to the world “I don’t care that our planet is literally days from exploding in a global warming apocalypse, I’m gonna use a paper towel because I feel like it.” Also, paper towels don’t work as well as cloth for cleaning things up. My rule is that if it can spread deadly germs (like salmonella or e. coli) then you should use a paper towel. For everything else, just use a cloth like an actual human being. Keep a separate bin for them so they don’t contaminate your other laundry.


6. Always Close The Toilet Completely

Women and men are equal offenders in my book in terms of toilet-closing etiquette. Yes, men can be idiots and forget to put the seat down for women, which is completely unacceptable. But women often leave the lid of the toilet open after they use the toilet. Leaving the toilet open is not only unattractive, it’s also a hazard. THINK OF ALL THE BRAND NEW IPHONE 7S THAT COULD FALL IN THERE. A note to all women and men out there: LITERALLY ALL OF YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. You should be closing the toilet completely (including the lid) before you leave the bathroom. It’s the only dignified thing to do.


7. Hide Your Bananas

This is where you’re going to start feeling really sorry for my boyfriend. My sweet, handsome boyfriend. He loves bananas, but I hate it when they start getting brown spots all over them so I always hide them in the cupboard. He’s always like “If I can’t see the bananas I won’t eat them because I won’t remember they’re there.” And I’m like “THESE ROTTING BANANAS REMIND ME OF MY OWN IMPENDING DEATH.” And then he lets me put them in the cupboard. I wish bananas didn’t get so gross, so fast, but looking at them just reminds me that we’re all gonna die and I can’t handle that first thing in the morning before I’ve had any coffee. This goes for other spotty fruits too. Regardless of how delicious they are, no one wants to see them. So hide them in a deep, dark place the same way you hide your true emotions.


8. Don’t Leave Shampoo Bottles in the Squeezed Position

Yes, this is also insane, but hear me out. Packaging designers have been working for decades to perfect the design of shampoo bottles. The way it’s supposed to work is you squeeze the bottle and shampoo comes out. But you have to let the bottle return to its original shape by letting air back in or you’ll lose squeezing power. So don’t leave the bottle in a squeezed position where it looks all skinny and cracked out, like Lindsay Lohan in 2007. The bottle was designed to be a certain shape. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (and packaging designers everywhere) JUST LET IT BE THAT SHAPE!


9. Never Ever Squeeze Toothpaste from the Middle

This is another aesthetic thing. The sight of a lumpy tube of toothpaste sends me into a deep depression that can last for months, even years. So I always squeeze mine from the end. Luckily, I don’t share a tube with my boyfriend. I made him get his own so we could each squeeze how we please (he’s a middle squeezer).


10. You Don’t Have to Fold Underwear

Folding underwear is stupid and a complete waste of time. It’s too small to actually fold properly so folding it is pointless. There are so many other things you could be doing with your time. Like running around the house and making sure all your toilets are closed and then screaming things at the ceiling when you find one that has been left open.


11. No Christmas Before Thanksgiving

I don’t believe in allowing holidays to overlap, so you must be done with Thanksgiving before you put up a Christmas tree. It’s like, what if Santa showed up while you were wearing a Halloween costume? It would be like when you run into friends from disparate groups at the same time and you have to try to talk to them at the same time even though they hate each other. Drama. It is the natural order of things that we have to get through the harvest themed holidays to get to the winter holidays. ONE MUST NOT DEFY THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.


12. If One is Open Already, Don’t Open Another One

If you want to see me completely lose my mind, open a jar of peanut butter when there is another of the same kind already open. Nothing makes me feel crazier than opening the refrigerator to find three cans of the same type of spaghetti sauce open, sitting there, laughing at how out of control my life has become. The rule goes like this: if something is low enough that you feel it merits opening another of the same, throw away the first one or condense the two bottles. WE CANNOT LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THERE ARE MULTIPLES OF EVERYTHING OPEN ALL THE TIME. Just think of all the chaos, the medicine cabinets full of half-used tubes of toothpaste that would tumble out and hit you in the face every time you opened them. Just thinking about it makes me furious.

Alright, well I’ve exposed I am a literal insane person and likely very difficult/impossible to live with. But I’m sure you have your own little house rule quirks that drive you/your spouse and/or friends/family crazy. TELL ME WHAT THEY ARE! Leave your HOUSE RULES in the comments section. I’ll be adding my favorites to this list.


15 thoughts on “12 Very Important House Rules That Must Never Ever Be Broken

  1. I’m so sad. I just realized our relationship would never work out. You’d leave me in a hot minute. XOXO em.

  2. My husband uses the hand towel in the bathroom to wipe down the sink and mirror after he is done apparently splashing around like a duck! HAND TOWELS ARE FOR HANDS! Stop the splashing please! Since I am talking about the bathroom, we all know that the toilet paper needs to be rolling over the top of the roll, not down the back, right??

