roommate doesnt do dishes

What to do if my Roommate doesn’t do dishes

roommate doesnt do dishesThis is a list of 52, of the best ways to get roommates to do the dishes.

My last roommate wouldn’t do the dishes, and it’s come up with other people I have had as roommates. It has also come up a lot with people I have spoken with.

Research from trawling through loads of online advice, forums, and social networking sites, has also been a great source of help for this article.

This guide is a thorough list of all the techniques I found to be the best and also things I also recommend not doing.

The list starts with gentle, easy and positive things. If your roommate doesn’t respond to them, it’s time to get more serious, and those things are in here as well.

The first thing is to agree is that roommates clean their dishes immediately after using them, after the meal, or latest at the end of the day. It can be the next morning if there’s been a party.

Agree that roommates clean their dishes after using them, after the meal, latest at the end of the day, or next morning if there’s been a party.

Bring up the serious hygiene issues that can affect both of yours health, like how dirty dishes can attract pests such as flies and mice.


1. Ask roommate to use each dish more than once

I’m not saying your roommate should leave the dishes sitting around for hours until they use them again.

It is when your roommate has 3 cups of coffee in one hour and uses three new clean cups each time. Easy for them, as they’re not washing them.

So the first step is to ask them to use the same cup each time and gently say when you notice they don’t. The same with dishes.

If they won’t do this or say they will and never do.

A good solution can be to have one cup, glass, bowl, plate, knife, fork and spoon each in the place. Then they can’t go for so long without washing up; there’s less to wash up if needed and less dishes standing around with dirt going stale and horrible.


2. Offer to help your roommate do it, to show how it’s done and set an example

Setting an example always works best. Saying something should be done, but not doing it yourself, never works as well.

You can often do your dishes in front of your roommate and invite them to join you. Then eventually as they get into the habit of doing the dishes, they should soon start doing theirs without you having to say anything.

You could even do their dishes for the first time, just to set up a friendly relationship, where you help each other.

However, if your roommate doesn’t respond correctly by helping you. Then it’s not worth the effort to do it again as they are evidently a selfish, or lazy person. They will start to expect you to do their dishes and take advantage.

Same if they regularly give you excuses like they’re too busy, have too much to do or need to watch a tv show.

If you do the dishes immediately after you use them each time. You’re also removing the excuse your roommate, who doesn’t do dishes, can make about it not being possible to do the dishes immediately.

If you do the dishes and they don’t help, then they may get more of a sense of shame. Of course, you also need to make sure, you don’t just get exploited.

For example, say:

“This time I will do it and your turn next time.”

“We need to do the dishes, would you prefer to dry wash them up? I can do the other one.”

Your roommate needs to have a sense of shame for this to work, or at least enough of one to motivate them to stop watching tv and get off their butt.

If you push your roommate to do the dishes and they don’t start to change their ways and do them. It usually doesn’t work, they don’t want to change, things get more heated, and they begin to hate you.


3. They say they’ll do the dishes later

lazy roommate doesnt do dishes


If your roommate says they’ll do it later, later never comes, and they usually don’t do it all.

Fortunately, history doesn’t lie

After a few times that your roommate has said they will do it later and haven’t; they’re proving themselves to be a liar. Mention all the times before they said that they would do them and did not.

It will probably add to up so many occasions, that you won’t be able to remember them, so write them down on your phone. If they mock you for writing them down, they don’t appreciate how much of a nuisance what they are doing is.

Let them at first say they’ll do them later and you accept their promise. Then later on, when you want to get stricter and say that you do not believe what your roommate says. You are justified in saying you have to do this because they promised to do the dishes later and never did them. You have all the evidence you need.

Then you can have a policy that roommates must do the dishes immediately after using them as ‘Later never comes.’

Negotiating the rules for doing the dishes

If they have a problem, you can negotiate to see what will work for them and you try that out.

Their suggestions are usually about you being so strict, so as a test try slackening the rules a bit. Such as they don’t have to do them immediately after they have used them, like doing the dishes a few hours later.

