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Author Topic: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this  (Read 9653 times)

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gellchom

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Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« on: September 27, 2016, 04:15:48 PM »
I need your help figuring out how to tactfully say something that just can't help but be embarrassing. 

We have a very nice young woman, "Tammy," in her twenties, living with us for a few months while she works for a political campaign.  She will be with us through Election Day.  We rarely see her; she leaves early, eats all her meals out, and comes in late.  The guest room and bathroom are in the basement.  She's no trouble at all.

I don't go snooping in her room, but occasionally I need to go in there to get something stored in that closet or something.  And we do use that bathroom if we are in the basement doing laundry or exercising.  So I noticed that the bedroom was a real mess, and she hadn't even unpacked after several weeks.  I do hang wet towels up when I see them in the bathroom, so that they don't mildew (they are our towels), but other than that, I didn't care until ....

It has really started to smell down there.  Not food; I think it is unwashed clothes.  I don't think she has done laundry since she's been here, although we showed her how to use the machines, so she knows she is welcome to do so.

The other day, I thought I had a great way to fix this without embarrassing her.  I texted her, truthfully, that the housekeeper was coming, so if she would like her room and bathroom cleaned for her, please unpack and pick up, or if she'd prefer, just clean them herself.  She said thanks and the room was picked up completely, so the housekeeper was able to clean, and did so. 

But it still smells.  I am pretty sure that she just stuffed all her dirty clothes into the dresser.  There is still no sign of any laundry being done.  And I mean, it smells throughout the basement, not just in her room.  It is mildly unpleasant for me when I work out down there in the next room, but my main concern is that the room, the closet, and the furniture may permanently pick up the odor.

So, can you help me formulate what I can say to her?  I don't want to make her feel bad.  Probably she will be somewhat embarrassed no matter what, but I'd like to mitigate it as much as possible.  Do you think something like "I know you are so busy; would you like me to do your laundry for you this week?" would be okay?

Thanks in advance for your good advice.

Yvaine

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 04:17:10 PM »
It being a basement, have you also checked for sewer or other house issues that might not be connected with her stuff?

Bales

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2016, 06:30:52 PM »
Given her schedule, it may be that she doesn't want to do laundry late at night - or is so tired, she just goes right to bed when she gets home.  If you are up for it, it may be a kindness to offer to do her laundry - at least ask if there's anything she'd like you to run through the washer and dryer for her given her busy schedule? 

Aside from that, I'd ask her if she noticed an odor and say you're trying to determine if there's an issue with a leak or anything else.  Ask her if she has any old food containers, etc, or dirty clothes that need to be washed.  That should move her in the right direction if it is indeed her dirty clothes.  (I am wondering how dirty her clothes get - I am not known for cleaning my room, though I do use a laundry basket, but I have never noticed an odor, even for clothes I wear several days in a row, like if I'm home sick.)

greencat

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2016, 07:47:08 PM »
"Tammy, it's okay to use the washer and dryer whenever.  Even if it's late at night.  I noticed you hadn't run a load yet, and thought you might have misunderstood me before when I showed you how to use the washer and dryer."

If that doesn't fix it,
"Tammy, there's an odd smell coming from your room.  Please try to find the source."

doodlemor

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2016, 07:59:56 PM »
It sounds like this young woman is working incessantly for her candidate, and is basically a lovely person.

Perhaps I'm too much in the Mom Mode, but if I were you I'd just tell her that I would not mind washing her clothes for her - would she please just leave them outside of her door, or in the laundry room.  Those were the days, my friend......

cicero

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2016, 08:04:11 PM »
It being a basement, have you also checked for sewer or other house issues that might not be connected with her stuff?
that was my thought as well. I do my laundry usually once a week, but sometimes it will be two weeks between loads. my laundry never reeks. even when i was living wih DS it never smelled that bad.

even if you're sure that it is her laundry and not something house related, i would approach her under the assumption that there is a smell and you don't know what the source is. maybe ask her if she smelled anything unusual. And I agree with PPs that you can either let her know that it's ok to do her laundry 24/7 (or whatever hours are convenient for you) OR let her know that if she strips her bed and leaves her laundry near the washer, you are happy to run a few loads for her. sounds like she is just really busy.

