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Opinions please: worried about the state of my parents' house, is there a problem?

(97 Posts)
AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 15:35:51

Namechanged for this.

I'm a bit worried about my parents' house. It's always been messy, and I know my DH thinks I am a bit anal about cleaning and tidying our place, so I just don't really know what's 'normal'. I know some things are proper issues, but others maybe I'm just being precious about? Basically I want to get a sense of how much each of these things would bother you and whether you think I need to say something/do something. It's very hard to talk to my mum about these issues so often I just end up cleaning up when I am there, but I don't live near home. My dad doesn't seem to get it either - he does very little housework. Part of the problem is, I have a baby niece and she will be crawling soon. My parents would be devastated if she got ill, and are expecting to do lots of looking after grandchildren - but I don't know if this will happen if the house stays as it is. Please let me know what you think to the following examples:

1) The kitchen floor is dirty and stick - your feet would go black after a few minutes. They have a new wood floor so they ask me to take my heels off (they wear flat shoes, and don't remove them, so don't seem aware of the issue).

2) Toilets are white, and stained brown inside. They buy eco bleach - does it not work? Or do they not use it enough?

3) The fridge always smells. Spills are not wiped up and things go rotten inside. I don't know if this is just unpleasant or a health issue?

4) Mice. They insist the mice are gone, but one room constantly has droppings in it. I don't know what to do: they say no mice get caught in traps but clearly they are there! Is this a health issue if other rooms don't have obvious signs of mice?

5) Dishes are left uncovered overnight - eg., poured-off cooking fat, leftover salad dressing. Sometimes if flies fall in they are thrown out but I worry my mum doesn't always notice or look clearly to see!

6) The cloth for washing dishes is always scrunched up, wet, after use. Needless to say it soon starts to smell. Do you always rinse yours out and let it dry, or is that me being anal? How often do you wash them? Mum claims they are washed once a week - I don't think this is enough and also doubt it really is that often. Teatowels - again, they're often stiff and smelly, how often do you wash?

7) The kitchen (newly re-done, they're very proud of it so it's hard to criticize) has surfaces that run all around, so the draining board and worktop are all the same surface. Chopping boards are used for eg. raw meat, but not always very precisely, and I'd be amazed if there's not cross-contamination. How likely would you be to get ill from this?

Thanks if you made it this far!

KurriKurri Sun 24-Jul-11 15:57:49

How old are your parents? and do they have any health problems or poor eyesights for instance that means they don't notice the dirt?

I don't think you are being anal about the cloths and tea towels - I always rinse mine out too and wash my Tea towels very frequently (basically I use them for one load of drying unless it's a very small one, then wash).

It sounds as if it's all got on top of them, rotting food in fridge and cross contamination of meat are a health hazard. there's no problem with people being untidy, I'm not especially tidy, but it is important that they have some basic hygiene rules in place, or they'll get ill.

KurriKurri Sun 24-Jul-11 16:00:13

The toilet problem could be limescale - bleach won't remove it just bleach it, so it will gather stains again fairly quickly. I think they need to use limescale remover to give a good scrub, then they can keep it clean more easily with their bleaching.

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:03:49

Thanks for replying Kurri. They are 59 and 61, so not elderly. Mum has a knee problem that does make it a bit hard for her - she can't kneel down - but she has had this all her adult life and I don't think it's the reason she doesn't clean. She has always had bad hayfever but I'm concerned my dad mentions he now has more allergies. He thinks he's reacting to lily pollen when mum puts flowers in the house, but I've read mice can give you allergies and worries about that.

They have always been like this with the fridge and the meat - I don't recall the tea towels being so bad before. When I was a child I'd clean the fridge quite often, but obviously I can't do that from 100 miles away. But they have never really got ill from it so don't see the problem. Do you think it can possibly be safe for the baby if she's crawling around? I'm worried, tba.

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:04:53

Cross-post - thanks, I will tell them about limescale remover, that sounds likely!

I don't think they regularly bleach it. Is this a health issue as such, or offputting?

yearningforthesun Sun 24-Jul-11 16:07:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FilthyDirtyHeathen Sun 24-Jul-11 16:09:35

Were they like this when you lived at home?

I am with you on rinsing out cloths and I never use tea towels. I also find over-filled fridges where food is left to rot pretty revolting. My sister will do this, putting packets of open, uncooked meat on top of cream cakes and so on. Lots of salad festering under the weight of vegetables, juice cartons and other fridge stuff. Her family always seem to have tummy bugs and I don't think it is a coincidence. I would never in a million years mention it however as it would be interpreted as smug and interfering. My view is that none of them has died yet so I leave them to it.

