Bad Mom Advice: Dirty Dishes And Skidmarks And You Should Probably Lock Your Kids Out

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largeWelcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!

Hey Eve: 

I have asked my teen over and over and over and over again to stop leaving dishes and empty bottles in his room. He will be good for about a month and then it starts all over again. It’s disgusting and I am sick of washing moldy ice cream bowls and dumping out bottles of coke. what do I do? 

Pack his bags. Leave them at the front door. Call a locksmith. Or, move.

Teenagers are dumb. They have the attention span of a gnat. If you tell them something that doesn’t involve food or video games or giving them money they forget roughly three seconds later. If you have been through cleaning up his room and lecturing him numerous times and he just goes back to using his bedroom as a makeshift dishwasher/garbage can then it’s time to pull out the big guns. When he is at school or out with friends, take every bowl and plate and empty soda bottle and cover his entire bed with it. When he freaks out simply say “I also had no idea where to put these things. Can you show me where the dishwasher is?” Batt your eyelashes a lot. Make him clean it up and if you haven’t already, teach him how to use the washing machine in case anything leaked on his sheets. One day he will hopefully grow up and meet someone he is fond of and mayhaps move in with this person. You owe it to this future person to not raise a slob. If he does it again, next time stack everything in his laundry hamper. You could start a rule with no food or drinks in his bedroom, but if he is anything like my kid he will be doing homework after you have gone to bed and decide that calculus goes better with a snack. Teens are all sneaky like that, and I can’t think of any teenager who strictly adheres to the “No food or drinks in bedrooms rule.” That doesn’t mean he can be a slob about it though.  He is too old to be pulling this, and you are too old to be anyone else’s maid.

My boys are so gross they leave skid marks all over their underwear and don’t wipe and my daughter is nowhere near as dirty as they are. I hate washing there underwear and it’s even worse when they leave them in piles on the floor how do I get them to be cleaner? 

Pack their bags. Leave them at the front door. Call a locksmith. Or, move.

You didn’t specify how old the boys are but if they are old enough to toddle they are old enough to toss their creepy underwear in a hamper. Which you will make them do. Sit them down and explain to them that they have to get better about cleaning themselves because they are not babies and they could get rashes and also, smell terrible if they aren’t taking care of business downtown. You can buy them those “flushable” wipes (which are SO AWESOME for removing eye makeup!) but those can clog your toilets and stuff, so I would suggest if you go this route you make sure you have a garbage bag lined trash can in your bathroom.  If they are still under ten then tell them if they aren’t clean they can come to you and you can help them start the shower. And enlist your husband or partner if you have one to help with this, because as a dude he can explain dude hygiene better and why should you have to be the one dealing with personal dude bathroom issues? Since you also have a girl, you will have to be schooling her when her Mr. Monthly starts so your husband can give the boys a lecture on how to properly wipe themselves.If they aren’t old enough to do their own laundry they are old enough to put their own skanky boy panties in the wash so you don’t have to deal with it.  I am so glad my sons are older and I don’t have to deal with this. Yay me for having older kids!

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  1. Blah

    September 25, 2013 at 10:50 am

    “You owe it to this future person to not raise a slob.” Please go back in time and tell that to my in-laws.

    • Eve Vawter

      September 25, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Fire up the wayback machine!

  2. Miss Isis

    September 25, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I hope this works on teenage daughters as well. I was having this same conversation with mine this morning. Can you say Grrrrmorning!

  3. staferny

    September 25, 2013 at 11:38 am

    The advice about the teenager leaving dishes and bottles in his room – Stacking it all up on the bed is a good option, unless he’s a hardcore gamer. I know a couple of guys that have admitted to peeing in their empty bottles at the computer because they couldn’t spare a second away to find a toilet, if that’s the case, just move. I wouldn’t want to be touching that biohazard bedroom.

    • Eve Vawter

      September 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm


    • Paul White

      September 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Had a guy in our dorm do that following the release of one of the GTAs (forget which one). It was…freakish and scary.

    • Ally

      September 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      i would be more ashamed of raising a “hardcore gamer” than a kid who doesn’t always take their dishes to the kitchen

    • Amber Starr

      September 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Yep, that was my ex-husband. He wouldn’t shower for WEEKS, would piss in his empty Mountain Dew bottles, and would bark food orders from his computer desk so that he wouldn’t have to take time from his 19+ hour a day World of Warcraft habit. This is no exaggeration…he was such a f*cking pig.

      Sorry to rant :}

    • Helen Hyde

      September 26, 2013 at 7:49 am

      THAT IS VILE. OMG what a slob!

