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laureth's avatar

Do you judge people with messy homes?

Asked by laureth (27184points) June 20th, 2011

If you are someone who enters the homes of strangers a lot (i.e., meter reader, AC/heating technician, plumber, etc.), what do you expect their homes to look like? If they’re not pristine like a furniture showroom, do you think less of them? And what do you think if they look more like the “junkyard” scene from Labyrinth? If you judge harshly, would your feelings be softened if the homeowners were apologetic or contrite (“Sorry the place is a mess…”)?

If a house is messy, do you judge the woman of the house more harshly than the man? Or do you think something more like, “They must choose to spend their time on other pursuits more important to them than endless housecleaning?”

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46 Answers

janbb's avatar

In my mind, there is a difference between clutter and dirt. I am quite a neat person and I don’t feel comfortable with a lot of either, but I realize that some people are more messy than I and that’s ok. However, if a house is really filthy, I am not at ease there and I might be somewhat judgmental, but I would not judge either a man or a woman more at fault.

blueiiznh's avatar

While I may not understand it, it is not my house and there are plenty of reasons that it can be that way.
Like @janbb stated, there is a huge difference between cluttered versus downright filthy dirty. If it was filthy and smelly, I certainly might judge a little, but have a choice to not return.
I however would never consider it more a womans role versus a mans role.
If it

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

Sometimes, but most of the times I just go with the flow because I have this one friend who her room is just a total mess. ALL THE TIME! one time we had a sleep over at my place and my room was… lets just say that you couldn’t see the floor. I really wanted to say something to her but I didn’t wanna hurt her feelings so I just shut up.
I am a neat freak so I can be a little bit bothered by dirty and messy rooms or houses.

OpryLeigh's avatar

No, I prefer a home that it is obviously lived in. Often, messy/cluttered homes mean the owners have animals or kids or both that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Now, if you are so messy that your unwashed dishes, piled up in the sink, are growing their own cultures then I may gag a little.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Sometimes you can because their home can be messy, but in a neat kind of way. Like, they have books and boxes and things everywhere, but they’re all packed neatly and in a certain way. While they’re house can be messy and gross. So sometimes you can and cannot because there could be an emotional reason as to why thier house is like that.

Judi's avatar

We have apartments. When we do our anual maintenance checks, I am always amazed that the lower income apartments tend to make their homes clean, almost pristine for these checks, while the more expensive apartments people tend to leave it trashed.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I am a complete and total slob. A friend once gave me a refrigerator magnet that said: “I am much too interesting a person to clean my house.” I’ve always had pets, I raised a child and I never want to spend my time on housework because I simply don’t care. That said, I am aware of the general attitude toward messy people so I rarely invite people over, and I do clean up for those rare occasions. And yes, @blueberry_kid , I have been told that I must be depressed or have no self-esteem or something because my house is a wreck, but I honestly don’t think so.
My house has never caused anyone to become ill. Surfaces that touch food are always clean. And I still get judged very harshly.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JilltheTooth You just described my own home and attitude towards cleaning. It drives my boyfriend mad that I will put something down on, say, the coffee table, and it will stay there for months and months. I figure, if it doesn’t need to be moved then why waste the energy to put it somewhere just to make it a bit tidier.

SuperMouse's avatar

I am a fairly relaxed housekeeper and because of this I don’t tend to judge others who are like me. I do get a grossed out by dirty houses. Now that I think about it, I realize that I might tend to judge the woman of the house more harshly than the man, but I don’t know why.

squirbel's avatar

I tend to think/judge a home that is not clean, yes.

I would say this is a cultural thing though. I am Puerto Rican, but I was adopted by Jamaican family.

I guarantee you that any Jamaican home you walk into – islands or States, you would be able to eat off of the toilet. At any time.

john65pennington's avatar

Needless to say, as a police officer for 44 years, I have been in many houses, messy and not messy. And, yes, this is my first impression of the people that live there.

I went into one one house to check the welfare of a woman that had not been heard from in a week. She did not want to answer the door. I insisted and she finally opened her front door. I cannot begin to tell you what I observed in her house. It was so bad, that she had a trail from one room to the other, on the floor. No electricity and all the electrical outlets and windows had been covered with duct tape. You guessed it. This woman had a psychological problem. Since I felt for her welfare, I called her daughter and she came and removed her from this dump. This was strictly for her own safety.

