What to do with smelly co-worker?

There’s a guy in my office who never seems to shower, change or even wash his clothes. It’s pretty freakin’ gross, I must admit. How gross? Well:
-His keyboard keys have a black greasy film on them. You can’t tell what the characters are anymore.

  • the cuffs of his shirt have a the same black greasy ring around them. Unlike the thin film on the keyboard, this crust is a good several milimetres thick. I am not kidding.
  • If he is standing in one place, he leaves a “cloud of stink” that can still be detected up to 20 minutes or so later. Once again, I am not kidding, there is no exaggeration going on.
  • I once needed a file that had been in his office. The paper stunk.

He shows up at the office at 3:30 IN THE MORNING. Why? I have no idea. He also likes to spend time driving around construction sites at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning in his creepy “you’d think it was driven by a serial killer” van. How he does not get questionned by police when he does this is anyone’s guess.

As for the stench, people have left anonymous typed notes saying something like “a coworker who cares about you wants you to know that hygeine has become a problem, please take care of the situation.” This takes care of it for a little while, but within a week or so the stink returns. Bosses have sat him down and said “look, this is totally unprofessional. Plase take care of it!” or something a little more tactful.

So we’ve tried gentle notes, we’ve tried sitting him down and telling him to his face. What’s next? Has anyone ever had a coworker like this, and if so, how did you deal with it.

Please, I beg of you, give me any hint you’ve got. Summer is coming!

… whose URL I have forgotten, which will send a hygiene product to the offender along with a nice note, but if your subtle hints and the sit-down with the bosses have not worked, the only other thing to suggest would be to take care of your immediate environment and get a very strong spray. We used to use a product called Ozium in our aircraft when I worked for USAir. I think I’d sure get the message if you sprayed around my cubicle!

One other thing is to have a meeting with all offended employees and the offender and just have a good old fashioned encounter session. If that doesn’t work then your Human Resources Dept should take an interest, keeping in mind your rights to work in a clean, non-offensive environment. Hard to believe they haven’t gotten involved already.


Well,we have a brand new “Big Boss” who just started. He seems like a no B.S. kind of guy who won’t tolerate it.

I honestly don’t know why “Stinky” hasn’t been fired. He must have polaroids of the company president and a goat or something.

As for the spray, I’m not really sure if you could get something strong enough. I mean, the door to the shop opens into the office and there is sometimes solvent, paint fumes, diesel exhaust smells, etc and he STILL OVERPOWERS THE PLACE. Man, I wish there was a way to post a smell to a message board. It just defies description. To quote Lenny and Carl: “Homer, you should see a doctor. I don’t think that a healthy man can make that kind of smell!”

I like to keep my Gucci “Rush” close at hand and give my office a little spray sometimes, though.

Hmmm. The time for tact is long gone.

I’m thinking maybe if everyone in the office got a small can of Lysol, and each individual person sprayed his/her personal airspace as he walked by (don’t spray him, that would harassment, if not an outright assault.) Maybe if this was done on a continual, daily basis he’d take the hint.

Also, what’s this guy’s job performance like? I have a hard time believing that anyone so inattentive to his own personal hygene could be attentive to other things like his duties in the workplace.
Also, even if his actual technical performance is ok, this not washing/clothes dirty thing is unprofessional in the extreme. If he’s in a position where he would be coming into contact with customers or clients, or if equipment or documents that would need to be used by same actually was dirty or smelled bad, well, it’s not good for business. (The paper actually smelled? Yeesh.)

Most places I’ve worked, outside of my first job, which was in a factory, have had some kind of dress code or appearance standards. Does your company? If not, perhaps somebody in the office could draft a memo stating that it is company policy that employees must be clean and well-groomed, and that clothing must be clean and pressed, etc., and get the boss to put his/her signature on it, then circulate it to all personnel. If he still doesn’t, um, clean up his act, then it’s time to had the guy his pink slip. Then if he tried to cause a hassle with the labor board, or with the unemployment office, then it could be shown that he was in violation of a written policy of the company.

Is his name Dan? Both Soulsling and I have had the same problem with two different people named Dan. I almost left a bar of this—> http://www.grassrootsnaturalgoods.com/bath_body/018.html on his desk. I could tell if he was in the room even if I could not see him because I wasn’t looking.

I work with a person, actually a floor supervisor here. Who looks and smells like a homeless person. I’m not talking regular B.O. I am talking funk stench of someone who hasn’t bathed in months. It can’t be a money issue… he makes more then I do and I manage to shower every day. He too has been “talked to” and it does no good.

The worst part is that he is a “close talker” too. I usually end up backing away while he follows. Occasionally it has been bad enough that I have had to turn my head and walk away quickly so he doesn’t see me wretch. Literally gag. Thank goodness thats rare.

In my office, we have taken care of the situation by providing the necessities all nicely placed at his desk once every two weeks. Soap & Shampoo. Along with this comes a direct stare and remark about how it’s time for him to take care of the situation immediately, since it’s not a health issue.

This is kind of funny though, it reminds me of a scene in one of Terry Pratchetts Discworld series books from Hogfather… where Corporal Nobbs of the Watch complains that he doesn’t understand what the season is all about…, something to the effect that “everyone keeps buying me soap, and shampoo, and bubble bath, and bath salts when I don’t dare ever take a bath, you’d think they’d get the hint by now…”

Who’s trying to give who a hint?

Maybe he’s homeless and sleeping in that van?

