How can I get my roommates to clean up after themselves?
October 25, 2005 8:28 AM   Subscribe

How can I get my roommates to clean up after themselves?

I am living in a new house situation with people in the 20s, all graduate students, all female -- 2 of us have lived on our own for many years, 2 are right out of undergrad. The 2 out of undergrad are the subject of this post. We have a shared kitchen. We aren't sharing food - using the sticker method instead. We have plenty of plates and flatware but lack in pots and pans. We generally don't cook together. Two of the 4 roommates NEVER clean their dishes or pots. They also tend to leave stuff around the living room area for days on end. I wouldn't care, except when I want to cook, I have to deal with washing out pots myself and cleaning off the counters for there to be space to prepare. And occasionally if I left the plates/flatware stack up, there aren't any of those either. I've been VERY direct (while being polite at the beginning) about asking them to please wash their dishes and cookware after they are done eating. I've done this on a number of occasions. I've also tried being indirect and sending e-mails. I've said it to them to their faces, while friends are over, etc. I also called a house meeting and addressed this (there is one other roommate who is also annoyed but is being passive-aggressive about it.) They only response is that they feel that putting dishes in the dishwasher is ENERGY WASTING. (and this was their one complaint about myself and the other roommate - that we tend to use the dishwasher and the dryer more than they do.) My next idea is to tell them to suck it up and put the dishes in the washer or ELSE. But what can my else be? Thanks! PS, I'm only living here (and in this country) until June, so I don't want to have to buy more pots and pans.
posted by k8t to Human Relations (48 answers total)
Let a mouse loose in the apartment (a la Desperate Housewives") and then blame it on their mess.

That should provide sufficient motivation.
posted by mds35 at 8:36 AM on October 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

Actually mds35, I was watching DH last night over my Slingbox and was thinking about doing that. But doesn't it seem a bit extreme? (Although I'd bet it would work!)
posted by k8t at 8:37 AM on October 25, 2005

Tell them that if they don't want to run the dishwasher, they can do their dishes by hand. If they still leave their nasty stuff around, it's time to play hardball: Buy your own personal dishes and silverware, and keep them locked up in your room. Publicly announce (preferably in writing) that from here forward, any dirty dishes left in the kitchen for more than 24 hours will be thrown away. Follow through with the threat. The problem should resolve itself, at least for a while, after which just repeat the process.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:38 AM on October 25, 2005

This is a tough one. I was in a similar situation (I live with 2 girls and 4 boys) where up until recently, most of the boys left dirty dishes in the living room and rarely did the washing up.
It sounds crazy but, a mouse appeared in our house one day. As gross as this is, it was a fortunate thing, because it meant everyone stopped leaving their crap around the living room, and tried to keep the kitchen tidier. It was a method of preventing more mice, or even worse, rats.
Obviously you can't just go out and get a mouse, that would be crazy. But I'm thinking you need to maybe manufacture a situation where they suddenly think "man, I can't live like this anymore." I mean, maybe something to do with hygiene, food poisoning, health and safety issues? At least these are real and serious reasons to keep a tidy kitchen, rather than you just going crazy and shouting "I CANT LIVE IN THIS MESS I AM A TIDY PERSON!" (I'm not saying you do that - just saying it's how some people try and coax the lazy ones round.)
Meh.. I don't know, try giving them food poisoning by serving them food on a dirty plate or something. (jk)
I hope you solve this, there's nothing worse than having problems with your housemates hanging over your heads, I've been at Uni 3 years and have had my share of irritations!
posted by trampesque at 8:42 AM on October 25, 2005

Buy your own pots and use them. Anytime someone leaves something in the kitchen for more than 48 hours (24 can be understandable sometimes in my opinion) stick their dishes in their room. The mess is out of the kitchen, and they won't leave it in their room long.

Alternatively, since they're so enviro friendly, suggest that the only other alternative is to switch to paper plates.
posted by dripdripdrop at 8:43 AM on October 25, 2005

Just a tip if you do have to go down the purchase route, they sell really cheap pots at "ethnic" markets and bodegas.

