Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Messy homes and cars

One thing Brazilians like to say about Americans is that they (Americans) have messy homes and cars. Obviously, this does not apply to every American! I have been in many fastidiously clean and organized homes in this country, as well inside many normally neat looking cars.

What Brazilians refer to though, is something I have also witnessed: cars that look like a trash can, with fast food boxes and cups strewn all over over the seat and floor.

Some people seem to live out of their cars, and you can find almost any item in there. As for homes, Americans seem to be bigger hoarders than Brazilians. I have also seen homes where you can barely walk around all the junk people keep. Some of these homes are rarely cleaned. In Brazil, even the poorest of the poor sometimes keep a neat house. It is almost cultural that homes are often cleaned. Maybe an inheritance from the slavery days where people had a lot of help, albeit free help?

I tried to come up with the reasons why we sometimes see messiness in some American homes while it is not so common in Brazil:

1) Americans have long commutes. Some people leave home early morning to work and drive dozens of miles to get, only returning at the end of the day. Therefore, they often eat in their cars and keep clothes or other personal items they may need.

2) Many Brazilians still eat lunch as the main meal at home. Lunch breaks at work are the norm, sometimes as long as 2 hours. People who eat at work and work for big companies usually have a in-house cafeteria. Therefore, buying food on the road and leaving cartons in the car is uncommon.

3) Many Brazilians use public transportation to work, and if they own a car, use it on weekends only.

4) Brazilians eat less junk food and pre-packaged food than Americans, thus eating in the car not the norm.

5) Only the top tier of the economic pyramid in America can afford to have cleaning ladies (sorry for the gender stereotyping) or full time maids. Most people have to do their own chores and cleaning. With Americans often working longer than 40 hours a week, house cleaning is relegated to weekends, if ever. In Brazil the middle class can afford maids or cleaning service in a more frequent basis, since physical labor is cheaper.

6) Eletronics, clothes, toys and other objects that can clutter a house are accessible to more Americans than Brazilians. With more economic power, Americans can buy more gadgets to fill their house. Meanwhile, since Brazil still has a large number of underprivileged people, it is easy to dispose of excess clothes, shoes or other objects that can still be used.

7) A warm climate like Brazil’s generally requires less bulky items in your closets.

I don’t remember seeing many Brazilian hoarders, but I am sure there are some. If anyone knows them, please share your story. People who don’t ever throw out the box of the item they bought, who never throw out those t-shirts from their youth, who keep piles of clothes that don’t fit them or are out of fashion in hopes they will wear them again, who like to have collections of everything, from coins to sunglasses to shoes…..everyone knows someone like that.


June 17, 2010 - Posted by | Difference between cultures


  1. Also in brazil everybody trows their trash out of the window of the car. Wish makes for clean cars and dirty streets

    Comment by Antonio pereira | July 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. Antonio,I have seen americans doing the same!

    Comment by Me | December 22, 2010 | Reply

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