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Living With Messy Roommates

Updated on August 5, 2017
Dylan Buckley profile image

Dylan is a freelance writer based in California whose specialty lies mainly in the self-help niche.

Not every roommate situation that you will be getting into will be ideal. Some roommates will be very organized and conscientious when it comes to cleaning and others will leave their clothes strewn all over the floor and only pick them up when it comes time to wear them (Sadly, this is an accurate description of the type of roommate that I was in college). While it may be frustrating to deal with this type of situation and every molecule in your body may be screaming for you to pick up after them, you just can’t do it. However, here is what you CAN do to help you coexist with messy people.

1. Just Talk to Them

Misunderstandings are, more often than not, caused by a lack of communication. Your roommate may frequently be messy because they think that you are okay with it. When I was in college, my roommate never said anything about my messiness and that’s why I assumed it was okay to leave my clothes and my stuff everywhere. Have a chat with them and tell them that you would prefer that they clean up after themselves. Set some ground rules for both of you and make a cleaning schedule. They will most likely be understanding. You’d be surprised what a simple chat can do.

2. Realize That it Is Not Okay to Clean Up After Them

You are not their mother. You are not their father. You are their roommate. It is not your job to clean their room or anything else that they have left in a state of disrepair. Let them learn how to clean up after themselves. Along with this, you also need to realize that it is not okay to throw away anything of theirs. Just because they leave stuff around or leave clutter around the house doesn’t mean that you can trash it in a fit of anger. Pettiness will not solve the problem.

3. Let Go of It

If it doesn’t affect you, let go of it. Accept it. Yes, that may seem counterproductive but it may help your roommate come to the realization that they are out of control. Think about it. If they have no one to clean up after them, the messes are only going to get worse. It is only when they are scraping two-week old food off of their plate or trudging through eight miles of dirty laundry to get to the front door that they will see that something is wrong and make an effort to change it.

4. Put Some Pressure on Them

They may just break if you put them into a situation where they are embarrassed. For example, let them know that you are going to have a rather large gathering at your place. This may be enough to trigger a panicked cleaning frenzy. If it is not, let them leave their mess around and wait for your friends to arrive. When they do, they will most likely make comments on the state of your living area. It is then that you will be able to tell them who is responsible for that and the news will make its way to your roommate. This type of public humiliation will probably make them change their ways, especially if you have guests over often. If it doesn’t, move onto the next tip.

5. Move Out or Find a Better Roommate

Those who can’t deal with the mess must get away from the mess. If you have authority over whether or not that they live there, make the choice to kick them out. It will be awkward and it will probably make you feel like a terrible person but do you really want to deal with this kind of roommate for however much longer you must be stuck with them. If you don’t have authority over whether or not they live with you, find a way out. This isn’t always an option but if you have the resources to do so, find a roommate who is clean, kind, and overall awesome.

Roommates aren’t perfect and you can’t expect them to be. However, there should be expectations when it comes to basic chores and cleanliness. If they don’t meet normal standards, use the tips above to deal with them.

How to Live With Messy People!

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    • lsmith131 profile image

      Lanecia Smith 3 days ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      Great advice Dylan. I have lived with a few different roommates over the years. And you are right, communication is key to getting issues like this resolved. Some people can be nasty and are not aware of how this impacts other people and their space. Having a conversation about the issue, is one of the best ways to come to an agreement. Thanks for sharing!