Why won't you do any washing up?!
October 16, 2013 6:54 AM   Subscribe

How do we ask our housemate to do more around the house without sounding like a douchenozzle?

I've known our housemate for about 7 years now. He's always been a bit scatterbrained; living with his mum, losing things at an alarming rate etc. We decided it would be good for both of us to get a house together for financial reasons (the rent is disgustingly cheap), and the addition of my fiancee in the house makes it even cheaper. For context, I am 26, my fiancee is 24 and the housemate is 24 also; whether that makes any difference is up to you guys!

We have a problem, though. He's ridiculously messy (me and my fiancee can't really say much because we're not the cleanest people ever, but at least we keep it to our own room and clean up after ourselves regularly):

- He leaves his washing up (ie: plates, cups etc.) for at least two weeks if not longer. We have a really small kitchen that has trouble fitting two people in at once, so obviously our worktop space is v. limited. His washing up takes up all of the available space, so we have to physically move things and do some of his washing up in order to have room to even prepare our food.

- He leaves his washing (clothes) in the washing machine for five days running, and only takes it out when prompted about three times because we need to use the washing machine. He then leaves his dry washing on the only clothes horse we own for an equal amount of time, again only moving it when asked to.

- He constantly brings round friends without even a mention to us. This often means us going downstairs to make a cuppa and finding about six random guys hanging out in the living room. It's also been the case a few times that we've gone down quite late at night and almost tripped over an unexpected sleeping man, leading him to almost get a faceful of boiling hot coffee. (They are quite good at keeping the noise down when asked, but it gets a little tiresome and sometimes it doesn't even feel like it's our own home.)

- He also has to be reminded every time it's his turn to buy things for the house (ie: toilet roll and other shared goods), and he has recently used up all of our shampoo (a Lush bar which would normally last months and months, and is now gone. After mentioning this to him, he said "oh yeah, I used it once. Sorry, I'll get myself a new one when I go shopping." and then proceeded to use it again anyway.) This is irritating for me and my fiancee as we're both unemployed and have very limited money.

We've tried to talk to him about these issues and he always seems to agree. He's a pleasant sort of guy and generally has no problems with this sort of thing, but he never actually follows up and does what we ask. Our lease is 6 months, and will be up in a few months time, but there's not really any chance we can afford to move and get our own place because the costs are too prohibitive. It's kind of starting to feel like I'm his parent and having to tell him to do chores all the time.
posted by Trexsock to Human Relations (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Move when the lease is up. This is no way to live. I would rather move into a houseshare with slightly-vetted strangers than deal with this extreme behaviour. And it is really extreme - I'm a messy person too but I keep it at least a bit in check in shared living situations.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 6:59 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Not meaning to threadsit, but before it keeps on being mentioned, unfortunately we can absolutely not afford to move anywhere else. The rent as it is, cheap, is still as much as we can afford at the moment without jobs. This on top of the price of a new bond and a month advance of rent on a new place makes it impossible.

We'd rather have a roof on our heads and live with this guy than be homeless. Hence trying to nip the problem in the bud rather than give up.
posted by Trexsock at 7:02 AM on October 16, 2013

Tell him it's not working out and that he needs to find somewhere else to live. Find somebody else to take his place in the house.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:04 AM on October 16, 2013 [14 favorites]

Start looking for a new housemate and boot this guy when the lease is up.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:05 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would not go after everything on that list because it may come across as aggressive, build up hostilty/unhapiness(when he falls through or feels he is being told what to do, etc.).

However, I would pick one or two things that seem easy and go with those for now.

The laundry thing seems easy. Next time I would just ask (once) if you can have permission to move his clothes now and moving forward if he forgets (the same way that you would do in an apartment complex). The next time, just move it. That's it. He can do the same for you, but I doubt that you will forget if he is the one leaving things there for 5 days.

The shared house items. Request X dollars ($20, $50) and mention that it will be for house supplies. Sit down and discuss/agree what those are. Keep receipts, but you two might as well buy them since you know what they are and roomie is dropping the ball.

