We’ve all been there. There’s mouldy food in the fridge. The drying rack is overflowing. There are teacups left, right and centre and not a single plate in sight. Living with others your own age is one of the best parts of university life, but it can also be one of the worst. So, if you’ve reached cleaning breaking point then we’ve come up with some of our tried and tested tips. Here’s how to deal with your messy housemates at university.
Try to calm down
First things first, shouting and screaming isn’t going to get you anywhere. Especially if you actually want to consider living with your housemates in the long run. So, instead of flipping out when you find out that there are dirty dishes in the sink one again- and you’re pretty sure you know who the culprit is, just breathe. In the moment, messy housemates seem like the biggest problem. However, in the long run, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s just something that needs dealing with. When confronted by mess, rather than blitzing the kitchen in a rage, it helps to take a breather. Take a walk, get a coffee or meet up with a friend. Afterwards, you should feel calmer and more in control.
Identify the real problems
Now, you need to work out if this issue is bigger than cleanliness. Are you better as friends, rather than housemates? Or is everything else ok and it’s actually just the mess that’s bothering you? If it’s the latter then write down exactly what you need to talk to them about. Is it small everyday things that have been up? Or is your housemate fundamentally just being a bit of a slob. Work it out in your head, so that you can have an informed conversation with them about it.
Talk to them about it
Try to avoid just having a rant about the problem with your friends and family. Once you know what it is that you need to talk about, approach your housemate, or housemates for a chat. Calmly explain how you are feeling and the particulars that are bothering you. Try to approach the conversation in a light-hearted way. It can be humiliating for someone to be called out as untidy and they might have some explanation for their actions. For example, they may be going through a really tough time at the moment. Most housemates will be understanding and apologetic about their uncleanliness. If they take it badly or aren’t prepared to change, then you may want to consider if you actually want to live with them in the long run.
Remember that you aren’t perfect either
When talking to your messy housemates, try to remember that they aren’t perfect, but neither are you. A good way to stop the conversation from feeling like an attack is to ask if they have any feedback for you. Perhaps you need to chip in for household supplies more? Or you’re really loud when you come home from nights out. (Click here to find out about how to ask your housemates to be quiet at uni.) Having an open conversation about what you’re doing wrong (and right) is the best way to avoid things escalating into a full-blown argument.
Come to a compromise
It’s important to remember that different people have different standards when it comes to cleanliness. One of the reasons university is so valuable is that it teaches you to get on with all kinds of people. Have a chat as a house and try to come to a compromise with cleaning. Perhaps one person is up to their eyeballs in essays this month? Well, maybe you can cut them some slack with deep-cleaning this month, as long as they do the same for you after that.
Create a cleaning roster
A cleaning roster is a tried and tested method to ensure everyone pulls their weight. You could make a cleaning roster for each room. Simply divide the house up into rooms (don’t forget to include the hallways and stairs) and the allocated every house member a room to clean weekly, or bi-weekly. Write the things that need to be cleaned in each room. Everyone must tick off their chore when they are done so they are held accountable. You might also want to make a roster for general chores so you know whose turn it is to take the bins out, clear out the communal shelf in the fridge etc. It won’t go unnoticed for long if someone isn’t pulling their weight.
Have you tried everything and your messy housemate situation still isn’t getting any better? Consider moving accommodation or alternatively, try this method instead: