How do you ask your friend to clean-up when you visit?

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My best friend lives 5½ hours away and we love to visit. Every time we visit, though, the house is a complete disaster — you trip over the abundance of shoes upon entering, then it’s navigating through the crumbs, toys, and papers. The stairs are littered with clothes (slip hazard for my son). The kitchen counters are so cluttered you wonder how they cook. Laundry room doubles as dining and kitchen with baskets of “are they clean or dirty?”

This last trip, I had a moment alone in her house, and, while watching her kids, I cleaned up so that I’d feel better.

I don’t know how to approach her about this because I am not comfortable staying there anymore unless it’s cleaned up. I love her like a sister, we’ve been friends for 12 years, and I don’t want to stop visiting. But I don’t want a fight because we have different priorities.

Anyone have advice on how I can broach the possibly-sensitive question of asking her to clean up before I visit? -Emily

Oof, that’s toughy…

We’ve talked about ways to get your partner to help clean, ways to cope with extreme messes like hoarding, and even embracing the mess and throwing a party amongst it. But how do you ask your friends to clean up before you come over? That could get emotionally messy.

Any suggestions, Homies?

Comments on How do you ask your friend to clean-up when you visit?

  1. i just think there’s more to it & it feels like nit picking to me :-/
    I’m “that” friend; my house is full of clutter & crap in the hallways, clothes up the stairs, my kitchen table & island bench are ALWAYS covered in stuff; perhaps there’s toys on my couch & beds aren’t made 🙂
    But I have 3 kids, and expecting a 4th. And I run a small business that has lots of STUFF to make it work; and to be honest – I prefer to read to my kids then make my bed. I prefer to get chaotic baking with them then have a spotless kitchen. We waste time having hour long baths where I have to supervise them rather than doing housework.. So be it. I’ll have plenty of time to clean when I’m alone in a big house.
    My friends wouldn’t judge me or condemn me. And they certainly wouldn’t claim a jumper on a staircase is a slipping hazard for their kid. They’d just flick it aside.

  2. My mother-in-law is a hoarder. When we have children, they will not be visiting grandma by going over to her house. So I can empathize with your situation a bit.

    I think the only way you can definitely have this talk would be if there are serious health risks or this is a new occurrence and you’re worried about her well-being.

    Unless that is the case, only you truly know your friend and whether or not this is a conversation you could objective have with her. If not, that’s ok too, but it means inviting her to your place, or staying at a hotel and going out with her instead.

    • hi there –

      I am dealing with a similar issue, + I think the mother-in-law is also a hypochondriac. Last time it was a sinus issue, which she went to see a specialist for and talked my ear off
      about not getting enough medication from… All the while I am sitting there thinking “maybe the issue is caused by your dusty messy house – which medication may help temporarily but that’s it.” Essentially I have deemed
      it unsafe for myself and the future child. My boyfriend is defensive of them AND their mess and thinks I am being offensive because I refuse to go over there or talk to them about it, for fear of being rude. I see it as their family’s problem, and it may have been for a very long time (he even said his best friend never slept over there and once left in the middle of the night sick and coughing). One solution may be to have them get a health inspector in there, which may force them finally to rip out all the old carpeting and deal with any issues in the house. At that point, I may walk in there, but they will definitely not be babysitting.

  3. Uuuugh, this gives me FEELS. I have a one year old, and this last year has been hell in terms of depression/anxiety, and my house is always a mess (feels like) which really feeds social anxiety. YAY MESSY BRAINS.

    I think that the best approach is probably to ask, “Hey, is there something I can do to help while I’m here? Can I do a load of dishes?” or something like that. Chances are she also hates living in a messy house, but just cannot keep up. However, saying, “Look, we need to talk about this pigsty you live in” is not going to help anything.

    Recently a highschool friend of mine visited on very short notice. My house was a disaster. Usually when I’m going to have guests I at least clear up the dishes and clean the bathroom, but I had had very little notice and the baby had been a wreck and I just couldn’t do it. I did warn her that the house was a mess, but felt that she was taken aback at how messy it was (to be fair, some of that may have been my social anxiety jerkbrain bitching at me.) One evening, we had to go out, and when we came back she had cleaned the kitchen. I was SO thankful, and it helped me get started on cleaning up the rest of the house. (I had mentioned to her that i knew it was a mess & was bothering me, so I didn’t find it to be overstepping. I WOULD be bothered if a houseguest, like, vacuumed my drapes and then was like “I noticed you hadn’t vacuumed your drapes in a while!” because bitch, ain’t nobody got time for that.)

