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10 Tips to Dealing With a Messy Roommate

messy table top with clutter

Whether you are going to be living with a friend, significant other, going in blind, etc you are bound to live with someone who is different than you. In many ways. One of those ways is something I think a lot of us dread: cleanliness. We all have our ideas of what clean looks like and we all act differently when it comes to our houses being messy and clean. Some of us can function in filth, some of us cannot. What do you do when your roommate is less than tidy? How do you approach them and the conflict at hand? Fear no more, here is your 10-step guide to dealing with a messy roommate!


10 Ways to Help You Deal With A Messy Roommate

Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more

They say communication is everything and, in this case, it is. Communicate with your messy roommate and try to figure out what may be the issue at hand for the messiness. It could be as simple as that is how they work and that works for them, but it also could be something bigger. Mental health struggles can come out in not taking care of ourselves, or are things, and mess and filth can build up quickly. Before you point fingers or cause a scene that could be upsetting, communicate genuinely and ask them what the reason for the mess is.

Make a date

A cleaning date that is! But really, turn that cleaning frown upside down, together! Order a pizza, grab your favorite beverage, and put a date on the calendar to clean it up together. We are stronger in numbers, and we feel supported in the strength of many. Sometimes, we all just need a little help to get by and you reaching out to your roommate and making the cleaning fun will be more appreciated than you may think!

Make a chore chart

Did anyone else have this growing up? It may seem a bit immature, but it really can help! Seeing something visually around the house is also a great indicator of keeping your to-do list out in the open so you will be less likely to forget or to push it to the back burner. Split the chores with your roommate by sitting down and assigning tasks and to dos. Maybe you have a chore that you do not mind doing but the other person despises, and vice versa. This will bring harmony to the possible awkward conversation. You can make a deal that one cooks while the other cleans up or alternate weeks where you bring the trash out. Establishing set chores or systems is the best way to keep things clean without confrontation.

Rent a Storage Unit

Sometimes, the mess could mean an excess of things, or out of annoyance you may want to call it junk. You may want to discuss your pet a little bug in their ear about renting a storage unit. If you, too have access to furniture or things that will not currently fit in your space you may want to do it together! Again, doing it together, and if youre living with a friend, you can split the cost. Depending on where you rent, storage units are not very costly and will come out of your account automatically, monthly for your convenience.

Pick your Battles

If we are talking about a few extra dishes in the sink, or your roommate leaving their coat in the entryway and not on the hooks, you may want to rethink about going to WW3 with them over a few minuscule items. Pick your battles and choose what is worth addressing in a serious way or what can be taken more lightly. If there is an instance where dishes are sitting for a while you could make light of it by saying Hey are you finished with this pizza from 2 days ago? I mean it probably isnt any good anymore. That will most likely bring up a laugh and prompt your roommate to stop what they are doing and complete those dishes. In their defense, they may just have forgotten. We all get busy and there will be times when you too will leave a messy dish in the sink, and you will want someone to communicate with you lightly.
cleaning supplies

Separate Spaces, not Trading Spaces

In worst cases, your roommate's mess may be trickling into your areas of living. Your bedroom, bathroom, or home office you may have. If this is the case, remember to leave all of your doors to your spaces closed. Clean up yourself and put away anything you do not want to be touched, tampered with or that could leave an open invitation to allow your roommates to mess into your spaces. If their things are bleeding into common living areas, you absolutely have the right to ask them to move their things. Living areas, kitchen, shared bathrooms, and yard spaces are all considered shared spaces.

Try incentivizing

It may be beneficial to sit down, create cleaning goals and house rules. When doing this you can also incentivize yourselves as a whole, so you are not leaving the messy roommate out or calling them out making them feel bad. For instance, you could make it a house rule that all chores are completed throughout the week on the chore chart, and if they are completed then you and your roommate will treat yourselves to a night out, or a night in with movies and wine, once or twice a month! Not only will this be something to look forward to during the weeks you are cleaning this will also bring you closer together.

Lead by example

Seeing as the mess is not coming from you, (you wouldnt be seeking advice if it was you) do your part by leading by example. Set the expectations of living and cleanliness of your shared space by your actions. Make the point to do your cleaning routine when your roommate is home. That way they can visually see you cleaning and see the expectations that you set for yourself and for the home.

Do it yourself/ignore the mess

If you really can not stand the sight of the mess by your roommate and none of these tips and tricks have helped, you may just have to swallow your pride and clean up after them. No one likes to play mom but if it is for the sake of your sanity and clean home, you may just want to do it. In the grand scheme of things, if approaching your messy roommate is going to tear you apart, it is not worth it. If the friendship outweighs the mess, then do the cleaning. Coupling 2 tips together, you may just have to start ignoring the mess. Ignore them and ignore their mess. If you can handle it, that is.

It may be time to close the door

Extreme cases are hopefully far and few between but if you are going in blind in college or are being roommate matched, you may not know the history of your new roommates cleanliness. Whether that be in the home or with themselves. Some people may go as far as to not shower, or let food and dishes pile up so bad that mold or bugs begin to appear. If this sounds like your scenario, unfortunately, it may be time to seriously rethink your living situation. Moving out may be difficult, but it is probably the only choice you have.

clean house sign

Thanks for diving in with us in hopes of clearing up your roommates mess. Again, you may want to leave the mess and the fighting to the birds as it may just not be worth it. But there is something to be said in trying and if these tips and tricks work, that is wonderful! We hope we were helpful in all things cleanliness and if you are the messy roommate reading this, we dont mean to hurt your feelings, filth just isnt for everyone.

Keep in mind that not everyone has the same upbringing, while some households had more responsibilities than others, your roommate may not be used to cleaning up after themselves. The best start to dealing with messy roommates is to communicate. While you may see a huge mess, might not be a major concern for them. Since an apartment is a shared space, advocating your concerns may be easier than you think and will help save you from stressing over messes! It is our hope that your household will work together in harmony, and in cleanliness.

Ways To Keep Your Apartment Clean

If this is your first time living on your own, or if you were never really good at cleaning, you might be struggling with keeping your home tidy and clean. There are easy ways to stay on top of cleaning so your apartment always looks and feels clean. Here are a few tips you can use to keep your apartment clean and tidy:

  • Buy Multipurpose Cleaning Products - Living in small apartments doesn't give you lots of storage options on where you can put your items. Instead of cluttering up your cabinets or closets with hundreds of cleaning products, opt to buy multipurpose products. Not only will these save you space, but they will also save you money! Seventh Generation has a great selection of all-purpose cleaning supplies, that are also made with clean ingredients, so you can be sure you aren't working with harmful chemicals. 
  • Never Stop Cleaning - This isn't as extreme as it sounds. If you do the small tasks throughout the week - take out the garbage, wash dishes, put clothes away, etc - then you will have less to clean at the end of every week. Our go-to method is "If it only takes 5 minutes, it's worth doing now". So instead of washing a huge pile of dishes in the sink, wash each dish you use right away. By spending those few minutes cleaning up a mess right away, it saves you time from spending a full day cleaning.
  • Buy a Robot Vacuum - While we understand this is a large cost, there is a huge payoff to purchasing a smart vacuum. Never again will you have to worry about cleaning your floors, when you can just turn on your little robot friend. Run it while you are at work and come home to a clean house every time! Most of these devices can be controlled by an app, so if you ever have last-minute guests coming over, you can turn it on wherever you are to save time on cleaning! Depending on when you are looking to purchase one, you can find great deals!

These are just a few tips to help you stay on top of your cleaning responsibilities. For more information or tips on apartment living, visit our blog page!