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Thread: A friend's house is filthy, WWYD? Updated Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
03-27-2013 08:52 AM

Besides depression, it sounds like your friend has some executive function issues (i.e.., taking the time to pick out furniture in anticipation of cleaning!) You sound like an amazing friend. But it must be said that this kind of behavior with friends has a short shelf-life. She needs to know that in the kindest way possible. A cycle of dramatic "rescues" is not healthy even if in the short term it makes her feel very loved. She needs to stand on her own two feet which, unfortunately for mothers of two small children, means cleaning your damn house about 10x as much as you feel like it!


You've accomplished so much already I don't want to be the one to suggest more work!! But having had friends like this in the past I sense that she may not get the message. The house is just a symptom of inner chaos that needs to be dealt with as well. Professional help may be needed.


But you, my dear, are a very good friend!!! thumbsup.gif

03-26-2013 03:29 PM

So great that you were able to help her out! Personally I don't think they will keep it up but at least it's a temporary improvement.


Re: easy cleaning supplies, we have a Roomba vacuum cleaner. It is great for keeping up with our 2 dogs (1 is a mega shedder) and a messy toddler. DD is loving watching it clean lately so I have been running it frequently. It's nice that it cleans on its own and DD is amused too, which gives me a little time to do something in the kitchen or drink a cup of coffee (DD likes to sit on the couch or bed and watch it run around). They are an upfront investment and you do have to clean it out between runs but when I have to vacuum myself it seems like it never happens (between DD wanting to "help", having to drag the blasted thing up or down stairs, and getting sweaty and tired actually doing the vacuuming).


The wipes idea sounds like it would be good for her. I also second the FLY Lady suggestion, I only follow some of her stuff but some of it is super helpful. One of her things is that you can do anything for 15 minutes, that may be helpful if she gets easily overwhelmed (set a timer and only do that much!). The other is to "swish and swipe" the bathroom - just quickly wipe all surfaces and swish the brush in the toilet. I find that doing this, even with no cleaning products or anything (and frankly not even close to every day for me...) really helps, because it prevents the bathroom from actually getting dirty and then it rarely needs an actual "cleaning".

03-26-2013 10:00 AM
chel I second the "easy cleaning supplies". I did this with my oldest child.
Did either the couple help out?
Considering their resistance to the laundry, I have little hope things will change. Even with the mom getting help, sounds like the dad doesn't care to make things cleaner and/or organized
03-26-2013 08:25 AM

I'm glad you were able to help her some.  Even if it's only temporary because it doesn't get maintained it's still better than it was.  One less layer of dirt!  I feel sorry for her.  She has to be majorly depressed or feeling terrible for her house to be that bad.


I'm having a difficult pregnancy and we have a lot of pets. (Cats and dogs.)  One thing I've done to stay on top of things when I feel too horrible to move 95% of the time is to just let one room be a mess with the door closed. I sort all the dirty laundry in there in piles,  and keep the baskets of clean laundry in there waiting for me to fold them when (if) I feel well enough, I shove the clutter in one corner of the room, and then the rest of our small house is more manageable to tidy up in quick bursts of energy.  It wastes a room of the house and that room looks like something from hoarders minus feces, but it's way better than the entire house being that way when you're feeling way too overwhelmed for whatever reason.   


I also broke down and started buying easy cleaning supplies, like clorox wipes.  I used all natural/homemade cleaners with rags or sponges before, but it was too much to maintain during this pregnancy.  (Not even going to feel guilty about it right now!)  Does she have simple cleaning products on hand?  Maybe a basket of disinfecting wipes and stuff to keep in her bathroom would be easier to buy than a maid, if she would use them to maintain once the overwhelming layer of grime is off.  (I swear my tub gets a brown ring every single time my kids bathe. They must play outside in the dirt too much!)  And a hand held vacuum for the cat litter in the bathroom floor, even her 3 year old could use that.  My 2 year old loves to suck up litter and fur with ours.  


We got a Litter Robot litter box that scoops itself.  It's AMAZING.  Totally worth the cost, and it uses way less litter, and barely smells with our four cats! You just have to tie up a trash bag and toss it out every few days, and tuck a new one in the drawer under the box. It doesn't sound like her husband can be convinced enough to buy something like that unfortunately, but you never know.  


I hope the doctor is able to give her some medication or recommend therapy to help her feel better. 

03-26-2013 05:58 AM
kristah1000 Well we had a positive day there, but we really just barely scratched the surface. We did manage to get the bathroom sparkling smile.gif. And the kitchen is clean enough for now. It took me 2 hours to get the dishes done and the counters clean, and floor clean.

