I Have to Live With My Brother and He's Disgusting...HELP!

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"I am an 18-year-old girl who is Arab, and as in most Arab families I can't live alone, so I currently live with my 25-year-old brother abroad as we both are in the same university. He is so messy to the point where it affects my mental health no matter how much I clean the literal next day the house is trashed he doesn't help at all or at least try to be clean and organized I tried to talk to him a lot but he would just start screaming at me and hurts my feelings, my dad also fought with him way tooo many times and nothing changed. He doesn't even wash a cup or throw out the trash and he stinks he doesn't shower for months (literally) and he so does not care about his appearance I feel ashamed to be seen in public with him. I can't move out or get an apartment of my own because I am an Arab, but I also cant keep deep cleaning the whole house every day and am only 18 and My mother passed away when I was young so I literally take care of my family, am not asking him to clean or anything (which he should help with but that's not the main problem) I just want him to not get things messy so I don't have to clean every day? What can I do to get him to be more clean and organized?"

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The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

"Can you move into a dorm and have a female roommate? You’d probably be a lot happier"

"Pathetic as it is, maybe try to find a reward system that he’d adhere to? Kind of like a lab rat. You reward him with good behavior and he’ll eventually start doing things without having to be asked/rewarded. In theory…Otherwise, perhaps find someone willing to help you clean up after him. Even pay someone once a week or so to take some of the stress off of you, if you’re able to."

"Gather his trash and put it in his bed. Spray him with lysol. Lock the cabinets with the dishes so he can’t use them. There are sooooo many things."

"Throw out everything you dont need. Get rid of anything he could make a mess with. He wont wash a dish, chuck it in the can."

"It sounds like your brother is clinically depressed as someone had said above. I don’t know How your culture feels about counseling or mental illness. But you may want to speak with your father as he is head of your family Yes? Talk, regarding your brother. The fact that hes not showering, caring, or anything is usually an indication of depression. Now as far as you, I would speak to your father and see if there is another way that you could live and be happy and still Follow your family values & customs. Wish you well"

"Start using paper products to help with clean up. Less dishes you can at least throw them out."

"How about leave his mess everywhere bring company over and humiliate him in front of your friends or a girl he likes."

"Since you both are at the same University, do you know your brother's college advisor? Maybe you could ask the counselor to ask him to meet and then they could give him some hygiene advice, Does your brother go to classes in person or online? They could say generically there have been a few comments made about his self-care and they are concerned. A few comments here gave practical advice concerning clean up and paper products would help with that. Also, it was mentioned he may be depressed. That is a possibility especially if he didn’t grieve your mom’s passing enough or is having troubles transitioning to college life away from your dad. As far as your space, I would only clean my bedroom and when you use the bathroom and his clothes are laying around, leave them in a pile or throw them on his bed. I’m assuming you have two completely separate bedrooms with a door. Put all his stuff in his room and close the door. The only real pressing areas that need wiping down daily are the kitchen counters, table, the cooking area. Be easier on yourself and let a few things go. Only take care of the necessities. It is your university experience too as well as your coursework demands to do. It is best not to grow resentful."

"Maybe try taking him out to get a haircut & some new clothes & try getting him out of the house when you can to help him make some friends. If he makes more friends & starts caring about his hygiene more then you might have better luck having him care more."

Hi, arab here,
A couple things you can do

  • if you have separate rooms, make your room your haven, and leave the rest to him. Do your studies in there, eat in there, keep it clean to your standard. Whatever is outside is not your business
  • second to that: stop cleaning after him. Really stop, as much as it hurts
  • if you have a conversation, and he starts to badmouth you or shout at you, begin by saying “I will not be spoken to that way, if you continue to yell/call me names/be rude I will not participate in this conversation” and walk away if need be, basically set boundaries on how you expect to be treated
  • another way to set boundaries is to lay ultimatums and actively follow through (e.g. if you don’t clean up after yourself I won’t be cooking for you any longer)
  • if you don’t feel safe, or you cannot live that way or can’t find a solution LEAVE, I know it’s hard. Find some lady housemates and live with them, it’s allowed. Have an honest talk with your dad if you have a good relationship with him. If he loves you he will understand.

Remember habibti, he is not your responsibility; how he acts is not your responsibility. YOU are HIS responsibility, he owes you his guardianship and he is not fulfilling that appropriately. You cannot change the way a person is, you can only change things for yourself. If it means to leave then Allah ma3ik, you are not leaving because you’re say3a dhay3a, you are leaving for your mental and physical wellness; this is allowed. All the best x

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