Here is another short example. Wife and I play bingo. Each player has a trash can next to their seat. Some people never use the trash cans. Instead, they throw papers and other articles on the floor. I sum up these people this way: if they throw trash on the floor at a public building, they surely do the same in their house. This action is by people of all colors.


BeccaBoo's avatar

Hmmm this is a hard one, I tend to think that a home that is dirty is gross, but one that is messy is usually lived in, and with having 4 kids I know how hard it is to keep on top of mess when they follow behind you making things a mess again. However leaving dirty cups, washing and general crap everywhere then I do tend to think Lazy, but then its not my home and does not change how I think about that person. I have a few friends who are so clever but their home is utter chaos. Do I care, not really!

squirbel's avatar

@Beccaboo As a child I was taught not to leave a mess, how hard is it to teach this?

BeccaBoo's avatar

@squirbel Not too hard if you are an obedient child that is not to bothered about what’s going on around you, but my boys are still learning to put the toilet seat down after them, one thing at at time hey!

SuperMouse's avatar

@squirbel I’m not sure if it is convinced it is difficult to teach, I think teaching this is a higher priority for some parents then it is for others. Being a more relaxed housekeeper myself, I probably don’t hit the “clean up thoroughly and right away” message as hard as others might.

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cookieman's avatar

I agree that there is a difference between dirt and clutter. I’m OK with clutter; I have a real problem with obvious dirt and will (most likely) not want to visit again.

@john65pennington: My wife also has some horrific stories of filthy houses from when she was a state social worker. Urin-stained mattresses with no sheets, balled-up used toilet paper in a pile on the bathroom floor, an empty fridge with nothing but green milk in it.

mazingerz88's avatar

I don’t judge but gets baffled as to how some could have so much mess in their homes. For an explanation though, I tend to assume and regret the fact that maybe they did not have parents or any other adult mentor that taught them how to clean and maintain a home.

laureth's avatar

For what it’s worth, my home is not filled with maggots, nor do I smear my excrement on the walls. We just have a lot of stuff. We have umpteen bazillion books because my husband and I both like to read. We both make things, so my yarn and his brewing and leatherwork is about the place. We’re neither of us organized, so there are stacked papers, things that ought to be recycled, and miscellaneous computer parts. There’s an old dog, but no kids. And we are not Hispanic. ;)

Dirty dishes go in the dishwasher, and we made sure to sweep up any clumps of dog hair that gather (as they will) in corners. But we didn’t necessarily mop or go out of our way to move stacks of stuff.

I’m embarrassed about the air conditioning guy spending 4–6 hours here installing the new AC unit, thinking that the blame for “slovenly clutter” goes straight to my weary shoulders. My husband, who works as many hours as I do, could care less.

If you don’t have a mansion, and yet the way you live attracts a certain amount of “stuff,” where do you put it all?

Judi's avatar

My MIL’s house is TO clean. She actually throws away books IN THE TRASH! instead of donating them. I told her it was a sacrilege, but she said, “They’re just paperbacks.”

wundayatta's avatar

The kind of person who would apologize for their house being a mess, would have a pristine house (as far as I can tell). The kind of person who has a house messy enough for me to notice is so out of it, they have no idea.

I can think of two houses I’ve been in in my life that meet that have been messy enough for me to notice. Oddly, both houses were owned by people who loved others and had guests often. Apparently the messiness didn’t hinder anyone from liking them.

Do I judge them? Judge them how? In one case I judged the woman of the house more harshly, but then, there was no man of the house. In the other case, I felt like they were generally disorganized, lacked structure or discipline for their children, and just didn’t seem to care that much. It didn’t stop me from being a guest in both houses. Although I’m not sure I would go back.

cookieman's avatar

@Judi: No such thing as “too clean” IMHO. Although I donate all my comic books to the Boys & Girls Club. Throwing them away is kind of insane.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Nope. Mine is a messy home.

nikipedia's avatar

@john65pennington, I think you are a good man and there is hope for you, but saying “most hispanics live” in feces and squalor is not an acceptable thing to say.

Was the woman from your first story white? Instead of assuming all white people live that way, you say this particular white person had an illness. Yet, when you see one hispanic family living in filth you assume it’s because they’re hispanic.

