Ask Evergreen: Messy Housemate

Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.

Ask Evergreen is a weekly advice column by the students of the Lumberjack.

Each week we answer anonymous questions sent in by readers about anything and everything.

Dear Evergreen,

How do you deal with a housemate who never cleans up after themselves?

Dear Considerate Cohabitant,

It’s never easy living with messy people, especially if you maintain a higher level of organization than your housemates. There are a few things you can do to re-establish a cleanly order to your shared home.

You can keep up your own cleanliness and hopefully that will transfer to your housemate as well. If they see you consistently doing your own dishes or vacuuming up a mess you may have made, they could begin to realize that they too should be proactively cleaning before things get out of control.

With your housemates start a conversation about shared spaces and shared responsibility. You and your housemate should divide up home chores accordingly. Remind them, respectfully, that they should be mindful of the messes they create.

Maybe they use the microwave more often than you. If so, they should be on top of keeping it clean if they’re the primary ones making the mess in the first place.

Don’t clean up for them. They might begin to rely on you to pick up after them if you’ve done so in the past. You’re not their housecleaner, so don’t go out of your way to fix their messes.

If they continue to forget to clean up, leave the mess there until they deal with it themselves. If they leave a dirty dish on the counter to mold for a week, definitely make sure you mention it to them.

Don’t leave notes around the house to remind them to clean up. This might trigger them into feeling like they’re back at home with their parents nagging at them to clean. As an adult they should know how to take responsibility for their own actions without having to be reminded. But if your civil approaches don’t work, alternative methods might.

It’s alright to be a little passive aggressive when it comes to making a point to others about their mess. You can comment on their mess jokingly to make it more obvious to them. Sometimes people are just used to living among their own filth and don’t see it as a problem until someone makes a stink about it.

Best of luck!



If you have any questions you’d like to send in, email us at We won’t publish any names and you don’t need to use one.

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