    I do find that when I have guests, the house becomes wayyy more of a mess, and I consider it good houseguest etiquette to offer to do the dishes after a meal, at least. Otherwise you leave your host with a huge mess to clean up, after they’ve already very kindly cleaned their bathroom and put out clean towels for you.

  4. Wow, this is a really interesting question! I’m actually staying at my parents’ place right now for Thanksgiving — and I know every time I visit, I have to gear myself up to handle the clutter. It sounds similar: piles of stuff around every corner just waiting to be knocked over, piles of laundry, and the kitchen is, well, super-loved! But, yeah, I know my parents love their stuff, and they’re comfortable with how things are.

    SO here’s what I do while I’m in their home to ease my own anxiety (and my parents have told me they appreciate it — it’s important to get that feedback!):

    * I offer to help cook as much as I can. Or get lunch ready. I know I’ll be minimizing the number of dishes used.
    * I always clean up after a meal! I run the dishwasher, I take out the trash, and if there are dishes to be handwashed, I get to them before I leave.
    * When I see the grandkids’ toys out (my parents keep a lot of toys around for them), I try to toss them in the nearest basket so they don’t get stepped on.
    * I take 2 seconds when I’m in the bathroom to straighten towels and wipe up water and make sure the trash is under control.
    * I love bringing gifts to my family when I come see them, but I try to make sure they’re things that can be used up. My dad likes tea and collects mugs. He gets new types of tea from me instead of new mugs 😉
    * If I see laundry piling up near the laundry area, I see if I can run a load — this might be easier for me since I’m officially part of the family as opposed to a visiting friend!
    * Before I leave, I strip the bed I used and get the sheets in the laundry. Sometimes I have time to make the bed, sometimes I don’t, but I do what I can!
    * If Mom offers to send me home with things, I take them. I’ve kept a few special hand-me-downs, but I pass things on to friends quickly or Goodwill if all else fails. (I gave a friend an awesome Kitchen-Aid mixer last time! It feels great to see it getting used finally.)

    I find that these little things — just focusing on what’s possible for me to do and still enjoy a weekend! — there’s still so much room for enjoying relationships. Maybe just check in with your friend while you’re in her kitchen: “Is it cool if I load the dishwasher?” Keep it casual instead of confronting, and things could be more comfortable for both of you 🙂 Best of luck!

  5. If you’re really so concerned about this issue that you’re seeking advice from the interwebs, then I’m assuming the issue is as bad as you claim. The topic of medical reasons for uncleanliness has been beaten to death, and I’m hoping that as an almost-sister for 12 years, you’d know if she had a medical reason for not cleaning.

    If I were the messy one, I’d want you to just tell me. Take me out to coffee, away from the kids and clutter, and tell me how much you love me and how important being around me is to you, and then say something like, “I am concerned about the mess in your home. It’s important to me when I visit you to be able to have a place to sit, clean sheets, a place in the kitchen to set down the six-pack of beer I brought, etc. I don’t hate you or your house, but is there something that we can do to help make things a little homier when I come over?” I’d probably start crying and apologizing and offering excuses, but I’d still want to hear that I was making you uncomfortable. I’d also really, really want to know specifically what was bothering you. Just “your house is dirty” is unhelpful. “I’m worried about my son tripping on your stairs, and I’d like to be able to sit on the couch without moving clothes and papers” tells me where I need to focus.

    Maybe she doesn’t know how to accept help from her spouse or her kids. Maybe her kids aren’t willing to help and need a chore chart and system in place. If that’s the case, by all means, help her with those things. If she has a reason for her house being that way, listen. Help. Don’t judge. Shower her with all the love you’ve described her with. And understand that everyone has different standards of cleanliness. Be thrilled with any progress you see, even if it’s not as much as you think she should do.

    I will say that I completely disagree with the people who have told you to clean up her house yourself. I HATE when people do that. If there’s a problem, just freaking tell me. I feel like people are being passive aggressive when they clean up my messes, and I don’t know if they’re trying to call me out on something or if they’re just being kind or what. Then I’ll obsess and get pissed. However, if YOU made the mess, feel free to clean that up. I love when people take their dirty dishes to the kitchen and don’t leave trash or towels lying around for me to pick up.

    • I agree with the above. While I think that with some people and in some situations it is probably better to avoid the issue altogether (and the OP probably knows best if that applies to this situation), with the right situation and relationship I also think it is possible to bring up these kinds of things.

