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Co-Living Advice

Ask Roomi: “Help! My Roommate Is A Slob”

The problem with living with a slob is that they usually don’t know – or care – that they’re a slob! And, short of finding your ideal roommate based on your zodiac signs, it can be difficult to know whether your new roomi prefers to maintain an immaculate place or if they’re quite comfortable to live in squalor. 

If you’re feeling grossed out by your living conditions, it’s time to go all super-mom on your roommate. We don’t mean nagging or cleaning up after them (this approach will undoubtedly turn you into their doormat), we mean following our approaches to fixing the problem and restoring your apartment to something that feels inhabitable. Let operation de-slobbing commence!

“Our apartment is disgusting!”

Dirty dishes, a laundry-covered floor and a growing layer of dust on every counter is an all-too-familiar scenario for some renters. But what do you do if the dirt-culprit is your roommate and you’re getting tired of the mess and especially the questionable smell?

Assuming you’ve already verbally expressed your desire for them to clean up after themselves, there are some no-nonsense guidelines to follow when you’re co-existing with a slob:

  1. Do not clean up after them. You don’t need to become anyone’s maid, and as difficult as it can be to resist scrubbing the bolognese sauce that’s been hardening on the frying pan for the past fortnight – don’t do it. They’ll get used to your cleaning services and won’t bother addressing the gross mess in front of them.
  2. Move their mess into their space. If their growing mass of crap is creeping into your space, it’s usually fair to move it back into their designated area. Place their clothes, toiletries and anything else into their area so it doesn’t get in the way of your day-to-day living. Eventually, they should tackle the growing mound themselves. 
  3. Address the issue immediately. Address mess a couple of hours after as it occurs, otherwise your own inner tensions can build and you might just blow up angrily – or resort to passive-aggressiveness. Try not to pick on every detail or your roomi can grow neglectful. Address issues that really interfere with your own lifestyle, such as clutter or nasty smells.
  4. Create a chores rota. Split duties fairly and tackle the big jobs together. You all use the apartment in the same way and it’s not fair for the cleaning to fall on you everytime. If that’s not viable, consider hiring a cleaning person every week or two.
  5. Swap roommates. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and communication attempts are falling flat, let your RA know you want to swap roommates. Taking some photos of the state of the apartment should help your case. Not living in a dorm? It might be time to have a frank conversation with your housemate about going your separate ways.

“They never leave their bed!”

Let’s take a look at slobs of the other category: roommates that never leave their bed! 

Reddit poster laurie_ann shared this with the forum:

“I have a ton of schoolwork and she skips 60% of her classes for any reason she can find and sleeps in until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Consequently, when I get back from class and want to work on things, I can’t because the lights are off and I can’t make too much noise.”

Whether or not your roommate has bed bugs or they’re turning into a bit of a lazy bed bug themselves, you’d be surprised at how much this can affect your own quality of life. If your roomi is kind of nocturnal, or likes to hang out in the dark with Netflix glaring back at them, it’s not fair that you have to navigate your room with the lights off, in silence.
In this case, it’s time to take a stand. Remember that it’s your room, too, and you have things to do during the day. Apologise for turning on the light and making some noise, but explain that it is the middle of the day and you have work to do. If your relationship allows, try to find out why your roommate sleeps a lot during the day. There could be underlying health issues, so don’t approach the issue too harshly.