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What Causes Someone to Not Clean Their House?

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Before judging an untidy house, it is important to consider what causes someone to not clean their house. While many people might jump to the conclusion that a dirty and untidy house is just because of laziness, there may actually be valid reasons that keep someone from being able to clean their house.

For example, physical or mental illness can make cleaning projects feel insurmountable. A stressful season of life, whether it is due to work issues, family problems, or even money concerns, can make cleaning the house take a backseat to other more pressing issues.

Whatever the impetus may be, left unattended, the house can get dirtier and dirtier, which then makes getting started cleaning it extremely difficult. In this article, we will look at common reasons why a person may not clean their house and the effects of that over time.


Common Causes

There are a wide array of reasons why someone may not keep up with house cleaning tasks. These range from short-term issues to long-term problems. For example, if a person recently suffered an injury or had surgery, their mobility may be affected until they fully recover.

This can make cleaning more difficult. On the other end of the spectrum, there may be ongoing mental health problems that make cleaning more cumbersome. In this case, the dirty house may be a more long-term issue.


Time Crunch

It is no secret that life is very busy these days. With a never-ending to do list and only so many hours in the day, it is not uncommon to let cleaning tasks slip from time to time. An unclean house could just be because a person is in a busy season of life and they have to prioritize other things over maintaining a rigorous cleaning schedule.

If you regularly find yourself not having time to properly clean your house, you should enlist others to help you or hire a cleaning service. While the professional cleaning service will cost you money, it will save you time.

If you do not have the time or desire to clean your house regularly, it is better for your mental well being and physical health to hire it out than to let problems build up in your home. Severe or prolonged exposure to things like mold and mildew can be extremely risky to your health.



If you notice that you are living in a cluttered house, you may feel overwhelmed by the mess and unsure of where to start. The longer you let things build up, the more overwhelming and daunting the task can feel. In this situation, the solution to cleaning a filthy house is to just get started.

Choose one room or one wall to start with and just get started. If cleaning the whole house seems like too much, set a time for 15 minutes and see how much progress you can make. Oftentimes, getting started is the hardest part. Choosing a realistic time goal can ultimately lead to more motivation and less overwhelm as you start knocking out tasks.



Laziness is a common reason why people do not clean their house. There may not be a mental or physical health problem that keeps them from doing it, just a lack of desire. The idea of “I will do it later” builds over time until weeks or months have gone by without the house being cleaned.

Not only does this pose health risks, but it can also spill over and affect your personal hygiene and even whether you are actively attending social events. There are many negative ramifications of an unclean house. Do not let laziness lead you down that road.

Whether it is the development of brand new health conditions or just a poor mood, living in a dirty house can really affect you. Cleaning is a tough job, but make a plan that is realistic and manageable and stick to it. For example, do you allow dirty clothes to just pile up on the floor? Place them in the laundry basket instead. This simple change will be a step in the right direction.


Mobility Issues

Another common reason a house is allowed to get dirty is due to mobility issues. This could be in response to old age or a physical limitation due to surgery or injury. Regardless of the cause, when a person has restricted mobility, performing household chores tends to fall by the wayside.

A physical disability or poor physical health makes cleaning a bigger task as it takes more energy to complete. Oftentimes, people do not want to reach out and ask for help because they do not want to be a burden. This means that the messy house is allowed to build up, which makes cleaning even more of a challenge.


Physical Ailments

Much like mobility issues, physical health problems can also affect the cleanliness of a home. Many cleaning tasks are physically exerting tasks, so people who are in pain or who struggle to stand, bend, or reach may find cleaning to be too difficult.

Just think about the effort required to push a vacuum cleaner and move it from room to room. If a person is constantly feeling unwell, he or she will likely let cleaning tasks go because of the physical effort required to complete them.

Likewise, if a person has poor vision, they may not be able to properly clean their house. Vision restrictions make it more challenging to see dirt or grime building up in the house. Over time, this will continue to accumulate and eventually will result in a huge build up.

If a person is ashamed or does not want to ask others for help, the house will continue to be filled with unclean living spaces. If a person has a small income, they may be unable to afford to hire a professional service to clean the house. This means the health hazard will continue and the person’s physical health can be even further harmed by prolonged exposure to toxic elements like mold or dust mites.


Mental Illness

A lesser thought of reason for why someone may avoid cleaning their house is related to mental health conditions. For example, if a person is suffering from anxiety or depression, they will often lack the energy to maintain a clean and tidy home. It is not that they want to live in a dirty house.

It is just that they cannot muster the motivation to tackle the mess that is building up, especially if it spans the entire house. The emotional exhaustion associated with complex mental illnesses is hard for people to understand if they have not experienced it themselves. However, the tiredness and lack of motivation often felt can quickly lead to a messy environment.

A person with OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, will struggle to discard items. This makes cleaning and maintaining a tidy house a challenge. A person with OCD may develop hoarding tendencies, where they struggle to let something go, or the OCD could make them be paralyzed with fear that an item is contaminated so they cannot pick it up to throw it away. Regardless of how the OCD manifests, it can greatly contribute to unclean houses.


