Dealing with an unclean environment


I just started a sit and it is apparent the HO did not clean in anticipation for my arrival. The kitchen was frankly filthy and I am disappointed to be throwing out mouldy fruit and curdling milk not long after I arrived. There is what looks like dirt or blood dried into the bath that I will have to scrub off. They also didn’t leave me anything in the way of supplies, beyond what they were already using. This is of course up to the HO, but I do feel a little more effort could have been made to make me feel welcome and at home.

I don’t think my standards are unrealistic and I do not expect an immaculate home, but a little effort doesn’t go unnoticed. I suppose my question is what to do in this situation? Undoubtedly, I will clean the place for their arrival, but there seems a lot to be done to get the place to (what I’d consider) an acceptable standard. Has anyone else arrived to a similar situation before? Thank you.

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So sorry to hear that - it must be a very difficult situation.
I would suggest you take photos and contact Membership Services for advice and support.


Thank you @Twitcher :heart: I have spent some time today cleaning the kitchen to make it more habitable. The house, dog and location are otherwise lovely, it’s just a bit disheartening to arrive at a dirty home.

Yep, it feels very disheartening when that happens. We recently had a similar situation, our first in 25 sits. We were very, very unhappy with the way things were. Nothing new to say really, there are a few posts already around the same topic. I’m sure some clever person will link it up soon. Good luck, hopefully the pet is really sweet.

PS. I did leave an honest review about the state of the house (very general comment) and received no review in return…that’s the way the cookie crumbles. But I feel it is very important for other housesitters to read about your situation in a short, but effective review, so that they can make an informed choice. Don’t cop out and not leave a review because you fear retaliation.


You are welcome and I hope it isn’t your first housesitting experience. Hopefully things will improve as the days go on.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you need any further advice, we are here to help.


@botvot Sorry to hear about your sit, though also glad to hear you’d had 24 good ones! I was a bit concerned about the review leaving process, and also about communicating any concerns to the HO directly as I want to maintain a good relationship. I now understand why there are threads dedicated to how you can leave a kind review while still being honest, it is a difficult balance to strike but I agree with you. Perhaps a sitter who cared less about cleanliness might not be bothered by it, but I question why you’d leave open milk and yoghurt in the fridge when you’re going away for nearly a month! My guess is that this is entirely normal for the HO and so they might be a bit taken aback if I were to bring it to their attention. Yes, the dog is such a sweetheart so no issues there!

@Twitcher Thankfully, not my first house sitting experience which is probably why I’m bothered by this, as the majority of homes have been in excellent condition. I have only had two other experiences that were similar: one was a large B+B so they had a lot to clean (though I won’t tell you what I discovered…was pretty gross) another was a flat that was very messy but the owner had a lot on her plate and acknowledged the mess. I am here for 4 weeks so will gradually clean, maybe I’ll make a bit of a project of it!

Sure, it happens! Sometimes we just lower our standards for a bit. In the past we used to deep clean those homes, uff! :wink: Bodily fluids are a bit tough, though we also have had our experiences… (well, just one). It sounds like you are in a rare and not very enjoyable situation, we always like to remember that we’ll be gone soon anyway. We don’t expect any supplies though and now even travel with our own salt/oil, because sometimes there is none!

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@Timmy Sounds as if you’ve adapted well through your experiences! Do I assume you no longer deep clean the houses?
The house is lovely and the dog even lovelier, but the sit is let down by these niggles. Yes, I brought my own supplies (for the most part) so this isn’t too bothersome. I do think that a sitter going into an unclean house perhaps reflects a lack of appreciation from the HO, though perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

I just had my first unclean sit, after 6 good ones. The location was stunning and the apartment could have been amazing, but it was dirty. Another sitter finished the day I started, and the owner did not have time (or make time) to clean in between us. There was rotting food in the fridge (owner threw it out when I remarked on that), and the bidet had someone else’s pubes in it. TMI, I know, but I draw the line at cleaning that for just a few days :nauseated_face: HO was somewhat apologetic, but I honestly don’t think that he was fully aware how to prepare for a sitter.

I will be mentioning this in my review, to be fair to future sitters.


Yes if there is one thing we have picked up over the past ten years is that standards vary so much. You can only pick up so much from photographs and a video chat.
I personally would only clean the home to a standard I can live with for the next few weeks. I certainly wouldn’t deep clean the whole house. If that is how people live normally they probably wouldn’t even notice all your hard work. My advice would be clean the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom you are using and shut the doors on the rest! A bit like a teenager’s bedroom :joy:


@Lassie Sorry to hear this. I see threads about sitters leaving a clean environment for the HO’s return but it works both ways.

I suppose I am wondering what is reasonable in this situation. I am not a cleaner, so I begrudge coming into an unclean environment and having to clean straight away just to make it habitable (for me, at least).

