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These Tips on How to Deal with a Messy Roommate Actually Work

How to Deal with a Messy Roommate
Frustrated with your messy roommate's antics? I am sure there are many people who share the emotion. Messy or shabby roommates are an age-old problem that everyone has been struggling to deal with. So, let me help you out with some real life tried and tested tips.
Urvashi Pokharna
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Young Woman Playing Guitar in Messy Room
Living away from home is quite troublesome anyway. You have to take care of everything on your own; paying the bills, being efficient at work for career growth, managing relationships and taking care of your own cooking and cleaning. You are all by yourself in this big world without a family for a support system to depend on, in the new city. 'Home', ah! Don't we just love the word 'home'? That's the only place you can go back to for some peace and relaxation after a long day's work. That is the place to unwind and keep all your tensions away. But, what if you came home to a kitchen sink overflowing with dirty dishes, piled up laundry, cockroaches feasting on last week's pizza, the television that is always left on irrespective of the fact that even the cockroaches are not interested in watching it and beds that have been robbed off their sheets? The stink in the house is nauseating and you don't even know what that is. Then, you hit the bathroom and the pot is dirty as hell. Familiar with this scenario? Of course, we have all been down the road of living with a dirty roommate! And some poor souls are still stuck in the rut. God bless them!
"I don't need to pay a therapist to give me crap. I have a roommate that does it for free". ~ Ally McBeal
Sometimes it's just not possible to divide space between the two of you for everything; refrigerators, microwaves, bathrooms spaces, etc. Women tend to be bothered by unclean or shabby roommates more than men because most men tend be messy in varying degrees so they cope up with each other's mess. More women are comparatively cleanliness freaks because they have been brought up to perform household chores with perfection. But, if your female roommate is so messy that her habits are getting onto your nerves, keep your cool. There is a solution to every problem and you can totally deal with such a roommate. I am guessing you have already tried talking to your roommate about dividing responsibilities to clean the house and that hasn't worked and now the messiness is intolerable. Nagging never really helped anyone.
Living With a Messy Roommate
Angry woman
  • If your roommate is bringing work to home and frequently leaves behind 10 piles of papers everywhere in the house so much that you cannot open the window without blowing them away, switch on the fan. Yes, let it become a mess so your roommate will learn to keep his/her things in place the next time.
Girl cleaning windows
  • Some scientists have discovered the effect of smell on human brain. While stink may prompt you to roll up your sleeves and clean up, some people are stimulated by the smell of detergent for doing the same. Spray a glass/household cleaner into the air just before your roommate walks in. He/she might be motivated to clean up.
Annoyed girl
  • Do not agree to having any parties at home. If you do, be prepared to be the only one cleaning the house and getting rid of dried up *God knows what that is* from the floor, throwing away the left overs and making your house look like humans inhabit it. Your roommate won't help even if they promise they will.
Friends gathered
  • When your roommate brings over someone they really like, a date or any other person, go up to your roommate in their company's presence and remind them how they haven't cleaned up the dirty dishes since a week or that they should really use a clean pot because you heard it can give you infections down there or that he/she has been picking up clothes from the floor to wear and then dropping the dirty laundry back in the same pile. Jokingly suggest that washing his/her face, using all that makeup/perfume won't work on the germs that will end up giving them skin diseases. Be nice and cheerful all the time like you are so used to your roommate's way of living. Dirtiness is a turn off for most people. Humiliation will definitely get them to clean their business.
Cloths with scissors
  • Take your roommate's favorite tee or dress and cut it out to make it the new dusting cloth. When they ask about it, say you didn't know your roommate wanted to keep it because they threw it on the floor and it seemed like the tee or dress was waiting to be discarded. Ouch!
Talking with psychologist
  • In a frat house or a sorority house, you could ask your house father/mother to help you deal with the situation by talking your roommate out of his/her dirty habits. Else, you could request them to have your roommate shifted to another room.
Woman consoling her roommate
  • Another technique that might work is that instead of complaining to your roommate about "his" or "her" messiness, try saying, "WE need to clean up the house because we look like pigs staying in a sty". Be friendly when you do that. You will avoid making it an issue and more of a group activity for both of you to clean. That might be enough motivation for them to clean.
