KC Davis Teaches Us That Keeping House is 'Morally Neutral'

Illustration of a person and a home embracing

KC Davis has a system for everything. On her TikTok account (@domesticblisters), boasting over 1.4 million followers, she demonstrates no-fold laundry routines, visual aids for tidying up, and most notably, life-changing, honest pep talks that remind us all to remove the morality from homemaking. 

Davis, a licensed professional therapist, speaker, and author, started her TikTok account like many of us did: at the height of the pandemic. Caring for her two little kids, she was experiencing postpartum depression and felt her home “falling apart” around her.

She took to the Internet to share her quirky, individualized housekeeping methods, albeit worried about the judgment she might receive. The judgment came — but so did the gratitude.

KC Davis and the birth of “morally neutral”

Commenters flocked to delight in seeing a “real home,” and shared their stories about how “traditional” care task hacks never worked for them.

“I started honing in on the dialogue around why we all feel shame about this,” Davis said. “And I started talking about how shame is really an enemy of functioning, and it actually prevents us from finding solutions in our home care and self-care.”

When Davis responded to a commenter about how neglecting the laundry is not a moral failing, a lightbulb went off. Her phraseology of cleaning being “morally neutral,” created a movement.

“I wish that we could all unlearn that advice for home care is one size fits all. I wish we could unlearn that the way you keep your house is a reflection of your character or your work ethic,” Davis said. 

Her tools are catered to people who are disabled, overwhelmed by childcare, experience executive dysfunction — and those who are just plain exhausted by the demands of taking care of their homes, their families, and themselves. 

“The basis of my whole platform is that you don’t exist to serve your house; your house exists to serve you,” Davis said. “It’s giving people that radical permission to see their barriers as legitimate barriers, and instead of trying to bulldoze through them by sheer force of will and good character, they could just grant themselves the permission to seek accessibility in their environment.” 

Self-care for everyone

Davis takes a lot of inspiration from the anti-diet movement, as well as community care work in BIPOC and disability communities, to confront and dismantle “traditional” commercialized white wellness.

In her book “How To Keep House While Drowning,” Davis examines and guides readers to first embrace the moral neutrality piece, followed by embodying one’s worthiness of functioning, and then finally introducing adaptive strategies.

“Good enough is perfect. Everything worth doing is worth doing half-assed,” she said. “Once you embrace that, it frees you to get creative with breaking down tasks and picking things that fit with your lifestyle.”

But what about the aesthetic Pinterest boards we all covet? The Target aisles that call our name and invite us to imagine a living room without dog toys, storybooks, and dust bunnies littering the floor? 

“A house is a home because you live in it,” Davis said. “That’s literally it. There’s no magical domestic skill that turns a house into a home — something women are often socialized to be responsible for creating. Is it the fresh-baked pie on the window sill? Is it that the pantry has all the glass jars? Is it the stain-free couch? That ambiance is still something someone has to work to create. I think that home is an environment that serves you.”

She reasons that Starbucks is not set up to serve her deeply unique personal preferences or boundaries, and neither is her friend’s place or her parent’s house.

No other environment is set up specifically for her lifestyle, desires, and needs, but her own home — and that’s the feeling of security and freedom she wants everyone to have.

Whether it’s making guests feel welcome based on their experience, rather than the aesthetic appeal of your home, stopping the apologies, using paper plates when you don’t have the capacity for dishes (no, you’re not a bad environmentalist, we promise), or any number of other rejected housekeeping norms, Davis is thrilled to usher in a new way of care for her followers.

“This is catching fire,” she said. “I’m hoping that is starting a revolution in self-care, that we can sort of wrestle this toxic positivity and white wellness culture and provide a different milieu of compassionate and practical help. We're listening to people who know what it's like to have barriers other than just not believing in yourself. And I think that is producing real help for people.”

To learn more, visit strugglecare.com.

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A version of this article was first published in the Goodnewspaper — Good Good Good’s monthly print newspaper filled with good news and ways to make a difference.

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Header image illustrated by Johnathan Huang for Good Good Good.

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December 13, 2022 5:00 AM
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