We also got one room cleared out and made it into a nice playroom for her little guy. I'm actually really glad for that, he has a space he can get into and relax in.

I don't know if she will keep it up or not, she actually didn't really want us to clean but we basically insisted and did it anyway...I offered to do laundry since it honestly is just thrown in piles all over the house. I figured if were cleaning we should have laundry going too, but she said no, that she would do it. I was literally tripping over dirty underwear to get from one room to the next...

So I think she is inspired, for now anyway. She said she would like some more help, but I told her that she and her DH need to do some purging first, since I am not going to decide what needs to be thrown out and kept. Once she gets the next room cleared out a bit, we will likely go back and tackle some more.

Thanks so much everyone for your replies and suggestions!
03-24-2013 08:40 PM
Originally Posted by kristah1000 View Post

Apparently he doesn't want anyone going through and purging any of his things.

Oh, interesting.  Honestly, I wouldn't purge any of his things, I probably wouldn't purge her things either, unless she had gone through them already and told me which things I could get rid of.  I've tried to help someone organize/declutter once, as a paid job, and it was an exercise in futility. She really wanted to save every tiny scrap of crumpled paper and seemed to think I should know how to organize it.  I thought I would too, because so much of it could be thrown away, but she wouldn't let me do that.  It's easier when it's not my stuff. 


Hopefully you can at least go through and clear out some of the excess toys.  Good luck to you!

03-24-2013 06:09 PM

I don't know about other places, but here in Ontario Canada CAS will not take your children for a filthy home.

My sister suffers from mental health issues. She has a VERY filthy home. Sometimes it is just filthy, and sometimes it is so dirty that it should really be condemned. She has had CAS in her life for many years. They worried when she sisn;t take her kids to school. They worry when she won't let them out of her sight or have any independence. They worried a bit about the mess, but more so because it was a manifestation of her mental health, not because it was unhealthy.

They would offer her parenting classes. They would suggest cleaning. But it wasn't a pre-requisite for her keeping her children.


And my sisters home was WAY worst than what this woman's sounds like. Dishes piled up and so dirty for so long that they were mouldy. Food spilled on the floor and not cleaned for weeks. Cat litter so over flowing that the cat wouldn't even go near it. Etc, etc, etc.


So yes, great that you can help a friend. And hopefully it will help. But I do not think that CAS will take her kids. But CAS may have help in the form of parenting classes, recommend therapy that could help, etc.

03-24-2013 04:37 PM
skycheattraffic Lazurii, I couldn't have said it better! Wish I could find the applause smiley on my phone!
03-24-2013 02:49 PM

To preface my impressions here's a bit of my backstory.


My dad is an awful hoarder, and if it wasn't for my mom we would have lived in filth.  He instilled a fear of purging belonging in me that is really hard to shake.


I've suffered from PPD and just plain depression.  I'm dealing with ADD or an ADD-type thing.


My father, aside from being a hoarder, was very abusive.


My impressions:


Purging helps my home to stay cleaner.  Once I've gone through and done a purge it's easier to apply myself to the day-to-day cleaning since I'm not frantically trying to stem the clutter.  This mother trying to purge may be trying to get on top of things.  Once she has a house to be proud of it may be easier for her to keep it clean.  I know it helped me a lot.


If she lives with a hoarder, and it sounds like she does, it makes it hard to do anything with the house.  She needs to figure out her relationship with her husband if he is a hoarder.  Why won't he let her throw anything out?


I don't know what her childhood was like, but I know what mine was like.  It takes a lot of my energy to treat my children better than I was treated.  My children and their well-being it always my first priority, but that takes so much energy when you're fighting so much internal rage.  Often my housekeeping slips in order for me to be a better mother.  Depression certainly adds to this, because I have even less energy.  Her kids are at that stage where they need sooooo much mother interaction, I see how it could be quite easy to let the house slide.


Her house is filthy, that's true.  It shouldn't be like that.  But, come one ladies!  We're always talking about how much community is important for our mothering.  Let's get off our high horses and help another mother.  Stop judging and start realizing that everyone is not like you and that's okay.  And it's okay to help each other.

03-24-2013 12:38 PM
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

Maybe because she got new furniture before cleaning up the feces her children live in. Honestly, I'm hugely skeptical, too at this point.


They are his kids too. Nothing is stopping him from taking a few minutes and cleaning the bathroom.

03-24-2013 09:42 AM

I definitely agree that her excitement--an maybe more so her focus on the decluttering aspect and buying new furniture etc over cleaning up the filth and making the house more sanitary for herself and her children--seems misplaced. But hopefully this is the kickstart that she needs to feel better about her space and herself. And perhaps once she sees the space as it OUGHT to look, she might be better equipped to maintain it? I hope so.


I grew up in a household with 7 children and a very overworked, under-appreciated step-mom who received little to no help from my father (actually, his presence probably just made things worse!) And while we never had feces on our toilet or mice in our home, we did live in near-constant chaos with dirty dished strewn everywhere and clutter++ and piles of dirty laundry next to piles of clean but unsorted laundry all over the place. I hated it, but that experience has taught me how easy it is to become overwhelmed by being the only one in charge of household duties, and also how easy it can be to become sort of desensitized by clutter and chaos. If you are so used to seeing it every day, you kind of STOP seeing it, you know? It just becomes the norm, and suddenly seeing the space the way it "ought" to be can be awfully eye-opening.

03-24-2013 09:21 AM
Originally Posted by kitteh View Post

Or maybe after an extended period of feeling "abandoned" by her dh and left to shoulder the burden of housework, cleaning, and decluttering on her own she has simply given in to the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. But now that she has some significant, motivated, "fresh" help to tackle this huge task she is feeling motivated and excited herself?

That's true and a good point.
03-24-2013 08:46 AM
kitteh Or maybe after an extended period of feeling "abandoned" by her dh and left to shoulder the burden of housework, cleaning, and decluttering on her own she has simply given in to the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. But now that she has some significant, motivated, "fresh" help to tackle this huge task she is feeling motivated and excited herself?
03-24-2013 08:13 AM
alessandro I'm starting to wonder if this woman is taking advantage of your generosity. I hope not, but her excitement over the prospect of someone cleaning her house seems inappropriate? Maybe that's not the best word. It just seems odd?
03-23-2013 02:31 AM
kristah1000 Apparently he doesn't want anyone going through and purging any of his things. She doesn't want to tell him that if he would just help her out it wouldn't be this bad, because she didn't want to start an sounds like he doesn't think things are that bad, either that or he is really embarrassed that this has to even happen.

She seems to be doing well, she told me that for the first time in months she has something to look forward to, so that is good. I think we still plan to declutter, but one of us will take the bathroom and maybe get started on the kitchen because we don't need all 4 of us doing one room. Her DH is going to be there, and in my opinion needs to be helping, but it doesn't sound like he will be.
03-22-2013 10:12 PM

Replying so I can follow. How is she doing now?

03-22-2013 09:03 PM
Originally Posted by Banana731 View Post

Wtf is her DH mad about?!

Maybe because she got new furniture before cleaning up the feces her children live in. Honestly, I'm hugely skeptical, too at this point.
03-22-2013 06:39 PM


03-22-2013 02:43 PM
Banana731 Wtf is her DH mad about?!
03-22-2013 02:10 PM
kristah1000 We are headed there this weekend to do some cleaning. She agrees that she needs the help, and was very grateful that we reached out to her.


She seems to think we are going there to help her declutter, which needs to be done. However our first priority is to get the place sanitary. We had planned on starting with the kitchen and bathroom, then coming back in a week or so to tackle the clutter. She went out and bought a bunch of furniature for the "new room makeover". Stuff that she found on Pinterest. I also don't know how much she actually wants to get rid of.

Her DH is also really mad that this is I'm not sure what the day will bring. I'll update once the weekend is over...looks like our work is cut out for us!
03-21-2013 10:12 PM

I grew up in a home like that. It disgusts me to think about it. And whenever my home gets dirty it brings back terrible memories.

However, involvement from CPS was unlikely to improve things. Going into fostercare would NOT have been a better situation.


I'd say do whatever you can. Next time you visit bring some cleaning supplies and simply tell her you're going to clean up a little. Then explain why you're cleaning up and encourage her to continue it. Leave the supplies for her (out of the children's reach of course).

03-21-2013 08:10 PM

I would go at this from an "Are you OK?" point of view. "Look I noticed ____________ and ________ and I am really worried about you".

03-21-2013 06:39 PM

ITA-- the battle's not won, but the first steps are taken & by the person who needs to do the changing. It's a good sign, but this journey is just begun. Do follow thru with the good ideas/ plans you've expressed, if possible.