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 7:07 AM on October 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yeah, get rid of him and find another housemate. None of this makes him a bad person, it's just that his standards of cleanliness don't mesh with yours.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

In theory, you can obtain some cheap plastic crates, put all his dirty washing up and stinky washing in there whenever necessary, and throw them in his room.

You can also maintain your own private supplies of soap / toilet paper / etc and leave him to sort his own out.

I don't give any guarantees as to the effect of this on your relationship with your housemate! But in my experience, persuading a slobby housemate to get their act together is really a non-starter.
posted by emilyw at 7:08 AM on October 16, 2013 [10 favorites]

Well, you can get a shower caddy and put your soap and shampoo and whatnot in it and take it into and out of the shower from your room. That will keep him from using your stuff up. Ask him for money for toilet paper, then just buy in bulk.

As for his dishes and laundry. Get some plastic tubs. If he leaves laundry in places, remove it into a tub. Ditto the dishes. Then put them in his room.

As for bringing folks around, ask him to limit it to once per week. Explain why.

I get that otherwise the situation is good and that the cheapness of it makes it worth working this stuff out.

I'd also let him know, so that it doesn't come off as passive aggressive.

Hey mate, you know that you're not the most aware dude in the world and frankly, while we don't expect to do brain surgery in the flat, it has to be kept up better than it is right now. So we're implementing a few things to help you remember to keep up your end of the tidying up.

1. We'll each get our own shower things and keep them in our rooms. So heads up on that.

2. We'll collect money from you for things like toilet paper and dish soap.

3. We'll remove any dishes or laundry that have been mouldering in the kitchen and put them in your room, so you can deal with them on your schedule.

4. Can we agree that you won't have all those dudes hanging around all the time. How about you pick a day when you'll host them, so that the rest of the time we can enjoy our living room too?

If he really is a cool dude, he'll be okay with this. He knows he's a forgetful flake. Right now there are no consequences for his doing his forgetful act. He can't really argue with the fact that if he does forget, the shit ends up in his bed to deal with.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:08 AM on October 16, 2013 [30 favorites]

If he has money, and you have time, you could charge him to do his share of the household stuff. I don't think there are any incentives to make him a better housemate, short of threatening to boot him now (which might not be legal in your area) if doesn't clean up and keep things clean.

Otherwise, you have to leave or he does.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:10 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ask him to purchase disposable plates, cups, etc. Alternatively, put his dirty dishes on his bed.

Ask him to limit guests to weekends.

Toss his wet laundry on his bed after the first time you ask and he doesn't move it. This will make him hate you, but it is effective. Ditto with dry laundry or drying laundry.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:15 AM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Okay, you can't afford to move. Then tell unless he shakes up, HE will have to move, and you'll find another roommate to take his place.

First give him a deadline to shape up by --- say two full months before the end of the lease. Until then, don't keep reminding him to clean up or else: have that discussion ONCE, then his behavior is on him. If he fails to change by the deadline, tell him that at the end of the lease he's moving out and you'll have his name taken off the lease. That gives you those two months to find and vet a replacement roommate, plus he'll have all that time to find himself a new place to live.
posted by easily confused at 7:15 AM on October 16, 2013

Ye gods. If it really was just messiness then I'd say suck it up, but once you add frequent unannounced visitors, using up of communal stuff, and the rest in, I'd be OUT of there.

In your circumstances though, you need to figure out your priorities. Is it more important to you to have money, good relations with your housemate, or better living standards? The way I see it you can have one, maybe two of those but perhaps not all three.
posted by greenish at 7:15 AM on October 16, 2013

Technical fix for the laundry - put his laundry in the dryer. Tell him that you're going to do so if he doesn't. Set it at low/medium. Get a cheap laundry basket. Dump his dry laundry into it.

I've been in this very situation both as the owner of the laundry (in a house with lots of people who all needed to wash work clothes on the weekend) and as the housemate. Laundry isn't worth the fuss - it takes two seconds to throw it in the drier and two seconds to throw it in the basket. I'm not normally in favor of doing other people's chores when they are lazy or disorganized, but something so trivial is not IME worth the fuss.