Hoarding Tendencies

If a person has too many possessions and is unwilling to part with things, they may be a hoarder. If left unchecked, the house can fill up to the point that it is nearly impossible to move around. This means it is impossible to clean due to all of the stuff piled everywhere.

A common response from those with hoarding tendencies is that they have a very organized mess. They recognize the overwhelming amount of stuff in their homes, but they know where things are and cannot part with anything.

For example, there may be stacks of old newspapers that they deem worth keeping. Though there are piles and piles of things, oftentimes, the owner knows where to find items and is unwilling to part with any of them.

To a person with hoarding tendencies, every item or object is important. That is why parting with anything is difficult, even if they do not use it regularly. A hoarder often lives in just one room of their house while filling all of the other spaces with stuff.

There are numerous health problems that can stem from hoarding tendencies. For example, a dirty home environment can attract bugs and rats which can carry diseases. There can be a very unpleasant odor in the house from expired food or rat droppings. There is also a risk of the stacked items falling and physically harming the owner if they get trapped underneath.

People with hoarding tendencies often live in isolation. It is not uncommon for a friend or family member to be surprised when they find out about the living conditions of the messy home. This can lead to a tarnished self confidence if the homeowner feels judged or ashamed for their messy house. Unfortunately, extreme cases of hoarding often require professional intervention in order for a home to be cleared out and cleaned.



If a person feels unworthy of living in a nice place, they may neglect to maintain their home. It is not uncommon for a person who feels like they do not deserve to live in a nice, clean place to struggle to muster up the motivation to keep their house clean. Feelings of apathy, a lack of self confidence, or a void of self love are common when people are lonely or suffering from depression.


Problems Associated with a Dirty House

If you do not regularly clean your house, you are putting your physical health at risk. There are a variety of health concerns that stem from a dirty house. Here are some common issues to be aware of.


Dust Mites

If you or someone in your house has asthma, they are especially sensitive to build up of dust and pet dander. Even those without lung conditions can be negatively affected by prolonged exposure to dust or dander.

This is also why it is important to regularly change your sheets and pillowcases and clean your mattress. Washing your sheets cleans sweat, mites, and bacteria from where you sleep. If your pet gets on your bed, it is also crucial that you wash your linens regularly to get rid of pet hair.



Mold is commonly found in damp, dark environments. There are numerous health conditions associated with exposure to mold, so it is essential that you check for mold and quickly eradicate it when any is found. Common areas to watch are the bathrooms, windows, refrigerator, and the kitchen.



Bugs and rodents are attracted to a messy house. This is why when extremely messy areas are cleaned, rat droppings are typically found in the clutter. Though you may not see them, the evidence lets you know they are there.

Bugs and rodents can carry a variety of diseases or bacteria that will be harmful to your health.


Food Poisoning

When food accumulates in your kitchen or in the refrigerator or is stored at improper temperatures, bacteria and mold can grow. This can lead to food poisoning when you eat the food.



If you are not cleaning your house regularly and if you allow dirty dishes to pile up, odors can overtake your house. You may not recognize it yourself, but others will when they come inside.

The accumulation of dirt and mess can cause a variety of smells to fill the air. Examples include rotting food, mold, dirty fabrics, and bacteria. The living space will be affected by the smell of the dirty house.


Mood Adjustments

We previously discussed how living with mental health conditions such as depression can make cleaning more challenging. However, does it work the other way too?

Yes, living in a messy house can contribute to depression. Even if it does not go that far, the messy home can cause a person to feel disappointment in themselves and a low or sad mood.


Simple Adjustments

If you are looking for some easy to implement cleaning tips, try one of these simple ideas.


Build habits

If your unclean house is caused by laziness or apathy, consider working to build good cleaning habits. Most people do not enjoy cleaning; rather, it is just a fact of life that must be done.

Determine the tasks you need to do daily, weekly, monthly, etc. and set up a time to perform them. By building the habit, you will learn the system and regularly perform the necessary household cleaning tasks. This helps prevent the mess from getting overwhelming.

An easy way to do this is with a house cleaning checklist, and ours is completely free!


Do not overlook spare minutes

Use spare minutes in your day strategically. While you are waiting for something else to be done, see what cleaning or tidying task you can complete. For example, what task can you knock out during a television commercial?

When you are waiting for a pot of water to boil, can you tidy your kitchen counters? The time will pass whether you do a cleaning task or not, but if you utilize these spare minutes, you will not feel like you wasted them. Make them productive instead.


What causes someone to not clean their house FAQ

What does it mean if you don’t clean your house?

If you do not clean your house regularly, you are allowing dust, dirt, and grime to build up, which can negatively affect your mood, your physical health, and the house structure itself.


What does a messy house say about someone?

At first glance, you may not know whether a messy house is due to personal preference or a difficult season of life or more complex mental illnesses. This is why it is better to withhold judgment and offer to help if you feel so inclined. The person may be desperate for help but unwilling to ask friends or family members for assistance.


Why are some people so messy?

There are a variety of reasons why messy people do not seem to be bothered by their living conditions. It could be that they have a lower standard of cleanliness or it could be due to deeper underlying issues related to mental health. For some people, to complete physically exerting tasks is a major undertaking and so chores tend to pile up.

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