Clean vs. clear

WRONG: I need to clear the flat. It’s terribly dirty.
RIGHT: I need to clean the flat. It’s terribly dirty.

What’s the difference between ‘clear’ and ‘clean?’ It’s a question that is sometimes asked by students, especially when they are referring to tidying.

If your boss asks you to clear you desk, it is a bad thing. It means you should pack all your things away because you’ve been fired! The desk needs to be clear for your replacement. If he asks you to clean your desk, it’s better – he’s just saying that your desk is dirty and needs a good wash.

‚Clean‘ means to remove the dirt, ‚clear‘ means to remove the things. If there are no clouds in the sky, we say it’s a clear night. If there is no dirt in our hotel room, we say it’s clean.

Here’s an example of both words used together:

Please can you clear everything out of the car, because I’d like to give it a good clean.