How I (barely) survived finding a slug in my shower : an ode to Anxiety Cleaning

July 15, 2010

Last Saturday morning, I woke up, stumbled to the bathroom, glanced in my shower and there was, I kid you not, a slug.

I know.

This bothered me in ways I can’t even explain. (And probably don’t need to to any of you.) Why was it there? How did it get in? What’s wrong with our plumbing? Aren’t slugs immensely dirty? Why was it coming into MY shower? My sanctuary? My cleanest of clean places? WHY? WHYYYYYYYY?

So, after getting rid of the slimy thing, I did what any Penelope would do: I Anxiety Cleaned.

You know what that is, right? It’s not just normal cleaning. It’s weird, obsessive, marching around with a determined look on your face cleaning. It’s the kind of cleaning you do at weird times because you’re compelled to do it. It’s cleaning every damn baseboard in your house because “how the HELL did they get this dirty and how are we living this way? Why are barns cleaner than our home?”


It’s cleaning behind things like toilets and microwaves. And refrigerators. It’s getting the sucker thing on your vacuum out and sucking every single object in your home and thinking “Hey, if it doesn’t get sucked in, it can stay.”

It’s the kind of cleaning you do when you look up and realize every living thing that shares your home with you- husband, children, pets- has disappeared. All afraid of getting in your way and incurring your wrath. You’ve literally scared everyone away.

You know this kind of cleaning rampage. You’ve done it. You do it to gain some semblance of control in a very, very dirty, uncontrollable world.

This was my morning that day. I was in a fit – a fury – a swirling hurricane of cleaning. For 2 hours.

When I finally did look up and realize my house was empty, I looked outside and there was my husband and son, both washing my car in the driveway. On a hot, sunny Saturday morning when I’m sure they both wanted to be sitting in the shade sipping some tea or watching some World Cup. I melted.

I asked J why he’d chosen that moment to wash my car and he said “I knew you were upset about the slug. I figured the best thing I could do is try to help your brain stop itching a bit. And a clean car does that for you.”

Cue the chorus of “awwwwww”. I know. He’s sooooo good.

What I realized that day was that my family knows me, loves me and wants to help me feel not so crazy. And that a slug in the shower is NOT the end of the world.

{I still put Comet around the drain before bed every night, though. If a bugger gets in, he’s damn well going through Comet first.}


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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanna July 15, 2010 at 10:01 am

Thank you for this! lol, #1. I needed a laugh, and secondly it’s good to know that my cleaning rampages aren’t something I do alone! My favorite part: “how the HELL did they get this dirty and how are we living this way? Why are barns cleaner than our home?” :)

Kristy July 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

awww..that IS really cute..i am glad you were able to take a step back and look at the big picture..

p.s. slugs shrivel up and die when they touch salt. You can try that to. :-)

Ansley July 15, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Lol Thanks for the entertaining story. Just know that you’re not alone- I got in the shower intending to be in and out in 5 minutes, noticed that it was not as clean as i wanted it to be, and spent 45 minutes cleaning the grout between every tile with an old tooth brush, at the same time cursing my apartment builders for designing it with individual tiles instead of something that wouldn’t attract so much grime. Sigh.

Amanda @ Serenity Now July 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Funny!! Love that you have a Comet barrier up now too. ;)

Meredith Meredith July 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm

@ Amanda. LOL. Yes, it’s a Comet shield!

auntie July 15, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Slugs are gross, I’ll agree. But you know what is even creepier, grosser, and most definitely signals the end of the world?? SPIDERS in the shower! GAH!

Melinda July 15, 2010 at 2:49 pm

You had me belly-laughing, especially that part about cleaning with a serious face on. My family so knows that face. That’s about the time my eldests disappear or put handkerchiefs on their heads so I know they are matching my cleaning mode.

Love the part about the car…read it aloud to DH in hopes of inspiration. Ha!

Melinda July 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm

LOL I would have done the same thing, and I love the Comet prevention. We had a mouse loose in our house and I was in a state of complete panic for 2 months before we finally caught the sneaky thing. I sanitized the entire house for weeks, convinced that I missed a spot. Animals should know they belong outside. :)

Jacki July 16, 2010 at 1:00 am

Yikes! I would have done the exact same thing. And I know exactly what you mean about the anxiety cleaning – it happens at my house more often that I like to admit!

Laura July 16, 2010 at 6:17 am

Wow! I could have written this blog this week! That face, that over the top vacuuming, the fear in your family… I have it all going on right now!

Only for me it wasn’t a slug, it was a Black Widow. She was outside, under my grill cover, discovered after an urge to barbecue after five straight rainy days. And then after my hunny successfully smooshed her and we had an enjoyable meal, I was taking the food scraps out to the compost bin and I found her friend!! So then I checked our other compost bin and found her neighbor. Three female Black Widows found in a day!

Let the cleaning begin! Patio furniture, a swingset, hose reels all washed and sprayed. Then I moved indoors, dusting, vacuuming, spraying insecticide, cleaning carpets even! Though I must have ‘outed’ some bugs that were well hidden in my efforts. After three days of anxiety cleaning I found a crab spider (that the internet says never come inside) and a silverfish in my bathroom.

I keep cleaning but have made the urgent call to my neighbor to find out who her pest control guy is- this calls for professional help!

Meredith Meredith July 16, 2010 at 8:03 am

@ Laura, this is EXACTLY how I could have handled the situation. Good luck and let us know how Project Black Widow Removal turns out.

