How to Deal with a Messy Roommate

Piles of stuff are lying all around on the floor.

Pizza boxes are scattered around the apartment.

Questionably clean laundry amassed in the most inconvenient places.

And you are not the one who has caused any of that mess.

Regardless, you are the one who ends up dealing with it.

We at Norhart know how extraordinarily annoying and disruptive this can be. After all - we've all been there at one point or another. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with a messy roommate while retaining your sanity.

Address the issue without delay

The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

If you don’t react promptly, your roommate might get cozy with the idea that you don’t mind all the mess. And when you finally snap (and snap you will), it will be next to impossible to find a peaceful resolution to the whole situation.

Voice your discontent

This should always be the first thing you do. And you'd be surprised how much you can achieve with a polite conversation. Do note that we said "polite."

So, please don’t go all hostile on your roommate from the start. It will only serve to annoy and alienate them further. They can choose to make an even bigger mess, just to spite you. Yes, they may be one of “those” kind of people.

On the other hand, you can never know what a person is going through, especially not so early into the "relationship." Maybe they've fallen on hard times or going through a lot. The mess can be just a reflection of their state of mind. Be ready for the possibility that they actually need your help. In a way – help them help you.

Therefore, take a tactful approach. Talk to them and be honest and understanding but remain firm. Make it a point that things need to change for both of your well-being.
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Don’t obsess over every small thing

Tripping over a pile of garbage is certainly disruptive for your everyday functioning.

It is definitely an issue you’d want to resolve.

But throwing a fit just because of a pizza box left over from the previous night?

That's only asking for trouble and raising the tension.

If your roommate has already agreed to take the right steps, don't get on their nerves by obsessing over every tiny detail.

A storage unit can be a lifesaver

Let's face it: Maybe your place is too small for all your stuff. If you're in a dorm, this is almost certainly a case. They are usually barely enough for one person to feel comfy, let alone two. In this instance, finding external storage might be godsent.

Storage units are a neat, safe, and convenient way to free up some space in your place. Discuss this possibility with your roommate and explain how it would be beneficial to your day-to-day functioning.

If they agree – that’s awesome. You have just solved the majority of the problems.

Just remember: it's not only your place that has to be neat and tidy. You will have to keep your unit in peak condition.

This is a joint effort, so make sure your roommate knows that they, too, have the responsibility. Otherwise, you’re only piling more chores on your back.
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Consider that maybe YOU are the problem

No, no – bear with us for the moment. We know this is about your messy roommate. But is it, though?

Before you start pointing fingers and making accusations, make sure your standards are not a bit too high. And when we say "too high," we mean "extreme."

Keeping your common area neat and tidy is achievable. But living in a disinfected, sterile, and hospital-like environment might be a bit too much to ask. So, take a bit of time to reflect on your own habits.

This inevitably brings us to the next point.

Be ready to compromise

Living with someone is about finding common ground. Therefore, don't set the ultimatums and expect the other person to obey. It will only lead to fights and a further increase in tension. Instead, work with your roommate to find a solution that will make you both happy.

If you have your own separate quarters, this will be a lot easier. In this case, you only need to work out the way to keep common areas clean. The kitchen and bathroom should always be a priority, followed closely by a living room. This is achievable and totally within reason.

With that in mind, try to build up some sort of a routine. You don’t have to make a schedule, per se. Although it would be beneficial, it can also be a bit restrictive. Whatever you do, try to work out a deal. If you’re disinfecting the bathroom, your roommate is responsible for the kitchen. If you’re taking out the trash, they’re doing the dishes.

If your roommate is compliant and willing to make the change, it won’t take you long to find your rhythm. And once you do, you’ll both be better off.

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Extreme solutions are sometimes the only way to deal with a messy roommate

You did all the talking, voiced your concerns, and suggested solutions. But they all fell on deaf ears. After all the effort on your part, you don't see a positive resolution to the situation. In this case, it might be time to find a new apartment.

We know that nobody likes moving. It's tedious, hard, and time-consuming. But it's better than living in a pigsty. Not only will it make you miserable, but you are will also be risking your health. And that’s definitely not worth it. Even if it’s the best place you have ever lived in, or you love your roommate more than life itself.

Granted, this is an extreme solution, and you should use it only as a last resort. But when all other options fail, it might be the best one.

There’s a light at the end of every tunnel

When you have to deal with a messy roommate, it can be a hellish experience.

But it also can be a great one.

Working toward a common goal can strengthen your bond.

In time, it can even grow into a meaningful friendship, defined with mutual reliability and respect.

So, don't be afraid to take the first step. Don't shy away from an awkward conversation. In the end, it will only benefit you, no matter the outcome.