These professional cleaners are sharing the filthy, disturbing, and peculiar things they've seen in other peoples' homes. And what they have experienced will never be forgotten...
The Smell Was Unbearable!
“I worked for Stanley Steemer for a few months. As we were walking up the steps to the front door, we were hit with this powerful stench of ammonia. We weren’t even in the house yet and we could smell it. I thought it was dog urine and these extremely nasty people simply allowed their dog to go inside. Nope.
Turns out they were cooking crank. Not only that, but a person had died in this home recently. The carpet was behind repair. It wasn’t even carpet anymore but this light brown mush that stuck to your feet as you walked over it. I don’t know why they would waste their hard earned money on our steam cleaning service but hey, I’m paid commission.
The homeowners were extremely overweight, ugly, hillbilly women. I felt bad for the daughter who was in her early teens.
Let me get back to the smell. Every breath felt like taking a sip of urine. I couldn’t help but retch in front of the customers and I consider myself a very professional person. I insisted to my partner that we throw in the deodorizer for free so that we could finish the job without being distracted/visibly ill.
Worst job I ever had while working there. Moral of the story is if someone’s house smells of urine/ammonia, then they’re probably some kind of dealer.”
He Made Bank, But It Wasn’t Worth It
“For a summer in high school, I worked for an industrial cleaning business. It was our job to clean out trash and stuff, then do a basic cleaning (get marks off the wall, vacuum, essentially make everything clean, then a deep clean crew would do everything else). It paid well, so most jobs weren’t that bad when thinking about money.
One job, a squatter house and the former home of a hoarder, made me quit. The living room and kitchen were covered in trash, old food, mold, urination. The bedrooms were soaked in urine. The smell was so bad that five other companies passed on the job and when we took it on, we all were guaranteed $50/hr.
It took me and two other guys 9 days to clean this house (with 12 hour days). The carpet was taken out and burned, cabinetry was rotten, the house was gutted.
I walked out of that house with a $6K check. I immediately went to my boss and told him that I quit and wasn’t going to wait two weeks.
To this day, I still have nightmares about that house. It made me a neat freak.”
Dealing With The Rude And The Psychotic
“I had one house and these people were slobs. One time I had been invited to their BBQ after cleaning their house that day. I offered to help clean up before I left the BBQ but they said nah, don’t worry about it. When I returned two weeks later, the exact same mess was still all over the kitchen – nothing had been touched for two weeks.
Another place had a couple who were quite snooty, and they had nothing to be snooty about; they were not wealthy or even well-off, but they were the sort of people who always thought they were better than everyone else and certainly superior to the low-class servants like me. I could have strangled them one day; I had asked for the day off because I was attending a child’s funeral that morning, but they insisted I come anyway after the funeral and were annoyed that I’d even had the audacity to ask.
I opened the door and found a Christmas tree lying inside the front door, with all the ornaments shattered from one end of the foyer to the other. I phoned them at work to ask what the heck happened and if I’m expected to clean it, and she said she was trying to bring the fully-loaded tree to the office when she dropped it and couldn’t be bothered to deal with it after, so yeah, I’ll have to do it. She always kept at least two dozen pairs of her Frederick’s of Hollywood pumps piled by the door (she wore them as regular shoes), and while I did clean up the shattered glass ornaments from the house, I didn’t bother to clean the stuff that had landed in her shoes. She must have had fun, cleaning out at least two dozen pairs of shoes. After not even letting me take the day off for a child’s funeral and acting put-out to boot, then giving me a surprise like that when I went there, I wasn’t feeling thorough or charitable enough to clean her dang shoes. Any other client, sure – them, nope.”
They Had To Call Child Services!
“My cousin’s house.
She hired me and my mom to clean her house years ago. She paid us $150 to do so; we thought we were going to make some easy money. It took us 3 days to clean that house.
Dirty diapers in all of the furniture and under it.
Four litter boxes slap full of cat urination; some of it had molded.
Both sides of the sink and the counter stack 3 feet high with dirty, moldy dishes. The cats had also gotten here.
The kitchen table was covered in fast food containers and trash, some of it with rotten food in it. It took five 30-gallon trash bags to hold it all.
The kid’s bedrooms were horrible – just mattresses on the floor. The mattresses were soaked with urine, and cat stuff was all over the room. Also molded food, dirty clothes, and dirty diapers, you couldn’t see the floor anywhere, roaches and fleas were everywhere.