Unless you think your parents are unable to cope due to age or illness then I would probably let them get on with it too. You say you are worried about your niece but I think it is down to to her parents to decide whether they would be happy with her crawling around on the floor at your mum and dads.

skirt Sun 24-Jul-11 16:09:42

oh my lord your poor parents. It doesnt sound like a ghetto, just that after bringing their kids up, they probably just cant be arsed. Shop rubbing your finger along their skirtings and checking their tea towels and let them live how they like.

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:13:36

Thanks all for replying.

yearning - which ones are anal then? And what would you reckon is ok instead? This is the sort of thing I want to know.

heathen - I see what you're saying about leaving them to it if they don't get ill. I should explain - brother doesn't live in this country, and he's said before he wouldn't be happy leaving her with them, but they said they have had the new kitchen put in and now it is clean. He wants me to say what I think, so I am meant to be reporting back to him before he agrees to leaving the baby with them.

skirt - um, ok. I didn't mention the skirtings, actually. I'm worried about them, is that not ok? I'm not sure whether to say something or not and am asking advice, what's the problem?

SenoritaViva Sun 24-Jul-11 16:14:38

Re the mice, what do they use to try and catch the mice? Best thing is nutella because it sticks to the trap so the quick release gets them. Sorry but it's true!

If they do have mice they need to be a bit better at cleaning and hoovering.

I don't count myself as someone who keeps a particularly clean house but I do clean washing cloths a lot, hate them smelling. Same with tea towels but have a dishwasher so they don't get used often.

Re the loo, it sounds like they've got hard water and so it is rather the limescale than something more grim. We have this and if you don't clean the loo regularly it builds up, also if you don't use a toilet brush the same happens. Harpic do some excellent fizzing tablets that you drop in and leave overnight, most of the limescale is gone. I'll go and see if I can look up their name. Then everything goes easily with a quick rinse (this is assuming the brown is only up to water level!)

As long as they wash the boards it should be OK and not too bad. John Lewis (think it's Jasper Conran) do a great collection of chopping boards clearly labelled for what they are for, expensive though. If you're really worried you could give it to them as a present?!

Generally, if they don't get ill then I think you're over worrying.

SenoritaViva Sun 24-Jul-11 16:16:34

Re your second post and speaking to your brother you need to be honest. Maybe your brother can say baby is nearly crawling so can we ask you to get the floor super clean before we stay/leave her with you.

breadcrumbs Sun 24-Jul-11 16:19:59

Are they in a position to pay for a weekly cleaner? Or maybe you are? I would offer this to them, saying that they are going to be really busy with their grandkids and how nice it would be if they didnt have boring old housework to worry about and should be making the most of their active years, etc etc. Offer to interview a cleaner for them, tell her/him the issues and ensure that at the very least, the kitchen and bathroom are cleaned every week and maybe do a laundry load too (maybe bedding?)

My FIL lives alone and is perfectly capable of things but doesnt have much sense of tidyness and his house was being to smell a bit old-people-ish, lots of dust stains on his lovely wooden floors, and a rather revolting toilet. We had to have an operation and while he was in hospital, my DH arranged for someone to come out to do a deep clean in the house so he would be less likely to pick up any infections when he got home. He was so delighted with the results that he now has a lady in once a week and his house is very much nicer to visit! She really just hoovers throughout, cleans bathroom and kitchen and dusts surfaces. 2 hours a week, think she charges him £15.

Good luck with this! (ps I hate poor tea towel hygiene too!)

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:22:55

senorita - thanks for replying. I am really reassured about the limescale now. smile

With the mice, they set traps with peanut butter and caught a few. I get that they're a bit sensitive about it - older houses get mice, I understand it's an issue. But they re-use the traps and apparently this is pointless as mice can smell it. My dad is firmly of the belief that the mice come in when the door is left open and so don't 'really' have a way in and out the house. The room that still has them is my childhood bedroom, and I hoover it whenever I come home but each time there are more droppings and chewed things. I worry the mice may get into other rooms too (they had them in the kitchen before it was re-done). But if that's the only room with them now, will the other rooms be ok or will they be covered in mouse pee and we just don't know?

I'm glad to know the chopping boards thing is me not them - this is the sort of stuff I want to know.

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:24:02

bread - sorry, good idea but not in a million years. They just wouldn't.

