What Causes Someone to Not Clean Their House?


What Are the Effects of Living in an Untidy House?

What Causes Someone to Not Clean Their House? 

Although in some cases a dirty living environment may have one single cause, it’s more likely to be a combination of factors. 

Usually, clutter and grime start to build up due to time constraints, mental and physical health issues, or stressful work and personal life. 

These situations will often lead to a decreased ability to keep a tidy home

Nobody wants to live in an untidy home, but once it starts to build up to an unmanageable amount, some people just see no way out of it. 

In this post, we’ll explain the causes behind an untidy home, and the bigger issues it could be a sign of. 

There may be some deeper psychology behind living in a messy home.

It’s important to know how to recognize the signs of somebody suffering from a mental health condition. 

If you’re worried about somebody you know living in an unclean environment, reach out to them to find out what’s causing the build-up, and help them work through it. 

We’ll also discuss what happens if you never clean your house – such as the mental toll and possible ill-effect on health. 

What Causes Someone to Not Clean Their Home?

In minor cases of unclean living spaces, it might be down to personal preference or a lack of time.

However, when a dirty home environment becomes more extreme, it could be a sign of something more serious such as trauma, or a physical or mental illness. 

Read on to find out more about what causes someone to not clean their house, and what a messy house can be a sign of.


What Is a Messy House a Sign Of?

Lack of Mobility

Whether it’s due to old age or a physical disability, some people reach a point where they are unable to move well enough to clean their homes. 

And in some cases, they will be too embarrassed to ask for help or don’t want to feel like a burden on someone else. 

Over time the mess and dirt will build up, making it even more difficult for them to tackle the problem.

Unfortunately, this can lead to further health problems on top of reduced mobility, so it’s a worrisome cycle for the person experiencing this. 

Mental Health Problems

More common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety will often cause a severe lack of energy and motivation to clean and tidy. 

The combination of extreme tiredness and feeling like you don’t want to do anything often leads to a messy environment and a lack of hygiene. 

People with depression struggle to complete small tasks, which over time takes its toll on their environment. 

When they’re recovering from their depression, people will see completing small tasks as major milestones. 

With more complex mental illnesses they may experience the same emotional exhaustion, or they may not see their homes cleanliness as a priority or even a problem. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, hypnotherapy or life coaching can really help change your negative mindset into a positive frame of mind.

Mental health is a serious issue, so don’t hesitate to get the help you need.

Physical Health Problems

Similar to a lack of mobility, physical health problems or disabilities can make it extremely difficult to move around and complete physically exerting tasks. 

Chores tend to involve a lot of movement and energy, which for some people is too much for them. 

Whether they’re in pain, unable to stand for long periods of time, or constantly feeling unwell, cleaning and tidying is a tough job. 

Another common reason for people not cleaning and tidying is poor vision – if they can’t see the dirt then they don’t know it’s there, and eventually, stop cleaning it. 

After the grime and mess start building up, some people will request help from people they know or a professional service. 

In some circumstances, they may feel ashamed to ask for help or unable to afford the cost of professional cleaning

Too Many Possessions i.e. Hoarding Tendencies

When people build up too many possessions and are unable to let go, their homes can fill up to the point where it’s impossible to move around. 

And since it’s too difficult to get from room to room or to see any surfaces, it just isn’t possible to clean. 

Plus, they might not recognize the problem if they have a very organized mess in their homes – such as piles and piles of newspapers and other documents they can’t throw away. 

Often people with hoarding tendencies see every object as important. 

They may move into one room of their home and fill the rest with their possessions. 

Unfortunately, this will most likely lead to professional intervention, where their homes are cleared out with their permission, or after they die. 


Lack of Time

In cases of extreme mess and grime, a lack of time is probably a contributing factor rather than a direct cause. 

When somebody has no available time to clean and organize their home, dirt can build up fast. 

On top of other issues such as reduced mobility or a huge build-up of stuff, a lack of time can definitely contribute to a dirty home environment. 

