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How to Deal With Roommates Who Won't Clean

by Lucie Westminster, studioD

Your home should be your refuge, but if your roommate refuses to contribute to the household chores, it can be impossible to relax. This isn't something you can ignore, so handle the situation in a productive and respectful manner to ensure you have a clean home and a happy roommate.


First and foremost, communicate your concerns to your roommates. The Mayo Clinic suggests a specific and assertive approach. Don't say "the house is too messy," rather, explain that you can't handle the hair plugging the bathroom drain. Sometimes, solving the problem is as simple as alerting your roommates to the fact that filth bothers you. Perhaps they didn't realize there was a problem. After you express your feelings, listen to their concerns.

Cleaning Schedule

Bring your roommates together for a house meeting. Either agree upon who is in charge of keeping the bathroom, kitchen or garage clean or develop a schedule. For example, on Tuesdays, Sally cleans the house, on Wednesdays, Mike will clean, etc. Whatever you decide, write it down and post it to ensure everyone is clear about specific tasks or assignments. Also, discuss consequences for not cleaning. For example, if someone does not scrub the floors on his assigned day more than once or twice, he must contribute more to the rent that month.

Dealing with College Roomates

If you are in college, you may not have the ability to influence your roommates' cleaning habits. Talking to them about your cleaning concerns still applies. If that isn't effective, speak to the dorm's resident assistant. Write a roommate contract that addresses cleaning responsibilities. Your RA can serve as a moderator as you develop solutions to the cleaning problem.

Additional Considerations

Remember not to point fingers at one particular person. Doing so will create tension among your housemates rather than solving the problem. If you are unable to communicate with your roommates effectively, consider seeking the help of a professional mediator. If all else fails, consider moving out and getting a place alone.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

Photo Credits

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