One of the most basic things we need to do is clean ourselves. Hygiene is a basic component of personal care, but that message is lost on some of us. Whether it was customers or random people we encountered, bad hygiene tends to affect all of us… for better or worse.
I worked for Child Protective Services. We would run into cases where the family had learned bad hygiene over the generations. Once, we had to talk to parents about a call from the school over the hygiene of their child. The mom looked shocked and said, “She gets her weekly bath like I always got.” We talked more and that’s the type of life they lived and never understood the issue.
I lived with a guy in college who would "wash" his clothes, which consisted of him shoving as many clothes as would fit in the washer. He wouldn’t add laundry soap because it was "too expensive." So, he ended up with clothes that smelled like mildew and BO instead of just BO. Then he'd put that mess in the dryer and the whole basement smelled like warm mildew and BO. It was sickening.
The house manager finally spoke to him. It didn't work. We started buying bulk laundry detergent out of our house funds for all house occupants to use. That sort of worked, but he still shoved too much stuff the washer. Finally, the house manager actually showed him that he had to leave a little room so the clothes could be agitated in the washer to get them clean and he finally understood. You'd think the ridiculously stinky clothes would be a clue, but I'm guessing he had to be nose blind at that point.
I worked at an engine assembly plant in NY where everyone was in station teams that rotate every hour. That way, you don't go crazy doing the same job for over eight hours. We had this dude who came to our group who had the nastiest teeth I've ever seen in my life. His bottom front teeth were all fused together into one big, lower tusk.
His breath could also gag a maggot. It got so difficult to work with the guy that we had to go to a manager to figure out how to handle it and not be rude. Well, they basically told him he needed to do something about it, so he constantly had a tub of mints on him. After that, his breath just smelled like a rotting corpse AND mint. So, yay...
This woman had bad BO. It was like she never showered. The worst thing was this nasty brown blouse she had that she wore all the time. I mean like, four days a week at least. But she did wear other things occasionally because they always jumped out. Thing is, there was a picture on her desk wearing that blouse from like five years ago and it was white!
I just thought it was a coincidence and no way it was the same one. That is until one of her co-workers, who shared the office with her, started complaining about her. The woman confirmed it was the same shirt and she had slowly watched it change from white to whatever disgusting color it currently was.
I work in an ER in a low-income area. There was one that I'll never forget. She was a mid-40s obese hoarder who decided it wasn't worth the effort to get out of her recliner for two weeks straight. She had a fridge within reach so she wasn't hungry, but was producing waste the entire time without getting up to use the restroom or to clean herself. You could smell her down the hall with the door closed. Her behind was literally rotting away with sores.
I met a girl on a dating app and we got along well online. But she smelled like butt in person. I'm talking fully clothed and several feet away, there was still a stench of butt. I was really embarrassed for her to be honest. She complained about guys ghosting her and not knowing why. I mean, it's not easy to tell someone they smell bad. I don't know how you couldn't be aware of it either.
I worked on a dairy farm growing up in Wisconsin. If you don't already know, dairy farms smell horrible. I would always smell the farm at first when I showed up to work and after a while, you no longer smell it. The kids in high school made fun of how I smelled even though I wore clean clothes and took showers every night when I came home from work. Fast forward to me coming home for the first time in a year after joining the army. I went through some old clothes and the stench was awful, even though they were washed. I threw them out. So yeah, nose blindness is a thing.
This guy and his family didn't like to shower. They all had food stains all over their clothing, the father smelled like he wet himself, and that wasn't the worst part. The worst part is he had food stuck in his hair and maggots crawling in it. He said I was being offensive because I stood 10 feet away from him. The guy even had the nerve to call my manager over, who then immediately stuck his hand up and said he wasn't interested in hearing his story. He told him that he needed to leave and not come back until he took a shower. After that was when he started taking care of himself.
I lived next door to an apartment for Mormon missionaries. One of the guys saved all of his urine in three-litre bottles. He and the other guy got in trouble when they went to their weekly meeting and distributed bottles of that to other missionaries as if they were filled with soda. They told me about this, but could not explain why they saved it in bottles and why they gave it to other missionaries.
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A girl I was friends with at university was complaining of an itchy head for a couple of weeks. We all joked it could have been lice but none of us had any contact with children. This girl was known for her lack of showering, though. We also worked in the same restaurant together and she’d frequently finish a shift, sleep in her uniform and go back the next day without even a pat-down.
