Hello and welcome back to another episode of the E2 English podcast. My name is Jay. 

Do you like doing the dishes or mopping the floors? Who scrubs the toilet or irons the washing in your house? Whether you like it or not, everyone must do housework. 

In this episode we’re going to look at important words and phrases related to housework. We’re going to learn 9 key words and I’m going to quiz you as we go along – so make sure you pay attention and learn these words, or if you already know them, double check you know them perfectly.

Before we get started, remember that if you need any help with your English then be sure to check out E2 English by visiting We have courses on pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, spelling and general English from beginner to advanced.

Cleaning the house

Ok… let’s get started and let’s begin in the bathroom. We’re going to clean the bathroom together. And we’re going to focus on some key verbs: WIPE, SCRUB, GIVE.

The first thing we’re going to do is WIPE the mirror. I’m going to use a cloth and WIPE it down. WIPE is a nice word in English. It means to clean or dry something using a cloth or a piece of paper or even your hand! So we WIPE the mirror clean, and we can say we WIPE it DOWN, which is a phrasal verb.

Okay, now that we’ve WIPED the mirror down. We’re going to SCRUB the shower. It’s a bit yuck. We use SCRUB is a more powerful verb than WIPE. WIPING is easy. It doesn’t take much effort, but if something is really dirty, then we need to give it a good SCRUB. 

I’m not sure if you remember this song by a band called TLC? It was called NO SCRUBS and one of the lyrics said: I don’t want no scrubs, a scrub is a guy who can’t get no love from me. 

So, if you have a boyfriend who is misbehaving, you can call him a scrub.

Alright, so we’ve wiped down the mirror, and we’ve scrubbed the shower. We now need to give the toilet a good clean. This is an interesting phrase: To give something a good clean or a good scrub. We say this a lot. Can you give the bathroom a good clean. Or can you give the toilet a good scrub. It means that we make sure we clean it properly.

Easy – we’ve wiped down the mirror, we’ve scrubbed the shower and we’ve given the toilet a good clean. I think that’ll do for the bathroom. Let’s go to the kitchen because we have to DO the dishes, and clean out the fridge and also take out the rubbish or trash.


Okay, so you can say ‘wash the dishes’, but it’s a little unnatural. It’s better to say “do the dishes”. Can you do the dishes? Or I did the dishes last night. Or I’ve done the dishes every day this week – it must be your turn! So we do the dishes.

Now I’m going to clean out the fridge. I’m not going to clean the fridge – that would probably mean wiping the outside of the fridge. No, I want to get inside the fridge, there is some rotting food inside so I need to clean it out. That means I need to remove some of the smelly rotten food from the inside – so I CLEAN IT OUT.

Easy, so I’ve done the dishes, I’ve cleaned out the fridge, now I need to take out the rubbish or garbage or trash. For some reason Australians and Brits say ‘rubbish’, while in north America they say ‘trash’ and ‘garbage’. Anyway, I need to take it out, or take it outside and put it IN the bin.

Alright, quiz time… so, we’ve cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen. Can you remember what verbs went with what nouns? Let me give you a little test. Ready?

Number 1: What do we do with a mirror?

Number 2: What do we do with a shower if it’s really dirty?

Number 3: What do we do with a toilet if it needs to be cleaned properly?

Okay, number 1: we WIPE the mirror or WIPE the mirror down.

Number 2: we SCRUB the shower and maybe if you have an ex-boyfriend is a bit of a scrub.

Number 3: we give the toilet a good clean. Or you can GIVE it a good scrub.

Okay, what about the kitchen? Let me test you on the verbs and nouns here.

Number 1: Do we wash the dishes, clean the dishes or do the dishes? Which phrase is the most natural sounding? Well, I certainly say “do the dishes”. I’ll do the dishes!

Number 2: If we want to empty the fridge do we clean the fridge or clean out the fridge? Ah, yes, we clean out the fridge. That means we empty all the smelly food. Eek.

Number 3: If you’re in Australia do you say ‘trash’ or ‘rubbish’? Do we take out the trash or do we take out the rubbish? Well, here in Australia we say ‘rubbish’. You can also say that someone is ‘talking rubbish’ as well, if they’re saying something stupid – ah, that’s rubbish! And in North America, Canada and the US, you say ‘trash’ – you need to take out the trash.

Okay, we have some more housework to do. This time we’re going into the bedroom – it’s a pig sty! In the bedroom, we’re going to make the bed, vacuum the carpet and tidy up the bookshelf.

So, when the blankets are everywhere we need to ‘make the bed’. This sounds a bit weird because we’re not literally making a bed – getting the wood and building a bed, we’re making the bed tidy. Putting the sheets and blankets and pillows together. So we make the bed. We don’t tidy the bed or clean the bed, we make the bed.

Alright, let’s vacuum the carpet. This is easy. The thing – the vacuum is also the verb! The vacuum vacuums! That’s simple. So we vacuum the carpet.

Finally, let’s tidy up the bookshelf or tidy up the desk. This means that we move the books into the correct position or we move the pens and papers on the desk so it looks nice and neat. We ‘tidy it up’. 


Okay, ready for the quiz!

Number 1: So, what do we do with the bed if it’s messy. Do we clean the bed? Do we do the bed? Or do we make the bed? We make the bed! I make my bed every morning.

Number 2: Do we vacuum up the carpet? Do we vacuum out the carpet or do we just simply vacuum the carpet? We vacuum the carpet!

Number 3: What’s the difference between cleaning something and tidying something? So if I say to you: Clean the bookshelf or clean the desk, what does that mean compared to ‘tidy the bookshelf’ or ‘tidy up the desk’? Well, tidy means to rearrange and make neat. We move things around to make it look nice.

Great! So, today we’ve learned important vocabulary related to housework. Remember to subscribe to this podcast because each week we learn new vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. This is the E2 English podcast and my name is Jay. I’ll see you soon!