If he doesn't like his clothes wrinkling in the basket or the way you dry them, he'll shape up.

If you really can't afford the $3 for a cheap laundry basket, get a big cardboard box.

I second the idea of chipping in money for house stuff which is only then purchased; also the "toiletries in a basket that goes with you into your room" thing.

You'll probably have some frustrating times during the adjustment phase, since this may come down to carrying your own roll of toilet paper, but if you really, really can't move or kick him out, you don't have a lot of choice.

I would pick the things that bother you the most and focus your energy on those, concentrating on letting the rest go. Personally, I'd focus on cleanliness and let the inviting-people-over thing go for now since that seems like it gets in your way the least.
posted by Frowner at 7:26 AM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

This is no way to live so don't put up with it. I had to live with this from my roommates during my university years, but that's a little more tolerable as we were all just 18 or 19. Grown adults should know better.

Unfortunately one of the things I've learned lately is that people will not change their habits unless 1.) their money is threatened or 2.) their lifestyle is forcibly changed for them.

This guy's habits are deeply ingrained. He may be a nice fellow but he doesn't care about how you feel, it's quite clear. So, you will be wasting your breath if you bother with haranguing him, nagging him, etc. People with habits like this just don't change because someone asks them to nicely. You will not be able to gently encourage him to improve.

As I see it you have three options. First, to put up with him and be his mother/maid by cleaning up after him. Second, to threaten his money by requiring him to pay more for shared goods and services... "buddy, if you won't wash your dishes or clothes properly, then you will pay for a maid/cleaning service." This doesn't sound all that promising. Third, to forcibly change his lifestyle... "we need a change here... either you are going to break these three bad habits, or you are going to have to find a new place to live in two months." You would have to get your landlord involved with this one- maybe telling them that you are having health and safety issues with your roommate.

I strongly encourage you to go with the third option. Don't be a mother to people like this. Realize that there is a 99% chance they will not change their habits unless you force them to do so. Kick them in the arse and make them shape up, and if they don't, kick them out! It's for their own good, and in your best interest.
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:28 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Dude all of this stuff is so not a big deal really. It could be SO MUCH WORSE. Trust me. If you're unemployed and in a kinda precarious situation, I think it's much better to keep this guy with his little annoyances rather than make a huge deal out of it and do aggressive things, start fights, or go to the nuclear option of booting him out.

You don't have to make a big deal of out any of this. Really. None of it is a big deal.

About the dishes, I would just say, "Hey man, what do you think about switching to disposable plates? Just wondering what you think about that since I don't want to bug you about dirty dishes but there's just not enough space to work around them anymore."

About his laundry, I would put it in the dryer myself. This is not a huge affront to you. With a full time job, a dog to take care of, hobbies, bills to pay, etc., etc., I would do this with no worries. And I would also purchase a plastic laundry basket (estimated cost: $5), and once it was finished in the dryer I would put it in the laundry basket and put it in his room. Problem solved with less than 30 seconds of effort and $5. No big deal.

Keep the toilet paper, shared goods, and shampoo in your room. Don't bring this up or cause a fight about it. Just quietly do it.

About his friends, just ask him to send you a text when he is on his way over with friends. I also don't think this is a big deal because they're quiet and even though you describe them as "random guys" it doesn't really sound like they are? I mean it sounds like they are guys he knows not random strangers he picks off the streets. BE HAPPY ABOUT THAT. Seriously. I once lived in a room where another girl would have to walk through my room to get to her own, and she would pick up one night stands from the bars and have these men walking through my room in the middle of the night while I was sleeping. I had another roommate who was just incredibly, incredible naive and gullible and she brought over a man to our house (different house), introduced him as a good friend even though she met at a grocery store and had barely talked to him a few times, and he ended up stealing her wallet that day!

