Ever walked into a friends house so messy that you actually felt embarrassed for them? Some people are neat freaks, others are messy, but most of us tend to be somewhere in the middle. We might not keep the neatest house but at least we can actually see the carpet and can have friends over without being ashamed. Unfortunately some people don't have this luxury. The sloppy folks in these stories could certainly steal a scene from the show Hoarders.
"I once visited a house that left me in shock for some time afterwards.
When I was house hunting I visited a house in Paignton which had been repossessed. It was a three bedroom house with a small garden, larger than any others I had seen in that price bracket, but I was told this was because it needed redecorating and there was some rubbish left behind by the previous occupant. I’m pretty practical and not afraid to get my hands dirty so that sounded fine to me, and well worth it to find a larger house in my price range.
I was met nearby by the estate agent, who explained that access was via a footpath. It passed between two rows of neighboring houses, and I was already getting a sinking feeling - a concrete path strewn with litter and dog mess and even the odd used rubbers, stinking of rubbish bins, urine and the odd cloud of Mary Jane as we passed a window. The surrounding houses were run down, with unkempt back yards, decorated with the ubiquitous football team banners (the World Cup was on), broken children’s toys, old mattresses, piles of bin bags and the odd aggressive dog that barked as we edged past. The estate agent didn’t seem any happier about it than I was.
I decided to give the house itself the benefit of the doubt, after all, if it was good I could make it a little haven. It looked well built and sound - there was a pile of garbage bags in the garden but otherwise it didn’t seem too bad from outside. The estate agent explained that he hadn’t visited the house personally but he understood it hadn’t been cleaned yet - the company who repossessed it had instructed them to sell it on but had so far not made any effort to set it straight for viewers. He apologized in advance and I breezily told him that I could take a bit of mess if it had potential. He was a well-spoken older gentleman in an immaculate suit, and looked rather dubious about the place, but we headed inside anyway.
The rooms were crowded and had obviously been left untouched since the day the house had been seized two months previously. The smell was sickening, and one of the first things I was conscious of was the roaring buzz of flies, practically darkening the window. The estate agent tried to do his usual guide, pointing out the size of the rooms, the outlook, the fixtures, but he tailed off, and we picked our way from room to room in silence, broken only by the occasional exclamation over some new unexpected horror.
I tried to look past the mess, my mind was on the job of judging the building and mentally noting what would need to be done to fix it up, and indeed the structure wasn’t bad, but every room was filthy -overflowing ashtrays and old half finished glasses covered the tables, floor and windowsills, the suppurating liquid filled with a layer of rotting drowned flies.
The bed consisted of a stained mattress and a pile of stinking bedding on the floor, heaped with dirty clothes . There were plates of moldy food, heaps of bottles, a few children's toys, a pipe, and to my shock I narrowly avoided stepping in a pile of feces - looking around I saw not only animal but some that was obviously human excrement, possibly a parting gift for the repossession company.
The next room had been decorated in pink under the mildew and stains, and contained dirty old toys and a pink child’s bed. A little girl had lived in this room. Here too there were old bottles, flies, food and an ashtray on a shelf. The curtains were hanging torn, and the grimy window looked out onto the rest of the housing estate, an expanse of similar houses.
We went outside to breathe the comparatively fresh air. The estate agent was stammering embarrassed apologies, and looked quite haggard - he was obviously totally unprepared for what we’d seen, and none too pleased at being put in that situation by the company. He was planning to get the house de-listed until they cleared and sanitized it. I was quite calm at this stage, and recommended also stripping out the carpets, since they were a health hazard, but pointed out that it would be worth it since the house itself was in good condition.
Driving home, twenty minutes later, to my surprise I found myself starting to shake. I thought I had taken it all in my stride, but I realized that shock was catching up with me. Tears started, as a sort of culture-shock set in, and I had to pull off the road. I’ve led a fairly varied and un-sheltered life, but the reality of this squalid home hit me like a truck - it was like a scene from Trainspotting. All I kept thinking was ‘a little girl lived there - he sat there drinking and smoking, in all that filth, and there was a little girl…’.