Lack of Self-Confidence

A lack of self-confidence or self-love may have people feeling unworthy of a nice place to live. 

If somebody feels like they don’t deserve to live in a clean place, then they will struggle to find the motivation to clean it. 

They also probably won’t reach out for help from a friend, family member, or cleaning service because they don’t think they deserve it. 

Unfortunately, this may happen to people already suffering from loneliness or a mental illness such as depression. 

What Happens If You Never Clean Your House?

Find points and explain what the problem will be 

1. Health Issues from Dust and Pet Dander

The presence of dust and pet dander inside the home can worsen people’s lung conditions such as asthma. 

But severe or prolonged exposure to dust mites can actually cause brand new health conditions to start. 

Similarly, if you’re unwell and living in a dusty environment, the sickness will be made worse and your recovery time will be even longer. 

2. Exposure to Mold 

Mold spores can appear everywhere and they love damp, dark environments. 

And unclean bathrooms, fridges, windows, and kitchens are the perfect breeding ground for dangerous fungi. 

Black mold often appears on walls and fabrics when there is too much moisture in the air. 

And breathing in mold spores can lead to a world of health problems. 

Best Mould Remover to Get Rid of Mould and Mildew on Wall - Clean and Tidy Living

3. Bugs, Mites, and Rodents

A messy home is a perfect habitat for invisible mites, but also for bugs and in extreme cases rodents like mice and rats. 

When extremely messy homes are cleared out, rodent droppings are usually found underneath all of the clutter. 

And not only is living with bugs and animals gross, but it is also dangerous for our health. 

They carry diseases and bacteria that will survive on our surfaces, which we can then pick up and ingest. 

4. Food-poisoning 

Letting bacteria and mold grow in your kitchen or fridge is a dangerous game. 

Bacteria can grow and cause cross-contamination, which may lead to food poisoning during the cooking process or when eating. 

Not cleaning out rotting meat and dairy from your refrigerator is extremely risky for your health and when cooking for others in your home. 

5. Bathroom Breeding-Ground

Bathrooms are humid, dark places where all kinds of bad things love to live. 

It’s also one of the quickest places in our homes that can get dirty. 

And even if our toilets, sinks, and showers appear clean, there is often a lot that is invisible to the naked eye. 

Messy people with unhygienic bathrooms are potentially risking health conditions from mold exposure and bacterial infections. 

6. Sharing The Bed

If you don’t regularly change your bedsheets, pillowcases, and mattress every so often then you might be sharing your bed with millions of uninvited guests. 

Washing sheets removes sweat, bacteria, mites, and pet hairs. 

A build-up of these things can lead to infection or other health conditions, particularly to those with allergies

Unwashed bed sheets can also contribute to acne or breakouts. 

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Read our advice on How Often Should You Change Your Sheets And Why

7. Bad Smells

Everybody’s home has a signature smell, but with a build-up of dirt and mess, it isn’t a pleasant fragrance. 

The combination of rotting food, bacteria, mold and unwashed fabric will likely cause a very unpleasant odor. 

And even if you can’t smell it yourself, people coming into your home will be hit with a powerful scent. 

8. Poor Mood 

We know that depression can lead to an untidy environment, but can a messy house cause depression? 

Yes! An unclean or untidy home can lead to a feeling of disappointment, low mood, and in extreme cases depression. 

9. Neglected Social and Work-Life

If you’re embarrassed by your home environment, you probably won’t be inviting anybody to come over.

You might also feel down and overwhelmed about your home, and stop checking in with your friends and family or attending social events. 

This can cause relationships to end, and ultimately lead to loneliness. 

Similarly, if your home is causing feelings of low mood, you’re likely to be distracted from your work life. 

10. Poor Physical and Mental Health

Does a clean house make you happier? In most cases, yes. 

A bad living space can make us feel unmotivated, unclean, and overwhelmed, which will take a toll on our overall mood and mental well-being. 

This poor mood may lead to deeper mental health conditions. 

And we’ve mentioned a lot about the things that can grow in your home without regular cleaning. 