      I do think it is important to show you are willing to look for other solutions than them cleaning before you visit and take clear responsibility for the fact that this is your experience and your issue, so that the person with the messy home don’t feel like they’re getting an ultimatum: Clean up or we can’t be friends.

      If one of my really close friends had this issue with my home, I’d definitely want to know about it but I’d hate to feel judged about it.

  6. I’m not a particularly tidy person but I like a certain baseline. One of my friends is, and always has been, messier than me.

    I went to visit her recently to have a nice “chill day” and in the end her house was too messy for me to relax in. So I told her so. I wasn’t rude or blunt. I just told her to stick the kettle on (we are British, tea is mandatory) and we started from one end of the flat and blitzed it all the way to the other.

    Her flat now generally looks better as she doesn’t have the initial mess to build on. She is a doctor and is extremely busy with exams as well as shifts and it all just got too much. She now also knows that if she wants a hand tidying or cleaning her kitchen etc that I’ll happily help out…

  7. If you do want to confront your friend using the ‘I feel’ statements and being neutral towards her actions could encourage a better conversation rather than causing her to shut down or feel attacked. I statements take the pressure of her while still raising the issue and are more likely to lead to a proper conversation rather than her feeling defensive and becoming confrontational, which it sounds like you want to avoid.
    Saying something like ‘I keep finding things on the stairs and I worry about tripping’ rather than ‘you leave things on the stairs and this is not ok because I could trip’.
    Better still if you add a suggestion ‘I have noticed quite a few crumbs about the place and I worry about bugs coming in, do you need new cleaning supplies?’ rather than ‘those crumbs are going to bring in bugs, you need to clean up’.

    • Oh no. DO NOT say “Do you need new cleaning supplies?” because that is passive aggressive and judgey as fuck. Seriously. That’s saying “Oh of COURSE the only way you would let your standards fall below mine is if you were too poor to buy some Pledge!” Don’t do it.

      • Yeah, I’ve gotta agree with that. My mom bought her childhood home when my grandmother moved out, and this is something my grandmother does all the time. She’ll drive by and then call my mom later to ask if the lawnmower is broken because the grass is a little longer than she would’ve let it get. Suuuuuuper judgey.

  8. We have an old house and lots of pets, and I have a chronic pain condition so sometimes I don’t get things as tidy as I’d like them to be. If someone is coming over, I am usually pretty anal about getting the house up to snuff. But, sometimes, shit happens and it’s messy when company comes. Especially since my husband and I have different standards when it comes to clutter, and we don’t have a lot of closets and storage solutions for things. However, if someone were to say something to me about the state of my house, even a long time friend…I’d be unhappy and feel like they were overstepping a boundary. Because when my house is messy, I KNOW that it’s messy. I can see. And I might not be thrilled about the state of the house, but if it is messy it’s because I’m doing the best I can and my best is falling short, so telling me I need to clean more wouldn’t be constructive or helpful. I also would not enjoy someone taking it upon themselves to clean up my place, especially if they did it without asking or while I was not there. It would feel very passive aggressive and judgy to me, regardless of their intent, and it would make me uncomfortable.

    I guess it depends a lot on what kind of friendship you have with this person, though, and why it is that her house is untidy. I have a friend who has a small child and a messy husband and she sometimes gets overwhelmed by her house…and it’s no big deal at all for me to go visit her and end up washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen while we gossip and she does the laundry. She doesn’t mind, she appreciates the help, and we get more done together. I guess it’s my issue that I wouldn’t be able to have her do the same thing for me. I guess it’s about personal feelings, and how the individual views the state of the house.
    If you know your friend well enough to feel like she wouldn’t mind you helping her out around the house, then maybe helping her clean when you visit is a good trade off for a free place to stay. If she’s in a place where she feels guilty about the mess, or if she’s more prickly about someone helping her out with cleaning…might be better to keep your mouth shut and stay at a hotel or have her come visit you at your place instead.

  9. I think this comes down to why you’re uncomfortable in the mess: Are you concerned for your friend’s wellbeing? (Maybe she wasn’t always this messy, but something is going on in her life?) Or do you just dislike it, as a guest in her home?

    If it’s the first, have a heart-to-heart with her–but only about how her life is generally, NOT about the mess. If it seems like there’s an issue with depression or hoarding, obviously those are greater and more serious issues than just the piles of clothes on the table.