I would, even after all that, have considered clearing out the house and fixing it up, because you can change anything inside a house if the structure is sound, but I knew I couldn’t change the neighborhood, however much I wish I could. I called the estate agent and told him it was a no - he wasn’t surprised.
I don’t know the circumstances of the house being empty - I assume the inhabitant was either arrested for child neglect or merely evicted, but I hope the child was taken somewhere where she would be properly cared for, because nobody should lead a life like that. I can’t imagine the entire lack of hope, pride or enterprise that would cause someone to live like that. It’s not a question of poverty - they had money for drinks, pizza and illegal substances, although it probably came out of their child support - it’s a question of decency. I’ve spent my life trying to make the world around me more beautiful - I can’t wrap my head around someone having so little thought or care for either their surroundings or the welfare of a child.
I had nightmares about that place for weeks afterwards."
"I never had many friends, so making one was kind of a big deal for me. When she invited me to spend the weekend, I felt like the luckiest person ever. I brought my stuff with me to school on Friday, and we took the bus to her house.
When we walked in I was just speechless, my eyes were probably entirely popped out of my head. Everywhere you looked was filthy, and positively covered with roaches, both living and dead. I'd never even heard of anything like it, let alone seen it. They had carpet, and tiny roach babies were crawling all through it. When you stepped, they'd scatter like water squishing out of wet carpet. She invited me to take my shoes off and get comfortable, but I couldn't fathom walking around barefoot. The roaches were on the ceiling, and would occasionally fall on you.
It smelled strongly of urine, and she regaled me with a story of how parents often fell asleep on the couch passed out and would pee on it in their sleep. Aside from that, every dish was crusted and in the sink or on the counter.
We went to her bedroom, which was a tiny bit cleaner, but just as bad, really. The sheets on the bunk bed weren't fitted, just draped haphazardly over, allowing the horribly stained and hole-y mattress to peek through. Roaches scurried through the holes.
I knew if I left immediately I would just devastate her, so I sucked it up and stayed the night. I didn't sleep one wink, eat one morsel of food, or even drink anything. We watched a TV show in the living room, but I practically hovered on the very edge of the couch. I tried to focus on the TV, but roaches kept crawling over the screen.
I told her my mom wanted me to check in, and called her. I discretely asked her to pick me up first thing in the morning. Mom called around 8 the next morning saying a family emergency had come up and she needed to come get me. She was there by 8:10. On the way home I told her what happened, and when we got there, she parked as far from the house as she could and left the doors open. She had me strip down outside and immediately threw my clothes into the washer at the hottest setting. Twice. And I got straight into the shower. She was taking no chances.
I don't remember what family emergency I used as an excuse, but I do remember that I kept that lie up all through high school to spare her feelings. She was a very sweet girl, and it wasn't her fault.
I believe social services ended up intervening at some point, to some extent, as a result of my mom calling, but I can't remember much more than that.
I've still never been as disgusted as I was that day."
"When I was working as a police officer I had a call of a shoplifting with a minor, a girl of 14. At that age I was required to take her home to find an adult to release her as she was considered 'arrested on paper.'
When we got to her house she got out of the cruiser rather quickly and ran inside the home and brought out another teenager with her. I told the teen I needed to release her to an adult and as I started to go to the front door she blocked my way which seemed very odd.
I pressed on asking, 'Is there an adult inside?' She responded that there was but that she would go in and get her. I stood about six feet from the open door and inhaled an odor from inside that I can only describe as truly putrid from inside that house.
I immediately began to suspect that the inside of the home was a filth situation and I walked around to the back to see if I was correct by looking in the windows, but almost all had closed curtains and it was dark inside the windows that I could see into.
The girl then exited the back door which again produced a rush of air that was truly disgusting. Again I attempted to gain entrance to the house but the girl stood in my way. Since I didn’t have a warrant to search the house and I couldn’t prove that it was a dangerous situation to justify a warrant-less entry, I then released the girl to an adult relative who also eventually came out of the home.
