What to Do If you Live with a Messy Roommate

House-sharing can be complicated if you end up with a messy person. Take action from the very beginning and lay down some ground rules.
What to Do If you Live with a Messy Roommate

Last update: 28 January, 2021

Whether with a family member, a friend, or a fellow student, sharing your home is never easy. You might find yourself asking the following question: What should you do if you live with a messy roommate?

It’s easy to get everything perfectly organized if you live by yourself. You can have everything just how you like it, indulge all your little habits, and clean whenever you want. Unfortunately, not everyone has this option.

Living with others isn’t always fun. There are always going to be certain disagreements between people, especially if you’re not family. So, it’s about time you found out how to create a good relationship with your messy roommates.

Day to day life

You're inevitably going to come across messy roommates.

The first thing you have to do when you live with someone is to work out what the day-to-day situation is like in your house. If you notice early on that the attitude of the people you live with is likely to negatively impact other people (whether it be because they’re messy, dirty, don’t clean up after themselves, break things…) then you need to take swift action.

It’s important to be able to prove that they’re doing something wrong. They need to know that there are basic rules that need to be respected when you live with other people and common areas that need to be kept in good condition at all times.

You also need to decide whether any mess is just a one-off, or whether it’s becoming a regular thing. For example, if the living room is a bit messy one day after some special occasion, there’s no need to make a big deal out of it.

There’s nothing better than coming home to a tidy house.

Set some ground rules 

Show messy roommates the benefits of keeping things tidy.

If you want to live in harmony with your roommates, it’s important to have some basic rules to keep everything tidy and make sure everyone rubs along happily together. Take a look at the following advice:

  • Make sure there is good, open communication right from the start. If you’re living in a student apartment, try to set some rules from day one. If you’re living with family, you’ll need to talk about it and make everyone aware of how important it is to keep the house tidy.
  • Make sure everyone’s on board with the rules – everyone needs to agree to them. If someone breaks the rules, it’s going to cause arguments, so you’ll need to be able to defend yourself.
  • You need to show the others that keeping the house clean and tidy will help to create a good atmosphere. Set a good example, and always keep everything tidy so that no one can have a go at you for being messy.

Dealing with messy roommates: patience is a virtue

Good communication is key to dealing with messy roommates.

While it’s true that we often lose patience when dealing with others, especially when they do things that annoy or inconvenience us, try to remember that it’s best to be understanding and try to talk things out rationally.

  • If a situation is making you uncomfortable, be patient, and try to resolve it calmly. That way, it won’t turn into a massive argument. This will make it easier to resolve the issue, and it might even improve the atmosphere in your house.
  • If you’ve tried to be good-natured and understanding, but you still haven’t found a solution, be patient, and try to find another way. Bring up the issues again, and try to show what you can accomplish by following some simple rules.
  • If the situation is becoming unbearable and, as much as you’ve tried to be patient and cooperative, you still haven’t found a solution, showing how unhappy you are and distancing yourself from your messy roommates is one way to tell them they’re doing something wrong.

There’s nothing better than sharing a tidy house

A messy house can have a negative impact on your well-being.

A sense of order and harmony between roommates is essential for your well-being. There’s no sense in everyone doing exactly what they want and annoying everyone else with their bad habits.

When you live with other people, the most important thing is to try to create a good home environment. If chaos reigns, it can cause arguments and bad relationships. No one can deny that messiness is directly related to dirt and lack of cleaning.

Obviously, no one wants to come home and find that their house is a complete mess – pots and pans lying around the kitchen and objects strewn across the floor. You need to take action before things get this bad. To do this, you need to try to resolve issues right from the start, so that they don’t get worse.

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  • Arango Cálad, Carlos: Piscología comunitaria de la convivencia, Programa Editorial Universidad del Valle, 2006.