None of this stuff is a big deal IMO. I know you shouldn't HAVE TO cycle his laundry and the other stuff or whatever, but I think sometimes it just makes life easier to do that stuff.
posted by cairdeas at 8:10 AM on October 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

Having lived in a million shared situations, I think the best way to be happy in them is if you are okay with minor cleaning up after others sometimes and very very occasional major cleaning up after others. I know there are a lot of people who absolutely resent cleaning up after other adults on principle. That's fine, I'm just very simply saying I think that's not the way to be happiest in a shared living situation, regardless of what the situation is.
posted by cairdeas at 8:15 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd be miss Tidy Bowl and clean up the dishes and do his laundry for him. I'd grumble, but I'd rather do that than put up with a mess.

But I realize that other people are different and not as fussy as I am about those sorts of things.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:35 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's no way to live, but if it's your only option, you are going to be a lot more sane if you do a limited amount of picking up after him (like the aforementioned shifting his laundry, etc) than if you spend all of your time being upset about the fact that he doesn't do these things but you can't ask him to move out. It's only temporary, until you get a job and *can* ask him to move out. If you want to really make a point, don't put the laundry in the dryer; put it damp in a basket in his room. His mildew, his problem. His moldy dishes, his problem. His wrinkles, his problem. Your toiletries and stuff go back to your space when you're done with them. It's no way to survive forever, but again, this is only until you have a job.

Because there is, really, no way to fix this. Not to internet-diagnose, but just for anecdata purposes, I was very much like this when I finally got medicated for ADD. Am I perfect now? No, but I'm leaps and bounds better, because my brain just would not cooperate with such things before. Even if he doesn't have ADD, it's possible he could use a therapist or a coach to help him with these things. And yet you've got absolutely zero leverage, so--those things basically don't matter.

You can suggest things, but you're not going to have any motivator. No carrot, no stick, nothing changes. Focus on how you survive right now, not how you make him into a good housemate. Save the real effort for improving your job situation, because you clearly can't survive that way forever anyway.
posted by Sequence at 8:42 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ideally I'd agree that you should remove this guy once the lease is up and find a new housemate, but I'm not sure if you have the leverage to do so. Failing that, if you have already spoken with him about this and your options now are either to a) do his dishes/laundry for him, or to b) put it wet and dirty into tubs that go directly into his room, I would be inclined to warn him first and then start doing b). It seems like either choice is going to leave someone angry and frustrated, and if the cause of the problem is him it doesn't seem reasonable that the one stuck being upset should be you.

Yes, it's passive-aggressive but if he ignores your direct and entirely reasonable requests I'm not sure what other options you have. Hopefully once there are consequences to his leaving his shit around he'll start cleaning up after himself - but even if he decides to just live with mouldering dishes/laundry in his room, at least it's out of the common areas.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:44 AM on October 16, 2013

Everyone saying to toss the laundry in the dryer:

I think the asker is in the UK or elsewhere in Europe and might not have a dryer like we're used to, hence the reference to a clothes horse (meaning a drying rack, I assume). Hanging laundry to dry is much more labor intensive than just tossing it in another machine.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:00 AM on October 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Good catch, rope-rider, I missed that.

Honestly, I'd still do it. I've definitely done a lot of line-drying in my time, and I really don't think it takes THAT long, even when you're clothespinning stuff to a line carefully so that it hangs straight and dries evenly. I wouldn't have a problem with tossing stuff onto a clothes horse.
posted by cairdeas at 9:06 AM on October 16, 2013

If he's willing to leave his wet laundry moldering in the machine for 5 days, he can't really reasonably make an argument if you take it out and dump it wet into a box or on his bed.

The problem is that you are asking him to do things that he will never choose to do on his own, so you need to present it as an either/or situation. Either he washes his dishes or you will put them in a lidded plastic container (to keep out bugs) and put them in his room until he is ready to clean them. Either he takes his wet laundry out of the machine or you will dump it wet on his bed. Etc. And then you must actually follow through on all your "or" situations.

I agree with others above that you should remove all your products from the bathroom when you are not using them.
posted by elizardbits at 9:07 AM on October 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

Here is a way of dealing with shared cleaning that my partner came up with a while back. It's a bit of work up front, but given the disparity of income & cleanliness between you three, I think it might be perfect for you.

This is how it works.

