Is it okay for a guest to clean his host's house? (need answer fast!)

I’m staying for a few days with a friend who’s apartment is pretty messy. I’ve been cleaning up after myself, of course, but haven’t touched the bigger mess. My friend will leave this weekend and I’ll stay on in her place for a couple more days then drop the key and go.

I’m thinking about surprising my friend by doing a thorough cleanup in her absence, in thanks for letting me stay here. I wouldn’t clean her bedroom (too invasive) but would do a thorough cleaning in the kitchen/bathroom/living room.

What do you think? If a guest did that in your home would you be surprised and delighted? Or would it seem weird and intrusive? Help!

It depends on how good of a friend you are. If you two are very close and comfortable with one another, I’d say go for it. (A good test for this… have you two ever cleaned your place or theirs together?)

If you were more just acquaintances or whatever… any level of cleaning might be kind of uncomfortable for your host.

My best friend cleaned my fridge once. That made me uncomfortable. Based on that, I’d say proceed with caution and only clean what you can legitimately claim to have made messy (messier) during her absence.

Well, we’ve never done any cleaning together before, but I’d say we’re good friends - definitely more than acquaintances. I was specifically invited to come and hang out for a few days.

I think the only time it would be appropriate was if your friend is sick or somehow temporarily disabled. Otherwise you are telling them that they do not keep house as well as you think they should. It would just be strange for me if someone did that.

I think you can clean areas you have used - ie. clearing the kitchen, doing dishes, wiping a coffee table, cleaning down a shower … but anything that involves picking up and moving her things that would be out for me!

I came home once to someone who had painted my bathroom - now that is taking it way too far!!

If you’re close enough friends that you’re staying there alone for several days… then you’re probably close enough that you could do a cleaning as a thank you (as long as you don’t throw out important papers or start moving everything around).

I’m not a great house keeper, I’m not deluded into thinking that I am. I wouldn’t be offended. Once a guy gave me weekly maid service and I thought that was great because it caused me to clean up each week before she came.

Personally I’d be thrilled if someone swept up, gathered the mail, and wiped down my kitchen and bathroom while I was gone. I don’t care if people are subtly commenting on my housekeeping, as long as I don’t have to do it!

I agree that its best to stick to cleaning you can do without moving her things, but that sounds like what you already had in mind.

A related tale: I was checking up on my friend’s cat while she was out of town and noticed that, contrary to her usual habit, she didn’t tidy up before she left. there were dishes in the sink, garbage hadn’t been taken out, etc. I remembered she had been sick right before leaving for her trip so that’s probably why, and, thinking that coming home to a yucky smelly house is disheartening, I did the dishes, wiped down the sink, took out the garbage – the stuff that would be smelly by the time she got back. She was delighted and thanked me sincerely.

Yeah if you’re pretty good friends I’d say a little cleaning is harmless. Honestly, I’d just ask flat out instead of trying to surprise your friend, “Hey, I’d like to thank you for letting me stay here by doing a bit of cleaning. I promise not to reorganize all of your stuff or anything like that. What do you say?”

I cleaned a friend’s bathtub once - he’s a really good friend of (at the time) more than 10 years, and his bathtub was so disgusting that I was unwilling to use it until it was cleaned. I think he was a tad mortified, but sheesh! I didn’t understand how he could live that way.

One thing about garbage. Maybe gather it up and bag it up but don’t actually throw it out. Particularly papers, bills and the like. Yes, those papers are already in the trash cans. But some people use those things as temporary filing systems!

I am reminded of a thread started here once where a poster took a neighbors garbage can out the street for him. The owner flipped out because a wedding rings was lost and thought to be in there but nobody had gotten around to diggingin there for it yet. Apparently that ring is in a landfill now and one of our posters now has a crazy pissed off neighbor.

My answer depends on how close the friend is. A really close friend who tidies up and does dishes would get a thank you card and a hug. An acquaintance would get a raised eyebrow.

The way it’s presented to me makes a difference too. If the friend implied in any way that my place was a mess and she just had to clean it up, I’d be a little offended and embarrassed. If it was more of an “I was bored and wanted to do this nice thing for you”, I’d be less uncomfortable about it.

Why “as a surprise” ? Why not just say, “I enjoy cleaning, and I thought that was something I could do for you as a thank-you.”

I’d be uncomfortable with it. It’d be okay to wash dishes, take out the trash and do other light chores (those that you might assign a child to do), but I’d feel like a terrible host if my guest was doing heavy cleaning, and I’d rather not have people ruffling around my stuff.

If they were a really good friend, I might be willing to overlook it. But I can’t see me ever being happy with somebody doing this. To me, the unavoidable message is you’re telling them they don’t keep their house clean enough.

Ask yourself this, how would you feel if a visitor decided your house needed cleaning?

This this this.

What can seem like a friendly gesture to you can sometimes deeply insult/embarrass others. Some people might love it. Others might think you’re judging them on how they live. Others might be hurt that you think they are slobs. Others might feel violated that you went through their personal stuff/space without invitation. Others might be mortified that you cleaned up their dustbunnies/loose body hair/dirt and soap scum in the bathroom. Others will be angry that you lost or misplaced that paper that they knew right where it was.

And, none of these reactions will have anything to do with how good a friend the person is. Unless you have cleaned with this person before, I would recommend not doing this as a surprise. It could go horribly wrong.

I’d be embarrassed, hurt and angry by the implied criticism. But then, I think that I keep my house clean enough. Anyone who does more is definitely implying that my standards are too low, and that pisses me off.

My mother-in-law does it every time she comes.

Ask. It would be great with permission. Terrible without.

It would partly depend on the person and my relationship to them. A friend = awesome, an acquaintance=not so much, my boss=horror.

Here’s the thing to remember, if you should uncover anything that in any way might be embarrassing for them, you must return it such that there is no sign you ever discovered it. You can never speak of it or ask questions - it never happened! The porn, the sex toys, the bud - whatever.

Good call on not doing the bedroom, sounds like you’re on the right track. I vote go for it.

I’d be:
Grateful that someone did a bit of picking up and cleaning for me. Especially if they vacuumed and did floors because I don’t like doing it. And sometimes when I’m working long hours, I don’t keep the house picked up as well as I should.
Uncomfortable because of the implied criticism.

However, it really depends on your level of friendship. I have a friend who is occasionally a houseguest. We’ve known each other for almost 20 years. She lives in another state now, but we visit each other once or twice a year. Her house is always immaculate and she spends a lot of time keeping it that way. Mine is not, and I don’t. :slight_smile: She usually does some non-intrusive deep-cleaning at my house (scrubbing bathroom tile grout and polishing the tile, cleaning blinds) - she loves cleaning, and since she’s a great friend I’m not at all offended. I love it.