    If it’s the second, you may just have to deal with it. Stay in a hotel or host her at your home. I also liked Chris’s suggestions above, about casually helping out without making it a thing. (“Thanks for dinner! Let me help clean up.”) If you’re worried about tripping hazards on the stairs, just move them out of the way.

    And I have to say, I totally sympathize. Really messy homes are stressful for me. But it’s probably not worth the risk of saying something.

  10. Here’s a bit of a different point of view on the issue. In my 20s, I was broke and single and living on my own, and so were most of my friends. When we visited each other from different cities, it was assumed we would stay with each other and we all made efforts accordingly. When I got into my thirties (a little earlier with some friends), people started getting partners, kids, demanding jobs, and just lifestyles really different from mine. We also all had a bit more money. A few people come to my city, sometimes specifically to see me, and do NOT stay with me–they stay in hotels. I don’t think it’s because I’m messy (I’m not, particularly) but maybe they just don’t like my place–or my cats, my part of town, my wake/sleep habits, my husband (no, no one could dislike my husband). It didn’t mean they didn’t like me or want to hang out–they just preferred their own space. And a few times I’ve gone to stay with friends in other cities and it’s been super-awkward–because they were messy, or their spouses didn’t know me, or there wasn’t enough space–and I had the shocking revelation, I could have stayed in a hotel.

    So much of my coming into adulthood is making the best choice for myself and not asking others to change their choices to accommodate me. Visiting your friend but staying in a hotel is not a judgement or a sacrifice–maybe in this scenario it’s the best thing for both of you. Or not…just a thought!

  11. This is a splurge-y alternative to having this conversation, which I think is probably not going to be good for your friendship. Instead, you could pay for a maid service to come on the first day of your visit, while you pay for you and your friend to go to the spa (and the children to go to a beloved babysitter or something). Then, instead of being a shaming, “Why don’t you love me enough to clean for me?” it’s a “I am giving you a gift because I love you and it will help us enjoy our time together and reconnect!”

    Edited to note: you should probably not frame this as, “I am buying a maid service for you because your house gives me the heebie-jeebies.” Instead, I would say something along the lines of, “I had the greatest experience with a maid service recently! It was so awesome to leave my house for some relaxation and come back to find it so clean. I’ve been wanting to do something nice for you, since you so graciously host us. Why don’t you let me send out for a maid while we go to the spa?”

    • Yes! I had the same thought. “I want us to indulge ourselves and relax together while the kids are with a sitter.” Then, pay the sitter extra to clean while you’re out together.

    • It depends on the maid service…but I have worked for two corporate maid service chains, and neither of them permitted us to do things like wash dishes/laundry/organize. So, if the OP’s issue was dirty floors and icky bathrooms, hiring a maid service might be OK, but I think liability issues might prevent any maid service from really being able to put a dent in organizing the space, washing all the clothes, and clearing the dirty dishes off the counters. There were houses that I cleaned that I literally lifted the clutter from the counters, wiped the counters down, and put the stuff back…same with taking piles of laundry off the couches and floors, vacuuming, and putting it back.

      Also, depending on the person, hiring a maid service without asking and then springing it on the person might be more stressful than helpful. If my best friend showed up and said to me “We’re going to get mani-pedis while a stranger comes in your house and cleans it!” I would not be pleased. Lots of people are funny about maids being in their space. I had multiple clients who insisted on being present while the house was being cleaned because they were just uncomfortable with any stranger being alone in their house, even a bonded one. It’s a good idea overall, just possibly problematic depending on the friend and her personal feelings about it.

      • I would actually love to see a post from the perspective of someone who has been a maid/cleaning person. I always felt super awkward being around while my cleaning lady worked (“Okay, I’m just going to sit here and watch TV while you sweat over my bathroom floor…”), so it’d be cool to hear about your tips for cleaning and how to treat someone who’s being paid to clean. It’d be neat to read about the job from your perspective.

        • It was…interesting. I learned many things about people and human nature in general. Most people in my experience who were in the house while it was being cleaned fell into two camps: the ones who are perfectly comfortable hanging out and watching TV while I cleaned, just not super OK with giving a stranger a key to their place…and the ones who literally stood over me while I was working in order to tell me how they exactly wanted me to scrub the floor/clean the toilet. And also, to make sure I didn’t “miss” a spot. Some clients were awesome, treated me like a real person, even insisted on feeding me lunch. Others were scary nightmares.