Come up with an amount of money that, if it were added to your monthly list of expenses, would be very burdensome and unpleasant but not technically impossible to pay. A cleaning "fee," if you will. Given that your roommate is the messier one, while you are the poor one, this should be pegged more to his income than yours, but it should be within your reach. Say, for the purposes of this exercise, it is $100 a month.

Now, make a list of all the chores that need to be done in the house and approximately how often they need to be done per month (washing and folding laundry, washing dishes, buying supplies, etc.).

Next, give each task a dollar amount, based on a combination of its onerousness, time it takes to complete, and how often it must be done. So say you decided washing a sink of dishes cost $10 and it needed to be done weekly, so 4x a month, and mopping the floor needed to be done twice and cost $30. Now, you would create a spreadsheet that looks like this:

Washing full sink of dishes (-$10) ____
Washing full sink of dishes (-$10) ____
Washing full sink of dishes (-$10) ____
Washing full sink of dishes (-$10) ____
Mopping floor (-$30) _____
Mopping floor (-$30) _____

The sum total of ALL these tasks should equal $300.

Each month, everyone puts $100 in an imaginary pot.

Every time anyone does one of these tasks, they put their initials in the little spot, and this knocks an amount off their share of the house cleaning fee, and they get that money back. No chores are reserved for anyone in particular; they're all up for grabs, and no tasks are mandatory.

Okay! So, it's the end of the month. Here are a few possible scenarios:

No one cleaned anything. You all lose your $100. Donate it to your local homeless shelter as penance. Or, I guess, hire a cleaning lady. you filthy animals.

All the tasks were completed, and the three of you did an exactly equal share of the cleaning, i.e.. $100 worth of chores. You each get your money back, the house cleaning fee has been "paid," and no one owes anyone anything. Pat yourselves on the back for the utopian socialist lifestyle you have achieved.

Person A and Person B did exactly $100 worth of tasks, but no others. Person C did nothing. Person A and B are in the clear, but Person C owes his $100 and the house is kind of dirty. Worst possible outcome for everyone, except for the homeless shelter that will be the recipient of Person C's largesse. Also, C can't pay his phone bill this month.

Person C continues to sit on his butt doing nothing, but Person A and Person B decide to take on some extra chores. So, this week, Person A and Person B do $150 worth of chores, and so Person C owes his monthly $100, not to the homeless shelter, but to A and B. A and B go out to dinner, Person C stays at home and eats ramen and considers his life choices.

Ultimately the goal is to choose a dollar amount/cleaning breakdown that encourages not necessarily a perfect 1/3 split, nor an "A and B scrub their fingers to the bone while C tosses cash at them" but one in which people who clean slightly more are adequately compensated, while the slightly messier person is strongly financially motivated to clean, but can also buy himself some slack if he really doesn't have time to do dishes that week. So maybe a $75, $75, $150 split one week, $100, $90, $110 the next.

The benefits of this is that it's an impartial system and no nagging is involved, or allowed. If you're unhappy with how clean the apartment is, you can clean it, but you'll be compensated for your trouble. Of course, it's all very contingent on choosing the right dollar amount, and this can take some tinkering at first, but the goal is to use an outside force (financial penalties) to motivate cleaning, rather than social pressure, which rarely works and can be stressful for all involved.

If you have questions, feel free to ask - it's complicated to explain, but it's pretty simple at heart. Good luck!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:08 AM on October 16, 2013 [7 favorites]

It's not at all clear whether you've talked to him about these issues, and none of them sound especially disturbing.

Dishes: Say "Hey, we're making dinner and don't have any space. Please do your dishes now." Or get a big plastic container to put them all into.

Laundry: Put it wet into a laundry basket, or on top of the machine, or on the floor. This is roommate 101 stuff.

Friends: Have you told him to tell you when there will be people over? Because this also seems like standard roommate stuff. Also: you say it feels like this isn't your home: it's not. It's your home, and his.

Toiletries: Keep them in your room. If he uses something up, ask him to buy you a new one.

Shared stuff: Tell him it's his turn, or tell him you're going to the grocery store and can buy his round of toilet paper if he gives you the money (round up for the hassle).