I have lived in group houses with filthy people and the best resolution that I have ever found was the hiring of a maid service. No, really. The maid can come once or twice a month and they will really get you back on track. It is like a clean slate every time. It really makes the lack of cleanliness stand out in the interim, so it occurs less often.

I was firmly against it in th beginning. I just couldn't get over some image of exploitation I had. After a while and after getting to know the maids, I realized that I was giving a community that really needed the money (mostly women, mostly immigrants) meaningful employment.

In the last group house I was in, my roomates and I developed a real rapport with the maids, and it became easier and easier for them to do their jobs. They knew we didn't care if they flipped on the telenovelas, we made sure that we weren't filthy pigs...

I don't know if it is something that you and your roommates would be comfortable with, but it is not terribly hard to find an inexpensive service.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:47 AM on October 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've usually always been the bad roommate. The one thing that never failed to motivate me to clean and stay tidy was seeing mouse droppings or other evidence of visitor vermin.
posted by mds35 at 8:48 AM on October 25, 2005

Their behaviour is stopping you from living comfortably in the house you are paying rent for. You should not have to clear up other people's washing each time you want to eat. Explain this clearly. Explain that their inactivity is stopping you from eating.

If it is really that bad, keep a diary for a week. List each time you have tidied up someone else's crap. But be warned - if you're leaving pubes in the bathroom, one of the others will be right back at you with a counter-diary.
posted by handee at 8:48 AM on October 25, 2005

I think the maid service is good advice. Getting a mouse or locking up your dishes sounds extreme, and I don't think it will work.
posted by xammerboy at 8:49 AM on October 25, 2005

If you'd rather not sacrifice a pet-store mouse, get some chocolate sprinkles. They look alot like mouse turds, and if you roll them between your fingers to slighty taper the ends, they will look even more real.

Leave 3 or 4 sprinkles (but not more) on the coffee table near a dirty plate, and a few on the kitchen counter near a dirty pot. Also, leave a few near the burners on your stove. Let your roommates discover them and they will assume that they are mouse droppings.
posted by mds35 at 8:55 AM on October 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

Seconding throwing the dirty dishes and living-room crap in their rooms. It sounds like you've made reasonable requests, now I'd say it's just a matter of keeping yourself sane, and from experience I know that five minutes of stomping around gathering up out-of-place and dirty stuff and throwing it on someone's bed is *highly* therapeutic.

(And actually doesn't have to be all that passive-aggressive -- one roommate actually ended up putting a big box by her bed into which I could throw any of her stuff that I was tripping over on a daily basis, which made us both fairly happy.)

You could also clean the pans that you use often and keep them in your room (or your other roommate's room) rather than buying new stuff -- let *them* buy new stuff if they can't be bothered to treat the existing stuff well.
posted by occhiblu at 8:59 AM on October 25, 2005

I agree with those who say you should have no shared pots/pans/dishware. You can go to thrift stores or Goodwill and get your own really cheap, and then just donate them somewhere when you're ready to leave the U.S. Keep these in your own space when not in use. I also suggest buying a cheap plastic bin with a lid on it. Then announce that all dirty dishes, silverware, and pots left lying around will go into this bin, where they may remain for all eternity for all you care. This will give you back your kitchen counter space. There really is no arguing with people who seem to think that dirty dishes help the environment.
posted by JanetLand at 9:01 AM on October 25, 2005

Less drastic -- are they complaining about the "wasted energy," or the increased utility bills? Can you two offer to pay more of the utilities in order to make the request to run the dishwasher seem more "fair" to them?
posted by occhiblu at 9:02 AM on October 25, 2005

If you'd rather not sacrifice a pet-store mouse, get some chocolate sprinkles.

I would bet that if you explained your reasoning, a pet store would let you have a scoop of real rat droppings. Gross, yes, but nothing sells like the real thing. Of course, you may go down in the annals of time as a batshitinsane roommate for actually going through with this. I'd get your other clean roommate as an accomplice first!

