Point of view is everything!
The dictionary defines 'clean' as free from dirt, unsoiled, unstained, and characterized by a fresh wholesome quality .
But this definition can have a wide scope of variation depending on the lens that you are using to view.
Let's consider the teenager's view of clean. How many of us have sent their unwilling teen to 'clean' his/her room, only to find that upon inspection, after the tidy-up, that it looked exactly as it did when they went to perform the task. There is not a surface in the room uncluttered, the bed is in shambles (why make it when you are just getting back into it that night, I hear repeatedly), and a fresh smell?…I don't think so.
Moving on, let's look at the state of cleanliness of a university student's residence. Now, to be fair, and somewhat sexist here, gender can make an impact, but generally speaking, we have gone from bad to worse. Whereas a teenager living at home usually has easy access to laundry facilities, this is not always the case at university. As well, the amount of space the student inhabits is usually much smaller. Given these factors, the room has gone from a cluttered state to a hoarder state, and the smell from stale to pungent. Old beer bottles and dirty socks have a way of doing that! When asked, they say they know where everything is and they have a 'system'.
In the living quarters of a single person, finished school, and working and living on their own, we often see a remarkable metamorphosis in the 'clean' category! This young adult now sees her living space more as a reflection of herself, often saving money for her first pieces 'real' furniture and setting a style and a colour scheme that she enjoys. Generally neater, these young adults enjoy having people "over" for dinner or drinks. They take pride is showing their living space as a reflection of their new position in life.
Now to the lens that most of us think of when we think about,"what is clean"? The mothers and to be fair, sometimes the fathers, in our families. They really do set the gold standard! As an incessant wiper myself, don't know where I picked up that annoying habit, I have a very hard time with dirty. Messy sometimes gets by me, but not dirty. I don't know when as mothers we get so obsessed about a clean house, but for most it happens after the kids are out of diapers and starting to play on sports teams, bring friends home and so on. We grow this incredible sensibility about how clean our homes appear to others and a tug of war begins as to who is going to do what. More often than not I just give in and do the cleaning as I can not wait for others to do it not can I stand a poor job. I do not think there is an easy solution to this issue as I remember the same conversations with my mother as I had with my own children.
So final thoughts on "what is clean"? must be these…keep things in perspective…most children grow to appreciate clean in their adulthood and you want to live to enjoy this!!