What to Do About a Husband Who Is a Slob?

Updated on February 01, 2012
B.L. asks from Ojai, CA
11 answers

I've tried so many ways to manage this, and I'm just at my wits end. I have to admit my husband is a total slob. He's the type of person who comes home and takes off coats, sweaters or shoes and throws them wherever. If he is looking for something he'll open drawers and cupboards and just start pulling stuff out, then when he finds what he's looking for he just walks away, leaving the mess he made. When he puts the kids toys or close away, he just stuffs them into drawers or throws them onto shelves, no organization, just a big jumbled mess. We have a big ant problem and he doesn't wash pots and pans when he cooks, and I often wake up to ants taking over the kitchen. Nice! I don't even want the mention the cars -- before I met him mine was always so neat, now I just give up. Looks like a fricken junkyard.

The kicker is that he gets mad that the house is a mess, but if I point out that the mess is mostly his, he either denies it or gets angry at me like I'm nagging him or something.

My biggest challenge is that I'm trying to teach my boys to be neat, but how can I when their dad is such a slob? If I ask them to put their stuff away, they'll say, "But Dad's stuff is all over too!" I'm really at my wits end. I'm not a neatnik by any stretch, but I like my house clean. Evidence is shown with our bathrooms because I have my own bathroom -- I insisted after I couldn't stand sharing one with my husband & the boys (had to draw the line somewhere!). My bathroom is generally neat and clean, theirs is generally a disaster.

Anybody dealt with this? How do you fix it? I'm so frustrated and it's making me really resentful towards him. Any and all advice would be SO appreciated!

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answers from St. Louis on

I divorced him, not because of the mess but it was an added perk. I tried for 18 years and never found a way to get him to pick up.

I remember one mother's day he made breakfast, all of his favorite foods, not mine. I swear he dirtied dishes I didn't know we had. Then told me I was ungrateful for his effort. Err, you just trashed a perfectly clean kitchen that I am now going to have to spend mother's day cleaning. :(

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answers from Chicago on

Use your boys as a "gateway" to help dad. :) For example, when dad gets home in the evening..."hey everyone, let's ALL hang our coats up and put shoes away!" Or, "Boys, Dad is going to hang up his coat, why don't you hang yours up too?"

My husband is a slob, too, but mostly because he gets easily distracted and he's not that concerned about the mess. I just let him know that it's important to me that our daughter learns to put her own stuff away, and that it would be really helpful if he could set a good example.

So, instead of him (or you!) putting your kids toys away, have them do it. Teach them (and him!) the importance of "everything has a place." I really think that my husband is "learning" to be neater because I have him work on it with our daughter (even though he still has to ask me sometimes where things go). Use labels if you have to!

Also, the rule in our house is "one person cooks, the other person cleans" (and stacking dishes in the sink is not "cleaning").

Oh, and just tackle one thing at a time. You don't want him to think it's "too much" and give up. Similarly, let him know how much you appreciate him taking the effort to do XYZ.

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answers from Santa Fe on

Well I have been with my husband 19 years and he is still pretty messy. We have had talks about this over the years. I say things kindly...about how it makes me feel when he leaves out a mess. How I have to clean it up. How resentment builds up over time. How he does not mean for me to clean it up. He just thinks he will do it later. But he still is pretty messy. I have come to accept it honestly. He leaves piles of clothes in the bedroom daily. I don't know what these piles are. I throw them in one big pile for him in the closet so I don't have to look at them. He throws his shoes and coat down. I put his shoes in the closet or just leave them out. Sometimes he will hang his coat up now. He does try to keep the kitchen clean but his idea of clean is not even close to mine. I appreciate his effort. Our house has an office that is his space. It is a disaster zone. Now and then I clean it all up for him. He is thankful but it gets messy again over time. I give him pointers...put all your running clothes in this basket in the closet. Put all your to do papers in this drawer so they are out of sight.He can never find things. I gently remind him that is bc he did not put it away where it goes. He is slightly better than he used to be. He would never think to clean the bathroom. It is annoying to say the least. I give him chores on the weekends to help clean up and if I ask he will get around to it (as long as I am nice about it, otherwise he gets stubborn). His dad is hyper neat so he did not learn it from his dad. You can teach your boys to be neat without their dad being neat. Chore lists are a good place to start.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would hire a maid - someone to come in every day for 2 to 3 hours. When he complains, let him know it is cheaper than marriage counseling . . . this is a lifelong condition, like his generosity, kindness, etc.
Good luck!