Oh, and don't leave the poo anywhere that you couldn't wipe down and disinfect!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:04 AM on October 25, 2005

Pollomacho, that's pretty gross. I still think jimmies are the way to go.
posted by mds35 at 9:07 AM on October 25, 2005

As far as buying pots and pans, if "this country" is the US, head to Goodwill or Salvation Army and pick up some crappy ones. Move the good ones to where you and the responsible people can get to them and let the slobs use the crap stuff. Has the advantage that you can take them and toss them on their beds when they leave them there dirty. "Sorry, needed the space - this way you can deal with this when you have time."

This presumes you have right of ownership to the good stuff, of course.

Don't feel bad about any amount of conflict over this. People who leave old food and dirty dishes around are fucking disgusting and spread disease and vermin.
posted by phearlez at 9:11 AM on October 25, 2005

(And actually doesn't have to be all that passive-aggressive -- one roommate actually ended up putting a big box by her bed into which I could throw any of her stuff that I was tripping over on a daily basis, which made us both fairly happy.)

I concur completely. I had a roommate who was neater than me and my tendancy to leave tools around made her nuts, though she appreciated my tendancy to fix and improve things. The solution: The Box. "Suzanne, have you seen my plyers?" "Did you look in The Box?" My dingy-ness wasn't constantly assailed and her sense of order was appeased. Bliss.
posted by phearlez at 9:16 AM on October 25, 2005

I've been VERY direct (while being polite at the beginning) about asking them to please wash their dishes and cookware after they are done eating. I've done this on a number of occasions.

You know, my wife and I have been together for sixteen years. For sixteen years, we've had this issue.

My wife is a "put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher right away" type person. I am not. I let them stand in the sink. This causes untold woe, and yet I do not change. When she's out of town, the dishes still get clean, but I just have a different method. I batch process. Once every couple of days, I take everything that's soaking in the sink and do all the dishes at once.

Of the suggestions above, the passive-aggressive ones would not get me to change. If you put the dirty dishes in my room, I'd just think you were a jerk, but it wouldn't change my habits. (In fact, I'm not sure what would get me to change my habits.)

I think the best advice is to require separate cookware. This way your pots and pans can stay clean, and the messier roommates can clean their pots and pans on their schedule.

(On preview: okay, phearlez makes the piling stuff into the bedroom palatable. If there were a designated space ('the box') for it, then I, as a messy person, wouldn't be bothered by it. It seems like a compromise.)
posted by jdroth at 9:20 AM on October 25, 2005

This stuff is hard wired. Very difficult to change. Why don't you do their dishes as a trade-off for something they do for you? Weekends at a condo. Ski pass. Whatever. They'd likely think this was wonderful.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:23 AM on October 25, 2005

Haha, thanks for this thread. My roommates are constantly having people over and leaving unholy messes in the kitchen for days - we all profess to be "neat freaks" but they add "omigod, I'm so tired, I'll do it later". I've taken to throwing out their food, but they really don't seem to notice. Mouse turd time.
posted by casarkos at 9:33 AM on October 25, 2005

You said you don't share food, but... I cook. Friend washes up. (Food bought by both.) Everyone happy.
posted by methylsalicylate at 9:53 AM on October 25, 2005

I like the throw-it-in-their-room, "the box" solution.

(I'm assuming you can't kick them out.)
posted by desuetude at 9:53 AM on October 25, 2005

I misread that suggestion as "moose turds." That seemed a little less plausible, but I guarantee you'd get a reaction.
posted by waldo at 9:56 AM on October 25, 2005

Mouse turds worked for me - I was terrible about keeping the kitchen clean, until I got little poo's on my counters. Now I do a scrub-down most nights. I live alone so the dishes can pile up a little bit, but everything generally looks better. And I have counters again!
posted by kalimac at 9:56 AM on October 25, 2005

I'm not a tidy person. I once had a roomate do the "put the stack of trash in my room" thing. Bascially, from that point, it was ON. All-out roommate warfare. He moved out a month later.

