Dear Claire,

I need your help with understanding a dream that I have. I dream that I am cleaning tables with a small, really white towel or dish cloth. I am in a dim room in a restaurant-like place. I am cleaning the tables by myself, and there are no other people around. The tables are square and a dull silver. Like aluminum or steel. I notice that they don’t seem to be all that dirty, but they are hard to get really clean and not dull. That is it. Just me wiping tables. I have had similar dreams before. Sometimes the tables are dirtier or harder to clean than other times.

Cleaning in a dream is most often associated with the dreamer’s desire to cleanse him/herself of acts or thought patterns which he/she views as negative, dark, sinful, or impure. As a result, cleaning in a dream becomes a common symbol for any type of cleansing or purification which may be needed in life, in that the act of washing or cleaning something usually represents a “washing away” of life’s impurities—i.e., misdeeds, sinful acts, or negative and unsavory situations. On the other hand, cleaning in a dream can also serve as a symbol for renewal in life, the initiation of a new path in life, or the clearing of or relinquishing of responsibilities in life. “Wiping away” stains, spills, or filth in a dream—or clearing away clutter, unwanted items, and refuse in order to leave a clean surface or space—usually symbolizes the desire to wipe/clear out life’s troublesome issues and “messes”, with the clean surface symbolizing a clean slate or a fresh start in life. The white towel in this dream also plays a significant role in its symbolism in that the color white symbolizes purity, cleanliness, and new beginnings, as well. Throughout human history, the color white has been used to signify all that is good, clean, pure, and simple—as well as serving as a powerful symbol for illumination, holiness, and spiritual rebirth. As a result, this white towel/dish cloth is most likely a reference to the dreamer’s wish to bring the goodness and newness that it represents back into his/her life—with the dreamer’s attempt to wipe away the dirt and dullness most likely signifying some negative or “dull” aspect or quality of life that he/she wishes to change or remove.

When having cleaning or washing dreams, it is always important to note what is happening in one’s life when these dreams occur—and what specific life events or issues may have directly preceded these dreams. Most likely, this type of dream occurs when the dreamer feels that some situation in his/her waking world needs to be “cleaned up” or cleared out—and when the dreamer feels that some fresh start or clean slate is needed. In the end, dreams of this nature are usually quite positive ones—because they are dreams of change, renewal, and the desire for a better and “cleaner” future.

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