As India, a country with a complex relationship with cleanliness, modernizes rapidly, urban infrastructures are increasing even faster than the growing population. This paper explores the relationships between access to infrastructures, social mobility and resource consumption in everyday lives through the case of cleanliness in Mysore, Southern India. We draw on interviews with 28 Mysoreans about cleanliness perceptions and practices. Analysing cleanliness across class, caste and gender reveals that in the globalizing cleanliness cultures of Mysore those who are precarious and have less access to hygiene infrastructures, tend to have to clean more but don’t resist expectations. We argue that, as cleanliness contours citizenship claims, the ‘great unwashed’ are excluded from participating in society. We question whether infrastructures and policies purported to increase the quality of life and provide basic human rights through increasing cleanliness, actually inadvertently contribute to deepening social stratification.