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answers from Lakeland on

My hubby is a slob too and this takes time. Just ask politely each time for him to help you clean up. Don't accuse him like "this is your mess", you know it's his just pretend that it's not.
As for the dishes, ask him to put them in the sink and rinse them out and/or fill with soap & water. The more foods are left out the more the ants have to eat.
Get a coat rack that you can hang over the back of the door and have everyone in the house hang up their jackets. I keep a shoe rack by our front door and we put our shoes on it.
Get him his own hamper for dirty clothes and just say it makes it a little easier for you to be sure all the laundry gets washed if they are all in the same place.
And the bathrooms, I keep some cleaning wipes in there. I use them to wipe out the sink and toilet seats between cleanings. (I use the Method brand from Target).
Have your kids start helping you, give them chores to do daily. If you can give a reward like an extra hour of TV or something. As for hubby, most men like to think things are their idea so be careful how you ask for him to help.
Oh I do not let my hubby use my car unless he really needs to. I can't stand it a mess or him not putting gas in it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Well, at least your cooks. I have all that and no cooking!

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answers from Houston on

Okay, in my house, I am the not-so-neat one. I'm not quite a "slob", though. Before I go further, I have to ask--Did you guys address this at all before you married? If so, maybe you can remind him of what you agreed to early on. That will appeal to his "reasonable man" side, and he can't accuse you of nagging from your "feelings".

Say something to him in the moment. When he's leaving a fresh mess in his wake, call him on it--"Are you gonna leave that like that?" So what if he gets mad? He's only mad because he knows that you're right. Always say it gently; don't give him 'tude. His brain is all over the place, and he doesn't want to admit that he needs help keeping it together.

I'm sure that you guys have had this conversation more than once. Do it again. And again. Ask him what he needs from you to help him clean up behind himself. Agree to a schedule for getting together and picking up, and then reward him. ("Okay, Saturday morning at 8:00 we can get this taken care of so you can have time to practice a little before your noon tee time.")

This is what makes me want to be neater for my husband. It annoys me, but I get it done when he keeps me company.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Divide the household chores. When I got married my husband was used to his Mom doing everything for him (he's an only child) and cleaning up after him. So when we moved into an apartment with 2 bathrooms we each got one and I told him he was responsible for cleaning his own. I didn't see dirty clothes unless they were in the hamper so if he needed laundry done he needed to pick up after himself. It takes time but hang in there. Talk to him about helping you teach your boys about keeping their home clean.

Good luck!

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answers from Columbia on

Ask him to pick up his mess. But say it in a nice, non sarcastic way. Try "Honey, when you are done with that project, can you please put the things away that are left out in the kitchen so I'll have a clean place to start dinner?"

Or, "I'd really appreciate it if you could close the cabinets and drawers...I'm such a klutz that I always bonk my legs/head/hips on them when they're left open!"

Another way is to just make rules. Say, "From here on out, the house rule is to put things away when a project is finished," or "We always close doors/cabinets when we're done getting an item out." Make it a rule for EVERYONE.

It might also be that he just doesn't know how to clean up after himself. Give lessons. Step by step if needed. Just try to do so in a respectful, appreciative, non sarcastic way. He's still your hubby, not a child.

ETA: Of course, I might not be the best advisor, since I broke up with my ex because I couldn't deal with his sloppiness anymore. I'm NOT a SAHM and I don't have time to deal with cleaning up after yet another person. My KIDS put things away more often than he did!

Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Green Bay on

Do we have the same husband? LOL. Can't wait to see the responses you get! I too am frustrated & have to try my hardest not to be resentful as it feels like a complete lack of disrespect! And I am the exact same, not a neatnik in any way either! Just like a tad bit of cleanliness/organization. How hard is it to shut a cupboard after you've opened it for Pete's sake? MEN!! I don't get it.... ;-)

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, I know I'm (a little) late, :) but I did have a couple of suggestions that work for us.
1. Try using labels on items such as remotes, cordless phones, and other items that tend to lose their homes; that say "please put me back where I belong."
2. Put lebels or postits on cupboard doors saying, "please close me." Or anything creative.
3. Keep a basket in the living room or where ever he is most likely to leave his things, then rustle all the stuff in to it, when it's full or he has a moment, ask him to please help you put these things where they belong.
4. Lastly, if you really have to get tough; anything left on my floor after lights out, goes in the _trash. Truth be told, that's a last resort, because some valuable things have been tossed out and it can make for a couple of angry moments, but it is effective. My children have learned the hard way and My hubby has almost lost some things, but he noticed them before they went down the garbage shoot of our apartment complex. *lucky for him*
Anyway, I really hope this 1 isn't too late, and 2 helps.
My absolute best to you and your family.
God bless.

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