What to do when your flatmates aren't as clean as you

Posted on 17/11/2015

If you've ever found yourself annoyed at the mess your flatmates have left, fear not! You are not alone and this happens to everyone! When you move in with others it is normal to have different expectations of what level of cleanliness is acceptable, or even how often you should be cleaning. And the more you worry about how to broach the topic, the more stressful it can become. Many of us worry that by bringing up cleaning in the house, it will cause a drama with housemates and that anxiety alone can make the whole problem feel a lot bigger than it is.

Great news though - absolutely everyone goes through this, and it's simply a matter of setting expectations with your housemates as early, and clearly as you can. And of course, as objectively as you can! When there is no parent to be the boss of the house, it's not about what they are doing wrong, it's about everyone agreeing on the rules together.

If you’re waiting for your roomies to clean up and nothing is happening, start a conversation! The best way to get to the bottom of a situation is to start chatting to your roommates and seeing where the problem lies. Don't start with 'You do this' or 'You don't do that.' Instead speak really objectively and say something like 'I think we have different expectations of what chores in the house need to be done and when, so can we all sit down and talk about what we all expect in the house?'

How could your housemates refuse that?!

Next, you'll also need to make sure to listen to them. They have different expectations to you so find out what they think. You might be being a little over the top on some things, or you might find that there is a good reason they are doing something you disagree with.

Overall, you'll need to be prepared to compromise. Your housemates will see if you speak calmly and rationally that leaving their dishes in the sink for two days means you can't use it and they need to stop doing that, and you can compromise in ways that keep everyone happy. For example if you want everyone to clean more but you find one of your housemates hates cleaning the floors, you can agree that you'll clean the floors every week if they clean the toilets every week. You'll quickly learn everyone has a different chore they hate (many people HATE cleaning toilets and don't realise it's actually the fastest chore to do) so by taking on their worst chore, everyone might be more motivated.

Try to make a roster, or even just agree to take turns in cleaning, that way you both have a mutual respect for each other’s comfort in the apartment. If this works, yay! You are qualified communicators, and the next 365 days will be sweet!

There are loads of great ways you can manage your cleaning chores in the house, and every house finds different ways that everyone can agree on. For example, everyone can have responsibility for one thing, e.g. kitchen floors. That way they have total accountability and you can hit them up if they haven't done it on the schedule they agreed to. Or you might try a rotating roster where every week you have a different thing, or a chore wheel. You can even make a fun game out of it if that's your vibe!

If this doesn’t work, and you think that your roomies aren’t making an effort, you can always have a chat with us. Anonymously, of course. Your RA’s are the best people to talk to, they are Villagers too, and we can guarantee they have experienced this themselves in the past! They have some great tips for making your apartment the best that it can be, and they can chat to your roommates in a way that will make everyone happy. If you need to speak to one of us, just come to Reception after hours and look for the RA on duty. It takes two seconds, and trust me, we’ve been there before! We want everyone to be happy at the Village, so if there is anything we can do to facilitate an open conversation about cleanliness, let us know!

Sometimes you need to take a look at what YOU can do to make the situation better for everyone, and then your roomies will do the same in return.