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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Help! My Room Mate is a Slob!

We've all lived with one.  Someone who is hilarious, nice, fun to be around and completely incapable of doing the dishes.  Part of you wants to wring their neck but the other half wants to play nice so everybody gets along in the house.  What are you to do?  Suck it up and be their maid just to keep the peace?  I say NAY!  Follow these simple guidelines and you'll feel like you're living with Martha Stewart in no time!

Get Color Coded Dishes.  It's simple, you have blue plates, bowls and cups.  She has green ones.  She can't really say "those dishes aren't mine" (has there ever been a more infuriating phrase?!) if there's a huge pile of green dishes.  It holds them accountable without you having to point the finger of blame.  If you have more than two people living in the house this still works, as long as you have enough storage space for the rainbow of dishes.

Set a Bi-Monthly Cleaning Date.  I found when living with people, while they may clean up their own mess, the overall housework gets neglected.  Things like cleaning the bathroom, hoovering and mopping the kitchen floor.  Speak to your roomie(s), ask them what day they're free and then say "Let's all get together and tidy this place up."  When there's a team mentality, and you're cleaning right beside them, they won't feel bossed around.  It will feel like you're all in this together.  Make a list of things that need to be done, ask them to choose which jobs they would like and get scrubbing!  I have a friend who bought cheap maid outfits after halloween for her and her room mate.  It made cleaning way more fun.

Practice What You Preach!  If you leave your own messes lying around and then ask them to clean up theirs, you lose all credibility and nobody likes a hypocrite.  Be honest with yourself about times when you've left the house in a state.  I know it's easier to leave a mess when the place is already messy, but you must set an example if you're going to have a leg to stand on if you confront them.

Do Something Nice For Them.  Fold their laundry instead of just chucking it in a basket, vaccum their room while you're doing your own, or some little kind gesture.  The Rule of Reciprocity tells us that when you do something for someone, even without being asked, they naturally feel obliged to return the favor.  I guess you could call it a guilt trip, but reciprocity sounds better!
Don't Just Bitch Behind Their Backs.  Actually go up to them and ask them to clean up their mess.  Confronting people is harder than it seems, but addressing problems with people is all in the way you approach it.  Be patient, reasonable and remember that this person is your friend.  Try saying "Hey roomie, I'm making a big dinner tomorrow night.  Would you mind sorting out your dishes before then?"  It's polite, to the point and gives them a deadline.  Just saying "clean up your shit" is too vague.  You don't have to go in with your battle flag drawn, and as long as you don't act like a bitchy parent scolding a child, they should be pretty responsive to real, live communication.  If, when you ask them to clean, they turn it around and say "Well, you haven't cleaned the blah blah" stop and think for a moment.  Have you cleaned the blah blah?  Maybe they're reading this article trying to figure out how to make you clean up!

Living with people is never easy.  Everyone is different and has their own idea of home.  The most important ingredient in a harmonious living situation is communication.  We're supposed to be adults now so let's start acting like it.  Control your temper, address the situatuation and poof!  The problem goes away!


  1. Haha, I used to live with a super messy roommate! Good advice.


  2. @Emma Robertson
    I figured it was a better solution than murder! ;)


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