As if college life isn’t hard enough, messy roommates manage to make it worse by stressing you about the way your room looks, reeks, or provides shelter to a bunch of creepy crawlies. It’s difficult, we know, and sometimes living with someone like that can make your stay at college a living hell.
Imagine going to the tub every time you take shower and finding a ball of hair stuck to the soap. Not pretty. And the last thing we need is to sound like a nagging wife when we’re just trying to enjoy and live through our years in college!
Then how do we approach this problem? Here are a few tactful ways you can address the problem without having to break the “roomie bond”.
- Address Cleanliness First Thing: It’s clever to address cleanliness and responsibilities even before you move in. Have a sit down, first thing,and discuss ground rules. This is really important because it gives everybody a chance to lay down what’s important to them. If cleanliness is of utmost importance to you, make sure you clarify how to define “cleanliness”. The more specific you are the better.
- Try not to goover the Top: Some of us are what normal people call “neat freaks”. These are people who can’t tolerate a single item out of place and have unrealistic expectations about how “responsible” someone should be while being tidy. If this is your case, acknowledge the fact that not everyone is like you. Leave room to accept or tolerate what you may consider “messy” and another may consider “fair”. Only complain if you should genuinely be worried about untidiness. If you’re unsure, ask a friend to do a room check and give an opinion.
- Figure out a System: One of the best ways to play the “fair game” with roommates is by figuring out a system for cleaning up and doing chores. Talk to your room mate about how cleaning and chore responsibilities can be fairly divided. It’s best to try to compromise with chores that “suit” your room mate. Perhaps, you could both agree to perform an in-depth clean up on weekends. Also, try to work out solutions that satisfy both of you. Dirty soap? Agree to use separate ones. Dirty clothes all over the room? Invest in two laundry baskets.
- Consider Hiring a Cleaning Service: This is a great alternative solution if you or your roommate doesn’t mind pitching in money rather than effort. Similar to getting coursework assistance from experts, you can also hire professional cleaners to sparkle up your room or apartment and do the job for you.
- Discuss it—Nicely: One obvious way to address the problem is to talk it out. Just make sure you do this in a polite manner that suggests rather than accuses. Start by highlighting a situation that made you uncomfortable instead of stating the problem. For example, “I invited a friend the other day and I was really embarrassed when he noted how this place smells funny” sounds better than, “stop leaving smelly, dirty laundry around the room”. Discuss how the mess creates issues for you and comes in conflict with important things in your life (studies, work, relationships, etc). Emphasize the fact that you don’t have problem with them, only their mess.
If all else fails, you might be forced to take drastic measures. Dorms usually have RA’s (resident advisors) for handling such conflicts. The RA has the authority to counsel you or your roommate about the troubling situation and even assign you a new room, if necessary.