A lot of these things can cause ill effects on our physical health too. 

Related FAQs on What Causes Someone to Not Clean Their House

Is a Messy House a Sign of Mental Illness? 

A messy or unclean home can be a sign of mental illness, such as depression. However, a messy house can also be a sign of lack of mobility such as with old age, or a physical illness that makes cleaning very difficult.
If you think somebody is neglecting their living environment due to a mental illness, reach out to them and find out the cause to see how they can be helped.

Is Living in a Dirty House Unhealthy?

A dirty home encourages bacteria, mold, and mites to grow in our living spaces. These things can lead to health conditions, food poisoning, and physical infection from poor hygiene.
In extreme cases, the mess can encourage rodents or larger animals that carry diseases that we are then exposing ourselves to. 

How Do You Know If Your House Is Dirty?

Aside from being able to physically see the dirt, an untidy house will often be full of clutter, have a musty or unpleasant odor, and a layer of dust and grime on flat surfaces. In humid environments like windows, kitchens, and bathrooms, mold will likely be growing and sticking to fabric and tiles. 

Key Takeaways From What Causes Someone to Not Clean Their House

That’s a wrap on what causes someone to not clean their house. 

It’s safe to say that there are many reasons why somebody might start neglecting their chores. 

And once they do, things can get bad pretty fast, leaving to an unmanageable amount of mess that just keeps building up. 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of embarrassment around asking for help with home maintenance, and lots of people will just let things get worse. 

If you notice somebody’s home getting dirty and cluttered, try reaching out to them to see what can be done. 

Although you can’t know for sure why somebody is disorganized, it may be a sign of something serious. 

Or it might be because they can’t get around very easily but don’t want to bother anybody by asking for help. 

Everybody deserves to have a pleasant living space, and an untidy home isn’t a nice place to spend your time. 

If you’ve enjoyed this post from Clean and Tidy Living and would like to read more, take a look at some of our similar articles listed below. 

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3 thoughts on “What Causes Someone to Not Clean Their House?”

  1. I think because of their mental health and trauma,stress,depression and not really talking to anyone important about it like a counselor and some people just don’t care about keeping a clean house honestly I know their just messy people and I don’t like being around them kind of people they really need some serious help because it’s gross to stay in an unclean home. I refused to stay in a clutterd and crowded house full ignorant people seriously I would call the cops

  2. My mom has always been on the messy side but ever since she moved into her own place without someone watching her the house has become a disgusting mess. Fast forward & now she is bedridden and guess who gets the fun task of cleaning all this crap? ME! I resent her so much for putting me in this position. I have begged her for years not to burden me with this and instead of being a responsible adult she was off getting her hair & nails done. She’s had hundreds of hours of therapy & been on meds for 40 years. She is just a lazy slob. People think about who will be left to clean up your messes when you’re gone.

  3. Jason Mager Traves

    I let in some people who used substances which I didn’t know about and against my wishes but was to tolerant and so naive that I gave them hand outs because I felt sorry for them and had led a sheltered life but eventually stopped but then had addiction problems of my own and now the house is unmanageable and too messy for me to know where to start, I was offered help on numerous occasions from the decency and goodness of the council but was told by some people that there was men in white coats and that other people were allowed in so felt invaded and am embarrassed and ashamed and have just stopped my addiction but it’s early days and I don’t want to relapse and it’s very hard to lift oneself up from deep depression and after effects of such a horrible situation which I wish had never happened, so would love to hear if you have any ideas of how to overcome what seems like an impossible situation which had led me into self neglect and near death experiences but I never give up keeping the belief that it has a lot to do with mental health and bereavement problems and some things that I must remain silent about but I use sheer will power of which is so strong that I believe a higher power beyond my understanding knows I never wanted to ever get addicted too drugs again after stopping them before, but I put up with it and don’t understand most of what has happened and just want to let the past go and survive at all costs despite causing disability and death but for again sheer will to refuse to accept it. Sorry to go on but it’s a help to tell the truth to anyone impartial, thank you.

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