Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Are you a germaphobe?

In today’s episode, you’ll find out why you should be a stickler for this English vocabulary,

When it comes to discussing how you feel about being clean or messy, you need interesting phrases!

Listen in for a pro tip for a deeper connection around this topic.

Neat freak or clutter bug?

Lindsay asks Aubrey if she is a neat freak.

Aubrey says she is not at all a neat freak.

She is more of a clutter bug.

This is the opposite of being a neat freak.

She continues to share that her husband hates when she leaves a bit of a mess at home.

Lindsay also likes to be organized.

Today’s topic dives deeper into how you can describe someone who is very clean and tidy.

A listener has sent a question regarding this.

Today’s question

Hello Lindsay! I’m super happy that I found your podcast and started listening to them. I listen to your podcast every day when I commute to work. I really see the difference in my English level before and after listening. In my daily life, I have a problem with English words related to different characteristics of people and the right way to point to those characteristics. For example, I don’t know what I should call a person who cares about cleanliness a lot in a good way. Can you please make a podcast about different characteristics?


Surprisingly, there are very few positive words in English that describe someone who values cleanliness.

Most phrases describing this have a negative implication.

Today we’ll share words for characteristics of people who are clean and tidy.

#1: Fastidious

This means someone who has their property or possessions clean and in order at all times.

It is a positive way to say a person looks after their belongings and values a clean space.

It is not used often by native English speakers.


She is very fastidious. She doesn’t go to bed without tidying up her house.

#2: Type A

Type A can mean many things, including leadership ability.

This often means a person can be really critical.

If someone is ‘Type A’ about being clean, it means they insist on cleanliness.

For the most part, calling someone ‘Type A’ doesn’t have a positive connotation.

#3: Stickler for cleanliness

This means someone finds it important to be clean and prioritizes it.

To be a stickler means you are someone who insists on a certain behavior or manner.

You can be a stickler for honesty or for being on time.


He is a stickler for cleanliness, so it drives him crazy that his roommates leave clothes everywhere.

#4: Neat freak

This has a negative connotation.

This means you are extremely tidy and very clean.

You care about it too much, to the point that some may find it annoying.

This can be used as an insult but it depends on the context.

You have to be careful about how to use it.

Here is an example that doesn’t sound negative and is indirect.


My daughter is not exactly a neat freak so I’m constantly asking her to clean her room.

#5: Germaphobe

This also has a negative ring to it.

Depending on the context, it can sound very critical.

This is used to describe someone who is paranoid about germs and wants to be clean all the time.


I always use disinfectant spray on the counter since I am a bit of a germaphobe.

Tip when describing someone

It can be easy to offend someone when you are describing their personality.

You wouldn’t want to have this break a connection you’ve been trying to build.

It’s important to make sure you use the right words so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings.

You can use the word ‘self-proclaimed’ plus the trait to describe someone if it’s something they’ve said about themselves.

This removes the accusation.

It makes it very light and indirect.

It is a very advanced way to not offend someone.


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Aubrey using the words shared in today’s episode.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Aubrey are college friends who are talking about their new roommates.

Aubrey: I’ve never considered myself a neat freak but it’s driving me crazy how messy my roommate is.
Lindsay: Oh no! Mine is the opposite. She is a self-proclaimed germaphobe so she cleans the bathroom multiple times a day. It’s great!
Aubrey: So lucky! I’m turning into a real stickler for cleanliness. I need to call my mom and apologize for how messy my room always was.
Lindsay: Me too. My mom tried to teach me how to be fastidious but I was like you. My room was always a disaster.


Making a connection and building relationships in English is always the goal at All Ears English.

Lindsay and Aubrey encourage you to learn vocabulary to ensure you make those connections strong.

Talking about characteristics of people can be tricky.

However, if you add new words to your repertoire it can definitely help you say the right things.

This will ensure you continue to build a good rapport with friends and colleagues.

Which of today’s characteristics describe you?

Share it in the comments section.

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