Afterwards I wrote an information report to Child Protective Services relaying my suspicions that the inside of the house was filthy and a potential danger to those living inside.
A few months later I received a letter from one of the CPS investigators who had received my report. She wrote to tell me that she thought I’d want to know that they investigated the home and that it had been the worst case of child neglect and filth they had ever seen!
She said there was urine and feces everywhere from both humans and animals. She said that she was amazed that I had been able to make a determination that the house was a problem having never entered and by only using my sense of smell.
In 15 years I had been in a lot of dirty to filthy homes and somehow my sense of smell let me know that this home needed a look inside. The investigator said everyone (seven children in all) had been removed from the home, as there were no adults living there, the utilities had been shut off and the oldest child was trying desperately to keep the family together.
I felt sad that the family was split up but I knew how dangerous continuing to live in that house was going to be. This was one of the saddest cases I worked on and has always remained in my thoughts."
"A couple months ago my husband and I went to visit our friends. We'd planned to stay there and for the two weeks leading up to our visit they were messaging constantly about all the cleaning they were doing in the house.
Well, we turned up, walked in the door and the smell of urine hit us in the face. I almost threw up right there. I'd warned them in advance that urine sets off my PTSD (in relation to me need to deep clean bathrooms often and not trusting others to do it) but they were so used to the smell they didn't notice it.
I spent the next two weeks scrubbing the house to help them and because I couldn't leave their two kids (4 and 2) living like that. The basement and dining room was essentially one giant litter tray, the kids room was full of dirty nappies (many of which had been thrown around leaving smears everywhere), the kitchen was covered in mold and had no clear counter space for preparing food, and the living room (where the kids spent most of their time) was covered in rubbish and the kids had no clean clothes as the laundry room was so disgusting it wasn't possible to get to the washing machine.
By the time I came home the house was spotless, and reorganized. Thankfully they've been keeping it that way (they were told if they didn't I would personally be phoning social services) but it was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. I never expected to have to use a knife to chisel human feces off the floor of a child's bedroom but I also understand how easy it is to let things slip and how hard it can be to pull yourself out of that hole so I was happy to help but yeah, the mere thought of it makes me feel physically ill."
"Social work can lead you to some really dark places when it comes to many things, but the conditions for living that people find acceptable vary so rampantly that to this day I, even without showing it, find myself astounded at the amount of filth that can be present in a home.
I'm not the most organized person. I accumulate clutter quickly and find myself straightening and cleaning more often than I would if I did quick daily maintenance. I don't dust often and there is rarely a time when there isn't some sort of toothpaste spatter on my bathroom mirror. I am not super picky about stuff like that. I don't even consider it 'dirty.' But not everyone has been exposed to what I am about to describe.
Now going into a home for an initial screening can be an unnerving situation. You never really know what you are walking into until you've walked into it and in this case it was a smell. I had smelled it before many times but never really placed it. It just kind of became the smell of the less fortunate. It wasn't until much later that a client pointed out the smell in her home (which was much lighter) that it dawned on me to put two and two together. It is the smell of cockroaches. Yes, they make a smell. It's a smell like wet earth and over-ripened fruit and it's subtle… typically. Not enough to make you concerned but enough to make you aware that something is off. But this wasn't typical. This smell clogged up the back of your throat and if I were to ever smell it like that again, I may have to excuse myself to duct tape my clothes at all entrance and exit points.
Things seemed nice enough besides that. It was a little double wide (trailer) out in the middle of nowhere. Dad was cooking in the kitchen. A kid with dried milk on his face was playing in the TV room. We sat down to have a chat about a client related to them and after I got settled enough to start taking in details I noticed that the walls around the ceiling were moving. Thousands of roaches. Like no kidding… thousands. The father said they come out from the smell of his cooking. At one point he had sat down and one fell on the table between us and he casually flicked it off into the corner of the dining room and never missed a beat in his conversation.
I checked myself over for roaches the same way you check for ticks and I took another shower when I got home. I would have set that trailer on fire and moved into a tent."
