How to Deal with a Sloppy Roommate
Cleaning and Organizing Tips for Roommates
No matter where you are in life – college, the business world, divorced, just getting out on your own, etc. – you may have reason to share your living space with a roommate or two.
A roommate offers many benefits. Aside from the financial freedom you can gain, having a roommate means you don’t come home to an empty house or apartment, someone will be there if you go out of town for business or for a vacation, and there is someone to share the household chores.
But what happens if over time the roommate’s true colors start showing and they are actually sloppy? You didn’t see that one coming! When you chose your roomy, they said they were a doer, liked things neat and tidy and that they were willing to pitch in and help out.
When the relationship was new, the place was clean, dishes and food were put away, and their room and bathroom were clean. Then one day, you started to notice you were doing more than your fair share of the chores.
It all started with a dish or two and a few towels in the hallway. Then it progressed to food not put away, fruit flies and – Ewww, what is that smell?
Well, maybe it’s not actually that bad, but what do you do when your roommate stops cleaning up after themselves? It’s time to have a heart-to-heart, roommate to roommate conversation.
A good conversation will have no accusations and no rudeness. By effectively communicating with one another, you will better understand each other instead of being on the defensive.
I’m sure your roommate is not intentionally trying to annoy you. Before the conversation, some things to think about are:
- Did something happen between you and the roommate to cause a rift? Maybe it’s something you’ve done you’re not even aware of?
- Is your idea of “clean” different from their idea and you’ve automatically started picking things up before your roommate has had a chance to do so?
- Is your roommate depressed or having a hard time dealing with a situation you’re not aware of?
- Did you bring a roommate in without effectively setting boundaries and discussing rules and expectations?
Whatever is going on, it’s best to talk about it before you get a chip on your shoulder (which will only cause small issues to become big issues).
When you do start the conversation, listen when it’s your turn, don’t raise eyebrows or roll your eyes, and work on a solution together.
You might even think about using a chore checklist, we have many you can browse and look through to make your own or download one that we already have made for you.
Possible Solutions for Common Issues
We all have our own way of doing things and what our expectations are. Here are a few common issues roommates have and some ideas for resolving them.
Don’t bang your head against the wall and give up on the roomy just yet.
Leaving Dirty Dishes Out
Do you feel uncomfortable with dirty dishes left in the sink and on the counters? I can’t say I blame you. I just don’t like looking at this kind of mess, period.
- Keep one side of the sink filler with a little soapy water so dirty dishes can easily be slipped in and any food stick on them has a chance to pre-soak.
- If you don’t have a sink that is divided, you can fill a Tupperware container with the soapy water and leave it next to the sink for pre-soaking dishes.
- Now when either of you are ready to put dishes in the dishwasher, you only have to give them a quick rinse and clean the sink out when you’re done.
Of course, the easier solution would be to rinse and put the dishes away right after using them but not everyone feels the same way.
Where has my Food Gone?
Another issue roommates face is the unintentional sharing of food. One of the main reasons this tends to happen is that no boundaries were set in the beginning.
Divvy up the shelf space. Do this for the refrigerator, freezer and cabinet space. In some cases, if necessary, you can use clear containers labeled with whose food items they are. This can be a good idea for small items like seasonings, lunch meats, cheese, vegetables, etc.
If there isn’t a ton of space in the kitchen and you have a coat closet, you can get a cubbie shelf or cube organizer.
Use of Personal Items and Setting Boundaries
If you each have your own bedroom, closet space, bathroom, it’s an invasion of your personal space and privacy if a roommate enters uninvited to borrow something. Even if you left a tube of lipstick out on the kitchen counter, it should be there when you get home.
I’m a firm believer that hair brushes, makeup brushes, lipsticks just shouldn’t be shared. Germs and other things can be spread.
I also don’t want someone rummaging through my closet or drawers. Make sure this is part of the conversation.
Using Containers, Baskets, Organizers
Having a roommate shouldn’t mean you have to leave all your stuff locked up behind closed doors. Carrying items around the house and setting them down randomly is something we all do.
Maybe to make the roommate situation easier, these options might help.
- For things like mail, you can get a hanging organizer that has a place for hanging keys.
- If you have an extra drawer in the kitchen, maybe you could get drawer organizers for things like chapstick, lipstick, lotion, etc.
- In the living area for magazines, books, electronics, etc. you could use decorative baskets for each person.
- Comfy blankets for cuddling on the couch can either be left in the bedroom or folded and draped over the couch.
Hire a Cleaning Professional
Another option to consider is to chip in and hire a professional cleaning service. If you’re on the go with work, the gym, going out with friends and it just makes sense to have someone come in and clean your home, so you don’t have to do so much extra work around the house, talk to your roommate. It can be an affordable alternative that works for all parties.
Cleaning companies offer weekly, bi-weekly, monthly services and more that can be tailored to meet your needs.
These are just some ideas but there are many creative things you can do to nicely and effectively share your space with another person.