PotteringAlong Sun 24-Jul-11 16:29:44

I have to say I don't always wash / change chopping boards from raw to cooked meats or other stuff (and have never poisoned myself nor anyone else) and I don't always wash up every day either BUT the Mice thing would really worry me - that's the big sign they're not on top of it. I tend to stick teatowels in every time I wash, so every 5 or 6 days or so.

Is it worth asking the pest control people from the council about the mIce? They might have someone who could come out?

Dorje Sun 24-Jul-11 16:30:02

Are you sure it isn't rats chewing things? TBh their house sounds very dirty to me - think of hiring a cleaner for them? The rodent problem might need a fumigator / exterminator - have they cockroaches?

Sometimes peoples sense of smell / eyesight goes when they get older. It's not easy when they're so far away and you feel you want to help.

Ultimately though it's their house....

Becaroooo Sun 24-Jul-11 16:34:01

Rotting food around and mice is not good!

Sounds like they are lucky they havent been made quite ill by this.


Becaroooo Sun 24-Jul-11 16:35:00

<<whispers>> I use clean teatowels each time I wash up, ditto bath towels and that odd then??>>

Becaroooo Sun 24-Jul-11 16:35:34

(the bath towels and flannels are for washing our bodies, obv, not dishes!!!>> blush

feralgirl Sun 24-Jul-11 16:47:50

Mice can fit through teeny tiny holes (I swear Sarah Beeny said something about the width of a biro on Help My House Is Falling Down last week) so if they're in one room then chances are they're in others as well, or will be soon.

If I was a mouse then I wouldn't bother coming and going out of the house, your parent's kitchen sounds like mouse heaven if there's food left uncovered. And chances are they'll be all over the floors and leaving trails of salmonella-wee for your baby neice to crawl through. That's the one thing in the list that I would be really seriously worried about and where I would feel I had to force the issue.

FWIW my tea towels go in the wash after one use (but I do also use them for cleaning up after toddler meal times); washing up cloths/ sponges washed after a couple of days and usually chucked out after a month or two; chopping boards/ knives always washed after raw meat; washing up done every evening; kitchen floor swept every couple of days and mopped once a week; fridge cleared of anything dodgy once or twice a week; loos done with limescale remover when necessary and eco cleaner inbetween. I'm not particularly anal about much housework type stuff but basic kitchen hygiene is high on my priority list.

Nagini Sun 24-Jul-11 16:51:04

I wouldn't like it, but I think really you need to keep out of it. They're not living in squalor by the sounds of it.

I think that you should let them live how they want to. If your brother has an issue about the cleaning then he can talk to them about it.

You are at risk of sounding condescending and superior, and if I were your mum and you came round cleaning my house you'd be pissing me off and I'd think you were up yourself TBH.

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:55:12

Thanks all. Beca - I don't use clean teatowels every time, but quite often - I don't like the stale smell. This is beyond stale though - they have that sort of pungent/rotting smell. If you dry your hands you walk around wondering what you touched that was 'off'. So I do worry it's a health issue.

dorje - they think the mice problem is gone, though. I will have another go, but what really worries me is, could mice be everywhere and we don't know because they're only very obviously pooing in one place? They're not rats I'm pretty sure - teeth marks are too small! (We live in the countryside and I'm sure there will be rats nearby, so I do reckon I'm right here). No cockroaches, but usually flies in their compost bin that sits on the worktop. I don't think their eyesight is going - they are both still fine to drive and have had tests fairly recently.

pottering - I shall stop worrying about the chopping boards, thanks! smile

wicketkeeper Sun 24-Jul-11 16:55:56

You're not being anal at all. I would be worried about every single one of the issues you mentioned. It's quite possible that over time your parents have built up an immunity to the bugs that they are harbouring - but your young niece won't have that immunity, so you are right to be worried.

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:57:07

Cross-post. Nagini, I do see where you're coming from. I just can't help worrying my dad's new allergies might be caused by the state of teh house. I am not happy that I'm ending up in the middle of things between my brother and my parents, but as I say, he lives in another country sso it's not really possible for him to see for himself before he arranges a visit.

AnalAboutCleaning Sun 24-Jul-11 16:59:40

Sorry, I somehow missed your posts wicket and feral, but this is exactl what I'm concerned about.

If they don't find droppings in the kitchen anymore since it's been redone, is it safe to say mice are not there any more?

My mum reckons when we were babies we ate earth and puts all sorts in our mouths so she is very keen to say a bit of dirt is healthy - and it is, within reason, I agree. I'm just not sure where the line should be drawn.

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