Surprising Things in Your House That Are Grossing Out Your Guests

Courtesy of

If you’re anything like us, you have the best intentions when entertaining. Nothing but the finest European linens for that guest bedroom! Casually arranged trays of Perrier and Voluspa scented candles at every bedside! A basket of freshly baked muffins each morning!

It’s a sweet fantasy, but the devil, of course, is in the details—and the follow-through. In reality, the 24 hours before guests arrive typically involve frantic cleaning and haphazard stashing of bric-a-brac, not arranging exotic flowers and showing off your knowledge of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Your guests will forgive you if the house isn’t in catalog condition. But you know what they won’t forgive? Some frankly disgusting stuff that you might have overlooked in your haste to pretty things up.

With some expert help, we’ve ID’d the top things in your house that are causing you to unwittingly gross out your guests. Some of these problem areas are quick fixes, while others will take a little more planning and effort to resolve. Start addressing the ick factor now, and you’ll be wowing guests in no time.

Dirty bathrooms: OK, this one shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise. But just in case you didn’t already know, your unkempt bathroom is really grossing people out.

“Rings around the tub, orange grime on the shower floor, and soap scum in the sinks are not just visually unappealing, but they also make your guests wonder how well the house has been maintained,” says Rhianna Miller, a home design expert at Rubber Mulch. “It’s crucial to keep the things people can see clean.”

Your shower curtain liner: You know what we’re talking about: Nobody wants to see your discolored or mildewed liner when they step into the shower to, you know, get clean.

Before guests arrive, toss your liner into the washer with a cup of vinegar and a few towels; run a short cycle for five minutes, then let everything soak for an hour. Turn the cycle back on, and hang the liner up to dry.

Hand towels: Oh, for the love. Would you want to dry your hands on the same damp towel everyone else in the house has been using?

“Bath towels, decorative towels (the ones guests secretly dry their hands on), and even dish rags hold moisture and can be breeding grounds for germs such as salmonella, E. coli, and MRSA,” says Dr. Goldie Winge, an anesthesiologist who regularly works in a sterile operating room environment.

“In fact, community-acquired MRSA is commonly spread via dirty towels,” Winge says of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a kind of superbug.

Spring for some disposable hand towels, and save your guests the disgust factor—and a possible trip to urgent care.

Carpet in the dining room: Props to Realtor® Kathleen Marks for pointing out this gem. Because, as she so aptly puts it, “How clean can it be when food is constantly falling on it?”

Granted, you probably don’t want to deal with it right at this moment, but it’s definitely one to keep in mind.

Old sponges and loofahs: “Stinky old sponges and loofahs would most certainly be burned first during a contagious zombie outbreak, and many of your guests treat them equally suspiciously,” L’Eplattenier says.

Toss them after a week or so of use, and hide them when guests are around.

Your slow-draining shower: Nobody wants to stand in 3 inches of dirty water. Hire a plumber to investigate the source of any backup, and save your guests this indelicate nightmare.

Sticky cabinets: Our experts tell us that sticky cabinet surfaces—typically the result of grease buildup from months and years of cooking—are a major cringe-inducer for guests.

Make sure to wipe down not only your countertops, but also the front of your cabinets and the top of your hood range before guests arrive. And prevent future gunk by replacing the filters in your hood regularly, and using your stove’s fan (and/or opening windows) when frying food.