In other words, this strategy will not get them to change their ways, and will cause grave reprocussions.
posted by falconred at 10:00 AM on October 25, 2005

You can always implement the One-Fork Rule. This is what we did in college and it worked well.

Eventually, we all grew up and learned to keep things clean on our own. :)
posted by unixrat at 10:01 AM on October 25, 2005 [2 favorites]

They only response is that they feel that putting dishes in the dishwasher is ENERGY WASTING.

You could try explaining to them that this is completely dead fucking wrong. Using the dishwasher saves water and energy, because they're highly insulated, re-use cleaning water throughout the wash cycle, and only heat one small volume of water instead of a continuous gush of it. As a bonus, they use high enough heat to get things sunstantially cleaner than you could ever get them with hot water from the tap.

But I doubt it will change anything. You're not going to change their behavior, since, as you note, you don't really have any "or else" to play. You certainly can't go around throwing away other people's belongings, no matter how much what they do with them annoys you. Going into their rooms likewise really crosses a line.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:09 AM on October 25, 2005

I second weapons-grade pandemonium's suggestion. You do the dishes, they do something for you. I'd suggest it NOT be anything involving cleanliness (i.e. they vacuum) unless you know they're good at it, because chances are they're not tidy in any significant respect if the dishes are this big of a problem.

Tickets to museums, shoulder rubs, sending them to get your groceries, or otherwise taking advantage of their funds or talents come to mind as favors they can exchange with you. As a somewhat messy person, I'd make a trade of this nature.
posted by lorrer at 10:32 AM on October 25, 2005

Please let us know the outcome!
posted by agregoli at 10:43 AM on October 25, 2005

Word of caution on the "throw it in their room" scenario:

I did this with one of my Sophomore year roommates in college. Imagine the smell two months later when they were still sitting under his bed unwashed...
posted by Captaintripps at 10:45 AM on October 25, 2005

I lived with the sloppiest, grossest roommates for two years, and while I enjoy things to be fairly clean, I’m not obsessive about it. My cleaner roommates and I tried everything: chore charts, separate dishes, passive-aggressive notes, full-out confrontations, dishes in the bedroom, throwing away dishes, fake mouse droppings – nothing worked. After each attempt, things would be better for about a week, and then moldy dishes would pile up, random clothing would be tossed over all the furniture, drinks would be spilled and left unwiped, dead animal carcasses of uncared for pets would pile up in their rooms (absolutely true!). I’m of the pessimistic camp that says you can’t do anything to change their behavior – some people simply don’t see creating huge, gross messes in common areas as a sign of immaturity or disrespect* (which it is), and become way too defensive when asked to pick up after themselves. You’re not their parents, so you don’t have the type of authority that could encourage this behavior.

I’d say get separate dishes, label them and keep them in your room. This will be annoying, but people wish chronic Dirty Dish disorders will think all dishes fair game in the kitchen. Clean up your own messes and never touch theirs. It will suck to live in a dirty house when you want a clean one, but at least you’re not contributing to the mess. Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Let your landlord know the issues early on, so when it comes to move out, he/she’ll know that any disgustingly permanent messes aren’t your fault. Move out as soon as possible. After five or so years of living with various degrees of messiness, I finally live with someone whose habits generally match my own, and it’s such a relief. Your home should be a comfort – this goes for those who are messy and those who aren’t.

*This is not to say those who are messy are disrespectful and immature, which obviously isn’t the case. The disrespect comes when the mess continually invades the other roommates’ space and disrupts their lives.
posted by Zosia Blue at 10:48 AM on October 25, 2005

I used to use the box method for items that didn't have food on them. My roommate and I never thought of it as obnoxious. Each of us had a box just inside our door. We were both sloppy sometimes.