    • staferny

      September 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

      It’s amazing how many sites pop up when you google “World of Warcraft Stole My Life”, it’s the heroin of the gaming world

    • Muggle

      September 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      …people actually do that? D:

      I thought it was just like “I know a guy who knows a guy who…” like you know, how we ALL know that one teacher who totally has a student named Lemonjello or La-a/Ladasha. Maybe it was real at one point but then exploded into a meme…


    • staferny

      September 27, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Yup, they do.
      One of the guys who did this was actually a previous room mate of mine, not during his pee-bottle days though. That was during his high school/world of warcraft days, he is now a senior engineering manager that uses the toilet but still does not take his dishes to the sink, which is part of the reason we are no longer room mates.

  4. Emmali Lucia

    September 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Gross gross gross gross.

    I do the laundry and my mom started leaving skidmarks on her underwear (Which, by the way, if you wash it in the Washing Machine then the poop particles stay in and so do the bacteria), I started throwing away the underwear with skid marks on it (Fuck NO I am not hand-washing my mother’s undies) and I bought her adult diapers. She was PISSED, but she stopped doing it.

  5. Emmali Lucia

    September 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Gross gross gross gross.

    I do the laundry and my mom started leaving skidmarks on her underwear (Which, by the way, if you wash it in the Washing Machine then the poop particles stay in and so do the bacteria), I started throwing away the underwear with skid marks on it (Fuck NO I am not hand-washing my mother’s undies) and I bought her adult diapers. She was PISSED, but she stopped doing it.

    • Myriam

      September 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Just to clarify : the poop particules go out with the dirty water and soap. They do not stay in the washing machine. Cloth diapers are clean in the washing machine and come out clean, poop free and as bacteria-free as scientifically possible.

    • Helen Hyde

      September 26, 2013 at 7:48 am

      Oh man that’s a relief, I nearly went on an OCD worry-spiral about the bacteria that must be in my washing machine!!

  6. allisonjayne

    September 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Oh man I was the WORST about food/dishes in my room as a kid. My dad’s response was to yell at me and throw dishes around my room. I’m not sure that worked so well so wouldn’t really recommend it. I can’t really tell you what worked….I’m still pretty lazy and have a stack of old dishes sitting beside me on my desk at work as I type this. What works for me at home is that our apartment is pretty small and only one floor, so the kitchen is never that far away. Move to a bungalow?

    • Paul White

      September 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      feedbags. They’re the answer.

  7. Jaclyn

    September 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Am I really the only one awful enough to handle the skidmarks situation by waltzing in while they are playing with a friend, holding up a nasty pair of underpants and announcing “for Chrissake, I’ve told you to learn to wipe your ass a THOUSAND times already. I’m sick of cleaning shit streaks out of your underpants!”?
    Ok, just me then. I guess it does depend on the age, but I’m fairly sure any kid over 6 will get the message.

    • MysteryDevil

      September 25, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      You’re not the only one haha I’ve done the same with my 9yo son. He learnt pretty quickly :p

    • Dr. Apothecary

      September 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Umm, no. Not a good idea, unless you want your kid to be the next bullying target. Although I guess he’s already bullied if you’re into public shaming.

      Shit happens. Teaching your kid how to deal with it is part of life. I’d rather explain to my kid consequences of his friends finding out that he isn’t wiping his ass well at summer camp or whatever than showing him exactly how they’ll act.

      If you want your kid to not tell you anything personal about their life ever, make it so they’re scared to tell you anything. Maybe your kid has some sort of GI issue.

  8. Rachel Sea

    September 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Don’t let the teenager use anything but paper plates and cups.

  9. jsterling93

    September 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    My parents never allowed us to have food or drinks anywhere but the kitchen. This rule lasted until we were out of the house. The reason was we lived in a swamp and ANY food, even just a dirty dish, was an invitation for pests to move in. All dishes were to washed as soon as we were done using it. I plan to teach my son this rule as well. I may be the one who can’t remember to put my towel in a hamper but you won’t ever find a dirty plate in my house.

  10. gothicgaelicgirl

    September 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    LOL I used to be a divil for leaving food boxes, old lunchboxes in my room. My dad would take them and wash them without question, until the day he found month old apple pie in one. It was nearly rearing up and attacking him. The smell was ungodly and he sat me down with a fork and pretended he was going to make me eat it. He said- “From now on, any old food I find in your room, if it is not gone by the end of that day- you’ll be eating it”.
    Sounds terrible, but looking at that apple pie trying to scurry away, I never left any food in my room again EVER!

  11. T. Olivar

    October 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

    My advice is to put the dirty dishes from their room, old food and all, in their bed and let them sleep with the dirty dishes.

    Regarding the ‘skid-mark’ situation. Collect the ‘skid-marked’ undergarments into a box or a bag, when you find them in the laundry . When the child ask where their clean undergarments are, take the child and the collected garments to a nearby basin or tub and tell them, “It’s your turn to wash the garments by hand.” Very likely, the child will quickly get the hint to clean themselves better, because I’m sure that they will NOT want to wash their dirty undergarments again. And talk to your family doctor if there may be a physical/medical cause for the stain situation.

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