Miss Gretchen, he sounds so bad I have to think he’s got problems beyond just personal hygiene ones. He sounds mentally unstable, in which case I would guess that reasoning won’t work; he needs help beyond a bar of soap!

I assume he isn’t involved with the public?

I have no sense of smell (covered in another thread), so I have no ide if I’m getting funky. Because of that, I am paranoid about my own aroma, so I have deodorant, cologne, breath mints, etc… in my car, at my office, in my jackets, etc… and am constantly asking my wife if I reek. This guy may be the same way and simply not know if he smells like a goat’s ass (which I hear is pretty nasty), and isn’t considerate enough to care for the nose of others. Constant reminders are required in his case. Since it sounds like it may be a long and ongoing thing here, go for blunt. Keep going to the boss, and perhaps mention the board of health or something. If nothing else, put on a ski mask, run in really fast, and dump a bucket of pine-sol over him and his area. Repeat as necessary. Smells good for at least a day, and you get some fun out of it. (Might want to run it by the boss first though). Or hit him with some Hai Karate or Aqua Velvet now and them, you know, like some priests do with Holy Water.

Call in the EPA tac squad and be done with him.

Be blunt and tell him to his face he stinks, and not to come anywhere near you until he cleans up. You have to be this way sometimes and that’s all there is to it. Puke on him after making the speech, if the feeling can be controlled long enough to finish the talk.

Seriously. Complain in writen form to personnel, and have everybody you can get to sign it. Go to the first step if personnel doesn’t do anything. A complaint in writing by most of the staff, should elicit a positive response by the management.

I don’t actually recommend it, because I agree with Carina that this is probably a psychological problem that won’t be dispelled by a gift basket, but there’s the site if anyone wants to check it out.

TurboDog: Maybe he can’t smell himself, but he should be able to see his cuffs!

TheaLogica, your plan sounds like the best course of action. And I, too, want to know if this person performs his job adequately!

Um, which plan- the Lysol or the memo?

Don’t forget the OP. The gentleman in question is also filthy. You can see dirt. Soap ain’t expensive. A shower takes 5 minutes. There is no excuse for laziness. I would complain to management, and keep complaining until the situation was settled.

I can’t smell shit if I fall face down into it. That does not keep me from taking a daily shower and applying a healthy dose of deodorant. I know other folk’s noses work okay and they have to smell me (or not, if I stink.)

Dirt and odor are the issues. Job performance has absolutley nothing to do with this.

Another peeve of mine is people that take a bath in cologne or perfume. I would almost rather smell sweat.

I agree with the suggestion that he has serious mental issues. He probably needs counseling or something.

“Mommy always made me wash 20 times a day. First when I woke up I’d take a bath. Then I’d get dressed, get undressed, and take another bath. Then I’d get dressed again and eat breakfast, then another bath. As soon as I came home from school, a bath. After every page of my homework, a bath. I hate baths! Damn you mommy! insert pathetic sobbing here

… Well, it could be that.

I would inquire with the janitorial staff about this. There are products available for restrooms that are capable of covering up some pretty serious odors. (Of course, this won’t be an option if any of your co-workers have severe allergies.) Most of the bathrooms at the college I attend are equipped with little de-odorizers that do an incredible job of covering up odors with a strong, yet strangely pleasant, floral scent. Each one is really nothing more than a small plastic bottle with a cotton wick stuck through the top; the scented oil inside the bottle runs up the wick and dissipates into the room. A few of these around your office might help some.

Sounds like he’s beyond hints and gift packages. So, get something that’ll stink as it decomposes (raw chicken or squid is good) and tape it securely to the underside of his desk. Let him endure a different godawful stench for a while.

My 2 cents worth…

Ok, so civil reasoning has failed. For reasons that we don’t understand, the company keeps him on despite warnings.

Extreme situations call for extreme measures.

Get all of the “offended workers” together and issue each one a super soaker squirtgun. Preferably the more powerful kind that shoot like 15-feet. Fill each gun with shower gel. Pressurize each gun to maximum, and pass them out to all the workers. Make sure to keep the guns hidden from sight of Mr Stinky.

Have someone lure him into the parking area, where all the workers encircle him, with the supersoakers behind their backs. Make sure to close him in so he can’t get away too easily. Ready…Aim…FIRE!!! Blast the living hell out of Mr. Stinky with the shower gel. Have someone else satnding by with either a garden or fire hose. When he’s good and gel-soaked, blast away with the water hose.

Not a very “realistic” plan, but it sure sounds awfully good!

Throw 'im overboard and wet 'im all over.
Throw 'im overboard and wet 'im all over.
Throw 'im overboard and wet ‘im all over.
Er-lie in the mor-nin’!

Arrrgh, there be nothin’ like a sea chanty to get the blood pumpin’ ye scurvy dogs.

Ow! Eye-cramp! Eye-cramp! Shouldn’t squint like that I guess.
Have you tried a urinal cake under his seat?
Something this bad is just…words fail me.
Every one and their boss knows about the situation, and nothing gets done. Hmmmm… he sounds like a nut-case, so I wouldn’t antagonize him. No answer is no help, so I’m no help. But you have my sympathy.

One of the guys here is just as bad. He never takes a bath without being made to, and he smells like he has poop in his shorts, like, every day. Of course I’m a Stay-at-Home Dad and “Little Mr. Stinky”, is really Katcha, and he’s only 1 year old.

Hope you like the song.