I always have some trouble distinguishing these words, "clean up", "clean out" and "clean". Is it possible to use only "clean", instead of "clean up" and "clean out". For example, instead of saying, I have to clean up my living room. I say, "I have to clean my living room." Instead of saying, I have to clean out my garage, "I have to clean my garage. Instead of saying, I have to clean out the drawers. "I have to clean the drawers." I looked into the differences a lot on the Internet. And I think I understand the differences, but in everyday conversation, do I have to distinguish them correctly?

  • Thank you for your answers, but I'm still not sure about how to use them. I'd like to know if I can stick to "clean" instead of "clean up" and "clean out". Feb 14, 2016 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


They are very related, but one form is stronger than the other.

  1. clear out

    • tidy up thoroughly and get rid of stuff you don't need.
      I must clear my room out, there are a lot of things using space.
    • something that causes you to spend all of your money.
      Christmas really cleaned me out.
  2. clean up

    • tidy and clean.
      This bedroom must be cleaned up.
    • for profit.
      We bet and won so much that we cleaned everything up.
  3. We can use clean without a particle by using the present simple:

    • I clean the kitchen every day.
  4. As an imperative:

    • Clean your room now!
  5. As an adjective:

    • Clean lines were drawn on the map.
  • 1
    "clear out" and "clean out" are not the same, as evidenced by the fact that "cleared me out" wouldn't make sense in your second example.
    – Mark S.
    Feb 14, 2016 at 16:51

Yes, You can use all these words in your sentences.

It makes no any difference.

Clean up is a phrasal verb which means: to make (a room or space) clean and orderly.


Would you mind helping me clean up the kitchen after dinner? We stayed late to help them clean up.


Clean out is a phrasal verb which means something such as a cupboard, room, or container, you take everything out of it and clean the inside of it thoroughly.

Secondly, "clean"is a simple word which is often used in our daily life. Clean is used to emphasize that something was done completely.

  • What do you mean by "You can use"? To use is usually used as a transitive verb. Did you use no any to emphasize your sentence? How come to clean is used to emphasize that something was done completely? You mean "I cleaned the room" is used to emphasize cleaning was done more completely than "I cleaned up the room"?
    – user24743
    Feb 14, 2016 at 3:45
  • @Rathony. Yes, I was talking about the cleaness of room. This is to say, the words play different role in the sentences, but in the various places. Feb 14, 2016 at 3:46
  • I asked three questions, but you didn't answer any of them.
    – user24743
    Feb 14, 2016 at 3:48
  • You can use. I am taking about the words. The poster asked us to differentiate between the words. That's why I said you can use. This is to say, you can use all these words in the sentences, it makes no difference if you use. Feb 14, 2016 at 3:52
  • If I say to someone to clean the kitchen. If he is going to clean the kitchen, if his work is done . Then I would like to say that clean is used to emphasize that something was done perfectly. Feb 14, 2016 at 4:12

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