One day in a lecture, she scratched her head and a huge louse came out and walked across her paper. It was shocking honestly. Later that day, she got some shampoo and a comb. I swear to God, each time she pulled the comb out of her hair, you couldn’t even see the teeth. It was just alive and moving with lice. It’s still one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen. I mean her head was literally crawling with lice.
I'm a nurse, so I've seen some stuff. The worst would be a woman with scabies and fleas. I don't know how she got them, but she was so ashamed of having them that she basically just barricaded herself at home for some weeks. Then, her daughter got her admitted to the hospital. I'm not exaggerating when I say that everything on her jumped when you came close to her bed or she moved. She had them everywhere. I’ll spare you the description of her intimate area.
I dated a hippy. Now, he showered every day, but never used soap or shampoo because of “chemicals.” We had relations a couple of times and, yeah, he was a bit whiffy, but nothing too grotesque. I'm into perfumery so I also have a “thing” for the smells of humans. I was cool with it. One day, though, he wanted me to some kinky stuff.
My mind immediately went to the fact that he never used soap. I sensually suggested we take relations to the shower. I got the shower gel and made a big deal of soaping him up top to bottom, finishing on his rear end. The water ran brown. It ran brown from years of built-up waste. I watched as the dense, soapy water went down the drain and realized I could do better in life… or at least stop dating hippies.
I used to work at this really upscale vegan hot-pot restaurant a few years ago. The owner was very adamant about how it’s “okay not to wash your hands because, in my country, washing hands meant you’re cleaning off the hard work you’ve done.” She was the only person who would, even after using the bathroom, we knew she wouldn’t wash her hands. She’d use gloves since she’d handle food sometimes, but even then, wash your hands.
We had two regulars that used to come into our bar. They were in their later years of life, enjoyed the atmosphere and loved chatting up anyone who would listen. Things started going south a few years back when we started getting complaints that they would smell like number one. Then it dawned on me. I hadn't seen either of them get up and go to a washroom. Eventually, we came to find out that instead of acting like normal members of society, they would come in, drink for a few hours, and just casually wet themselves while wearing diapers. They didn’t think anyone would notice.
I used to work retail and one day we had this woman come into the store who had not showered in months. She stunk the whole store up from just walking around. We had to ask her to leave due to hygiene and I will never forget that stench. It was like low tide and a rotting body had been sitting around for a month.
I had a landlord who reeked of garlic. Honestly, you could smell him from a mile away. It would sometimes take a whole day just to get the smell out of the apartment after he left. Funnily enough, he was from Transylvania, so I always joked that he fled the vampires and applied garlic every day just to be safe.
When I was a child, I never flushed the toilet. At the time, I just figured that the next person who used it could flush it for me, so why bother. I grew out of that phase when I turned eight and learned what empathy was. Public bathrooms tell me some grown people still have yet to grow out of their disgusting phase.
I had a friend with very low self-esteem. He could never find a girlfriend and was a real self-pity type of guy. He had the worst grime on his teeth, though. I told him he wouldn’t find a girl until he cleaned his teeth because it’s repulsive to anyone with any respect for themselves. He denied it saying someone will like him for him. One day, his grandma paid for him to see a dentist who made them pearly whites once again. Not two weeks, later had himself a girlfriend. He still thinks it was never the problem.
A year or so ago, I was deep in a depressive state. I didn’t brush my hair for somewhere around three months. It basically turned into a single white person dreadlock. I couldn’t properly wash it in that state either. Luckily, my mom is incredible and she spent four hours helping me brush it out. I’ve never been more grateful.
In a college class, there was this guy with absolutely horrid breath. Let me be clear about something, I have almost zero sense of smell. If I can barely smell something, then it's overpowering to other people. If this guy was within 15 feet of me, it was powerful enough that I was gagging. Just to make things worse, he was the worst kind of mouth-breather. I swear, he sounded exactly like that stalker kid that Angelica always punched in the face in Hey Arnold!
This is a bit gross, but a close family friend asked us for a ride once. When she got out there, there was a huge wet spot that almost took up the whole seat. She hadn't cleaned it in a long time and when we cleaned the spot, the smell didn't go away. It stayed for almost a month with us cleaning it daily. It was awful and we had to deep clean the car so many times.
I worked with this man who has a disability. His mom passed away and his dad didn't seem too engaged. It was the summer, he was a big guy, and would sweat a lot. He had a very strong odor, even in the mornings. His skin was oily and had a lot of pimples around where he would sweat. It was sad and his social worker couldn't do much but tell him to shower his kids more.