Putting dirty dishes and pans in a bedroom... you're not discouraging vermin by doing that. You end up having to cart their filthy stuff from where it sort-of belongs to two bedrooms that are probably hideously messy. The only good part is that you get to stomp around and feel like you're causing them inconvenience. (I agree, satisfying.)Unfortunately, they're going to see it as evidence of your obsesssiveness. They still win.

But I'd consider it reasonable to get a large basin or tub and put it in the kitchen, to hold items waiting to be washed. And have your own dishes, etc., that you use and keep clean. You'll still have to handle their detritus, but it's a lot less effort.
posted by wryly at 10:48 AM on October 25, 2005

Evict the bastards. People who can't be arsed to respect shared spaces - especially shared food-preparation spaces - are simply not civilized enough to be worth living with, and I say this as a man who stuck out living in a ten bedroom share house for three years.

You will almost certainly find that people who think cleaning up after them is their Mum's job will reflect the same attitude in other areas requiring personal responsibility; there WILL be a rent and/or bills crisis. Get better roomies.

In the meantime, just confiscate anything left lying around unwashed, wash it, hide it, and deny all knowledge of its whereabouts. If caught using it, claim it just turned up in the cupboard. This will reduce the kitchen's working set of clutter to the minimum achievable.

You will be accused of being petty, vindictive, passive-aggressive and manipulative. Whenever this happens, start a screaming argument. The barbarians will eventually get sick of this and leave, making lots of noise about the anal friggin' bitch who thinks she owns the joint and complaining about a lack of respect. This is good. You want them out, until they finish being grubs and turn into grownups.

Let them go create their own space - somewhere ELSE - where nobody ever washes anything, and everybody is cool about being all relaxed and bohemian as the filth piles up to the ceiling. Just don't let them keep inflicting that on you.
posted by flabdablet at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2005

Just caught your PS -- since you don't want new pots and pans, grab the ones in your kitchen now and claim them as yours. Seriously. This might cause strife, but tell them straight out: you can't afford new cutlery, and you need clean dishes to cook. So, either they buy you new pans or keep clean the ones you have. (Also, a Goodwill-type place will have pans for super cheap. June is farther away than you think.)

(I'm definitely jaded about situations like these, so I apologize if this all sounds unnecessarily aggressive.)
posted by Zosia Blue at 10:53 AM on October 25, 2005

About that P.S.: Since you're going to be here six more months, do reconsider the "no new pans" constraint. You shouldn't have to get new pans, but really, it'll mean 180 days of much less stress.
posted by wryly at 11:35 AM on October 25, 2005

I had a roommate who could just not do the dishes (or pick up, or clean the bathroom ever). He just couldn't. I'm an inherently messy person, so if I don't do things right away it just piles and piles and it's total chaos, so I need to stay on top of things.

Our solution: For dishes: He had a very limited number of pots and pans and plates and silverware. So whenever I cleaned my stuff, I cleaned his stuff which amounted to about five minutes worth of work. He paid half for bimonthly maid service so there was no fighting over vacuming and cleaning the bathroom etc and he did nice things for me like fed my cats when I was going to be home late, paid a little extra on bills, etc. At first he said, "Do you think the maid is necessary?" And I said, "Are you going to clean the bathroom or vacume any time soon?" And he said, "Maid it is!" After a couple of months, he said it was one of the best things we ever did. And there's nothing like coming home to the smell of a clean house (we had them come on Friday so we didn't have to worry about cleaning over the weekend. Heaven!)

So I think that the suggestions about limiting the available cookware in the house is a really good idea. But in the end you have to decide whether the constant battle in your own home is worth it. That's how I came to the conclusion that I would just do his freakin' dishes already. I could either be upset a lot, or I could just do them and be happy in a clean house. (I'm not saying that can be your solution because it's not just you and one other person though.)
posted by Kimberly at 11:58 AM on October 25, 2005

People who can't be arsed to respect shared spaces - especially shared food-preparation spaces - are simply not civilized enough to be worth living with

Bullshit. I had a horrible living situation once at college that went downhill pretty fast, and one of the (emotional) reasons for it was that the girl who was OBSESSED with cleanliness... well, I don't know of any person of sound mind who would say she was more mature or civilized than anyone else: she spent her time cleaning to make up for the fact that she never EVER went to her classes or did any schoolwork at all; she also quit her (very decent) job after a week because it might make her work Friday nights... so when she demanded a certain level of input to the apartment, the reaction was generally "That's easy if you don't go to classes... or work... or ANYTHING..."