      • Oh yes, DEFINITELY do not spring a maid on her. That is a BAD SURPRISE. I was recommending *asking* if a spa day/maid combo would be something she would like. Consent is vital!

        How interesting, that liability issues prevent organizing/tidying! That seems like a niche that some service should be able to fill.

        • There are companies that come in and help you organize…I think you’re pretty much there with them, and they get into stuff like redoing closets and storage methods and stuff. And I can’t speak for all maids/maid services. The two that I worked for were both big well known corporate chains, and yeah, the liability was considered too great. Say you ruin someone’s laundry, break a valuable dish, or something goes “missing” when you’re moving stuff around and it is believed that you took it…all things that the company’s insurance would have to pay for, and which would probably then result in the maid being fired. I had ONE client who would beg me and who paid me cash under the table to wash his sheets every two weeks and put them back on the bed, and I did it…but company policy was no laundry, no washing dishes, no “organizing”.

  12. It depends on your relationship with your friend, and her personality. I’m somebody who has a messy home, and incredibly bad habits regarding my home. I’m trying to get it under control, but it’s difficult, and requires me to restructure my way of thinking about my home. That said, I know where my home stands and while it would make me feel bad to have somebody call me out on it, it’s not going to be the end of a friendship. I value honesty, even when it’s harsh at times. So if you know your friend to be a person who values honesty, even when it’s possibly something hurtful, then I would talk about it.

    That said, not everybody is like me, and I wouldn’t assume that your friend is if she’s never mentioned her house being messy before; I don’t hide the fact that my house is a mess from people I’m close enough to invite over. I let them know up front that this is a problem I’m learning to cope with. If she’s not been doing that, then she’s likely not going to love somebody bringing it up. If you don’t have any cues from her that this is something she’s comfortable talking about, then leave it be.

    Do ask her how she’s doing in general, and give her plenty of opportunities to tell you if she’s dealing with anxiety/depression. Maybe even ask outright. It’s not always obvious, even if she seems cheerful all the time. Do be there to support her. If she brings up her mess on her own, do share tools (unfuck your habitat is lovely, and flylady is a similar alternative with less strong language) that might help her get it under control, and offer to support her throughout the process by telling you what she has done each day/week. Also, if a lot of the issue is clutter, ask if she’d like to make a trip to Ikea together to get organizational ideas. I have this bin to store my shoes in that I got for like, $35… It’s wonderful. But maybe I like Ikea a little more than I should… XD

  13. I’ve seen some other comments hinting around this by suggesting to do what you’ve already done and tidy up – to which some people have added “don’t do it without asking!” and they’re completely right. So, I’d just like to suggest that you approach her kindly, away from other friends and family so that the conversation isn’t viewed as an embarrassment or judgemental, and say something along the lines of “Hey, do you mind if I help you pick up the clothes on the stairs a little/help your little ones pick up the toys in the living room? I’m only asking because I’m afraid my uncoordinated little one will trip/fall/poke out an eyeball, since he hasn’t quite gotten down the coordination thing yet.” Safety hazards are a genuine concern, and a friend of that long will be just as understanding of it as you’re attempting to be about her home life. Then, if she accepts your suggestion, at a later time, or while you’re cleaning up together, you might add that she can always count on you to help get ready for your get-togethers. It’s only fair, since you’re using her home as the meeting place. Mention a specific offer, like coming over early to let the kids play together while you help her cook/clean up the kitchen/get the common/visiting area picked up. You know her better than any of us, so you’ll have a clue as to whether she’s overwhelmed, and would welcome a specific offer of help cleaning, or if she’s just naturally messier than you are, and doesn’t mind it. Either way, I’m confident you can bring up the subject without her feeling attacked!

  14. I have been on both sides of this. I have a friend who has a house that is super-unsanitary, with animal feces on the floor and vermin scurrying around. I will admit that I just don’t go there. I’ve never been really specific with her about why. I know she’s overwhelmed and needs help, but she’s also extremely controlling about anybody touching, moving, or otherwise looking at anything in her house. I have known her for 18+ years, and I know it’s not a conversation we can have without her becoming extremely angry and defensive in the end, no matter how oblique my approach, because I know she already feels bad about it and she tends to lash out angrily at anyone who gets too close to any of her vulnerabilities. She’s always welcome at my house, or we can go somewhere else together (ROAD TRIP FTW!)

