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Unclean house, what to say not to offend?!

(91 Posts)
WhoseGotMyEyebrows Fri 12-Aug-11 16:48:01

What do you say to someone whose house is really dirty? I suppose I could just say nothing but it makes me not want to visit which is sad for all of us. I take my children there (can't stop doing that) but even on my own I find it awful and unhygenic and try not to touch surfaces and things.

There are 2 men living there and the oldest does stuff around the house but only certain things. He does vaccum the living room (just the main area not in the corners or between furniture) and he does the washing up and the ironing (obsessively). The younger one does everything under protest and I don't think he does much more then the washing up occassionally.

The are both healthy and fit and I think the problem is that they just don't know what needs doing, how to do it, and how often.

I have wanted to say something for years (since they have lived alone) but just don't know how to put it.

I thought the best thing would be to mention things as I see them rather then have a big discussion about it. But then yesterday when I went to visit and younger one was making drinks. I didn't get a chance to think about it the words just came out . . . I said "jesus those mugs are filthy!" blush I didn't mean to be quite so blunt but they really were and the words just came out! The were lined with dark brown, almost like someone had wiped thick dark chocolate around the inside of the mugs. So I tried to soften it by saying how he could get it out but he was obviously pissed off and just grunted at me blush. I really didn't mean to hurt his feelings but fucking hell I have to drink from them!

The problem isn't that they are stained, it's that things don't get washed up properly so they are actually dirty. They get put in the sink in water and then a while later taken out. That's it. No wiping around or anything!

Don't get me started on the bathroom or the pet food!

You're probably all going to say I am really horrible because of what I said but I really didn't mean to be rude. I've tried subtle and it has no effect.

mandoo Fri 12-Aug-11 16:53:36

Oh nothing worst. I have to feed my neighbours pets when they are away and the house is filthy and smells. Luckly I'm in and out. Think I would run a mile if she offered me a cup of tea!

I think the only option is to be straight froward about it...are you close to theses two men (family?)

Shitter Fri 12-Aug-11 16:58:46

Well, it is their house so it is really up to them how they run it. Or not run it grin

Nothing you could say would not lead to them taking offence, so best to keep shtum, and wear a peg on your nose when you go round.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Fri 12-Aug-11 17:03:07

Yes relatives. How could you tell? grin

We often go there for lunch but because of the dip and dry method of washing up, if you run your hand over a plate you can feel the stuck on food and grease. I don't like my dcs eating off those plates so have found a few ways around it such as buying a MDs for everyone on the way around and saying the kids can eat out of the boxes to avoid making washing up.

MrsFlittersnoop Fri 12-Aug-11 20:26:17

Is there any way you could persuade them to get a dishwasher? Everything would be sterilised then, and the brown rings in the mugs would be dealt with! There would be no reason for the sink to get particularly mucky either so it would be easier to keep everything clean.

You can shove all sorts in too, the plate from the microwave, shelves from the fridge, oven grill and racks, compostable recycling caddy, toothbrush mugs, all the endless usual bachelor household horrors..... grin

SaffronCake Fri 12-Aug-11 20:36:16

I'd say the only thing is to be direct. Being as kind about it as you can of course, but still telling the truth. Maybe a few questions about how they feel they are managing or come in full of enthusiasm about some book you've just read about easy peaasy home mangement and would they like to hear about it? They have every right to tell you to get lost of course, but since they are family and you love them (and they might eventually forgive you even if they take grave offence) then I would say take a deep breath and go for it. I'm wondering if perhaps the FlyLady cleaning system might give you a lead, take it up and then rave about it and convince them they want to try it.

fanjobiscuit Fri 12-Aug-11 20:48:05

Blooming heck.No way would I be able to keep schtum about such a high degree of muckiness. Untidiness yes, a bit of grime maybe -but downright dirt? -on plates and cups you are expected to use ? No way .

I would either force them to let me offer to wash the things you would use to start with. See how that goes down. Ditto the loo the Dcs would be using.