The master bedroom was horrible. It included some used adult toys everywhere, a recliner buried under filthy clothes, and used tampons. The bathtubs and shower stall were black. When we got through they were white. The same for toilets.
The fridge had food in it that was 3 years out of date, and stuff had been spilled in it so much that we had to peel out a half inch layer of filth from the bottom.
By the time we got through we had used 10 gallons of bleach, 5 gallons of pine sol, fifty SOS pads, five boxes of latex boxes, over one hundred 30-gallon trash bags, burned out some vacuums and used a bunch of bug killers.
We also reported her to child services.
She kept the kids and did not change her ways.”
The Post-It Notes
“I cleaned houses for a few months and I have an interesting story.
Usually, the houses I cleaned were more upscale with higher income families, but one time I had to go to this particular house in a much, much lower income neighborhood.
It was 10:30 am when I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked again and eventually, this guy in his late twenties/early thirties answers the door in nothing but his underwear. He was groggy and tired and I said: ‘Hello, sir! I’m with __. Did you have a house cleaning tod–‘ He just grunts and waves me in and before I can say: ‘So is there a particular room that you want me to start in?’ He is already back in his bedroom with the door closed.
So I decided to start in the kitchen. Two minutes into cleaning, I notice that there are post-it notes every three feet with writing on them. There was one on the dishwasher that said: ‘Greg, please remember to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher after you use them – Mom.’ I then turned around and noticed another post-it note on the fridge that said ‘Greg, remember to ALWAYS put uneaten food back in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil – Dad.’
At this point, I thought to myself, ‘Well, he’s clearly down on his luck and having to stay with his parents. It could happen to anybody.’ But that’s when I turned to the kitchen table and noticed that there were newspaper articles that were cut out and placed on the table and each one of them had headlines that were along the lines of ‘Studies show that 70% of students who go to college earn higher wages’ or ‘New study shows that college grads get better-paying jobs.’
Now I’m depressed because clearly, this guy is a loser living off of his parents. I continue cleaning the house and on my cleaning plan, I notice that it calls for a cleaning of three bedrooms. In the hallway only one of the bedroom doors was open. One of the closed doors was this guy’s bedroom where he was sleeping. I quietly knocked on the door and heard a deep sigh followed by ‘WHAT?’ I said: ‘Hey man, I was just wondering, did you want me to clean your room?’ He replied: ‘Siiiigh, I usually don’t have you guys do the other two bedrooms. Just do the bedroom with the open door. A check is on the counter.’
So I continued to clean the house when suddenly I thought to myself, ‘Was HE supposed to clean the house and just hired me to do the job that his parents were wanting him to do?'”
It Was Like A Scene From ‘The Walking Dead’
“My mom used to clean houses and she would call me for backup if the house was big or if the job itself was a gnarly one.
We got a call from a realtor who wanted to put a house on the market that was being sold by the owners’ adult children. The children lived about 2 hours away in Chicago and the parents had died; The house had sat empty for 2 years.
The house was like a time capsule. It was like a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’ when the gang goes into random houses to scavenge for supplies. A few dishes in the sink, folded up newspaper by a recliner in the living room, and even clothes draped over a chair in the bedroom like you do when you plan on wearing something more than once (oh come on, everyone has worn some pants for like, an hour and then decided they were clean enough to avoid the laundry hamper but soiled past the point of putting back in with clean laundry).
Then there was the film of mold/mildew/cobwebs/dust that was on every surface. Now my mom was just a regular house cleaner, not a professional ‘I will clean up after some stuff went down’ cleaner.
We were armed with only basic cleaning supplies. The realtor had basically just done a brief walkthrough and probably didn’t realize the extent of the filth that we were dealing with. Heck, we didn’t know until we got to work and noticed that we barely made it inside without making any progress cleaning. We threw away as much as we could (the children didn’t want any of the stuff) and opened up windows to let the place air out a bit. But we knew we were no match for this task. We let the realtor know that she needed some pros in there.
I guess the wow factor (in my opinion) was the fact that this was the home of someone’s parents and no one had bothered to do anything with it at all. The children just wanted to clear it out and sell it, knowing that they would have some money coming their way (it was a lake house too and they always sell at a high price no matter the condition).
I heard they hired people to throw everything out and scrub the place clean. All of their parent’s belongings went into some dumpsters, photo albums and all.
I tell myself they were horrible people just to make it better.”
