Read Lauren's tips on how to deal nicely with a messy roommate

Hi everyone! If you’ve just now joining us, I’ve officially deemed this month Ask Me Anything August. I always get a kick out of the questions that you send to my inbox. From relationship advice to décor tips and everything in between, I feel like I get to know my readers a little bit more when I get Ask Lauren submissions. Last week I addressed the 10 questions that you should be asking before moving in with your significant other. Since then, I’ve been receiving plenty of relationship questions, including ones about how to deal with friends and roommates. That brings me to today’s question from one of my readers: How do you deal with a housemate that never does their dishes and leaves them in a sink for over a week?

I’m sure that this is a question that most of us can relate at some point in our lives—enrolled in college or not. To broaden the topic, I thought I would address how to deal with a messy roommate. Because let’s face it, the problem might continue beyond the kitchen. If you’re experiencing similar troubles, keep scrolling to see how you can politely nip the problem in the bud…

Approaching the situation.

Confrontation can seem like a scary thing. After all, it’s never fun to tell someone that you dislike his or her way of living. My best advice to you is to approach the situation as soon as it becomes a problem. Letting a dish or two sit in the sink for a day shouldn’t be the source of a major friend fallout. But if the mess continues to grow it’s completely acceptable to approach your roommate with your concern politely. Which leads me to my next bullet point…

Remember to be nice.

Before you go off on a heated tangent about dirty dishes and piles of laundry, take a deep breath. Don’t verbally attack your roommate by calling them lazy or a slob—that will only cause an unnecessary argument. Your roommate may not see that their mess is a problem and are used to a little extra clutter. Keep your tone in check and address the problem along with a reasonable solution. Ultimately, remember to treat them how you would want to be treated.

Proposing a solution.

Always be prepared to work out a solution. If you still aren’t coming to an agreement after addressing the issue, write down a list of ideas on how to deal with the mess. Propose that each roommate is to do their own dishes or that everyone should make sure that their belongings are put away before they turn in for the night. If worse comes to worst, create a chore chart and rotate tasks every week. Be clear about your boundaries but be willing to compromise. They can keep their personal space as messy as they want, but communal areas like the living room are to be kept clean. If you can, create clear house rules before you move in with one another.

Living with roommates can be a learning experience. Not everyone grows up with the same house rules, so be mindful before you get mad. If you’re in the market for a new roommate, choose wisely. Pay attention to your friends’ habits ahead of time because even BFFs don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to tidying up. I hope these tips helped you as much as they’ve helped me in previous years!

Have you had to deal with a messy roommate?

Let me know how you handled it in the comments!

XO Lauren

Photos: Jessi Burrone for