student asking question

Does the word "clean" and "tidy up" are interchangeable? Or do they have slightly different meanings?

teacher

Native speaker’s answer

Rebecca

Kind of! They are sometimes interchangeable and they are sometimes different. The phrases "tidy up" and "clean up" mean the same thing - they both mean to clean or neaten up. "Tidy" is considered more informal and casual than "clean". Use the word "clean" when using detergents or products to wash things. For example, mopping the floors with water and soap would be considered "cleaning" the floors and not "tidying" the floors. Whereas, if you "tidy" your room, you make it look nice by packing things away or making your bed, but you don't generally use detergents. Or if you made your workspace more presentable and organised, that would be "tidying up". Ex: I'll see you later! I have to tidy up my house before the guests come over. Ex: Wow! Your workspace looks so neat and tidy. Ex: Kim's new car smelled nice and clean and when she got in. Ex: Cleaning your home is a lot of work. It can sometimes take the whole day!

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