"I was seeing a guy who seemed amazing but who never wanted me to come over. After months, he told me his house was a mess. I brushed it off and told him I didn’t care. I went over to his house and he had a humongous trash can in the living room and approximately six lawn bags full of trash. I jumped in and helped him clean. It was gross, there were about 50 spit bottles everywhere, the fridge was full of stink and mold, THE BATHROOM was atrocious. Literally not an inch of floor space, trash for days, grime, and a toilet that hadn’t been cleaned for possibly years. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I would stay over and clean his house for weekends at a time. One room at a time. I painted, and scrubbed. Put sheets on the bed, bought new pillows...I made his house a home. I did all of his laundry and bought all new rugs and all bathroom necessities like a shower curtain, trash cans, etc. Our relationship became strained and I quit going over there. I decided after several months that I would surprise him after work and show up.
When I knocked on the door I could SMELL the house. He had gotten two dogs. Apparently he didn’t see the need to let them out and there was poop EVERYWHERE. He had let the house go back to its original state but now there was poop and pee on top of all the dirty clothes and trash that was everywhere. I also noticed tons of spit bottles, fast food bags, and now, BOTTLES OF PEE. There was a snow shovel against the wall that he had been using to scoop the poop off his carpet. I could not believe that a human could live this way. You literally could not take one step without stepping in poop. It was summer and the smell was out of this world. He had a window unit and the a/c was leaking onto the wall and the slats to the wall were actually showing. They were moldy and rotting. The first thing I did was feed and water the dogs and then I cut one of the dogs matted hair out of its face so it could see. Looking back, I think the guy must have mental issues to be able to live like that. His family all know how he lives and no one says anything. After ‘surprising’ him, he never made a single comment about the filth or apologized or even attempted an excuse. I was absolutely disgusted and told him there was no way I could live like that. Last time I spoke with him, he told me one of the dogs died. I have no doubt that it was from neglect.
The super weird thing is that he goes out a lot. When he does, he dresses to the nines. He wears starched jeans and new clothes. Instead of washing his clothes he uses his dads card and buys new ones for dates. I would love to meet his new girlfriend who is probably as clueless as I was that he was a filthy pig."
"One of my best friends from school. She never invited me over and I was fine with that. She said she was embarrassed of her family and I respect that. One day we had a fight and it got personal. She was screaming at me about the stresses of her home life and I didn’t believe her. So she let me come over.
The house was filthy. Not just messy, it was putrid. It smelled terrible. There was moldy food left on plates everywhere. I could smell dead things that I assume were rats or mice. On the table were used syringes. She showed me her bedroom. It was immaculate and smelled lovely. That was her sanctuary. Her mother was an addict and used to have multiple men over. In the bathroom were used rubbers tied in a knot everywhere. I felt sick looking at the crazy nightmare my friend had to live with. She had to do everything for herself and I understood why she was so tired every day.
I let her move into my parents' house with me and she lived there from 15/16–19. No matter what she will always be my sister."
"When I was a senior nursing student at Montana State University, I was doing my Public Heath Nursing rotation at the MSU Extension Campus in Billings, Montana. Part of my rotation involved following one of the county public health nurses while she made home visits. Most of her home visits were to follow up on reports from teachers of children showing up at school inappropriately dressed for the weather (it was winter and children would show up without a jacket and wearing sandals).
Our knock was finally answered by a preschool-age child. I was standing behind the nurse and was nearly knocked over by the stench wafting out the door. The nurse asked the child if her mother was home. She said, 'Mommy is sleeping.' The nurse told the child, 'Tell your mother that I need to talk to her.' The child looked fearful, visibly paled, and insisted, 'Mommy is sleeping.' The nurse was able to persuade the child to let us inside and to tell her mother to come to the door.
Once inside the living room, we encountered a reeking, urine-soaked mattress lying on the floor in front of an old TV. Two younger children peeked at us from the kitchenette. One child was in a filthy diaper and the other was unclothed. Every square inch of counter space was covered with dirty dishes, and the sink was filled with stinking dirty dishes. There was a cube of margarine melting into a puddle in the middle of the kitchen floor, and the two younger children were picking Saltine crackers out of a box, scooping margarine from the floor with their hands to smear on the crackers and stuffing them in their mouths.