Some People Should Not Be Allowed To Own Animals
“My parents run a disaster restoration company and I worked there every summer for some money.
The worst cases were:
One woman had a water damage. Left it for a month while she and her 3 young sons lived there. Mold grew on everything. There was literally growth covering walls. But that wasn’t the worst of it. The woman was severely depressed and trying to go thru AA, but had become a hoarder in the processes. Nothing was thrown out: used everything imaginable. And that’s not the worse of it.
She left after the water damage happened to her parent’s house in another state. She left their dogs in the backyard with an open bag of dry dog food and a pool full of water. She was planning on being gone for 3 months. I ended up making a call to animal control after the pool ran out of water as no one was taking care of them. The lady never came back to the state or asked about the dogs, I guess she assumed we’d take them in.
The second worst one was a couple of people living in a 3-bedroom trailer home with three toddlers. They had a fire but we ended up treating it like a biohazard. Dishes were piled up everywhere, never been washed. There were random appliances in rooms, like there was a dryer (not functioning) in the little boy’s room, a nonfunctioning washer and dryer set in the living room, and a nonfunctioning stove in the master. If you moved anything cockroaches and mice would scurry away from it. Their 3 dogs and 5+ cats all had clear signs of worms (you could see worms hanging out of their bums). Worst of all, even after being nasty and smoke damaged they wanted everything back, even things like plastic plates and a melted toaster.”
It Was Nothing They Had Ever Seen Before!
“In order to help make up back-rent, my little brother and I agreed to clean out another unit in our building. We have a great work ethic, but the mess we found ourselves in was UNMATCHED with any job we ever did before.
We get downstairs and the first sight we see is a WALL of garbage, and a floor covered in trash and feces. We swallow our pride and get to work.
Our first priority is pitching the big stuff. We take several mattresses (with strange black spots on the seams) to the trailer. They had urine stains, burn holes, and filth all over them. We notice clusters of strange brown bugs hiding in the seams and corners, but pay them no mind (we thought they were just roaches).
After that, we move some nightstands and coffee tables out to the trash. In one room, we found notes left behind by the former tenant that mentioned a custody battle and other terrible stuff. Some of them were really sad to read.
Once we had the big stuff out, we moved on to the smaller litter and hoarded trash. As we dug through it (with bare hands), we discovered a new low. Around a hundred used needles were buried under the trash. We stopped for a few minutes to make sure we hadn’t been stuck and to take a breather.
After our break, we opted to use snow shovels on the rest of the loose garbage.
Once the actual trash was out of the rooms, we started on the kitchen. The fridge belonged to the landlord and he wanted it for the next tenant to use. It wasn’t as bad as we feared because the former tenant only ate junk and fast food. It was still pretty nasty, though, so we cleaned it out. The sink was filled with dirty pans and dish-water that looked about a month stagnate. Inside the cupboard, there was a few cans of ravioli and chili, as well as chips and a few empty bottles of cough syrup.
Finally, we cleaned off the walls and washed the stains on the carpet. There was some graffiti on the walls, mostly self-loathing statements and other drama. The stains on the floor were the hardest part – there were even lumps of dry feces that had fused with the carpet fibers. To make matters worse, there were even more of those little brown bugs crawling on us while we worked. We looked them up and found out that they were an extremely nasty parasite called ‘bedbugs’.
Our reward for such an afternoon’s work was a month’s worth of back rent being paid-off, and later, an infestation of said bedbugs.”
Window Cleaners See Some Strange Things Too
“Did window cleaning in Las Vegas for extremely high-end homes. In some cases famous or insanely wealthy people.
Had one multi-part home owned by a couple of gay dudes. Really nice guys and a pretty sweet layout of a home.
What made it weird, was that nearly every single room in the house had Satanic/Occult looking paintings, sculptures, statues, and ornaments. Every freaking room. In some cases, the rooms were painted an odd color like blood red, copper or painted completely black. I’m not really religious anymore, but it was very very weird.
Second weirdest was an old guy who lived alone and had at least a dozen life-sized bronze statues of children on his property. Me and a co-worker joked that he lured children onto his property and then turned them into statues with his goblin magic.”
Too Many Mental Images To Handle!
“I used to own a cleaning company a few years back. So I have few stories.
I went to check on a unit being cleaned in a condo building and the guy next door steps out and asks how much our services cost. He invites me in and I am horrified at the living conditions. Bad doesn’t describe what I saw. I have no idea how anyone could live in such filth.