Carrie July 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

I’m so like you it’s scary at times lol. Bob does the same for me – he’ll just get out of my way, let me clean how I need to and all the while he’ll be straightening a different room where just so it’s done when I get there. Isn’t it awesome when you find the perfect people that understand you!

Gretchen July 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for this Meredith :) I understand you completely. One cleaning task leads to another and another and another…cleaning my bathroom last week after an ant invasion led me to painting one wall and getting a new shower curtain to top it off!

Karen (Scotland) July 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Are slugs not just the most awful things in the world? At least snails have a home to cover their grossness.
We had a bit of a slug attack over winter (we live next to woods – no idea if there is a connection). I was pregnant so just avoided the whole dire situation (nausea bad enough without facing little slime-devils), leaving my husband to deal with them. He declared war and would sprinkle salt around the whole house every evening and around the dishwasher and french doors. He kept trying to tell me about the ongoing battle but, after I nearly fainted when he told me he found one in a cup in the dishwasher (after the cycle), he realised I just DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW.
I may have to face the situation this winter and I am considering just sealing us into the house with supplies to last the winter…

Kacey July 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Eww! I totally understand. But what a sweet husband and son!

Lisa July 16, 2010 at 7:36 pm

What would be worse than finding a slug in your shower, is finding the slug, running to get your camera so you can put it on FACEBOOK, and returning to find that the slug is gone. And, now you don’t know where it is. Which is what happened to me only with a giant, hairy spider.

Jesse July 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm

It has been wet around here a lot and we have had them in the garage. Huge ones, eeewwww! Give me the willies just thinking about it! Love your profile photo, btw, very pretty!

Marcia Francois, Organising Queen July 17, 2010 at 1:13 am

Your hubby is a keeper!

Love how he says “brain stop itching” – I call it twitching (I feel myself twitch when I see full inboxes of thousands, etc, etc.)

cheryl July 17, 2010 at 5:34 am

Lol … I can relate to this one soooo many levels!

Trishna July 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

LOL. I had a seriously good laugh reading that but honestly, I felt so in tune. For me a cleaning rampage begins when I see anything that has more than four or less than two legs in and around our apartment. Now that you’ve said it aloud, I do realize, yes I scare people. Working on it though, seriously. On the not scaring people part.

Lisa @ lists in my pocket July 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I have never had a slug in my shower (knock on wood!) but i absolutely understand how you feel. Now that your house is clean, my baseboards could use some work. :)

Cecily T July 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I had a baby 2 weeks ago, and haven’t gotten much housework done since then. With our first child, I was so sleep-deprived that I didn’t notice how grungy my house got until finally when she was about 6 months old, I had had enough sleep to really look at my shower! (ugh)

Determined to do better this time, but b/c my hubby knows I feel this way, while I was out visiting relatives w/ the kids, he cleaned the sealing ring around the washing machine for me. Such a little thing, but he knew that I’d be so happy that got done. It’s one of those things that always falls to the bottom of the list after more pressing cleaning jobs and then I just can’t take it any more. I love my hubby.

Meredith Meredith July 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm

@Cecily T: awwwwwwwww. He’s a hubby who knows and loves his wife. Kudos to him. (And to you! As you know, things get much better with baby from here.)

Kristi ~ ArtSea July 18, 2010 at 7:43 pm

LOL… I Love it! Wow, I can totally identify! I get so creeped out by crawlies sometimes! And when I do start cleaning and I’m “in the mood” watch out! Thank you for sharing – well written too!

Helloheather July 19, 2010 at 10:02 am

Slugs are my most dreaded creature. I don’t like things with no bones. They squick me out. One time, I found an earthworm crawling across the middle of my living room carpet. It had no earthly reason to be there. Yuck.

Emily January 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm

This reminds me of the night in Spain when I realized that cockroaches could fly. And that they were in my apartment’s light fixtures. Repulsive.

(having a lot of fun looking through your site today – I’ve heard of it but haven’t visited before. Apparently there’s more than a little Penelope in me…)

mai February 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I’m a brand new reader, so please forgive my commenting so many months after you posted this, but I just had to say that this is both hilarious and so, so true. I’ve used cleaning rampages to clear my head after a “discussion” with my husband, to calm my nerves when I find a puddle of protest left by one of the cats, and even to deal with painful situations like a sudden death in the family. Somehow purging the dirt helps purge the ickiness inside as well. At least for me :)

Cameron October 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Superb post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject?
I’d be veery thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
Thank you!

Jolene Rae Harrington January 29, 2015 at 6:33 pm

I know this is an older post but I came across it today and just had to say THANK YOU for understanding me. I could have crossed out your name in there and added mine, perhaps also substituting “slug” for “mouse.” I’ve come to recognize my “anxiety cleaning” when it hits, and sometimes, I actually deliberately turn to cleaning as a way of reducing anxiety (it’s the control thing you pointed out.) But I was surprised by one thing: Doesn’t EVERYONE clean behind the toilet and microwave? And if not, how can they live with themselves??

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rose August 24, 2015 at 9:38 am

so How did you get rid of slugs in shower? why were they there in the first place?

Meredith Meredith August 24, 2015 at 2:47 pm

@Rose: we never had the problem again after that day. And we moved less than 6 months later, so I’m not sure if it’s recurred. The plumbing was very old, so that must have had something to do with it.

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