Sister, husband won’t clean up their act

DEAR ANNIE: My sister and her husband have some habits that really turn me off when I visit. They leave dirty pots and pans on the stove for weeks. They allow used dishes, cups and utensils to pile up in the sink until it is overflowing. They have a dishwasher, but say it doesn’t clean the pots very well. That’s no surprise when the pots have been left out with food remnants drying on them for weeks.

They also eat directly out of containers of food, like pre-made salads and ice cream, and then put them back in the refrigerator.

They serve guests directly from these same food containers. When their kitchen trash can is full, it is pulled out from its spot and placed in the middle of the floor. From there, it becomes a trial of wills to see who will give in and take the trash outside to the garbage can.

They apparently do not care about the health issues of all their bad habits. It is not like they are pressed for time to get these things done, as both are retired.

My brother-in-law spends 90 percent of his free time e-mailing friends and acquaintances all over the country, while my sister spends an equal amount of time in front of the TV.


If anything is mentioned to them about the dirty dishes or overflowing garbage, they get angry and defensive. Other than not visiting or eating out every night (which can get expensive), what do I do? — Disgusted in California

DEAR DISGUSTED: Your sister and her husband have reached an accommodation about their level of cleanliness and they are content with it.

Consider staying at a motel, or buy groceries and cook your own meals. If you are close enough to be an overnight guest, you should also pitch in and help by washing a few dishes and emptying the overflowing garbage.

DEAR ANNIE: Recently, my husband had a kidney biopsy. This made him think about wills.

Many times families request that people make donations to a charity in lieu of flowers. He wanted to know about asking people to make a donation to our grandson’s college fund. Would that be tacky? — Tyler, Texas

DEAR TYLER: Yes. Unless your husband’s death will create a major financial hardship for your grandson, it is inappropriate to ask other people to donate money to benefit your family directly.

You are not a charitable organization.

Your husband should consider setting up a trust fund to help pay for his grandson’s education.


Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

What To Read Next
Get Local