In English somebody who got rid of a drug addiction might informally be called "clean". I recently saw a poster translating "sauber" (in German) and "clean" (in this context) as "faire le ménage" in French and I feel like this is an incorrect translation: As far as I know, "faire le ménage" only refers to the act of "cleaning up".

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    L'usage courant est : « Cette personne est clean », dans cette tournure, clean est associé à drogues et donc la personne est débarrassée de ses addictions. Faire le ménage est une traduction de robot dans ce contexte. deepl.com/translator donne propre, mais c'est une traduction possible que dans un contexte très particulier/soutenu, en préfèrera « C'est fini maintenant, elle est nette », dans cette phrase, clean remplaçant propre sera compris par tout le monde sans ambiguïté.
    – Personne
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 22:16
  • Where did you see that? Please provide a link. You can faire le ménage regarding just about anything. And it does not mean specifically to get clean re a drug habit. However, if you get clean, you have "fait le ménage" in your life.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 23:34

1 Answer 1


In that poster, the German sauber actually translates to sobre in French and share with it both its etymology and meaning, i.e. someone who isn't ivre (drunk).

We use more sobre for alcohol but nothing forbids to use it for drugs too (or more likely a combination of alcohol and drugs). That would definitely not be the right word in such a poster though.

As it actually reads faire le ménage, the explanation can only be an incorrect (machine) translation.

We would use clean in spoken French too, as Personne wrote in comments.

In a poster, that might rather be a verb like arrêter, sortir de la drogue/ de la dépendance.

  • Oui, je n'avais pas compris que l'affiche contenait vraiment "faire le ménage". Je suis d'accord que "sobre" n'est pas la meilleure traduction car ce n'est pas ce que l'on dirait.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 22:21
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    « Sobre : qui boit et mange avec modération. » pour les drogues en est accro ou son contraire clean en langage familier.
    – Personne
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 22:21
  • @jiliagre: it does really contain that text. It looks roughly like the following: CLEAN. SAUBER. FAIRE LE MENAGE. <NAME OF CITY>. Depictions of drugs (syringes, pills etc.) set the context.
    – Luatic
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 22:23
  • Correctif : « pour les drogues on est accro …
    – Personne
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 22:28
  • Why not telling the city? A picture of the poster would be even better...
    – jlliagre
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 22:32

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