How to deal with messy housemates

Photo credit: Forever Digital (Source: Flickr)

Can’t remember what the carpet looks like? Congratulations, you’ve got messy housemates. Or flatmates, if you happen to be a fresher.

So, over the last few months your flatmates have mastered the art of stacking, compacting, crushing and generally bending the laws of physics to avoid actually throwing anything away. That or they don’t seem to care that the sink looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In any case you’re concerned and annoyed, and you’re quite right to be. So, how do you talk to them about something that you find to be second-nature? Tactfully, if possible.

As obvious as cleanliness may seem to you it probably isn’t to them, or, to reiterate, they might just not care. As someone who has a tendency to be unkempt myself, I know what annoys me when someone makes a passing remark about the state of my room (chiefly, when they compare their room to mine, the cheek). Beyond that, I get the impression everyone is messy to a certain extent, especially at uni. You’ve left home, Mum and Dad aren’t going to remind you to clean up after yourself, so why should you? Well, because you’re still living with other people and in this economy, you’ll be doing so for quite some time. It’s with this kind of sentiment, I feel, it’s best to approach a messy housemate.

Of course, telling me to be more considerate of others works as a strategy because I’m a pushover, whereas others may just think you’re being a control freak. Assuming you’re not a fresher (bear with), you probably chose to live with your current housemates, and even if you didn’t, you must surely have some kind of working relationship with them. So, talk to them and come to an agreement of some kind. State it’s not really fair on you and your other housemates. You’re trying to clear out a kitchen sink here, not create world peace. They’re not going to laugh at you or secretly despise you, they have to live with you and any tension, if any, would go quickly. It would be ideal if another housemate backed you up, as that would dispel any impression of personal vendetta.

As for you freshers, well, walking into that kitchen and feeling your shoes stick to the floor isn’t ideal. Feel sorry for your cleaner, and try to make her job a little easier. Perhaps trying to talk to your messy flatmate as a group and see if you are able to devise a rota so that they can’t escape cleaning their dishes, and help make the flat a welcoming place.

When all else fails, just talk to them. You’ve got nothing to lose as long as you make sure you don’t isolate or insult them. You live with these people, and telling them to try helping keep the place clean for all of your sakes isn’t too much to ask.

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