One of my good friends asked me how often I cleaned my house. I found out she showers once every 10 days, has numerous skin infections, and wipes off kitchen counters maybe once a month. But the worst part was when she told me she never changes her sheets. She had them on her bed for two years. She didn’t take them off until she threw them away because she bought new ones.
My sister went to the same college that I went to. I visited her dorm room once and her suitemate walked in. I was all the way across the room and she just walked into the common room on the other side, but I could smell her immediately. Apparently, she showered once a week. By "showered," I mean turned on the water, rinsed off without using soap, turned off the shower. She also refused to clean up anything when it was her turn, so her lack of hygiene was consistent to other forms of cleanliness.
My wife was a labor and delivery nurse. She told me that one time a woman was having a baby and the doctor asked the woman if she wanted a mole looked at. The doctor then poked at it with a set of hemostats. The mole moved and it was actually a cluster of crabs that the woman had. My wife was horrified! So she told me…
I worked as a camp counselor at an overnight camp. There was a girl who refused to shower, bathe, wear deodorant, brush her hair or teeth, etc. To her (she was about 12), it took time out of things that brought her joy and it didn't bother her, so why should she have to? The girls she was roomed with refused to sleep in the same room. It escalated to the point we had to call her parents to get her early.
An ex-roommate would wet the bed. I had no idea until the smell got so bad every time she opened her door, and eventually started seeping through the walls. Then, because her bed was so wet, she started to sleep out in the living room. Eventually, she’d leave signs like, "Sorry I spilled some milk!" It was like living with an untrained puppy.
I had a friend who "didn't like the feeling of water on his skin.” Well, that ended up about how you'd imagine. For bonus points, he had super long hair in poorly kept up "dreads.” He had the same name as another guy in the friend group and to differentiate, everyone just called them "X name" and "Smelly X name.”
I LARP and showering facilities at weekend events aren’t always the best. There’s a certain smell that permeates on the drive home from a four-day event, especially in the summer. Busybodies in high heat create a smell and we all accept that to a certain extent. That said, when you show up to the first day of a weekend event already smelling like a dumpster full of bums, something has gone wrong.
I dated a girl who practically refused to brush her teeth. Before we went out, I used to ask her if she brushed her teeth and when she said yes, I’d have to smell her breath to be sure. Half the time she lied and I’d have to brush them for her. When I wasn’t around, she almost never brushed them. One day, she went to the dentist and they told her she had six cavities and she was totally shocked. She was 20 by the way.
One of my exes was close to being the crazy cat lady. This woman was really sweet but had several issues. The main issue is that she thought it was a good idea to have a "natural" cat box, which is nothing but a litter box filled with shredded newspaper. So, no odor control at all. She had quite a few cats and they could drop some serious waste. When we started spending nights together, I always tried to get her to stay at my place. Eventually, I told her my issue and it didn't go well.
My stepmother's dad is an obese diabetic. His legs are purple and he never wears shirts. His room (before we cleaned it for him) was absolutely putrid. Food encrusted desk, carpet and clothes. But the worst was the bedbugs. His bed was covered in brown and black stains. I have seen, on multiple occasions, bedbugs trotting around on his body like they have a report to file on Monday.
My ex-roommate was a 6'4" toddler. Everything he touched had a sticky residue on it. I learned to open the kitchen cabinets using the bottom part of the handle because he usually grabbed the top. The worst thing he did, by far, was leave pistachio shells everywhere. He loved pistachios and ate them all the time. But for some reason, he thought the shells could just be tossed aside and they would magically go away. I stayed far away from that nasty man's bedroom. Once, he left his door open and I saw a whole pile of pistachio shells on the floor next to his desk.
Once, someone came into my ER who had been laying in her own vomit (most pungent, but definitely other bodily fluids) for several days. Worse yet, the stomach acid had eroded her skin. She was pulling at her scalp, playing with the skin and hair, all in a substance-induced state. Stay away from contraband, kids.
I work in a retirement home and incontinence is one of those things that really affect people’s self-esteem. I’ve had a resident cry when she finally had to admit she was incontinent and had been for some time. We then had a conversation about adult diapers for her. I felt so bad. She would always deny her incontinence, though. “Oh, I must have spilled my water on my seat and sat in it!”
I worked at a lingerie store. One of my first nights when I was still being supervised, a couple came in. The man was scraggly and a bit dirty looking. The woman looked very clean, but there was a smell. A fishy smell. My boss and I both assumed it was coming from the man, so we let the woman try on a couple of sets of lingerie. Oh, we were wrong. We were so wrong. We had to air out the dressing room and steam clean the lingerie. It was awful.
