What’s grossing out your guests?

What’s grossing out your guests?

Sure, we all know a dirty toilet and piles of clutter should be dealt with before company comes, but ignoring certain areas of your home can be a huge turn-off to your guests.

Below are some of the most common things you may overlook. Dr. Catherine Creticos, an infectious disease specialist with Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, Ill., offers tips for keeping these areas clean and safe.


  • Dirty shower curtain liner
  • Orange mildew in showers and toilets
  • Hand towels
  • A slow draining sink or shower
  • Hair, dust and lint on fixtures and the floor

Dr. Creticos says it’s important to pay attention to the bathroom, as bacterial and viral germs are sprayed each time the toilet is flushed with an open lid. And, if not cleaned regularly, mildew, dust and hair can build up in corners, on counters and on tub ledges, which is unsightly – and even unsanitary.

Using cleaning products that contain bleach are the most effective, but be sure to wear gloves and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Wipe down sinks and drains each day. Two to three times a week, wipe down countertops and faucet handles or wipe daily if they are next to the toilet. Clean toilets, tubs and showers once a week. Sweep the floors, paying close attention to the corners, two to three times a week and mop once a week.

No one wants to see a shower curtain liner full of mildew, so wash those periodically in the washing machine with baking soda and vinegar along with your laundry detergent.

Hand towels used by many people are a breeding ground for germs, such as bacteria and certain types of fungi. If you are entertaining multiple people at one time, a hand towel does not have time to dry properly between each guest. Your visitors won’t want to dry their freshly washed hands on a damp towel, so put a stack of disposable towels in the bathroom.

If your drains aren’t working, ask your local hardware store for suggestions or call a plumber. No one wants to take a shower in or brush their teeth over standing water!


  • Sticky cabinets and counters
  • Dirty knobs and handles
  • Old sponges

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gastrointestinal illness can be spread by contaminated food, and food poisoning is less likely in kitchens that have been properly cleaned and sanitized. Nothing will turn off a house guest like food poisoning!

According to Dr. Creticos, cleaning sponges and cloths are breeding grounds for germs. Wash kitchen sponges and dishcloths in the washing machine or soak in bleach water and rinse clean after each use – or use disposable cleaning cloths instead.

Appliance handles and knobs and cabinet handles and doors are touched multiple times daily, leading to dirty and sticky situations, which equals bacteria. Dr. Creticos suggests disinfecting these daily with kitchen wipes, but not to cross contaminate by using your kitchen sink sponge or dish cloth.


  • Old pillows
  • Musty-smelling linens

Your guests won’t want to use your old, flat and potentially stained pillows. Replace old pillows as they are likely trapping dust, dander, fungi, pet hair, skin cells and even mites. Dr. Creticos advises using a removable zippered pillow cover as well as a pillow case.

Sheets, pillow covers and bedding should be washed once a week in hot water, but especially before periodic guest use, so they also have a fresh and welcoming smell.

Do you have other areas that you notice? Add them to the comments below.

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  1. I think for hallway entries need to stay disinfected and maybe add an air freshener seeing as though thats the first place that most guest enter for those homes designed with the hallway entrances.
    Closets are also places we have to keep fresh and clean, I suggest fabric softner sheets or a small air freshener.

  2. Just a product update (?) – my new bathroom fixtures have a microbial finish is ruined (and warranty is voided) by the use of bleach on them. I’ve been using Lysol’s hydrogen peroxide cleaning products instead.

  3. love this post hopefully this will encourage others to have a clean house for their guests.

  4. Dog hair on furniture where you are sitting or in the kitchen where food is prepared. Old chewed up dog toys scattered in several rooms. Cats walking on the kitchen counters or tables. Feeding cats on the kitchen counter.

    • Could not have said it better about pets — cats love high places, so they should be trained not to climb up on kitchen counters/stove/sink. Pets should be placed in a closed room, as a lot of people don’t like to be licked/sniffed/rubbed against by them.

      You may think they’re your kids, but they’re not!

  5. Christine Melone May 9, 2018 at 1:35 pm · Reply

    Dust bunnies in the corners of rooms!

  6. Our new bathroom fixtures are microbial and the cleaning instructions strictly say not to use bleach on them. It will ruin the microbial finish and void the warranty. I use Lysol’s hydrogen peroxide cleaning products as much as possible now.

  7. Kenton Machina May 9, 2018 at 3:34 pm · Reply

    I can’t stand to be in a heavily-scented environment. Perfumes in the air, air “fresheners” (that are actually indoor air polluters), strong laundry product synthetic fragrances that will stick to me when I leave, all are no-no’s. I’m not as strange as one might think. About 50% of the population doesn’t like the fact that synthetic fragrances have become so commonplace in the US (according to a scientific survey done in Atlanta GA). The public doesn’t realize how many folks are sensitive to these fragrances.

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About the Author

Kate Eller
Kate Eller

Kate Eller was a regional director of public affairs and marketing operations for Advocate Health Care. She enjoys road trips, dogs, minimalism, yoga, hiking, and “urban hiking.”