HOUSEHOLD CHORES vocabulary: USEFUL Expressions in ITALIAN

Learning a foreign language is never easy, but it could be easier to learn expressions thematically, meaning that you learn them based on the theme that they share. Today, we have decided to teach you expressions that have to do with household chores, because they are among the most useful to learn. If you are curious to learn them, know that for each and every one of them, you can also find a detailed description that includes all of the words you’ll need.


Picture this scene: you’re in Italy, at some of your friend’s house and they decide do throw a costume party…but the house is very dirty! Well, in this case you better put on some rubber gloves, take all the essentials, and listen carefully to the instructions your friends will give you, because you are going to learn expressions for all kinds of cleaning – floors, windows, clothes, dishes and much more!

“SPAZZARE IL PAVIMENTO” (sweep the floor)

Usually, this is the first chore people take care of. “Spazzare il pavimento” means using a broom (scopa) to clean the floors, removing the dirt of all kinds, such as dust, wastepaper, crumbs, etc.

The broom could be easily replaced by technological devices: if you decided to use the vacuum cleaner (aspirapolvere*) to clean the floors, the right expression would be “PASSARE L’ASPIRAPOLVERE” (to vacuum) – using the vacuum cleaner would enable you to remove dust form floors, carpets, but also window shades and the spaces between furniture.

[*the word aspirapolvere can look difficult to write and learn, but it gets easier to once you realize it’s a compound word, made up of aspira/aspirare (to suction/suck) and polvere (dust)]

After having cleaned the floor, we can move to surfaces of furniture, ornaments, shelves and shelving units…

“SPOLVERARE” (dust off)

If you use a cloth (panno, e.g., “panno di microfibra”, microfiber cloth) to remove the dust from various surfaces, you are SPOLVERANDO (dusting, gerund of spolverare) – this is how we say it in Italian.

Let’s go back to the floors for a second: now that you have swept, or vacuumed, the floor we have to wash it!

“LAVARE IL PAVIMENTO” (wash the floor)

Lavare il pavimento” is a very simple expression. which could be replaced by a more advanced one: “PASSARE LO STRACCIO” (to mop) . Either way, you need to fill a bucket (secchio) with water and then add some detergent (detersivo, or detergente); then you have to soak the mop (straccio, or mocio), squeeze (strizzare) it properly and use it to clean the whole surface, to eliminate any stain.

Good! We have washed the floors and wept dust off the surfaces…what is the next step in household chores?

“FARE IL BUCATO” (do the laundry)

Fare il bucato” means dealing with the dirty laundry (panni), the dirty articles of clothing, such as t-shirts, trousers, shirts- and linens (biancheria) -underwear, towels, sheets, tablecloths and napkins-. To do so, it is possible to use the washing machine (lavatrice), by setting the right commands…or we can LAVARE A MANO (wash by hand), which is necessary when it comes to delicate garments – it takes longer, though! In this case, you would have to fill a basin (bacinella), add some liquid soap (sapone liquido) or some laundry detergent (detersivo per il bucato) inside of it. Then you soak the clothes and, if there are any stains, you rub (strofinare) them delicately. To remove stains from fabrics, you could use specific chemical products, such as stain removers (smacchiatore), or natural solutions, like water and vinegar.

Once you’r done with the laudry, we can go back to the kitchen to tackle some dirty dishes!

“LAVARE I PIATTI” (wash the dishes)

Lavare i piatti” means washing crockery (stoviglie) and dirty dishes (piatti), remove the grease and all the food residues. If you don’t have a dishwasher (lavastoviglie), you will have to wash them by hand, in the kitchen sink (lavandino), using a sponge (spugna) and dish soap (detersivo per piatti).

When you’re done with the dishes, we can go check on the washing machine…Look! It had finished both the washing and the spin cycle. Great, now we can…

“STENDERE IL BUCATO” (hang out the laudry)

Stendere il bucato” means that you take all the freshly washed laundry and you put it on the drying rack (stendino). To prevent it from falling down, you can secure it with some clothespins/clothes pegs (mollette) or you can hang it on a hanger (gruccia). In case you didn’t know, in Italy is far more common to use a clothesline/drying rack than using dryers!

Going back to the kitchen, you might notice a few waste containers in different colors. Here in Italy, is actyally pretty common to…

“FARE LA RACCOLTA DIFFERENZIATA” (separate and recycle the waste)

Fare la raccolta differenziata” means separating all the waste we produce based on its material (glass, paper and cardboard, plastic, wet organic, and metal, and undifferentiated waste) – this allows every single waste to get treated and disposed in the best way possible. We are given various bags to separate them, we just have to respect the separation; to make things easier and faster, all the bags have specific colors nationwide: yellow is for plastic, brown is for organic, (light) blue is for paper and cardboard, green is for glass and metals, grey is for undifferentiated waste!

Are you done separating the waste? The laundry is dry and we should…

 “STIRARE” (iron)

“Stirare” means ironing: using an ironing board (asse da stiro) and a (flat) iron (ferro da stiro) to remove wrinkles from cloths, linens, clothes…possibly avoiding getting burnt! After you iron every item, you have to fold (pieghare) it and only then you can put it in the wardrobe.

It’s not time to rest yet. There is one last chore to do!

“PULIRE I VETRI” (lit., clean the glass)

…And that is removing stains from any glass surface to make them clean and shiny. To do so, you need a cloth and some specific detergent, which is usually sprayed (spruzzato, past participle of the verb spruzzare) on the surface and rubbed with the cloth.

These were the most useful expressions regarding household chores! Obviously, we had to limit ourselves to a short list full of many interesting words, but housework does not end here…If you are interested to learn more terms that concern the world of the house, do not forget to go read our article on cooking vocabulary!

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