    On the other hand, I was living alone and fell into a very severe depression last spring. I had a friend who came to see me, and he was clearly disgusted by how bad things had gotten at my house. I was just glad to not be alone for the weekend, but I felt really bad that he was upset with my housekeeping (and told me so… maybe not-so-gently). I had, however, gotten out of bed, showered, put on clean clothes, and made the bed with clean sheets before he came, which sounds so very minimal, but it was a lot for me at the time. After he left, I called my mom, who drove 300 miles to help me get myself together a little. She helped me with an overdue school project, cleaned my kitchen, and cooked food to last me for a few days. I needed that help, but I asked for it. If my critical friend had started cleaning up, I’d have felt even worse because it was my job and I failed at it and I was further failing at being a hostess because my guest was working in my house.

  15. If you are wanting to help clean but they feel awkward letting you, I think it depends how long you are staying: are you truely a guest or a temporary roommate? I think if you are staying more than a day or 2, you are a temporary roomie, and you can make the argument that you simply must pitch in. My friend didn’t want me to do the dishes after dinner, for example, when I was over for just a few hours because she wanted to spend time with me. But then she moved out of the country, so I saved up to visit her and stayed 3 weeks. I found a couple chores to take ownership of, which made sense because otherwise my visit becomes a burden. Whenever she would ask why I was doing something, I just said “because I love you!” And she would let me. 🙂

  16. Something along the lines of: “Hey, I found this awesome website and app called UnFu*kYourHabitat and it’s been helping me loads to get motivated and tackle some housecleaning organizing stuff I’ve been working on. Wanna check it out? It’s worked great for me! We can even do a 20-10 together if you like (20 min cleaning, 10 min resting)”

  17. If it’s a matter of health & safety, I would clean it myself if I didn’t like it. My husband and I have a friend who never cleans his apartment. Ever. It’s the point that his entire bathroom is covered in mold. I have been there and been too afraid to use the toilet for fear of sitting on black mold. About once a year, when the dirt becomes too offensive, my husband will bleach the entire bathroom, for his own health and safety.
    The friend doesn’t care one way or another whether my husband cleans up a bit in the space, but I think that is based on their 20+ years of close friendship. So whether you clean up or not I think depends a lot on your friend’s personality, and how close of friends you are.

    • Yeah, I dated this guy for several years who lived in a house with 4 roommates and they were all complete and utter pigs. Dishes stacked to the ceiling, bathroom was a toxic mess with black crud growing everywhere. Every time I stayed over, I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, for MY health and sanity. They were perfectly content to let me do it, of course, and not offended in the slightest. After awhile I just got bitter about it, though, because I didn’t take them in to raise. I could definitely see a potential for abuse if the “clean” friend constantly has to clean up after the “dirty” friend.

  18. I’ve been on both sides here, and am currently the token friend in my circle with a house that is a scary pit much of the time. No one has confronted me directly, but I can tell (through changes in behavior, expressions, etc…) that many friends are put-off by the chaos that our herd of small children and cats leave in their wake. I wish they would be honest with me. My husband and I are so overwhelmed most of the time that just maintaining stasis is a major challenge, but we will push ourselves a little (crank up some good music, have a beer, and just friggin’ clean) when we have guests coming who we don’t want to trip over yet another stacking ring or toy truck. When friends tell us “oh, we don’t care, we’re just happy to see you,” we don’t get motivated to actually tidy up, and then everyone is miserable. I really think honesty is the best policy, but that certainly doesn’t fly for everyone and in every situation. Sure, it would hurt to have a friend say they were uncomfortable, but I know I’d feel better in the end after everything was out in the open.

  19. So I have RA and Fibromyalgia and have had them since childhood. As my illnesses progress, my ability to keep things up dwindles. Add in a husband who works hard, but is unable to remember to take the trash out and I have quite a mess on my hands. For a while I’d always try to deep clean everything before we had company, but it left me exhausted and unable to actually enjoy when the company was over. I have a few close friends that I will actually invite over even when my house is in utter chaos. Some offer to help and some just do dishes as soon as they come over. Some days I stop them and others we go on a cleaning binge together. Still there are some days when I tell them to just ignore the mess while we binge watch netflix. If she is a really close friend, and it sounds she is, just be honest and hold back on the judgement. Let her vent about it if she wants, or let her tell you that is how she likes it. If she doesn’t mind you cleaning up/helping her clean/hiring a maid, then have at it when you visit. If she does mind and wants it like that then respect that, and express that you’ll hope she respects your comfort in staying in a hotel when you visit. Honesty is not rude when it comes without judgement and from a place of respect and love.