The mental picture I will never lose was on his bathroom sink were stacks upon stacks of used razors, had to be ten years worth.
Next was a lady who was moving who wanted her house cleaned and left the chains from her ‘adult swing’ in the bedroom attached to the ceiling.
And last, but not least, the person who taught me early in business to be wary if someone tries to commit to a price before you see their house. I get to the house and she had like 8 birds, 3 cats, and 2 dogs. There was a ball of fur that ran the entire perimeter of her house at the baseboards, like a long snake chain of animal hair.”
It Was So Bad That The House Had To Be Torn Down!
“I used to work for a company that owned a few ServPro franchises. In addition to flood and fire damage clean up, we were also the ones called after a hoarder has died. It’s nightmarish.
Luckily I was in the office and not in the field, but the worst one I saw pictures of were from a woman who had been hoarding books and papers (which attract cockroaches) as well as food (which further exacerbated the cockroach issue) – those were her 2 big triggers. She was also an addict who had died in a pile of her own vomit. Her pets had lasted a few days before anyone realized she was dead and took them to be re-homed.
So imagine the smell of rotten food, pet waste, dead body, and cockroaches mixed together (anyone that has worked for an exterminator knows what I mean, cockroach colonies have a distinctive odor and hers was a HUGE one). We didn’t pay those people enough. It was a nightmare. The whole house essentially had to be torn back down to studs. Nothing was salvageable.”
The Bowl Of Spaghetti-O’s
“I housecleaned once a week for a young family when I was about 14.
Starting out, the mom told me: ‘If there’s ever anything you don’t want to clean, you don’t have to, just leave it.’ So one week, they had this bowl (covered, but not airtight, like a glass Pyrex) of Spaghetti-Os cultivating a fair amount of mold. It was just left out on the counter, not even in the fridge. Nope, not touching that.
The next week, it was still there and had about doubled in size. Not even recognizable as food. She told me I needed to get rid of it. So, being the pushover kid that I was, I did it. I had to leave the room several times. One of the worst smells ever.”
An Obscene Amount
“I have a few horror stories.
I worked for a housekeeping company a few years ago and was only worked there a few months.
The first one that comes to mind was a home a family was moving out of that I and my coworker were cleaning. We walk in, and there’s dog pee all over the foyer/dining area, all the way back into the kitchen and living room. It was disgusting. It was HOT too. Late spring in Phoenix, Arizona, meant a lot of heat. We got to work, and I made my way back to the bedrooms to start cleaning. I opened the door of one of them and there was used cat litter EVERYWHERE. The bedrooms were carpeted, and it was a disgusting pain in the butt to clean. The worst part was when we got all the poop off the tile floors and vacuumed everything, then moved on to mopping. You know when urine dries, and then you re-wet it to clean it up? Yeah. That smell, for probably an hour while I cleaned the floors. I have no clue how long the animals had been in the house but it had to have been for a while. It was kinda heartbreaking.
Another house (that I myself did not clean but heard about from a coworker) was a large home that some frat boys had rented. She said the house overall wasn’t terrible, but when she went to clean one of the bedrooms there were crusty places in the carpet, and when she went to wipe the top of the door frame some dried up substance came loose. She was shocked at how the heck it got up there in the first place.
But nothing can beat the bug house.
It was an old house out in the desert. I had been sitting for 20+ years, but the owner wanted it cleaned up so his father could live there. Three teams had been sent out to tackle it. I knew it was gonna be a huge undertaking and we’d been told it would probably take a couple of days, but oh boy, NOTHING could prepare me for when I walked inside.
Dirt, cobwebs, mold, and dead bugs EVERYWHERE. An exterminator had been out there a few days previously and bug bombed the house. So for two days, I cleaned up dirt, dead bugs, dust, and a couple of dead rats. It was bad.
On the second day, I was finishing up the master bedroom. There was a door leading to the outside that was glass, covered with a curtain. I touched the edge of the curtain to pull it aside so I could clean the glass, and heard a rattling noise as small round things fell. I peeked at the other side of the curtain and almost screamed.
FREAKING. SPIDER. EGGS.
HUNDREDS of spider eggs on that curtain.
I hate bugs. But I gloved up and took the rod and curtain outside to shake off, but those little pricks would not come loose. I swear to god I wanted to just burn the curtain.
When I got home I showered for like an hour.”