Then work outwards from that. If they really disagree with your help them you may have to change the nature of your visits. No eating or drinking unless its from outside.Shorter visits to cut down loo visits etc.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Sat 13-Aug-11 08:16:27

I hadn't thought of the dishwasher idea. I am not sure they could fit one into the kitchen units as they are though (can you get ones that aren't built in?) and I assume it would involve taking up the floor for plumbing? It's a council house so I am not sure how that would all work. The older one would probably just not want all the hassle and the younger one would grunt at me!

It wouldn't solve the problem of the rest of the house though. I must admit that it's never been that clean, a distinct lack of effective glasses being worn, so I don't think a lot of it is actually seen!

The bathroom for example doesn't look like it's been cleaned for months. The mats on the floor are entirely covered (every mm) in hair and fluff (just to give an idea) from towels and bathrobes and other unidentifiable things. So for them to get that covered they must have been unchanged for a very long time. The whole floor is dirty and round the edges there is a sort of ring of dust/fluff/hair gathered. I think when things are swept it doesn't occur to them to do around the edges. Every skirting in the house for eg has a thick black topping where it's never been hovered or wiped, the same for the door frames.

The actual doors are no longer white, particularly where hands go. They look a bit like they need painting and I think thats what they think, but actually they just need a wipe down with a plastic sponge and soapy water and it will all come off. I did tell this in passing to younger one once, a polite(ish) "you know this would come off with abc" sort of thing, but he grunted at me. He did tell me he had done it but I don't know what the fuck with because next time I was there it looked like the dirt had just been moved around a bit!

Last time I visited the whole of the stairscase had an inch thick layer of pet hair and other fluff over it! Completely covered! My dcs run up stairs with their hands and feet (like monkeys!) so I really wanted to say something. I did but got the grunt again.

I know it sounds like I am nagging them but I have wanted to say something for years and haven't and lately it's just coming out! I mostly say it to younger one though as I feel he does nothing around the house whereas at least older one does a bit. He generally has no pride in that sort of thing, personal or household.

Wow this is long. Myabe I should just keep going. Bla bla bla la la la bla bla la la la bla bla la la la . . . no i'll shut up now grin

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Sat 13-Aug-11 08:27:46

Oh and whats the FlyLady cleaning system?

springydaffs Sat 13-Aug-11 09:22:40

ha ha, there is NO WAY you could say anything if they were women - no way on the planet. but imo you can say something because they're men (just checking this isn't in AIBU...). I would. I would say, guys, this place is disgusting, what's going on? You can't entertain in a place like this and I'm worried about the kids coming here. We all have our talents and you are very good at kite-flying/running the country/being a CEO but your talents don't lie in housekeeping here chaps. Do you want some help? Maybe get a cleaner? etc

BBwannaB Sat 13-Aug-11 09:27:28

I think you may just have to lay it on the line, that you will not be able to bring the DC to visit because of the unhygienic conditions. If they want to see the DC they will have to make an effort, you could help them to blitz certain areas, and then it will be easier for them to try to keep up to scratch?
Good Luck, I had a relative like this so I know how you feel, but she used to 'clean' certain areas ready for our visits, which made it slightly better.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Sat 13-Aug-11 09:41:03

Older one hoovers the living room in preparation of visits so that's something. The living room is the cleanest room in the house.

I think when things changed and they found themselves living alone there were issues with coping and adjusting. It was a huge adjustment and a very difficult and distressing time! So i've never wanted to hurt their feelings. Youngest one would definately get pissed off and older one would be all hurt!

They can't afford a cleaner . . . they live in a council house!

They did not that long ago have a kitchen update done by the council with new cupboards so I did wonder if they would keep it clean after but they didn't, so a blitz would just be a temporary solution.