  20. This is a fairly different situation, but one of my roommates is very slack about cleaning, especially dishes. When I left for two weeks at the holidays and she was home alone I knew she was going to let things fall to ruin, so a few days before I got back I was texting her and said, as casually as possible, “btw, are there any clean dishes in the house? I want to start cooking right away!” And when I got back the house was cleaner than it’s been in months.

    My advice would be to frame any request in the context of something that will benefit the other party, like me making communal food, or “Hey, I’ve been on an organizing kick lately, is there anything I can help you with?” of “I just discovered the most amazing trick for cleaning the stove, do you want to try it?”

  21. I probably wouldn’t mention it unless it was smelly.
    My house is a mess, but my neighbor’s house, albeit less clutter, easier to walk around, stinks to high heaven. Which (because we have this type of relationship) I’m not afraid to mention anytime I’m over there or invited to come over. My house might be messy, but it doesn’t smell like something took a dump and died.

    That being said, as a mom, ask her if she needs help. I have two kids and every time I attempt to clean between the kids and my husband, CLEAN lasts about 15 minutes – maybe ONE entire day, if I get lucky somehow. If my “friends” can’t handle that, they don’t need to come over.
    If it’s really bad they say something, “Wow what happened? It looks like a hurricane came through!” On a good day, hubby can talk someone into rinsing the dishes while he washes them. My old neighbor helped us organise the dining room and clear off the table so you could actually sit at it. (Of course that was a year ago and my son has since destroyed said table… we’re looking into a new one.)
    I don’t have nice things – I have children. Ha. My house doesn’t look like a home and garden magazine, like one of the previous commentors said, it looks like the Burrow. Like a mismatched, cluttered, lived in, HOME.
    There are crumbs on the floor, clothes scattered everywhere (if they’re in a basket or in the living room, they’re clean), piles of dishes in the kitchen, the trash probably isn’t empty as I’m constantly picking things up and throwing stuff away. It’s just hard to keep up. And yes, it would be nice some times if someone would just say, “Your house is a mess, you look exhausted, LET ME HELP.” But no one ever does, they just go online to talk crap, or talk crap to others as soon as they leave.
    Real friends are supportive, helpful, understanding, and not judgey.

  22. I’ve known my girlfriend for 22 years she use to spend hours cleaning up the house before I visited cuz I’m a neat freak and she’s not so one day I just turned around and said look you don’t have to do this I accept your house the way it is and so she’s never bothered to clean up after that however when she comes to my place it’s a different story she expects to make a mess she expects me to lighten up so how does that work as friends of 22 years two sets of standards that sucks and when I tried to tell her she won’t listen so that’s a bad friend don’t you think?

  23. My life has drastically changed in the many years. Years ago I had a traumatic brain injury. In 2013 I got into a relationship with a highschool classmate. He unknown to me was a verbal abuser. The more stressors, and huge ones were placed on me plus his abuse really changed the tables. Stress hormones made everything worse. I had seizures show up, really bad Grand Mal that were cluster (I had 18 at one time), they were bilateral, focal and partial, retrograde memory loss , and sudden death syndrome (SUDEP) from respiratory and cardiac failure. I was hospitalized and life flighted on occasion. I was hurt, real bad. It was like having a stroke, and being electrocuted. The worse he got(screaming at me after seizure or being released from hospital, usually into a corner), the worse my seizures got. On three occasions I suffered SUDEP. I went from being a neat house keeper, to a mess. I did my best but I would collapse. My X left because he said I “embarrassed ” him, and of course he was hanging out at a strip bar. He would bring home cold hamburgers for my dinner, and after a life flight a neighbor brought cookies, my food for 3 days. My youngest son(28) yelled at me”what happened to you, you used to keep everything so neat. You can’t keep anything clean Whats wrong with you!”, my best friend came and helped me once and never came again to my house. I go visit her. Not always can I drive. I had to give up major parts of my life. I have tl keep a list so I know what to do. Sometimes my house is a disaster because I do my best to take care of me, so sometimes the house is secondary. My meds are $3,100 A month. I am working on getting things done. My house being messy should not be a cause for loss of friends but it has been. It is not filthy, Just cluttered and a bit of chaos. BUT nothing to lose friends over. Sometimes a messy house can be a reflection of a bit of something, emotional pain, being overwhelmed by events. Something is wrong. So have some compassion and understanding, as that would make a huge difference in the ability to step forward.