For overall mess: Find a one-hour chunk of time that everyone is at home per week. That's the Chore Doing Power Hour. All dishes, all laundry, bathroom, sweeping, whatever. Or make a chore wheel.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:15 AM on October 16, 2013

Go down to your local PoundLand and buy a laundry basket. Tell him he's a great housemate but he's shit at sharing spaces other people use, like the kitchen and the washer. Tell him that if he doesn't wash his dishes or look after his clothes, after 24 hours you're just going to put them in the hamper and leave them by his door.

Be cheerful about it and then do it.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

My roommate - who owns the house I live in, by the way - never cleans. I came home yesterday, and she knew that I was feeling like shit, and yet, she still didn't take out the trash but instead left the trash can open and continued to pile trash on top of the full trash bag. Some of which fell on the floor.

So I got home, there was fucking trash all over the kitchen, and I had to clean it up.

She never does the dishes, she leaves crap lying around all the time, and she's not even the messiest roommate I've ever had.

None of your roommate issues sound that bad. Sorry. Talk to him about it, make a chore wheel or whatever, but accept that you might just have to do some extra cleaning. Maybe assign some super unpleasant chore he has to do once in a while to make up for it?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:40 AM on October 16, 2013

I have known a few people who have taken the one-dish-per-person approach to your dishes problem. In your case, this means there would be three cups, three plates, three spoons, etc.
posted by aniola at 10:29 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

haha I'm one for the chorus here that thinks "isn't this just.. all roommates?"

living with your significant other is way better because a)you love them and when you clean up after them it is a show of that love, and b)you can order them to do stuff they slack on without being a horrible person.

so I would really just try to get rid of him if you can afford it in the future and just keep you and your fiance.

but in the meantime..

just take his clothes out of the washing machine, put yours in, do your washing, and then throw his back in after, in whatever kind of state they're in.

this next one, regarding the dishes, is kind of weird, but has worked out really well in the past for me with roommates. get rid of all your dishes. I mean, keep the bare minimum. do you cook fancy? or can you make due with like.. a pot, a pan, 3 big plates and 3 small plates and 6 forks and 3 spoons and 3 knives? because if you can.. there's a maximum amount of dishes that can be dirty. and you'll just have to do them all the time, because he's clearly not going to. put some paper plates in the cupboard too so he can use them if all the dishes are dirty or what say you. that way, you've got like 10 minutes of dishes even if every single thing you own is dirty.

also, just as an aside, living with a couple can be a little annoying too, so he probably puts up with some dumb couple stuff you guys don't even think about.

and I'd never ask anyone to not invite their friends over whenever they want. you could institute a "no one has guests without asking permission policy" I guess, but you had your fiance move in with you guys, he should be able to have friends over as much as he wants. his house too.
posted by euphoria066 at 10:34 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


No seriously - I've lived in group / co-housing situations as long as I can remember. I've lived in houses with 10 people; I live in a space with 8 people now. These things happen. Talk about it. It doesn't seem like you've actually confronted him -- find a way to not be passive aggressive, to be direct, honest, and friendly -- since it seems like he's a respectful but flaky guy, based on what you say.


Have a day -- Sunday morning -- when you agree to all wake up, make some coffee, turn on some music, and clean the house for half an hour, non-stop. No longer than half an hour, though. You want this to be a regular occurrence, not a three-hour marathon cleaning session that only happens once. It's easier to clean with other people, and it can be fun also.

Most importantly -- it's much easier to keep things clean when things are already clean. An already messy place snowballs into more messiness at an exponential rate.


"Hey dude, can you do your dishes? I know it's easy to forget, but it's often a pain when we're cooking also. Thanks a bunch."

And if he doesn't, pile the dishes up in a bin nearly, leave them in a corner.

The same with laundry: "Hey, can you get your clothes off of the rack? We're going to use them to dry." And if he doesn't, put the clothes off into a rubber basket, and tell him, so it's not passive-aggressive: "Oh hey, we put your clothes into a bin, because we didn't know where to put them and had to dry - sorry about that."
posted by suedehead at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've lived with extraordinarily annoying housemates, including one who used to put clothes in the washing machine, leave them there until they got stinky and mouldy and then proceed to put them back in the wash because "they smelt bad".