For example:
• If a roommate makes a meal and then watches tv, then it’s okay if they do the dishes after they have watched the film or program.
• If friends have stayed late, your roommate can do them the next morning.

Any more than that and it is procrastination.

However, when a roommate doesn’t do dishes, giving them more time to do it rarely works. If they are not going to do them now, they always wait for later. Each time they could have done them, they wait until, and ‘later never comes,’ in reality there’s only now.

Doing this proves though that you negotiated, compromised and went along with what your roommate said would work. They still did not do the dishes as they said they would though.

It proves that they do not do the dishes and do not keep their promises.

This system means you are justified in getting stricter with the rules for when roommate doesn’t do dishes and can prove that their suggestion did not work.


4. Get your roommate to use paper plates and disposable cutlery

It’s not as environmentally friendly but solves the washing up problem.

If your roommate is lazy, they may not buy them, and you have to buy the first lot. There are places with cheap paper plates and cups; it does not have to be expensive.

You can make it that you use your proper cutlery and plates, and only they use the disposable ones. This makes it even cheaper as only they use them. They may prefer to use the disposable as they never need to do the washing up, or you may need to use them as well to demonstrate they’re okay.

If they’re the kind of roommate who doesn’t do dishes, they probably won’t mind using paper plates and disposable cutlery.


5. Make it as easy as possible for them

To help your roommate clean the dishes, make sure you have done all of yours. Then there’s no excuse that yours are in the way, or that you have made it harder for them to do theirs.

They also can’t say that you don’t do it, so why should they.

It’s clear they are to blame for the mess, you have removed all the excuses they can make.

If everything is clear of your stuff, just their dirty dishes there and nothing of yours is in the way. You have not run out of washing up liquid, and the scourer sponge is in good conditions. There are no possible excuses left they can use, that aren’t lies.

Also if you have cleaned and tidied everything you have used, and your roommate’s are a dirty mess, it shows even more clearly who’s to blame.


6. Don’t agree with their excuses

If your roommate doesn’t do dishes, makes excuses for it and gets away with them. You’re training them always to do excuses.

If they say these excuses, reply that you have your view which is different. No need to start a fight by saying they are wrong. Just say that you have a different view to theirs. Your roommate has their view and you have yours.

You disagree, but both can hopefully compromise to find a solution.

If they are making excuses that are rubbish, a debate over it might be worth trying, but probably is not going to help. Most people don’t debate things to work out, learn or find out what’s right. They’re just trying to argue their corner.

Debating usually only works if there’s another person there to take your side, your roommate wants to use debating to find the right things to do, or they have a strong moral compass, so can admit when they’re wrong.

If your roommate doesn’t do dishes, because they say if things are too clean, their immune system will become too delicate as it’s not being built up from fighting diseases on dirty plates. So it will make them ill. This is probably an excuse.

They’re just too lazy to do the dishes and are looking for an excuse, even if it’s subconscious and they don’t realize it themselves.

Worse of all, they could be conning themselves, which is why they are conning you. Your roommate is conning themselves because they cannot face how lazy they are, or they want to go for the easiest and lazy option.


7. Try to build a relationship that you are friends, who care about each other

roommates who are friends

A roommate situation works best when people act like friends, or best still like a family. People help each other, there’s caring, positivity and community. Then roommates are even more likely to want to help each other.

If you do lots of positive things for the other person, they should help you too.

You may be annoyed that your roommate doesn’t do dishes, but will need to start the ball rolling, by being nice and hoping that they return the gestures.

They might be good at things you aren’t good at. So you can help each other by doing what your individual strengths are.

You do the dishes, and they do other things that they’re better at. They book cinema tickets, laundry, or do the food shopping for both of you, while you do the washing up. Maybe they have more money and pay for Netflix.

One roommate does the dishes, and the other helps them with tutoring.

If a roommate doesn’t do dishes, maybe there is something you would like them to do for you. Then you will be happy to do their dishes. You both think outside the box for things you can do for each other like you are trading services.


8. Check they’re okay

Maybe your roommate doesn’t do the dishes as they’re upset, depressed, overworked, or having a hard time.