Also, if you "use the dishwasher more" does this mean that you cook more than they do? Or cook more complicated things? You admit to "letting the dishes pile up", how many of these are yours? What do they do when they want to cook? Surely if there's NOTHING CLEAN IN THE APARTMENT, they'd have to do dishes then, wouldn't they?

It's hard living with people who have different standards, this much is true. But I firmly believe that the answer should NOT be to let the person with the strictest standards rule in absolutely every situation. The same roommate kicked out a guy who'd been staying on our coach in the middle of the night once. He was suicidal after a five-year romantic relationship came to an end. Was there anything I could do about it? No, because if anyone doesn't want him there, that automatically trumps if anyone does. It's a bunch of crap, if you ask me.
posted by dagnyscott at 12:49 PM on October 25, 2005

I've shared a kitchen with 11 people (coed) during my undergrad.
We each had our own set of pots/pans, and if people left their dirty dishes in the sink or on the kitchen table, we'd throw them in a big box in a dedicated gross cabinet. Messier people than me didn't care if their pans were thrown into a pile of other people's month old grime and moldy dishes, and would just go looking there for their stuff when they needed it.
Clean people did the dishes right away to avoid them being thrown in the gross box.
Intermediately messy people like me brought their dirty dishes into their bedroom until they found time to wash them, to avoid them ever being in the disgusting box.
posted by easternblot at 1:11 PM on October 25, 2005

If I were your messy roommate (although I'm pretty good about dishes and cleaning the bathroom, I hate vacuuming and dusting), I would feel undue pressure if I was told when and where to clean. I will gladly do things, I have learned, when given a little bit of leeway. Perhaps you can make a schedule, say you will run the dishwasher on Monday and Thursday mornings, or MWF or whatever, and anything that isn't physically in the dishwasher by that time won't get washed. This way the dishwasher use is more efficient. If this doesn't work, I would make it personal-- say, for each dish of yours that I have to wash that has been in the sink longer than 3 days/2 dishwasher cycles/whatever, I am going to charge you a dollar. If they don't like it, tell them that you think that amount of time is more than reasonable to find time to wash dishes (and if you're doing the dishwasher schedule, they don't even have to wash, they just have to rinse). You can use the money to hire a maid service.
posted by sarahnade at 1:25 PM on October 25, 2005

Thanks for all of the ideas everyone. For the sake of not becoming an enabler while being passive-agressive, I may just buy 2 pots on somewhere cheap (I'm in the UK right now) and continue my active protests. (I wrote this a few hours ago at school and came home to having to clean AGAIN.) If it doesn't work, I'll try the rodent poop. i don't know if I can get chocolate sprinkles as easily in the UK, but it is nicer than real poop.

Thanks for the info about the dishwasher being okay environmentally. I will mention that to them.

(and, to answer a few questions -- the roommates are eco-friendly, but also cost-conscious and European and not used to having a dishwasher.)

Also, for the record, I am by no means super obsessive about cleaning. Rather, I just want some pots and pans to cook in. My rule about clean house is: keep your stuff in your bedroom and out of common areas and we'll be just fine. If I see stuff (non-food) accumulating for more than a day or two, I pile it outside of the owner's bedroom door instead of letting it sit in the living room or bathroom.

Again, thanks for all of the help! I'll let you know how it goes.
posted by k8t at 3:06 PM on October 25, 2005

PS, after having lived on my own and then with my SO for the past 5 years, this is quite a switch. What we do for an education!
posted by k8t at 3:12 PM on October 25, 2005

It's hard living with people who have different standards, this much is true. But I firmly believe that the answer should NOT be to let the person with the strictest standards rule in absolutely every situation. The same roommate kicked out a guy who'd been staying on our coach in the middle of the night once. He was suicidal after a five-year romantic relationship came to an end.