That is a racist, bigoted, malicious thing to say. I think you are a better person than that and you need to seriously reconsider your attitudes about non-white people.

Sorry for jackin’ your thread, @laureth.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@laureth : haha Replace the quilt with a bulletin board and that’s my desk!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nikipedia @john65pennington being a racist isn’t news. and it’s incurable.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Based off some oft the answers I can only logically deduct that the way people are dressed plays on how they are perceived also. The notion that a people are not sized up by what they are wearing has to be greatly false overall. I guess a lot comes from the home environment one was raised.

I try to imagine why a home is Stanford and Sons as oppose to looking like a home one All My Children but I try to not let it effect how I view the people. My home would never be a candidate for Better Homes and Garden. I go for clean over clutter. I am not going to try to go for surgical clean because that is all I would ever be doing. The wind blows near every day at some point. It blow off the river and over a field out back and the window is open because there is no central heating an air. There is always dust blowing in, so I learned to live with a little dust most of the time. One or two Daddy Longlegs get to camp out at least 50% of the time but if a whole community starts to show, out comes the vac and away they go. The place is a small cracker barrelhouse built about the time of the Great Depression. I bet this whole house could fit inside the Spelling mansion living room! The only way not to have clutter is to practically live out of a steamer trunk, or have the very least of furniture.

I go into a home that looks as if it were a posh hotel lobby; I do not want to go in. I feel I have to keep my hands in my pocket for fear of putting a magazine out of place or messing up the alignment. I have been in homes where the people freak if you sit a drink down without a coaster, or walk in with your shoes.

It somewhat reminds me of that movie Sleeping With The Enemy with Julia Roberts. Her husband in the movie was so anal about clean and order the towels had to hang at even length and all the cans had to be stacked according to height with all the labels facing forward. But he was mean and sadistic. I am sure the writers would not have rote the part like that if there were no real people like that. I would rather be with a slop I can deal with than some neat freak that was an ass.

Hibernate's avatar


Because there can be a lot of things to say.

I got a messy house [ disorder ] and I like it that way because I know all the places where I keep things. It’s not a disorder for me but for others who wanna see it that way.

Other don’t have time to clean or maybe they spend way to less time at home etc etc

incendiary_dan's avatar

I would have to be pretty hypocritical to judge someone harshly for that.

FutureMemory's avatar


This coming from someone whose home is so messy it’s more like a cave than a house.

Conclusion? I’m a bit of a nutcase.

Kardamom's avatar

The people that I know personally (a close friend, a cousin and a former friend) that had extremely messy houses, also had personal problems ranging from depression, OCD (so overwhelming that he literally could not throw anything away, like on that show hoarders) and poverty. So I always assume that something is not going right/well with people who have messy houses.

I’m not one of those people who keeps my house like a model home, but I cannot stand dirt and clutter, so I keep up with the housework. My friends and relatives who had super messy homes, had specific reason for why they couldn’t keep their houses clean. It wasn’t like they just decided that they like the mess.

I tried to help each one of these people with their houses (to clean them up) to no avail. My close friend, although she wants to clean up her house, will let me help her sort and clean and then she’ll have a garage sale, but then a week later, it’s back to the way it was. I finally gave up.

My cousin and my aunt (who live together in almost total squalor) both suffer from depression and my cousin is handicapped (needs a wheelchair) and my aunt has agorophobia and won’t leave her home voluntarily. They’ve had to move a few times and instead of getting rid of stuff or boxing up and organizing their stuff, they (and other relatives at the last minute) ended up literally throwing their stuff into the moving van and then throwing it back onto the floor of their new dwelling. There has never been a time in my 40 odd years of knowing them, that they’ve had a clean house.