Suddenly we heard a woman screaming from the back of the house, 'I told you stupid kids never to come in here when I’m sleeping.' This was immediately followed by the sound of a child being slapped several times and crying, 'No Mommy! Please! There’s a man and woman at the door!' A disheveled woman came out and began screaming at us to get the heck out of her house. We went outside and found a pay phone (no cell phones in 1976) to call the police and Child Protective Services. I decided then and there that public health nursing wasn’t for me."
"I go in people’s houses daily for my job all over LA and I’ve been in all types of people’s houses from ultra-rich to ultra poor. And one thing I’ve observed first hand is your financial status doesn’t determine how nasty you can be.
I’ve been in many extremely nasty houses so its really hard to pick one specifically.
The nastiest ones have always been hoarders and also have infestations.
Just off the top of my head some of the most memorable were a house with a really old man in his 90s who I think had dementia that was literally crawling with rats. I’m talking the floor was covered with them to the point where you couldn’t see the floor. He acted like he didn’t even see them. I actually called the city and reported it.
The second most memorable was a nasty hoarder cat lady. She had cages stacked from floor to ceiling all around her living room filled with cats. Literally hundreds of cats in cages. The stench from cat urine was enough to make you nauseous.
I was in another woman’s house that had a bunch of dogs in her house and there was dog poop everywhere. All over the floors and carpet. She had the audacity to tell me I need to wear shoe covers in her house because she didn’t want me tracking dirt in her house.
I was in another guy’s house where I actually thought they sent me to the wrong address because I thought the house was condemned because all the windows were boarded up. I was outside calling in to tell my dispatcher they sent me to the wrong house when the guy came outside.
The guy lived there with his sister. They were hoarders. With junk piled literally to the ceiling with little pathways through the house. Roaches and bugs were everywhere. Plates of old rotten food covered in roaches were everywhere. In the guy’s bedroom he had jars of human urine and feces because he was too nasty and lazy to walk to the bathroom. I actually left and told him he has to clean up before we service his house because it's a health hazard.
Another memorable one was a house that had the worst roach infestation I have ever seen. You can always tell when a house is infested with roaches right when you walk in because the air is kinda damp and they have a nasty smell sort of like raisins. I moved his sofa to look for the cable outlet and the entire back of his sofa was covered in roaches. It literally made me retch.
I’m not the cleanest or neatest person, but one thing that shocked me when I started doing my job is how prevalent this type of behavior is. It's a lot more common than you think.
I’d say about one in eight homes I go in are completely disgusting."
"I wandered the streets of England as a missionary for two years. To be frank going around like that you encounter some of the nastiest abides possible.
Just to be clear I'm sure it happens everywhere, in my neighborhood in the states I'm sure there are bad places too. But I was in the North of England.
It was pretty bad when they were chain smokers. Every surface tinged with brown tar.
The hoarders were pretty bad too. I think there was quite a bit of mental illness associated with those. I saw a lot of really bad places.
But the one that takes the cake for me? He was a smoker, but not terrible, he was a bachelor and his place was littered with knick knacks and adult magazines. He invited my friend and I in and plopped us down on a couch in an alcove and as I sat down I looked up to see one of the centerfolds from a magazine of a very hot girl with no clothing in a very suggestive pose.
Not what you want to look at as a missionary.
Somehow we got on the subject of modesty and thinking less of girls as things to be lusted at. He seemed very involved and agreeing with us wholeheartedly.
All through the conversation the buxom vixen stared at him over my shoulder burning a hole in my head. It was difficult to juxtapose how this guy seemed to feel towards women with this very large poster pinned up next to me prominently displayed for all to see.
So we got to the point 'If you feel so strongly about having pure chaste thoughts towards women can you please remove this?' my friend said to him pointing to the poster.
'Oh that?' He said seeming to be startled by our singling it out, 'That's just a picture of my daughter!'
I felt nasty as I sat there, and nasty as I left.
Nastiest house I've ever been in."