Guests visiting a friend's home

Hands up if, when a guest tells you they’re coming over, you go into a cleaning frenzy, armed with your hoover, duster and anything and everything that’ll make your home smell fresher? 

We’ve all been there. In fact, one survey from across the pond highlights how 95% of hosts perform some type of cleaning before guests arrive. Nearly half take it to the max and fully deep clean before letting visitors into their humble abode, and 8 in 10 admit to actively cleaning up after others while they’re still in the home!

But what do people really judge us on, and what do they just not care about, or won’t even notice?

Through analysis of thousands of comments on Reddit, our latest research reveals the answers to those burning questions. Disclaimer: you may be surprised by what you’re about to read.


Having a clean and tidy home is overrated

Yes, you read this right. Our research shows that having a clean home with nothing out of place could actually make your guests feel less comfortable.

So, if you’re the type of person who gets worried that your house isn’t up to showroom standards, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

An overly clean home is actually our third biggest judgement, and one of the things we care about least when popping over to see family and friends.

We spoke to psychologist Barbara Santini to explain why this might be.

“Although keeping your home clean and orderly can make it seem inviting, being excessively clean can make your guests feel uncomfortable. For instance, if your home is too sterile, your guests will feel self-conscious about making a mess.

“While I recommend keeping your home clean when guests visit, you should find a balance between comfort and cleanliness to create a conducive environment for guests to socialise, relax and have fun without feeling pressured to maintain extreme cleanliness”.

If guests refuse a drink, it could be down to your kitchenware tasting like soap

Person washing the dishes

What’s the number one judgement? Kitchenware that tastes like soap/washing up liquid, according to our research.

One Redditor said: “[A] subtle one, but people whose method of washing the dishes involves washing in soapy water and not rinsing thoroughly before drying. Drinks always end up tasting like soap because of the soap residue, and you know the rest of the dishes aren’t properly clean because the dirt and soap wasn’t rinsed off”. 

Another commented: “I know a lady who just submerged everything in soapy water, left it to drain and put it away. I was gobsmacked, but at least I knew why my coffee tasted of Fairy [Liquid]. Shudder”.

However, other Redditors disagreed, claiming they never rinse their kitchenware before letting it dry.

Guests are also likely to be put off by a dirty microwave, sugar with tea/coffee stains in it and mouldy food on display.

Here is a list of the top 15 judgements in accordance to the number of ‘upvotes’ they received (similar to a ‘like’ on other social media platforms):





Kitchenware that tastes of soap


A dirty microwave


Overly clean homes


Cluttered bathrooms


Sugar with tea/coffee stains in it


Pets who have full roam of the house


Urine on the toilet seat


Wearing outdoor shoes inside


Mouldy food on display


Dust bunnies/dust build up


A build-up of dirty dishes


Not seeing a hand towel,or knowing which is the hand towel


‘Skid marks’ in the toilet


Feeding pets at the dinner table


Smelly towels and bath mats


What are guests unlikely to notice, or care about?

Although guests will be put off by dirty dishes, dishes tasting of soap and sugar with tea/coffee stains in it, they’re not that bothered if you have a tea bag or two on the side of the sink. Maybe it’s a true sign of being British, proving you’re a drinker of the nation’s favourite beverage!

Visitors are also unlikely to be unfussed by a bottle of bleach on display next to the loo, or which way round your toilet paper is facing.

It turns out, the toilet paper debate is pretty ‘controversial’. There are those that hang their loo roll in the ‘over’ position (an estimated 7 in 10 of us), and those who put the roll in the ‘under’ position.

Interestingly, there is an officially documented ‘right’ way to place toilet paper onto the holder - thanks to the rediscovery of the 1891 patent for the perforated toilet paper roll, invented by Seth Wheeler.

As you can see from an image included in the patent, the answer is pretty clear!

Correct toilet paper orientation

Mould is unlikely to turn heads either, with damp and mould being a common problem for a quarter of renters (26%), according to the charity Shelter. 

Taking comments with less than 5% of total Reddit upvotes, here are seven things guests are least likely to notice, or pay attention to, when visiting someone else’s home:




Toothbrushes coated in old toothpaste


Tea bags on the side of the sink


The smell




Seeing bottles of toilet gel/bleach next to the toilet


Toilet paper the wrong way round




5 tips to balance cleanliness with cosiness

At this point, you may be wondering how you can strike a balance between a house that is clean and tidy - by your own standards - and one that crosses the line and becomes sterile and unwelcoming.

Here are some top tips to find a happy medium:

Use greenery to add a splash of colour

House plants

When you’re walking into a room, being met by gorgeous and vibrant plants is not only a great way to lift your mood, but is also beneficial to your physical health. Plants actually breathe in the plastics and fabrics in the room, absorbing a lot of these gases so we don’t inhale as much. As plants release oxygen, it will provide your home with better quality of air and promote an environment that facilitates proper growth and better health.

Alongside the physical advantages of having plants, green plants give off a therapeutic and calming aurora which inspires productivity, creativity and positive vibes. Adding a few plants will improve the mood of anyone that enters your house, making them feel less stressed and chilled when they leave.

Some of the best houseplants to create a healthier environment include Jasmine, Lavender, and Aloe Vera. These plants encourage relaxation, improved sleep and many other benefits!

Add some cosy textiles

Decorating an apartment

To make your rooms feel even cosier, consider using natural fabrics such as cotton, wool and linen, which will provide you with the warmth you’re looking for. No matter how large or small your space is, blankets, rugs and pillows make great additions to a home, making you excited for those nights where you can snuggle up with a good book.

Having matching decor - whether this is matching your curtains with the rugs or having a colour scheme - can also tie the room together and make it feel extra cosy. During the spring months, neutral tones could be great for creating your sanctuary. 

Create warmth through lighting

Cosy apartment lighting

Sometimes you’ll walk into a house and you’ll get that cold feeling - sometimes it’s large open windows, a lack of decor or harsh lighting. To create more warmth, consider investing in some battery-operated fairy lights or candles to visibly make your home look (and smell) more welcoming. 

They’re also a great inexpensive way to save electricity!

Display personal touches 

Family photos

Having personal touches such as ornaments, souvenirs, photos and tapestry can make your home feel like yours. Placing items that are special to you throughout your home will make you feel more connected to the house and anyone who visits will be able to get a real sense of who you are from the way you’ve decorated.

Find a painting that really speaks to you and position it somewhere that will make you smile everytime you walk past it. 

Change your items seasonally 

Seasonal decor

We can become familiar and bored with our bedding, colour schemes and furniture layout, so why not switch it up to accommodate how you’re feeling? For those colder, dreary months, have more blankets, mood lighting and candles and for the summer months, have brighter sheets, more greenery and exposed light from the windows which can really lift your mood. 

At Essential Living, we have a range of stylish apartments, specifically designed for renters in well-connected neighbourhoods in London and Maidenhead. Each apartment has been meticulously refined, so that it’s unique to you - pop next door for a cuppa and there’s will be different to yours. With all of the furnishings taken care of, all that’s left is for you to add the finishing personal touches.


Essential Living analysed a trending Reddit post in the r/AskUK Reddit thread, with the data revealing which judgements are most prevalent - based on their number of ‘upvotes’ - and which are unlikely to matter to guests, taking into account comments which received less than 5% of the total ‘upvotes’.

Essential Living


London-based property developer with a difference: we don't sell any of the homes we've lovingly built, we rent them.