My former friend, who suffered from depression and OCD, didn’t even let me into his aparment until I had known him for about 3 years. This was long before the days of the TV show “Hoarders” so I had never heard of such a thing. I finally called him on it, why he wouldn’t let me into his house. I was actually afraid that maybe there was a dead body in there. He finally let me in, so I wouldn’t think he was a murderer or something. My jaw hit the floor when I saw his apartment. He wouldn’t let me or anyone else even attempt to help him organize his stuff (even though that is what I am very good at). After about 10 years of knowing him, he had to move out of the cluttered apartment and into another place, because you literally could not walk in the door. But he kept paying rent on the first place while he was paying rent on the second place. He was practically destitute because of this. One night, the first apartment caught on fire. There was a lot of damage from the fire and the water from the firefighting effort, his roof was wide open. He called me up late that night and asked me to come down to the burned out apartment (with no roof, and it was drizzling) to sit guard. I had to walk away from him at that point. He was totally OK with me sitting in his dark, burned out apartment, which at that point had no electricity, with a hole in the roof while it was raining, rather than to just call the whole thing a loss and let me help him shovel it all into the trash. He was mad at me because I wouldn’t sit in that place over night to protect his stuff.

Because of these three, dis-similar cases of dirty houses, I have come to the conclusion that there is usually something unfortunate going on with people that have messy, dirty houses. I’ve never met anyone who lived in a dirty house, who said they enjoyed it, or didn’t care, there was always some underlying problem that prevented them from cleaning it, or keeping it clean. It hurts my heart to see it and I wonder what is going on with them.

faye's avatar

I love it when my house is clean. But not enough to do it regularly. I have stuff, dog, 2 cats and always a book to read. Food prep surfaces are clean, dishes in the sink are most usually soaking but I don’t find housework all that important.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@faye : You are welcome in my home anytime.
@Kardamom: I think it’s very sad that your friends and family have issues, and that they skew the curve a bit. Most of the people I know with messy houses are just like me, basically happy folks for whom a tidy house is not a priority.

faye's avatar

@JilltheTooth My daughter washed my kitchen floor- way to the mom’s heart. You are welcome here anytime, too. Just keep your shoes on!!

Plucky's avatar

Not really. I know a lot of decent messy people. I’ve known messy people that were “normal” and happy. I’ve known messy people that were dealing with psychological issues as well. However, I’ve known more neat freaks with psychological issues than not.

I am a clean neat freak. I don’t mind visiting a messy house – it’s not my house. I don’t like dirty though. I don’t say anything but I find it difficult to feel comfortable in a dirty home. I’m thinking that’s my own issue though.

cookieman's avatar

@PluckyDog: I feel the same way.

Kitchens are the deal breaker for me though. My cousin’s kitchen has a quarter-inch of grease on the stove, rotten food in the fridge and garbage overflowing the barrel at all times. I can’t bring myself to eat anything when I’ve visited.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I judge them to be messy but not bad people. I may avoid hanging out in dirty or messy homes but still really enjoy my friendships with those people. If I can, I’ll avoid having to stay in a dirty home.

BarnacleBill's avatar

My house is clean when it needs to be clean. Kitchen is immaculate, loose papers and stuff left out either make it to the trash or to a basket assigned to each household member. That way when they look for where they left things—keys in the bathroom, glasses behind the couch, credit card found in the pantry, I can direct them. But I will go for weeks without dusting. It’s a 100 year old house, and 3 hours after I dust, it will need dusting again. I change furnace filters the first of every month, never open windows, and have the duct work cleaned annually.

I don’t want to spend my time cleaning. However, if I’m having a party, everything is pristine.

john65pennington's avatar

I knew I would receive some flack from some people, concerning my answer. To clear the air, some of my best friends are hispanics. One lovely lady works as a cashier at a Mapco Station and the other is a greeter at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant.

I based my words on what I have seen in the past, on my visits to Mexico. No, I am not a bigot and I see no skin color. I make my evaluation on what I see and the people involved and I go by the numbers.

I love my daughter, but she use to be the worst housekeeper. There was garbage everywhere and a trail to walk from room to room. I mention her, because of fair play and she is white.

Hope this clears the air,.

augustlan's avatar

Nope. I’m a slob. :)

Cruiser's avatar

I was self employed as a contractor for 16 years and went into thousands of homes and have seen it all. People live in their homes and you will see the things that are part of living their lives and for the most part the homes I entered were just that….lived in. Ya got kids there will be toys, clothes scattered and dishes in the sink. Single, childless or elderly were generally more organized. What always got me and I never quite could understand was squalor, filth and the stench. Stank always got me to notice and wonder what was up. And in those homes there was obvious evidence of “issues” depression/mental health, or medical issues. Their checks cleared like everybody else’s.

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blueiiznh's avatar

Only after I clean their house

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