Help! My Roommate Never Does The Dishes

roommate dishes

It’s a situation many apartment dwellers face: You want to keep your apartment clean and tidy, but your roommate’s dishes go uncleaned in the kitchen sink for days. How do you address your situation with a roommate who never does the dishes? Find the best steps to take below.

We, not me

When dealing with a roommate who never does the dishes, you might be tempted to scold them and hope that your frustration will make them clean their mess. However, a roommate who never does the dishes is more likely to feel resentment than incentive after facing your harshest emotions. Instead, take a “we, not me” approach.

If you’re noticing that the dishes are piling up, then the next time you notice your roommate in one of your apartment’s common spaces, sit down and strike up a typical conversation with them. Ask them how their day was, what’s coming up for them in the near future, and all the standard small talk. Don’t even bring up cleaning or dishes until the normal portion of the conversation has passed. Then, dive in with your “we, not me” approach – now that you’ve been talking for a while, your roommate is likely way more open to discussing the dishes.

When taking this approach, start by saying something along the lines of, “Hey, let’s talk about doing some cleaning around the apartment.” Then, talk about what you can do together to make a cleaner apartment – set a cleaning schedule for the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen. Then, approach the issue of the dishes, making sure not to say that you need the dishes cleaned now – instead, say something like, “What if we set up a rule that we clean all dishes in the sink within 48 hours?” Emphasizing that these changes benefit both you and your roommate can help you appear less like an antagonist and more like someone who cares about both yourself and your roommate. 

Get ready to compromise

When you saw the question “What if we clean dishes within 48 hours?”, you may have thought, “Well, that’s way too long to have dirty dishes sitting around.” Be prepared to compromise with a roommate who never does the dishes: They’re not going to become a super tidy person overnight. Start by achieving a middle ground that’s realistic for you both, making sure that you stay positive and show as little of your trepidation as possible while working toward a solution. The more you can remain friendly and kind in your compromise, the better your results will be.

Don’t take no for an answer (or any other excuses)

Just because it’s vital to remain upbeat and positive when working out a proper dishwashing solution doesn’t mean that you should take no for an answer or kowtow to any excuses. If your roommate has consistently not cleaned their dishes, don’t settle for a standard, “Oh, I’ll clean the dishes later.” Remember not to respond in anger, but do kindly state that you’ve noticed the dishes tend to go unclean for a long time, and you’d feel more able to use your kitchen if the dishes were cleaned more quickly. You can also suggest that your roommate clean some dishes right away and others later.

If you struggle to get your roommate to do their dishes, you can try other methods for addressing cleaning-related issues. Find some options here, and no matter what you do, remember that it’s key to remain kind and calm no matter how much you think your feelings and needs aren’t being addressed – even the most justified anger can at least temporarily make things worse.

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