I had a roomate once who was also a childhood friend. I remember how his Mom used to wait on him hand and foot when we were kids and, surprise surprise, when we moved in together in our mid twenties (with a third roommate) he never ever washed dishes. Ever. I have to admit he was philosophical about it: he would always say that in these situations the least common denominator is the natural order of things. Of course his inability to do dishes was the least common denominator, so it worked out well for him.

Solution? I moved out, his girlfriend moved in. Then she waited on him hand and foot, like his mother did, for about years until finally dumping him. He's nearly 40 and I hear he still drives to his Mom's every weekend to drop off his laundry.

I miss being his roommate though, he never let any suicidal freaks live on our couch.

By the way k8t, forget about mouse droppings, get your hands on some squirming maggots, if you really want things to change.
posted by sic at 3:19 PM on October 25, 2005

I didn't grow up with anyone waiting on me, I grew up with my dad having a similarly lax view of cleanliness. And the "suicidal freak" was a good friend of mine -- I would have thought that MetaFilter, of all places, would not be a place to find the "Let the depressed people kill themselves already and stopping bugging us Good Americans!" line of argument.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:48 PM on October 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

"I will gladly do things, I have learned, when given a little bit of leeway."

Ya know, I had a messy roommate who claimed the same thing, that I was "naggin her" and she'd "do it if I left her alone." Funny how when I said nothing, it was just as messy...

For the future, I'd suggest being VERY picky about who you room with. You should have seen my Craigslist ad! I'm not a neat freak, but I had a string of roommates who left dishes for weeks, used my hairbrush and then left it under the couch, and smoked pot in the living I am super-specific about what I want in a roommate and try to live with like-minded people.
posted by radioamy at 7:06 PM on October 25, 2005

Running the dishwasher uses way less energy and water than handwashing stuff does. So not only are they lazy and gross they're idiots- I say you move.
posted by fshgrl at 8:01 PM on October 25, 2005

Sorry dagnyscott, I didn't mean to imply that you grew up with anyone waiting on you, I justed was juxtaposing the "least common denominator" argument to your "strictest standards" statement.

However, I don't know about most people, but in a roommate situation I've always felt that one roommate doesn't have the right to offer a shared couch to a friend, particularly a friend with problems, to stay on. Roommates need to recognize that they don't live alone and should respect their roommate's space as much as possible.
posted by sic at 12:19 AM on October 26, 2005

k8t, some years ago I lived in two flats where my flat mates were complete slobs. It was hellish. I am by no means obsessive about cleaning (more recent flat mates will vouch for me). I tried locking my own pans in my room. The fact remains the kitchen was still a tip when I wanted to cook. So I stopped cooking. I ate out or went somewhere else. In fact I'd stay out of the flat for a week at a time.

In the latter case, the only time they cleaned up their shit was when *they* had friends round. If I had guests coming it didn't occur to them. In the latter case, if I asked, a token hour's cleaning would occur, but no enough to get on top of the chaos, and it was always a one off.

In both cases it made me very miserable and there was no solution. And these were friends of mine I was living with. So: if moving out is even close to an option, I'd urge you to consider it. If you move in with other people, diminished collective reponsibility may still be an issue, but if there standards are closer to your own you'll have a much easier time of it.

The very best of luck. I know how horrible it can be.
posted by nthdegx at 3:59 AM on October 27, 2005

Been there, done that. It's a hassle *and* they'd just use my clean dishes. I'm not going to start hiding my clean dishes in my bedroom. We avoided some of the issue by deciding to hire cleaning people. At $60/week, divided by 4 people, it's not a bad deal. At least once a week, the kitchen will be clean :)
posted by starbreiz at 3:00 PM on October 27, 2005

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