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greencat

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2016, 08:19:58 PM »
I wouldn't discount the clothing as a source of the stench.  When my ex was in a downward spiral, his idea of hygiene left a lot to be desired, and his intake of nicotine and alcohol left his sweat smelling quite putrid.  Since he was my ex at that point, and I was already counting down the days until he could move out, I had no qualms about telling him that his room stank and he needed to clean it up or get out.

However, he smelled badly enough that he got written up for it at work after multiple customers complained.  I wouldn't think someone working on a political campaign would be able to get away with that kind of stench.

sammycat

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2016, 08:51:32 PM »
It sounds like this young woman is working incessantly for her candidate, and is basically a lovely person.

Perhaps I'm too much in the Mom Mode, but if I were you I'd just tell her that I would not mind washing her clothes for her - would she please just leave them outside of her door, or in the laundry room.  Those were the days, my friend......

Yeah, I'd just go with this, although first off I'd reiterate that she's allowed to use the washing machine whenever she likes.  Perhaps OP offering to wash the clothes for her will spur Tenant into finally doing a load of laundry.

I can well believe it's her unwashed clothes causing the smell.  I've started noticing a stinky odour occasionally coming from my teenage son's room and the laundry. The source is always the contents of the unwashed laundry hampers which contain sweaty items belonging to my menfolk. Definitely a hint to do a load of washing ASAP!

gellchom

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2016, 09:05:03 PM »
You've all got the picture.  She is indeed a lovely young woman who is working incessantly, seven days a week, for the candidate.  We all like her and she seems to like us.

I really don't think it's a sewer issue.  For one thing, the bathroom is all the way at the other end of that level.  But more to the point, and without getting too graphic, it's not that kind of smell (luckily; that would be worse) -- it's kind of an obvious BO smell.  A poster whose teenage son's room sometimes smelled knows exactly what I mean!  Like a duffel bag of "ripe" clothes coming home from summer camp or college.

I think I will start by offering to do her laundry for her because she is too busy -- which is the truth anyway, although everyone else we've ever housed has found the time, but certainly it's plausible.

Then if she doesn't give me all the laundry, I'll go to the plan B of asking her if she's noticed a funky smell.

And if that doesn't work, I'll just have to bite the bullet and have a gentle and private talk with her, I guess.

Thank you so much for taking the time to help me.  Any further suggestions very much appreciated!

Mustard

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2016, 11:42:22 AM »
I wonder if she is concerned about encroaching on the time you would want to use the laundry facilities?  Perhaps you could frame it that you would like to know when the machines are available, so she could use x, y or z times,

gellchom

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2016, 10:00:00 AM »
I just sent her this text:

"Hi [Tammy]-
I am happy to do laundry for you.  I know you don't have time!
Just put it in the baskets.

Also --
Please hang up wet towels so they won't mildew.  Thanks!"

I'll let you know what happens.

Thanks for your help.

cicero

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2016, 11:20:18 AM »
sounds fine. hope it works out.

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gellchom

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2016, 12:42:33 PM »
She answered,

"Sure, sorry about that!!  And I'll do my own laundry!  Luckily I brought a ton of clothes"

I replied,

"Tonight's a good night.  We don't need the machines."

We will see what happens.

crazycatlady331

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2016, 02:17:35 PM »
Nothing to add but as a political staffer (who has stayed in many a strangers' homes) thank you for what you are doing.

Minmom3

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Re: Please help me find a tactful and kind way to say this
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2016, 09:26:30 PM »
I'd be concerned about the stinky laundry smell permeating the dresser, to the point that the dresser will need smell recovery assistance once she's gone.  That would make me a lot more proactive about requesting that laundry be done!

We had to have a 'no dirty feet in shoes' rule in the house when the girls were in junior high school.  I went to far as to toss out some shoes that went through the laundry cycle multiple times and still smelled.  I guess the friends/peers feedback got pointed enough that by high school they took care of that on their own, but in junior high, dear lord, the smell was horrific.
Double MIL now; not yet a Grandma.  Owner of Lard Butt Noelle, kitteh extraordinaire!