BagofHolly Sat 13-Aug-11 09:47:39

I think a GOOD blitz, by a professional cleaning company, as a "present", plus 2 sets of clean sheets (god knows what the bedrooms are like!) and then a book about household management for men. Marks and Spencer did a good one, I'm sure it's on eBay/amazon now. I think you need to be direct, make it a treat, and that way you'll avoid further problems. My boss had to do this with her brother and dad, who she was starting to call Steptoe, as things had got so bad they had a flea infestation.
Just book the cleaners, take them out for lunch and let them get on with it.

springydaffs Sat 13-Aug-11 11:00:06

I'm assuming they are father and son? And that the grunting would indicate the son is close-ish to teen years? If you make the comments to the 'son', he will feel ashamed (shame is so close to the surface with young people). The comments need to go to the 'dad' (or the one who has failing eyesight, at least) and you need to make it clear that things have got out of hand. He/they may be very grateful indeed for the feminine touch and may be well aware that they're flailing around without it.

that said, I cleaned the kitchen, or at least the sink, in a bachelor's house I went to with my husband. I got on with it while they were chatting.
we had been invited to lunch and I was 'helping' by washing up. The bachelor got all huffy about it - shame, probably. It was disgusting and I did it as a favour. I've also cleaned toilets on the quiet before now.

LittleHousebytheRiver Sat 13-Aug-11 11:07:56

I have done that too springy when visiting my BIL who was widowed and not coping. I know my MIL did the same. It was made worse by him choosing to have two cats and two dogs living in his mobile home.
It is a delicate line between being offensive criticising their standards and helpfully offering a way of improving things. With my BIL he eventually started dating and we got him to see that no woman would be impressed if he took her home.
I think covert cleaning makes you feel better but is pointless unless you go in often, while a gentle chat about regular help (from an agency or whoever) might achieve more.

garlicbutter Sat 13-Aug-11 11:20:54

My house is filthy. As I am aware of hygiene, the things that touch food are clean. I use a dishwasher. It's free-standing and cost £60 second-hand.

Nancy66 Sat 13-Aug-11 11:24:48

garlicbutter - why is your house filthy?

garlicbutter Sat 13-Aug-11 11:26:20

I have reasons! But I don't need to justify it. It's very dirty and very messy, but I'm not poisoning anybody.

StarlightMcKenzie Sat 13-Aug-11 11:27:02

Are they a couple or are they planning ever to bring people back?

Nancy66 Sat 13-Aug-11 11:31:23

fair enough garlicbutter - just genuinely puzzled how anybody could choose to live like that.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Sat 13-Aug-11 11:36:29

BagofHolly A blitz as a present is a good idea. It would just go back to the way it was before though and the present of the book would make it clear I didn't think the place was clean enough so I am in "hurting feelings" territory again. How do you put it to avoid that? Can never figure out how to word it (I can't actually afford the cleaning company as am skint and in debt at the moment)

springydaffs Yes he sound like a teenager doesn't he! Actually he is 40ish! They both need glasses and don't wear them but the older one's eyesight is probably worse. It's not that bad though for either of them (normal short/long sightedness) so maybe I shouldn't even have mentioned it. I was thinking maybe it meant they couldn't see the muck but I think often when you live in dirt you get used to it and don't see it anyway.

LittleHousebytheRiver Yeah I can't possibly do their cleaning for them. I only go round every few weeks and have my small children with me who I have to watch constantly as the older man has no concept of danger so it is hazardous (boiling water incidents etc). Plus I think that 2 grown men shouldn't need a woman popping in to clean for them! Although . . .

garlicbutter Why is your house filthy? I think people have different ideas of what "filthy" actually is. I am no clean freak at all!

birdofthenorth Sat 13-Aug-11 11:37:17

My house is more often than not very messy (piles of papers, toys, laundry) & in places dirty (under furniture, undusted skirting boards etc). Stuff e eat off is clean. I's be pissed off if anyone told me off fir the state if the place tbh. Cleaning is a bit like eating, some people have an emotional relationship with it. Just because I haven't done something yet doesn't mean I'm not aware if it or embarrassed by it.

birdofthenorth Sat 13-Aug-11 11:38:00

Sorry for typos,cracked iPhone screen!

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Sat 13-Aug-11 11:38:10

Sorry garlic just saw that you've answered that question.

StarlightMcKenzie They are not a couple no. They are both quite introverted so don't have people round much at all and never had, well apart from me and my little family.

ameliagrey Sat 13-Aug-11 11:38:57

Just spit it out- it's harder obviously as you have said nothing for ages. Either take one of them aside and have a "quiet word- use the kids as an excuse- or just go all OTT nad say "OMG! THis place is a tip!"

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