The Agony of a Dirty Roommate

There are constantly dishes left in the sink. Your shower drain always has a sticky mass of hair adhered to it. You're the only one in the apartment who dares to wipe a surface down, not to mention spray an air freshener or open a window to air out the odors coming from your roommates bedroom. Regardless of how bad your situation is, dealing with a messy, dirty roommate is no fun.
We know the situation all too well. Your living situation starts out great - you move in with a friend or even acquaintance, and life seems fairly normal. You both go about your lives, eating, bathing, and cleaning up after yourselves. Until one day it all stops. The relationship goes from being symbiotic to parasitic, where you're the host of a foul and unforeseen parasite. What can you do in this type of situation? Whose Your Landlord has the answers on how to handle a dirty roommate.  

Try the "Mom" approach

This┬ámethod requires a lot of legwork on your part and involves you cleaning up after your roommate, much like a parent would. The theory is that after your roommate sees you cleaning their mess time and again, they'll start to pitch in and clean up after themselves. This method can go drastically wrong, though - your roommate could quickly adjust to their new way of living and continue to make a mess and come to expect you to clean it up. If it does work, this method will showcase how much better a clean apartment is and (hopefully) spark an interest in maintaining a neat, healthier way of living.  

Approach your roommate

Like many problems in life, the dilemma of a disgusting roommate can be solved by having a simple conversation. In most cases, your roommate is probably clueless as to the way their mess makes you feel. So, talk to them! When you have this sit-down chat, avoid accusing them directly. Instead, explain why their mess makes you feel the way that it does. Work together to find some middle ground. You'll both probably have to make some sacrifices if you're going to live together in harmony.  

Contain the mess

This method is a bit aggressive, but it can be useful. If your roommate leaves their mess everywhere, start containing it to their areas. Move dirty clothing, trash, and dishes into their bedroom. Once their mess starts impeding with their way of life (i.e., sleeping), they'll be forced to do something about it. Of course, avoid going too far with this method. Don't put old or raw food in their space, as this can quickly turn into a pest problem for everyone.  

Make cleaning regular

If you've talked with your roommate and they've agreed to make some changes, creating a schedule can help keep your apartment neat and tidy. Assign certain chores to yourself and your roommate. This┬áprocess will make it easier to hold each other accountable. Have rewards in place to make staying organized together with a fun process. For example, once your weekly chores are complete, you both get to go to happy hour!  

Accept it

In some cases, all you can do is accept that your roommate is a mess. Do your best to keep the main living areas of your apartment clean, and of course, keep your bedroom nice and tidy. If your roommate isn't terribly messy and just a bit unorganized, this approach may be right for you. It'll take some time, but just as your roommate has to accept that you're a neat freak, you'll have to accept that they're a bit messy.
You don't have to live with a messy roommate. In the worst cases where your roommate refuses to work with you or listen to your pleas for cleanliness, you can sublet your apartment and find somewhere else to live. Before you go to that extreme, try these methods! If you have any experience with a messy roommate and have some additional suggestions, drop them in the comment section below.