No pet allowed sign
  • Beware, this one is not a solution but a warning. Do not ever get a roommate who has a pet (any animal that has legs or crawls). You won't be able to live with hair stuck to your couch, pee on the floor or a house that smells like Bart Simpson just farted in there. Keep a policy of no pets allowed.
Girl meeting adult
  • When the messiness is just way too much for you to deal, hire professional cleaning services to come and clean the apartment. Use your roommate's wallet to pay them. Smile. Make sure you let your roommate know about it. Say, "I thought you were too busy to clean the house. I understand. So, I thought I would surprise you by getting the house cleaned. Here is the bill. Aren't you happy how clean the house is?".
Black locker
  • If you are bothered by the way your roommate treats your pretty 300 thread count bed linen and other delicate household stuff, keep it all locked away in your cupboards. Else, till the time your roommate starts cleaning up, your stuff will look like you bought them off a street urchin.
Packing of dishes
  • Excess of things can cause messiness. I am sure you agree on that; excess clothes, excess dishes and everything else. So, get some cartons and a duct tape. Pack it all and let your roommate have only a few things out that are necessary to rotate the stuff. If he/she is so careless about the cleanliness, they will most likely not notice the decrease in volume of things until much later. When he has lesser to use, he will start keeping it clean.
Disposal dishware
  • You could also suggest your roommate to start using disposable paper plates and cups so they don't have to clean and the apartment won't get dirty too! Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
  • Another option you could try is dividing the entire house into two sides; your side and your roommate's side. Both of you are allowed to treat your sides the way you want to but cannot use the other person's space. But, this tactic does not work for everything though, as I mentioned earlier.
I know these tips are really vengeful and mean. But, I'd suggest that you still try to talk to your roommate about the messiness issue. You don't have to be nice because you are not your roommate's parent. Most people act on a cue and they have to be told to clean the place. Make sure YOU are performing your roommate duties and keeping your side of the room clean along with other areas of the house. Have the talk. If your roommate has crossed your patience, it's time for some action and you have my blessing to go ahead and show your dark side. But, give your roommate enough chances before that. You'd hate to start looking for another apartment with new roommates after a heated argument. That is a hint for you. Sometimes, people get really busy due to hectic work schedule, fall into depression after losing their job or having a break up and don't really pay attention to the cleanliness factor. May be your roommate is facing some problems. But, weekend mornings should be your house cleaning time.
Golden Tip: Dealing with a Messy Roommate
No matter what the parenting may be like, some people just grow up to be lazy couch potatoes who won't even lift a finger to clean their mess. Nope, it's not your duty to look after them. And whoever told you to keep cleaning the house until a sudden realization dawns upon your shabby roommate that he/she needs to start living like a civilized human being, was only trying to pacify you. That is a load of crap (no pun intended) and that never happens except in 0.01% cases where the person in question has any desire to maintain cleanliness. But, what you can do is take a big plastic bag and shove in all the crap they have left behind for Cinderella to clean. Now, go dump it into the garbage disposal. Wait, you can give a warning and dump it in your roommate's side of the room thrice. If the messiness persists even after the third time, your roommate can now be classified as a hopeless roommate and you can go ahead, aim for the bin. This is your last resort. Just keep the phones, iPods, cameras, wallets, keys and laptops away from it. This one is a cherry pick fool-proof method of getting your dirty roomy to mend his/her ways. They will be too ashamed. Better yet, dump their new buys in the bag too along with the dirty greasy dishes. And you could also take them and put them under his/her bed. You will quickly see your roommate turn a new leaf!
Our definitions of cleanliness are relative. Make sure you are not acting like a neat freak psycho and expecting your roommate to pick out even the last strand of hair near the bed. You can absolutely avoid sharing a house with a messy roomy by paying full attention when you are interviewing a potential candidate. That is the time to ask each other as many questions as you can about each other's lifestyle habits. Be friendly while you are doing so. People tend to lie because nobody will really tell you that, "Hey man, I let my open and expired milk cartons stay in the fridge for a month until I open the refrigerator and puke by its stink", "I don't feel the need to throw out garbage every day when doing it once a month still gets it out of the house", "I have mommy issues and you are going to have to cook and clean after me" or "I can make the floor an ocean of tossed clothes and make the house smell like a pot filled with fresh poop". You can never be absolutely sure how clean the person likes to keep the house until you start living with him/her. If you have lived or are living with a messy or shabby roomy, you know what I am talking about.