@Twicher, I looked again at the photos in the ad and they appear to have been from a house advert, i.e. immaculate and no mess in sight. I agree with you about not doing a deep clean. I will certainly be leaving the house in better nick than it was when I arrived, but it would take quite a lot of elbow grease to make it sparkling!

@botvot @anon80172330
We have had a few Sits where we were absolutely unhappy with the state of the place on arrival- fortunately only a handful in our 50+ sits.
We then always immediately do a cleaning blitz of the place to bring it to our standards before we can settle in. And that changes our whole experience. Then we can switch into ‘enjoy’ mode - because the animals are always lovely! We always carry disinfectant spray with us and clean toilets and kitchen surfaces in such homes. Once we were offered a clean home but unwashed bedding!!! Unbelievable!! We feel disrespected, and taken advantage of, by hosts who don’t prepare for us at all. But we are super professional and whatever happens we always leave the place cleaner than we found it, or in the (delightfully!) pristine cases, as good as we found it!
We have learned (from experience) just to get on with it, keep the hosts happy with daily reports & pics, and we never complain about the cleaning standards DURING the Sit. (As it may backfire later!)
We agree- absolutely -with @botvot about giving honest feedback but NOT before we have received our 5* review!!! We never EVER give feedback to any host before we get our 5* review! This is because THS current review system makes us vulnerable to a revenge review and we work too hard for our reviews to risk that!
If the ‘bad’ hosts in question write a great review we then write to them privately to tell them what we did not like. (and give no public feedback- we give them the chance to change it for the next sitter) But if they write only a mediocre review we sometimes do write feedback- but not too strong- as tbh we do not want to spoil anybodys profile. So usually we do not write anything at all, which also says something! With the great Sits its easy to give great reviews bith ways but when domething gies wrong you have to proceed with caution! We love to be honest but we have to take care of ourselves first! If the review system protected us more then we would be completely honest every time -as we do feel a responsibility to our fellow future sitters!


@Lassie I think in this case the responsibility to leave the place clean was with the previous sitter! (assuming this was a direct handover from sitter to sitter?)

It is plain disrespectful for a HO to leave their place unclean for a sitter!
Would they do that for a friend?
For a family member?
For a paying Airbnb guest? I think not!
Don’t undervalue what you are offering as a loving & conscientious UNPAID house/pet sitter!


Yes, I think we completely stopped the spring cleaning frenzy ;). Still, we can’t help but leave the home in a slightly better state. But it’s really only occasionally that the place is dirty (often it’s people who have lots of animals). We REALLY appreciate the next place every time this happens, have a warm bath and put on our better clothes (instead of the rags that we wear in the dusty ones).


Thank you @Lokstar for such valuable insights and advice. I agree with your approach regarding leaving a review. This is the first sit for the HO through THS (if I remember correctly, they have previously had sitters, but they didn’t interact much with the dog and so wanted someone who can spend more time with her). I want it to be a positive experience for them and perhaps they don’t know the protocol (if it exists) for leaving the house in a decent state for the sitter. You are right though that it is disrespectful. I have spent time cleaning the kitchen today and feel I have only scratched the surface.

@Timmy You’re quite right to stop the cleaning frenzy. I am of the opinion that THS should be a mutual exchange, and having to clean a house as soon as I start a sit feels slightly like I’m a member of staff. I agree, places that are dirty are few and far between on THS and it really does make you appreciate the clean ones!

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I can certainly sympathise with this. Last year, I arrived at a property that required almost 4 hours of deep cleaning just to make it liveable. When I arrived, the homeowner declared quite proudly that they were not in fact house proud. I don’t require hospital standards of cleanliness but this was really not good at all and tainted the experience somewhat. I hadn’t spotted anything to be concerned about in the photos posted in the listing.

I’ve also had situations where I’m kindly invited to help myself to anything perishable in the fridge. Then, more often than not, those perishable items are already growing a coat of mould and went off quite some time ago. I don’t expect to be provided with any food but it would be good if such items could be disposed of prior to our arrival. Those have been some personal gripes and niggles of mine. Thankfully, I’ve found the overwhelming majority of homes to be perfectly clean.


@Chatsetchiens Thank you for sharing your (unfortunate) experiences! I too was invited to eat anything I wanted…I have yet to find something I’d want to eat! My approach is very similar to yours: I don’t expect a house to be immaculate, but it would be nice not to have to dispose of furry items inhabiting the fridge when I arrive. I think it’s a fairly basic ask. However, you’re right that the majority of homes are very clean and welcoming.


Have only started house sitting this year and agree with you on the perishables left in the fridge. I don’t really want to finish off half a cabbage ‘as it will go off before we get back’ All I want is a clean fridge with room to put my own supplies in.