  24. Dear Friend,
    I understand both sides of these conversations. Both as the mess and the need to keep things looking (and being) clean. I genre way up in a home where EVERYTHING had to be clean and polishes, for the just in case some one stops in. I on the other hand fight clutter every day, sorta like you have to do your dishes everyday. It bothers me and I spend much time trying to keep up with it all. I wonder if I haven’t been MADE to work so hard as a little kid with my Grandma, if cleaning would have become so taxing. Sometimes my Mother calls me lazy. That is not it. I am unhappy with my home only when things get out of control. Then, I feel like it’s ground zero, all over again. One of the things that help me is to visit friends, or family, that do keep their house clean most of the time. It helps remind me….”This is what my house should look like.” When I see the difference between my place and theirs, it does get me motivated to start cleaning and putting things away, where they should be. Inviting your dear friend over for a while, may help her see the difference in how you live and of how she is living. It may creat a spark of hope. True if there is some underlining problem in her life, you will just have to except her how he is. Whe only have control of ourselves, others are not in our control. It can be ha hard life fact to eccentric. Sometimes we can get erratated with others because there are not like us in someways, however, isen’t that one of the things that keep things interesting?? What a boring world it would be if we were all the same. So, except your friend as she is, i.e…her house as it is. If you want to help, just lead the way by way of example. For God sake, don’t tell her that her place is such a mess you are thinking about either pulling up a UHall or would rather not come. Just keep inviting her over and she will get the picture….so to speak. Which out you saying a work. Try this out. Even if you have to make a few excuses as to what you can not come to her, that you are requesting for her to come to you. But what ever you chose, if she has been your friend for 12 years, there must be something special about her. If you have to accept her messes to accept her. Then you should find the right choice easy to make. I try very hard to keep my place clean, in the just in case, and I feel uncomphortable in others people’s inviter her to your place, then mess it up real bad and watch her reaction. Yes, this make lot’s of work for you, but if she says something to you, like “what happened” then you can tell her your just having a tough time with some things. If she asks, tell her some of the things that bother you and add, ” I don’t know how I’m ever coming to get this mess picked up. It makes me feel sick just looking at this mess.” See what her reaction is and ask, “do you ever feel this way?” If she is a good friend, she may offer to help YOU to Tito up. Then add this, “Only if you let me return the favor.” BINGO….she now stuck with allowing you to help her, with out hurting her feelings while letting her know how you feel in a messy home. Again, it will cause a little work on your part but this just may fix the problem. Small home pose a problem for those that clutter up around the clutter bug. Some times it not the knowing things need to be picked up, it is where the heck do I put all this stuff when it simply gets, moved from spot to spot, and never makes the place look much cleaned at all. Each day of the week I clean a room from top to bottom, until it’s all clean. Then I rearrange my calendar to start the proses all over again. It’s the only way I can manage to keep up on it. Hope This Helps, and good luck. Let us know how you make out.

    • Ps.. I ment to say each week I pick a day to clean one room. Then the next room on the next day…and so forth. Then I rearange my calendar to keep going. Some times, all it takes it to start moving and clean. I’ve been known to tak on the whole house by the time I’m done. Small steps add up to great success!
      But, there is never a need to insult. Keep remembering she is a dear friend. Even if she doesn’t change, you can still find a way to be friends. You don’t have to stay over her house, there are many things the two of you can go do that is outside the home

  25. Wow! I can’t believe how many people think the friend is rude! She has a legitimate concern.

    I’m in the same position and we’ve been friends for 20years. Recently, things have gotten so bad that I basically have stopped going over there. I also won’t eat. She keeps questioning me. So I had to tell her, but also, I’ve suggested we need to figure out why she is lacking motivation. Perhaps we can see someone together, as I really do believe she is dealing with depression and other issues.

    I get it but I can’t have her at my place because, again, like a tornado. All the bathroom stuff in the livingroom and dirty toilet. She doesn’t bathe regularly and use deodorant and my furniture smells. So I started going over to avoid this. But I have to make sure NOT to drink so I don’t have to use her toilet which often has feces on it. The place literally smells like a dumpster. Food ground into the carpet and trash piled high on the couches. Not just shoes and laundry but literally cannot sit on the couch for fear of something like food or dirty toilet paper.

    Anyway, I just stumbled onto this article, trying to see if there is anything I can do to help. I guess, according to everyone here, I’m rude and, you know, just let it go.

    I guess that would just make everything easier.

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