General Question

jcs007's avatar

How can I kindly and gently tell my roommates to pick up after themselves in the living room?

Asked by jcs007 (1765points) June 16th, 2008

I could care less if a nuclear warhead exploded in their bedroom, but if that warhead spills over into the hallway, then I get peeved. I think that the common area (living room, kitchen) should be kept clean for each other. Any ideas? I’m about to go crazy…

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19 Answers

Allie's avatar

I think this is one of those things where you just have to talk about it with them. Don’t be rude about it though. Say it to them how you said it to us – about how you think common areas should be clean.

playthebanjo's avatar

not that I am one to talk (as my wife can attest to) but perhaps you should periodically throw all things in a garbage bag and put it on the patio. if they need it, they will sort through it and find it.

autumnofage's avatar

I had the same problem with people not cleaning up the kitchen. I would just go to them and ask that they would help keep it clean and clean any spills they made and not leave dishes in the sink for weeks. If they didnt then I began to put the dishes they used in their bedroom and continued to use my own dishes. Hopefully you don’t get to that point though

Knotmyday's avatar

My solution was to take all the dirty dishes, pizza boxes etc. and stack them up outside their bedroom door. When they stepped into the mess in the morning, they were very appreciative of my organizational skills, as the sticky stuff was invariably on top. Took three times, and a few gentle, persuasive conversations, but eventually they moved out.

tinyfaery's avatar

When I was in college I had the same problem. Talks are good, but they don’t always work. We instituted the crap box. If anyone’s stuff started to impede others, anyone could put it in the crap box. Then, if someone was missing something they checked the crap box.

MisterBlueSky85's avatar

Messy people won’t clean up for neat people. This is a lost cause. Good luck anyway.

robmandu's avatar

I agree with @bluesky.

It’s weird, but folks are unlikely to change in this area just b/c you ask. Even on into marriage (so watch out!).

In my experience, it’s something that they’ve got to figure out for themselves. It is very frustrating.

Conversation can go like this:

Me: Dude, you cooked up all that crap and left the dirty pots, pans, and dishes laying out. Why don’t you clean it up? It’s been three days! We’re gonna get roaches or something.

Him: Yah, well, look at your mess you left out.

Me: Huh?

Him: That! There!

Me: You mean this 8×4 inch stack of unpaid bills in their envelopes over here on the edge of the counter?

Him: Yes! (with accompanying accusatory glare and triumphant smirk)

Me: (sigh)

jlm11f's avatar

if the roommates were good friends, i would probably approach them by saying “clean up your mess bitch!” I am guessing you and your roommates are not that “tight” so ask them politely to keep it clean. do it at least 3 times, then do a serious confrontation explaining how its a pet peeve of yours and how you can’t even think in a messy apartment. the thing with roommates is (and i am sure you know this): everyone has pet peeves. if they are downright obstinate and refuse to clean up after themselves, you should feel free to mess with their pet peeves. this is a last resort of course. OR you could just put the stuff (inconveniently) on top of their bed. then they have to clean it up sometime, AND launder their bedsheets (i hope!)

jrpowell's avatar

We always had a cleaning schedule that was sort of open ended. For example you had to clean on Thursday or Friday (trying to find a time that worked for everyone was impossible). And we would rotate who cleaned what every week. One week I would have to clean the bathroom, the next week the kitchen, the next week the living room. You get the idea. And the weekly cleaning was a good thorough cleaning.

And in the kitchen everyone used their own dishes (even pots and pans). We had those colored buckets for each person. You would put your dishes in your bucket on the counter when they were dirty and clean them at your leisure. Things only went in the sink when you were actually doing your own dishes.

That actually worked out really well.

jrpowell's avatar

And I totally forgot to make my point in my response above. Nagging isn’t going to help. It might help for a week but then things will slip right back to where you are now. You need to make a few fundamental changes to your living situation.

Sometimes rules are good.

Trustinglife's avatar

It has been very helpful for me to read these responses. I have two male roommates, and they are both pretty neat, but the sink tends to get dishes piling up. There isn’t much room in the kitchen for buckets, but there is a shelf above the sink where I could put their dishes. It’d be ugly, but it might motivate them to do the dishes. And it gets them out of the sink, which would be great. (I wonder if I’d be able to stand the dishes on the shelf, though.)

I don’t really have a point I’m making; I’m more thinking out loud about what might work. And thanking y’all for your responses. It was sobering to hear that nagging won’t work.

jrpowell's avatar

I was talking about those plastic bins that are smaller than the sink. They are normally about 8 inches deep. Bucket was probably the wrong word for me to use.

stephenphl's avatar

Get one of these:

… and blend anything they leave around and replace it with the blended up mush. ;-)

edmartin101's avatar

JP has it right, I would only add to that is for you to put pamphlet on the walls stating the names of the people involved with a schedule of the daily and weekly tasks. Now, if none of the above work, what I would do is wait when they come out of their room in the morning and hand them a box with all their dirty stuff in it and just say: here, this is a gift for you and smile then go away.

that1mom's avatar

You are just going to have to put your foot down. If you pay to live there also, you do not deserve to live in filth. If it is a no go, you don’t need to be there anyway.

Seesul's avatar

For my son, this became a health issue. After trying everything listed above, (and then some), we finally had to resort to disposable plates, cups and plastic ware. It went totally against my grain, but luckily it was only temporary and a matter of survival.

AxSqrd's avatar

If you talk about things in the “we” perspective, people will not think you are criticizing them.

For example, I think we are being too careless about leaving things around in the living room…

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I definitely feel your pain on this one (though I am a bit late in responding…)

I did the “ask nicely” thing for a long while, I did, but when I got fed up, I cleaned up – all the dishes, all the floors, all the furniture – and piled everything that was my suitemate’s in front of the cove that her door is in (created by a bureau on one side of her door and a table on the other side), to the point where she couldn’t get out of her room until she moved some of it. She moved it for a day, but less than 12 hours later, it was all over the kitchen/dining room again. So I did it again the next day, and I think she got the idea. Every time she leaves something (she has a huge tendency to leave purses and jackets strewn about), I just pile it in front of her door, and it gets taken care of, for the most part. Passive aggressive, yes, but it’s worked so far. It’s been a few weeks and it’s definitely better than it was.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not going to answer this one ‘cause Gailcalled or somebody will make fun of me. : )

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