My ex-wife. After a number of years together, she started drinking again and pretty much completely gave up on personal hygiene. She works in a factory and would literally only take off her work clothes on Friday, shower, and brush her teeth, and then party all weekend. Also, all commando. She was very offended when I told her why I never wanted to bang or go "downtown."
When I was a teacher, I had a middle schooler in class who couldn’t be bothered to go to the restroom. There was no health issue; he was just that lazy. He wore adult diapers and smelled awful. I quit right before he was promoted to the ninth grade. If I had stayed, he would have been in the last class of the day, right after boys athletics.
One time, I was in a McDonald’s drive-thru. In the car ahead of me, I saw a guy cough all over his hand, look at his phlegmy palms, and slowly licked up the phlegm. With all this stuff going on, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wish I could unsee it. That and his face in the mirror when he realized I witnessed the whole grody show.
I had a person over and was working my way down her torso, kissing gently. When I got to her belly button, it was full multiple of ovoid, slightly tapered at the end, onyx black navel stones. It looked like a bunch of insect eggs. I’ve never been more repulsed. I literally fell off the bed and laid there in silence for 30 seconds, processing what to do next. Part of me wanted to ask her to leave so I could cry, part of me wanted to get my needle nose pliers out of the utility drawer.
Years ago I worked at a frozen yogurt shop. An older, odd woman used to come in every day and order a pint of yogurt to take home. One day, she came in and she had a big old piece of dried snot literally hanging out of her nose. I was 18, shy, and just so appalled that I didn't say anything. The next day she came in again and it was still there . I was just astonished and grossed out. Aside from hygiene, I mean, could she not even look in a mirror before she went out?
I once had this hippie friend. We went sandboarding and had to all go to the bathroom outdoors. We also didn’t have toilet paper. After going, my cousin and I just sat there longer until we felt as free as you could without toilet paper. My hippie friend just casually wiped herself in front of us and proceeded to grab a handful of sand to get rid of her stained hand.
I was a receptionist at a hair salon and one of the stylists asked if I smelled something. I said yes, it smelled musty for a bit and I wondered why. It was her client. He had long, thick hair that whenever he would wash it, would immediately put into a bun. His hair would never completely dry since it was so thick, so it started to mold. He worked in a restaurant.
I worked at a tire shop. We had this one customer who was just the dirtiest human being I've ever encountered in my life. The dude’s door would open and this horrendous sulfury, sour smell would come out. He looked like he literally rolled in a dirt pile minutes before. The smell was so bad that the whole bay would reek for at least an hour. That was over the smell of tires, oil, cigarettes, etc. We let him stand in the bay rather than let him in our waiting room. It took everything in my power to not gag every time he came in. I swear, he must have not bathed in years.
I lived with this person who never washed his hands after the toilet. On top of that, he would go weeks without showering and when he did, he’d just use water, no soap or anything. The smell was unbearable. I went to the toilet one morning and he had sprayed number two all over the toilet, seat included. He also didn’t clean up.
A truck driver walked into a building and we all walked out, leaving him inside. The dude smelled like B.O. and hadn't showered in months. The smell was so bad that after he left, we sprayed bug spray inside for it to smell good. Everything else we sprayed was a waste. We now have industrial strength sanitizer for when he comes and we tell him to stay in the truck.
I remember a time in seventh-grade science class when we did an experiment to track our water usage for a week. Everyone in the class recorded their showers and average numbers from sinks, drinking water, toilets, etc. So at the end of the week, most everyone in my class used about 700-800 gallons of water. But there was this one kid who only used 50. You could definitely tell, too. He just looked like a gross person and smelled like one, too.
When I worked at my first gas station, I had a customer who never showered. His clothes were dirty and you could smell him from about a mile away. He, unfortunately for me, always came on my shift. The only smell worse than this guy was when a homeless man microwaved a fish he caught three days earlier, which took years of scrubbing to get the smell out.
I was a paramedic for several years and met people with pretty bad personal hygiene. The worst one will always stick in my mind. There was a man who had an open wound on his foot that went untreated for an unknown amount of time. When I got to him, he had bugs. They basically stuck to his feet and needed to be peeled off. He also smelled so bad that I had to wear an oxygen mask and run the oxygen at 10 litres a minute so that I didn't have to share the air with him in the back of my ambulance.
I used to work at a grocery store. A customer complained that while one of the cashiers was bagging her stuff, (mid-20s, overweight, disgusting) he leaned forward and his dandruff fell into her bag. She brought me the bag to return everything and replace the items with new ones, after talking to my manager of course.
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