My brother is 18 years old but don't mix his age with his knowledge of health, he leaves a lot of mess around our house but claims that it is fine or my mother and I are just overreacting, but frankly I am getting sick of his mess (also my mother as well but not as much as me).

My brother sticks gum to surfaces, once sticking gum next to my laptop, he leaves gum wrappings all over the house. My brother enjoys eating almonds but ends up leaving around 5-7 almonds on the floor and claims he "forgot" he dropped them. He leaves bones and plastic in the sink, he leaves bowls with food left in them around the house for days, once even leaving a tea-bag in a cup for so long, mold started to grow. He leaves breadcrumbs all over his table and his bed is absolutely disgusting; with his hair and stains all over it. A lot of times when my friends come over, they mention to me later how filthy my brother's table is. The worst out of all of this is that he expects my mother and I to clean it.

Here is even a link to an image of my brother's keyboard, which he claims is clean. https://i.sstatic.net/2wWtt.jpg

If you were to take out the keys on the keyboard (Which I have done before), you will find a mother load of food smudge into the keyboard.

I have been getting so fed up with this mess and I have been trying to tell him to stop but he thinks that I am just overreacting, my brother denies that he is unhealthy. Is there anything I could do to stop him from making this mess in the first place? Because it is getting out of hand and my mother and I don't have time to continue to clean up after him.

  • When your brother was raised, was he educated how to tidy up and clean? Or was this always done by other persons and therefore, he lacks these skills?
    – Arsak
    Dec 10, 2017 at 15:01
  • What does your brother do on a daily basis? If he's a student attending school or college, this is probably just a phase of his life... I remember my older brother living in a room that he shared with rats and spiders and maybe even roaches. Now, he lives on his own in a house, and he's changed completely. His house is probably cleaner than mine now
    – Abhigyan
    Dec 10, 2017 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


First, you need to decide what your real issue is. It sounds like it is "I don't like seeing this disgusting mess, it upsets me, it embarrasses me in front of my friends, and expecting me to clean it if I don't like is just not fair. You should clean your own mess." Yet you are saying "it's not healthy for you" which is an entirely different approach, far harder to prove, and possibly not your business since people can choose to neglect their health if they want to. So make sure your message to him is consistent, correct, and hard to argue with by being truthful about the toll his messiness is taking on others, instead of urging him to care more about himself.

If he was a small child, your mother could handle this by forbidding certain actions. For example, he can't take food and drink to his bedroom because he can't be trusted to bring the dirty dishes back down. Or he can't eat at his desk because he doesn't clean it. When he is about to leave the house, he cannot because he is leaving a mess; clean it before you go. It is far harder to enforce rules like this on a teenager or young adult.

Work with your mother to establish how you feel, including about cleaning up after him, and to come up with motivators you can use. For example, your mother might keep the keys to the family car, and only allow him to use it when he has cleaned all his mess. If she pays him an allowance, she could with-hold it until things were tidy and clean. A checklist of what she considers to be clean would be helpful both for him to know what he needs to do and for her to check his compliance.

  • 4
    +1, but maybe make it more explicit that the OP and mother will charge him for cleaning services. I pay my house cleaner $150 to clean my house, which takes him 4 hours ($37.50 per hour). This is standard in my area (suburbs of DC). In addition to your suggestion of withholding his allowance, the OP's mother could confiscate some of his things (e.g., computer, I-phone) if he does not pay or shape up. this has to be done in a kindly, but firm, manner and needs to be fully explained.
    – user1760
    Dec 10, 2017 at 17:19
  • Unplug the keyboard and take it to be cleaned. I'm pretty sure someone will do it for $20.
    – Nelson
    Dec 23, 2017 at 5:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.