A disorganized home can wreak havoc on your mental well-being, so taking household cleanliness seriously is important. (Illustration by Yunyi Dai, Maryland Institute College of Art)

At Lindenwood University – Belleville, after your freshman year, you have the opportunity to live in a house or an apartment owned by the school. So, I chose to move into a house so I could keep my living area cleaner than the dorm life proved to be.

However, when you move into these houses/apartments, you then live with anywhere from three to nine housemates. As a result, unlike the dorms you enjoyed the previous year, instead of two random roommates you now have up to nine that need to keep one living space clean.

The Accretion

Living in a house with unorganized, unclean housemates is stressful. At first, you let things slide. But then the floors became caked in grime, the bathroom sink gets gunked up from toothpaste, hair litters the shower walls and there is an ever-growing mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.

You take the initiative to be the house mom. There is nothing wrong with taking on this role: doing the dishes, sweeping and mopping the floor and keeping the bathroom clean.

Months go by. You get angrier and angrier that you are the only one trying to keep the house clean. You attempt to ask others to help out with the house work. They tell you they will clean the dishes in the sink, but a week goes by and that mountain of used mugs never shrinks.

You become fed up with no one helping you. You are embarrassed to have anyone come over because the house looking like an episode of “Hoarders.” No matter what you say, no one will clean up after themselves.

Leave Hints

You ask yourself why you still try. But here is the thing: Eventually they are going to get the hint. Be mean if you must. Some people need the realization that you will stand up for yourself in order to make a change.

Do not forget you have the option to call your RA/RD to come in so they can see what you are living with. They will sit your housemates down and have a conversation with them, say that if they continue to live in filth, they can be removed from housing.

If you share a room with someone who leaves dirty clothes everywhere, pick them up and put them on their bed, their dresser or their desk. Irritation will set in with them that you put their dirty clothes where they do not belong, and they will get the hint. This is something small that will involve only you and your roomie.

Delegate

Make a chore list. This is a good way to keep track of what needs to be done. This also shows evidence of who is doing what chore-wise, and who is slacking on keeping your living space clean.

Set a designated day and time once every week that everyone can be there and make it a cleaning day. Everyone works together to clean the bathroom, kitchen, their own rooms and sweep or mop floors.

Waiting until four months post move-in will make it more difficult to ensure those you live with will do what is necessary to maintain a clean living area. Do not learn this the hard way. Waiting to talk to everyone about cleaning responsibilities will be detrimental. When you go months living a certain way and then try to do a 180-flip, you will cause more unnecessary stress for the whole house.

Communicate

Once everyone is moved in and settled, call a house meeting. Tell them it is important everyone is there.

During this meeting, sit down and discuss how you want to run the house. Listen to what others say. Set house rules for when it comes to having people over or having small parties. You never know who will be okay with what. This will allow you to get to know the people you will be living with.

Teach

Living with messy people is hard, but it does not have to be impossible. Most college students are still used to living at home where their parents do most of the house work. Listen when I tell you moving into college and learning how to keep a living space clean can be a difficult task for some.

This is the time to teach them the proper ways to clean a bathroom or do the dishes. It is shell-shocking how many people come into college not knowing how to do something as simple as their own laundry.

At the end of the day, having a messy roommate does not have to be the end of the world. It is manageable and something you can handle extremely easily by being upfront about what you will and will not put up with.

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