I also lived with someone who would use 4 saucepans to make pasta and then leave them un-washed, un-soaked for DAYS.

I used to always take the rubbish out and do the recycling for the whole house and smugly went on vacation for 3 weeks thinking "Finally! Someone else will have to take the rubbish out while I'm away!! hahahahahaha!!" and then I returned home from my vacation to find that no-one had taken the rubbish out, maggots had infested the rubbish bin and apparently none of them even cared/noticed.

Believe me, I feel your pain.

I'm afraid that none of this will get better until you get a new roomate or move out just you and your SO. Until then, I suggest that DarlingBri has it - put HIS dirty stuff in HIS room and try and find a job!

Good luck - the only upside is that when you eventually find a place just for you, you'll forget all about the hell of living with other people until you see a question on AskMefi!
posted by JenThePro at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2013

Put your toiletries in a bag or caddy and keep it in your room rather than leaving them in the bathroom. I'm gonna advise that you kick off this transition by also buying one large container of the cheapest shampoo and one bar of soap to leave in the bathroom for "general" use because I can predict the future and you're the one who has to smell the guy. When that runs out, tell him that he needs to replace it, since you've been using your own stuff.

He can either go pick up the toilet paper, etc. when its his turn, or he can hand over the cash for it immediately when asked. That is all. Do not acknowledge any other replies to be a legitimately comprehensible string of words.

Take his washing out and dump it in a laundry basket when you need to use the washer, or after one day has elapsed, whichever comes first. This is what we did in the dorms and in commercial laundromats for anyone who left their stuff parked in the machine. As for the clothes horse, it's annoying, but I'd let it go and hang up your clothes elsewhere if his clothes are still wet. If they're dry, they get dumped back into the laundry basket.

Dishes are the napalm of roommate relationships. If you horde your own toiletries and dump his laundry into a basket, I think it's overkill to also restrict access to the dishes and/or dump his washing-up in his room. I'd go with a combination of nagging and offering to do them for a fee.

I'd let the friends thing go, since it sounds like he is trying to be respectful, it is his space too, and you presumably don't want him to tell you when you may or may not invite your friends over.
posted by desuetude at 1:22 PM on October 16, 2013

Oh, and nthing to cheerfully let him know what you're doing with his laundry. Tell, don't ask, and don't make it a threat/contingency, either. So, it's not "move your laundry or I'm going to move it," but "hey, your laundry was in my way so I put it in the laundry basket, it's right by the machine downstairs."

Also, no, this doesn't have to be the reality of being just what it's like to live with roommates. Well, having to negotiate tasks and chores, yes. But mooching all your toiletries and leaving laundry moldering in the machine and constantly having a kitchen full of dirty dishes -- no, that's not inevitable.
posted by desuetude at 1:33 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a really straightforward thing. He's being a jerk.

Shampoo, toilet roll, dish soap, paper towels - you keep them in your room. He's thieving your stuff and not replacing it. Stop supplying it.

Laundry - remove it from the washer and put it on whatever clean surface is available. Tell him where you put it and use the washer and clothes horse as needed.

Dishes - Do them as a goodwill effort. And do them because you don't want bugs.

Guests - This is where you take the hardline. Tell him he's being a jerk about guests. He is. He knows he is. Bring it out in the open.
posted by 26.2 at 2:30 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Be kind, but blunt. It is the only way our people understand these things. Mix this with a small but manageable amount of willingness to tidy up after him. Because even if you did kick him out, are you sure the next one wouldn't be worse?
posted by Sebmojo at 8:01 PM on October 16, 2013

Whilst there are some great ideas here, I've lived/known several people who are like this and I can tell you that it is highly likely that none of these will actually work simply because he doesn't see what he's doing as an issue. If you're lucky you may get a brief change, but in a few weeks it'll be forgotten and you'll be back the square one again.

The only thing that really did work was when they moved in with a girlfriend. I've never seen people so rapidly change.

Good luck with the suggestions but I would still recommend looking for a replacement housemate.
posted by mr_silver at 11:34 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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