Ask them if they’re okay, and genuinely care about if they are. Of course, if your roommate has always been like this, then you know their reply could be an excuse.

The roommate may say they have only been like this for a month when you know they have always been like this. They might be in denial themselves that they have always been like this.

The idea, that you think they’re not capable, or are not coping may embarrass your roommate into doing their dishes that they should be doing. They cannot blame you for this, as you are of course being sympathetic and just trying t help.

Most people do not like the feeling of shame of being a charity case.

If your roommate has a real problem that’s getting in the way of them functioning properly, it’s best to know so you can be sympathetic and help them find a solution.


9. The public shame that they have horribly dirty dishes as don’t clean them


Some people don’t want the public shame and humiliation of being lazy, useless, or an idiot. I don’t like this method, but sometimes it’s all that works and the dishes need to be done.

Not saying you should purposely tell the world that your roommate doesn’t do the dishes, a bit like gossiping. However, make everything transparent for the outside world to see.

For example, if you have a dishwashing schedule on the wall that clearly shows your roommate is not doing the dishes when it’s their turn. It will make them look bad.

If your dishes look clean and theirs are horrible and dirty. Don’t clean their mess for them, put the dishes to the side, but leave them out so visitors can see what they are like.

You can talk freely about your life and should be open and honest with friends. There’s no reason you should protect your roommate who doesn’t do the dishes.

If the truth is that your roommate promises to do the dishes, then does not do them. You can talk to your friends honestly; it’s part of your life. You can say the steps you have been through to try and solve the problem and how your roommate is behaving.

As long as you are not slandering your roommate or doing it for another less honest reason.

As a result, your roommate may not want the shame of people seeing and hearing about the truth of how they’re behaving. People talk, and these things get out, if you are a person that people know always tells the truth, they will believe you.

Just be careful not to take it too far!


10. Roommate dish washing schedule

roommate dishwashing schedule

If someone misses out their turn, they have to do it twice the next time.

It is essential to get the roommate dishwashing schedule agreed before you start sharing with the roommate. Each roommate will have different ways that work best for them, and it’s harder to get it decided once it’s begun operating.

The more people on the dishwashing schedule, the more critical it is. With more people, it’s hard to make everyone accountable, the schedule does this and puts even more pressure on the person that does not do the dishes when it’s their turn.

Most people will stick to the schedule. If there are ten roommates and only one doesn’t do the dishes, the nine others can easily do their work. If there are two roommates and one doesn’t do the dishes, there’s double the work for the other roommate.


Roommate dishwashing schedule designs

Make it simple and clear, so everyone can easily tell who has to do the dishes and who had not done it when they were meant to.

The above sample schedule may seem crazily simple, but it’s the one that works best. 

There are three rows

  • Name: You put roommates names, one after the other until they repeat.
  • Date: The roommate on the day, writes the day of the day before it
  • Check: They put a check in the box when they have done all the dishes for that day.

With a well-designed schedule, no one can make the excuse that they didn’t understand it.

Make the schedule, so each day shows a different person. It helps to make sure that the roommates for that day does the dishes that day and doesn’t leave them until the next. It also quickly shows up who is not doing their job.

You could make it weekly, but then it can be a week of you doing the dishes, only then for your roommate to do nothing during their week. Also, it’s easier for them to keep it up for a day, than for a week.

The reason it does not mention days of the weeks such as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so on, is that 7 days per week is an odd number, and cannot be divided into 2, 3, or 4 roommates. Unless you have 7 roommates which divides into 7.

The same for months, as the length of them varies each month.


How to solve problems with a dish washing schedule

If the roommate who is meant to be doing the dishes, continually doesn’t do them, it’s typically seen as fair to make the penalties more severe. For example, any dishes not washed within 36 hours are thrown away, or put on the bed of the person they belong to.

36 hours means there’s no excuse, Sunday lunch dishes need to be done by the end of Monday and so on.

If the dishwashing schedule falls apart with people not doing it, then agree a time that you will all do them at the same time. One person cleans the dishes, another rinse, another dries, and finally, another person puts them away.