    He is tall, and thinks that randomly leaving his things here and there in high places is just A-okay. Why, because I am short he thinks I won’t notice? Corale your stuff!! I don’t want to see a random flash light on the top shelf of the book case or a tape measure on the window sill or your sunglasses on the edge of the mirror.

    He also (are you getting the trend here) leaves a very, very neatly folded pile of his clothes on top of his bureau. It’s perfect. But why oh why if you’ve made it all the way to your bureau can’t you just open drawers and REALLY put them away!

    Oh and I agree with yours especially the wasted paper. Bananas with brown spots, make banana bread!

  3. Ha, ha– such a fun post. Yeah Dena, TP in the dispenser rolling down from the top not from the back….. Big pet-peeve of mine. Also, I learned this one from my Mom: in the kitchen, keep a towel for hands and a separate towel for drying dishes but the other humans I live with get them all mixed up all the time so now it’s just a mish-mash of towels for anything….ugh.

    1. I totally have this rule! The further to the right on my oven rack is for hands and the ones on the left are for food and dishes. When the hand on is dirty, I shimmy the dish ones over and add a fresh one to the left!

  4. THIS IS THE BEST!!!! I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m a middle squeezer… Also, what’s your rule on making the bed?

  5. Paper plates: yes, until you are throwing a party for kids, because you’ll be hunting down your cutlery for days.

    Toilet seats: yes… until you have a pet that only (ew) drinks out of the toilet (and rejects perfectly good water bowls). Basically, do what you gotta for the living things in the house.

    And if you put bananas where they can’t be seen, they won’t get eaten. C’Mon. Have some smoothies or something.

  6. Ha! This is hilarious. If we could all come with an instruction manual for our future partners it would really resolve a lot of conflict on the homefront. Agree completely with the toilet! Who likes looking at a toilet bowl? My pet peeve is toilet paper – the great under/over debate. I will always switch it to over even if I am at work or in public. I am that person. Other than that I go with the flow, and am usually the rule breaker. Do you have a laundry rule? That is the struggle in my household. always.

    p.s. stemless wineglasses is the answer to lazy people- my favorite feature means they fit in the dishwasher 😉 and you can always wipe them before putting them away with a microfiber cloth to eliminate spots (let’s face it, if I am too lazy to hand wash, I am too lazy to dry, but it’s always an option) #lazy

  7. I AGREE WITH ALL THESE THINGS. Also leaving window treatments closed for second longer than they need to be to sleep or watch a movie or hide from your neighbors or whatever.

  8. Yes! A thousand times yes! Except for the banana rule. I learned in elementary school that a ripe banana in a lunch box will make everything else taste like banana, so I am horrified that you would subject your dishes or (gasp!) your other food to banana fumes. Ripe bananas get chucked in the freezer until I can be bothered to make banana bread.

    #13 Toilet paper over the top of the roll, and it should never be single ply.

  9. Rule #1: If you had enough time to put your dirty dish in the bottom of the sink, you had enough time to put it into the dishwasher, you horrible selfish monster.

  10. Seriously, I think we are soulmates……except the toothpaste……i’m afraid to admit I’m a middle squeezer. Things I hate….dead socks tossed to the side of the bed (why can’t my family put them in the laundry basket?) Improperly loaded dishwashers (I actually will pull everything out and start over if my husband attempts to do the dishes). Toothpaste in the sink (disgusting). Newspapers left on light colored furniture (Hello? Newsprint transfer!!). And my all time rage inducer…..wet towels dumped on our hardwood floors!!!!! (I am horrified every time I pick one up and the floor has a white spot from the moisture). I absolutely know I am nuerotic. Heck I spend an entire day cleaning the house before the cleaning lady comes. But, oh when it is all tidy and reset….heaven!!! Love your blog btw. You are hilarious and super talented!!

  11. First, I love you. I’m silently yelling, “YES!” to each rule as I read. My father and I get into arguments whenever one visits the other, about the toilet lid. I say, why do you think they sell the toilet with a lid? Stop being gross! He says, at 3am when I’m in a sleepy stupor, I don’t want to have to remember to lift the lid. Also my husband is a middle squeezer and basically I’m surrounded by horrible men!! (Kidding.) He also vacuums first and THEN dusts. But at least he cleans! I have another rule: don’t put anything “specialty” or that you only have in a quantity of one, in the dishwasher unless you are going to run it immediately. No pots and pans, no mixing or serving spoons, no measuring cups or spoons, etc. I am filled with rage when I’m searching high and low for the 1/2 tsp, only to discover it in the DW because SOMEONE was too lazy to take the .8 seconds to wash it. Lastly, you are correct about good knives – the dishwasher dulls them faster.

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