What Do I Do About the Dreaded Roomate-Dirty Dishes Situation?

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Q: My roommate is lazy. She leaves dishes piled up and trash everywhere, and claims she will clean it, but waits weeks to do so. I refuse to live in filth so I always end up cleaning it up. What is a good way to ask her to stop being so lazy without causing major conflict?

Sent by Haley

Editor: We’ve all been there, Haley! In fact, when I brought your question up to the other Kitchn editors, many shared they own stories of dealing with roommates who weren’t inclined to take on their share of the chores. But everyone had some advice for you.

  1. Don’t be passive: You’ve got to address this situation head-on. Otherwise, she’ll continue to make messes, you’ll continue to clean them up, and nothing will change. Find some time to talk to your roommate (outside of the dorm, if you can); talk about what “clean” means to you and what it means to her. Next, be ready to suggest some ways to tackle the situation.
  2. Try a chore schedule: Maybe it’s elementary, but you’ve got to take the most basic route to solving this problem. Work together to come up with a list of chores and when they should be done. When expectations are laid out like this and agreed upon, it’s easier to ask her to hold up her end of the bargain.
  3. Consider the relationship: Are you friends? If this roommate is someone you have a friendship with, find time to have an honest conversation. Share why a clean living environment is important to you. Mutual respect goes a long way. If things don’t change, don’t hesitate to bring in an RA to help mediate.

Kitchn readers, how have you handled a situation like this?