Make it a fun social event where you all chat and talk, so people are happier to do it. However need to give people individual tasks they are responsible for, or some of your roommates might chat away happily with others but not do any cleaning.

Cooking meals together is an excellent way to make this happen. Everyone helps cook and do the dishes together. Meals become a social event, where people enjoy each other’s company and so doing the dishes is not such a big focus.

Also as the roommate who doesn’t do the dishes, can then see and is with the people who do it. To be part of the group they may have to follow the others’ example, or they look silly, and the group could even reject them.

Maybe also give rewards for people when they have done the dishes like they get a cookie, or something even better. Be open about how this is meant to be an incentive for people, so people see it as a positive open reward scheme and not shady manipulative.

Another way is, whoever does not do the cooking rota, has to be on the rota for doing the washing up.

The disadvantage can be though, if the roommate cooking, is not doing the washing up. The roommate tends to use more stuff for cooking, than they would if they were doing the dishes as well, as they do not have to do any of the washing up. This is just something that you would have to accept; there’s always a downside to everything.

Different things work better, for different people. It’s about working out what works best for everyone. By letting roommates choose what chores they will do on the schedule, they take ownership of their choices and do the chores that they least mind doing.


11. If the dishes are all done, people keep it that way

Interestingly if all the dishes have been done, then everyone else will do theirs quickly.  The place is clean, they can take pride in it, it is a pleasure to be there and people do not want to ruin it.

It is normal for everything to be clean and the person with the dirty dishes, is not the normal one.

Once one person has dirty stuff in the sink, then it becomes normal.

So it is important to make sure that everyone keeps this up, or it is quickly lost.

Also, once it has gotten to a place where there are loads of dirty dishes in the sink, no one can take pride in the place.  Almost like it has gone past a place of no return.

So keeping all the dishes clean and washing them right after using them.  Means it is easier to get things to a good standard.

It also has a big effect on getting new roommates that do the dishes.

A place where all the dishes have been done, attracts other new roommates who do the dishes.  They are happy to be there and will not choose a place where roommate doesn’t do dishes.

In the same way,  if a new roommate that does not do dishes, sees a place where everyone else does not do dishes.  They will be attracted to choosing that place, as they also  will not have to do them.

So by making sure all the dishes have been done, you will also attract new roommates that do the dishes.


12. Keep it positive

You might be angry and annoyed with your roommate as they don’t do the dishes. As you get annoyed, they pick up your angry vibes and get angry too. As you get mad at them, they get mad at you.

It can become a revenge thing; you are angry with your roommate, then they want revenge, the cycle starts and gets worse.

They don’t do the dishes, so you are nasty to them about something else.

Revenge doesn’t help and makes things worse. Try to stop this cycle whenever you can and try to make things positive.

There are always things your roommate would like you to do, that you do not want to do.

By doing them, you are keeping things positive. You are helpful, not petty and selfish. For example, maybe they like to have friends stay late to play video games, and you tolerate it for them. You do little chores for them, like collecting a parcel when you come back from work and are going past the collection point, or staying to receive it when they ‘re away.

To make it positive, do it with goodwill and care.

In return, you ask them to do a small thing for you, that they do not like, but it is for you. Such as doing the dishes.

If they do not do nice things for you in return, like doing the dishes. When there’s a good time, for example when your roommate is not angry or emotional. Sit down with them and say how much it upsets you.

If you think they will respond better if they don’t lose face, say it’s your issue and don’t put it on them, you’re asking them for their help. If that doesn’t work, then straight up say to them that not doing the dishes is wrong and their fault.

If you are doing things to help them, and they don’t do good things in return, then your roommate isn’t a nice person. You can be even more sure, that you are in the right.

If your roommate doesn’t respond to positivity, you might need to be firm and even a bit aggressive with the tone of your voice, so your roommate does the dishes, and you don’t get walked over. For it to work and not make things worse, do it from the right place and for the right reasons, and not just out of selfish petty revenge.