03-19-2013 06:53 PM
Polliwog I would follow up with her local friends and make sure she's actually getting help and things are changing. From experience, I'm worried that she's only telling you what you want to hear.
03-19-2013 01:25 PM

OP, I'm so so very glad to hear that your friend realizes she has a problem & has already made the decision to reach out for help & that her dr office worked her in so soon-- help w PPD is not something that should wait! I can't help thinking that your concern for her (although you may not have mentioned it directly, I'm sure it showed in many ways) was a catalyst for positive change on her part. You've helped this entire family more than you may realize.

03-19-2013 08:23 AM

I am so glad that she is seeing her Dr. for PPD.  I hope that she is able to get some help.  From what you said about her Husband I just feel like there are a lot of issues going on there and I think that whatever the plan is, he needs to be on board and be helping...I think it is very wrong that he is not being more helpful/proactive in this.

03-19-2013 07:43 AM

Depression is, fundamentally, anger that is being turned inward.  There is plenty in her situation for her to be angry about, for sure.  The good news is that this anger can be a source of energy for cleaning--she can use it to aggressively throw away clutter, or to violently tackle a difficult mess.  "Throwing a cleaning fit" is what I call it.  I'm glad to hear that she is getting help for PPD.


I thought that all of Mum4vr's suggestions were great ones.  This mom doesn't need any more crap to deal with, she needs someone to support her and encourage her.

03-19-2013 03:46 AM
kristah1000 So I contacted 2 of her other friends, one of whom visited her yesterday and described the house in the same state, so my friend didn't clean up for her either. Both are very concerned. We are going to contact her mom today and try to set up a meeting with her so we can come up with a plan of action.

Also I talked to my friend tonight and she told me that she is seeing a dr tomorrow for PPD. She said she"lost it" with her 3 year old and "it wasn't pretty", and if anyone had seen what happened they would have reported her. I don't know exactly what took place. She said she has been having a hard time with anger and wanting to throw things. I suggested throwing a pillow at a wall or something but she said it wasn't heavy enough...also a few weeks ago I was on the phone with her and she was nursing the baby. When she bit her, she yelled "you little b----!". I am glad she is seeing a dr for sure.

So, that's the update. The two friends have both been involved with cleaning her house before, and I get the sense that this is a last ditch effort for them too. We can't just go in every few months and clean up, they have to maintain it and if they don't, and things are still unsafe, I suspect one of them will call CPS.
03-18-2013 05:55 PM
Banana731 I am also on team "clean-up help"

Maybe it won't last, but it's a nice thing to do for a new mom, and it will make her feel better.

And convince her to find a new home for that cat. It's obviously more than she can handle right now.

As far as mice, you could try finding an enclosed trap (safe for kids) with good ratings on Amazon and sending a link with, " i heard this was a great trap..." that might work. How bad is the mouse problem?
03-18-2013 04:46 PM

Wow, reading this thread has made me realize how kindly a friend or 2 were trying to help me over a decade ago when I was overwhelmed & bordering on PPD... there wasn't a feces or a rodent problem, but my house was a mess w dirty dishes, tub ring, laundry, etc. Some of the things suggested are actually what my friends did that helped (although I didn't realize it at the time):


going outside/ out for coffee once in a while together (with or without babe/s in tow)

inviting me to their house (I saw another mom's struggle, but a good example, too)

asking -me- for advice to -them- re getting on a cleaning routine (1st w bathroom, then kitchen, etc)

one went as far as to offer for me to clean her house for pay (maybe just motivate me? or as an opportunity to give much deserved praise on cleaning, so I'd feel more able/ less in a rut? to boost my esteem by earning a little spending $? It did help, btw)

***FLYlady dot net*** (this is the single most helpful tool I have ever seen for LOVINGLY, non-judgementally, but also effectively teaching ONESELF to establish household routines that work, step by step, esp if you weren't "born organized" like some of the PP who just don't seem to understand what the issue is)

one friend actually offered to do the FLY lady beginning steps with me & we chatted about it daily (although she'd been doing FLY lady for years)


Also, as some PP have mentioned, the spouse is part of the problem-- they're -HIS- children, too, living in a mess! IME, everything changed when my MW offered prozac, & I suddenly realized *I* was not depressed, but I was in a *depressing* relationship... if your friend is in anything like a similar situation, the things (in addition to the above) that helped were:


constant care & emotional support from dear friends like you!


boundaries-setting advice/ reality checks, and ultimately

leaving (he was abusive in many other ways) the relationship


I won't claim that I am now the tidiest person ever, now that it has been years & healing has occured & my dc are older & I am in a loving relationship, but I know that although there's another baby on the way & a risk of PPD, I never need to go back there... and I know the way/s to seek help if needed. It seems like your friend just does not know how to begin, yet, but I hope you can help her find it.

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