25 Clean Idioms: Sparkling Expressions You Should Know

When we talk about “clean idioms,” we’re delving into a part of English that not only conveys cleanliness or purity in a literal sense but also extends metaphorically to various aspects of life and behavior. Often, we use these expressions without even thinking about their origins, but each idiom carries a story that reflects our views on morality, health, and orderliness.

What are Clean Idioms?

In the English language, we come across many expressions that aren’t meant to be taken literally. Idioms, as we call these phrases, often paint a picture or convey a sentiment using creative language. Among these, “clean idioms” are a colorful subset that we use to illustrate purity, simplicity, neatness, or moral integrity. These idioms incorporate the word “clean” to convey their message.

For example, when we say that someone has “clean hands,” we’re implying that they are innocent or haven’t done anything wrong. Similarly, if we describe a situation or beginning as “a clean slate,” it suggests starting anew without any previous mistakes or problems affecting the current scenario.

Here’s a brief list of some common clean idioms and their meanings:

  • Clean as a whistle: Something very clean, pure, or done thoroughly.
  • A clean bill of health: A statement confirming good health or condition.
  • A clean break: A complete separation from something or someone.
  • Clean up one’s act: To improve one’s behavior or performance.

25 Clean Idioms: Sparkling Expressions You Should Know Pin

List of Clean Idioms in English

Idiom
Clean as a Whistle A clean break
Clean Bill of Health Clean up one’s act
Clean hands Come clean
Make a clean breast of it A clean slate
Sweep under the rug Wash one’s hands of something
White as snow Start with a clean sheet
Wipe the slate clean Clean out of
Clean sweep Clear the decks
Fresh as a daisy Keep one’s nose clean
Show someone a clean pair of heels To clean someone’s clock
Clean as a new pin Air one’s dirty laundry in public
Clean the floor with someone As clean as a hound’s tooth
Clean getaway  

Clean Idioms with Meaning and Example

Idioms Meanings and Example Sentences
Come clean To confess or be honest about something.

Example: “I decided it was time to come clean about what happened that night.”

Make a clean breast of it To confess one’s mistakes or wrongdoings fully.

Example: “He finally decided to make a clean breast of it and tell the truth.”

A clean slate An opportunity to start over without considering past actions or mistakes.

Example: “With the new year, she felt she had a clean slate.”

Sweep under the rug To hide or ignore a problem or issue rather than deal with it.

Example: “You can’t just sweep these issues under the rug; they need to be addressed.”

Wash one’s hands of something To stop being responsible for or involved in something.

Example: “After the project failed, he washed his hands of it entirely.”

White as snow Pure, innocent, or unblemished.

Example: “Her reputation is white as snow.”

Start with a clean sheet To begin again with no record of past mistakes or failures.

Example: “The team has a chance to start with a clean sheet this season.”

Wipe the slate clean To forgive or forget past offenses or start over.

Example: “Let’s wipe the slate clean and move past our disagreements.”

Clean out of Completely out of something; having none left.

Example: “We are clean out of milk, so I’ll have to go to the store.”

Clean sweep A thorough or decisive victory, or to remove all unwanted items from an area.

Example: “The team made a clean sweep in the championships.”

Clear the decks To prepare for a particular event or goal by clearing away anything unnecessary or dealing with anything outstanding.

Example: “Let’s clear the decks for the new project.”

Fresh as a daisy Feeling or looking very fresh, rested, or energetic.

Example: “Even after the long flight, she arrived looking fresh as a daisy.”

Keep one’s nose clean To behave well and avoid trouble.

Example: “He’s been trying to keep his nose clean since he got out of jail.”

Show someone a clean pair of heels To run away from someone or leave them far behind.

Example: “As soon as the race started, she showed everyone a clean pair of heels.”

To clean someone’s clock To defeat someone thoroughly in a competition or fight.

Example: “He’s so good at chess, he’ll clean your clock every time.”

Clean as a new pin Extremely clean or neat.

Example: “After hours of scrubbing, the kitchen was as clean as a new pin.

Air one’s dirty laundry in public To discuss private problems openly with others.

Example: “She’s always airing her dirty laundry in public during meetings.”

Clean the floor with someone To defeat someone easily in an argument or competition.

Example: “In the debate, he completely cleaned the floor with his opponent.”

As clean as a hound’s tooth Very clean and free from any form of dirt or wrongdoing.

Example: “His record is as clean as a hound’s tooth; he’s always followed the rules.”

Clean getaway To escape from a situation without any complications or consequences.

Example: “The thieves made a clean getaway before the police arrived.”

Clean Idioms in Various Contexts

Clean as a Whistle

This idiom means something that is extremely clean, clear, or pure, often used to describe something free from wrongdoing or corruption.

  • In Purity or Cleanliness: When something is exceptionally clean or unblemished.

Example: “After the detailing, my car was clean as a whistle.”

  • Integrity: When someone has a reputation for being honest or ethical.

Example: “His record is clean as a whistle; there’s not a single blemish on it.”

Clean Bill of Health

This phrase means a report or confirmation that someone is healthy or that an organization is operating correctly.

  • In Medicine: When a doctor declares a patient free from illness.

Example: “After the check-up, the doctor gave me a clean bill of health.”

  • In Evaluations: When an inspection or review finds no problems.

Example: “The restaurant passed the health inspection with a clean bill of health.”

Clean Hands

This idiom describes a state of innocence or lack of involvement in wrongdoing or unethical behavior.

  • In Innocence: When someone is not responsible for a wrongdoing.

Example: “She has clean hands in this matter; she wasn’t even in town when it happened.”

  • In Ethical Conduct: When asserting one’s own integrity or ethical behavior.

Example: “I can assure you that I have clean hands regarding the company’s financial dealings.”

A Clean Break

This phrase means to make a complete separation from a situation or relationship, often quickly and without any lingering ties or complications.

  • In Relationships: When ending a relationship clearly and without ambiguity.

Example: “They decided it was best to make a clean break rather than drag out the breakup.”

  • In Career Moves: When leaving a job or position definitively.

Example: “He left the firm and made a clean break, starting his own business.”

Clean up one’s act

This idiom means to improve one’s behavior, often after a period of wrongdoing or mistakes.

  • In Personal Improvement: When someone decides to change their behavior for the better.

Example: “After the warning from his boss, he knew it was time to clean up his act and start arriving on time.”

  • In Rehabilitation: When referring to someone making a concerted effort to reform or recover from addiction.

Example: “She cleaned up her act after going through the rehabilitation program.”

Related Idiom List:

Last Updated on December 12, 2023

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