13. Compromise

Compromise is essential. People are different, and there will always be things you like to do, or values you have, which are different from your roommate’s.

You might like to take your shoes off when you come in, so the cleaning is easier. Also, you may have a very high level of cleanliness. Such as vacuuming and mopping the floor every day, dusting everywhere each week and so on.

This may be a different world to what your roommate likes. Subtly let them realize you are compromising, so they don’t think you also naturally do those things as well, then hopefully they will compromise with things too.

If you don’t compromise, neither will your roommate.

Doing the dishes is just one chore and part of the many lifestyle choices you may differ on with your roommate; usually, everything is connected.

What is it that you are doing, which you can change, that so that your roommate will compromise in some other way, such as doing the dishes?

It’s about working out the solution and compromise, that works best for both of you.


14. Keep it adult

A roommate who doesn’t do the dishes is being a child. They’re not taking responsibility for their actions and what they cause.

If you behave like a parent, then your roommate will act like a child. This is because you are like the parent who tells them what to do and they become like the child.

If you are too childish, then they will be like a child also. They are influenced by you being childish and think it’s okay to do that.

So best to behave like an adult, this means people are responsible for their actions. If you are an adult, your roommate will be adult too. Otherwise, they look silly.

If they’re making childish excuses for not doing the dishes and you are acting like an adult, you can show you how stupid and juvenile their excuses are.

In psychology, this is known as transnational analysis.


15. Communicate and find solutions

Your roommate may not know you’re upset about them not doing the dishes if you haven’t communicated it with them. Especially if they’re the kind of person, who doesn’t look at how their roommates feel, as they’re busy and maybe don’t care.

Your roommate may know you are upset, but not that you are very upset.

People have their problems and are involved with their issues, so they may not even notice that the dirty dishes matter to you.

You may be doing things, that they also do not like. For this, good communication between you is vital.

Ask your roommate questions, try and find solutions. When doing this process, try not to make conclusions, until you have had a good dialogue with them and have all the information.

It’s important not to get into a blame game. Then your roommate will be trying to defend themselves and not focused on finding a solution. Also don’t raise the stakes, by bringing up other things which may not be relevant to your mission of getting them to do the dishes.

Focus on your one aim, which is that your roommate doesn’t do dishes, and you are trying to get them to do so.


16. Ways to get a dish washing machine


If cost is a reason not to get a dishwashing machine. You may find that getting one is still cheaper than the cost and effort of moving apartment or room. Even if you have to pay for and get the whole thing yourself.

Dishwashing machines that sit on kitchen tops are quite cheap, although they can be noisier than the full sized ones.

If your roommate complains about the water and electricity bills increasing, it may be cheaper to pay this extra yourself for the same reason. However, a dishwashing machine can lead to more affordable electricity and water bills, than doing the dishes by hand. This is because of the cost of the hot water, that’s used for hand dishwashing and rinsing.

Just look at what works for you, not about getting the most out of your useless and stingy roommate. With those people, it doesn’t get you anywhere and can be a massive waste of time and energy.


Problems with plumbing and getting permission for a dishwasher machine

Some apartments blocks and landlords will not allow dishwashing machines, as the plumbing in the building is not good enough and laid out for them.

A small kitchen countertop washing machine may get past this. They do not need to be plumbed in the same way.

For the hot water supply, you will need to put a Y junction in the hot water supply pipe that goes to the sink. This is quite an easy job.

It’s usually the dirty water drainage from the dishwashing machine that causes buildings not to allow them. With the countertop machines, you can just put the waste pipe into the sink to drain down the plug hole. So it’s no big deal and doesn’t produce as much as a full sized machine does.

If the landlord finds you have done this without permission, you can get in trouble. So best to ask them first and promise to remove it when you leave.

Also say about how little water will come from it, because it’s a small countertop one and not a full-sized dishwasher machine. They produce very little wastewater that will easily go down the sink. It is not like a full-sized dishwashing machine.

17. Look for signs, that your roommate will be hard to change

spoilt roommate

a, They were badly brought up, or spoilt

If your roommate was not expected to do the dishes when they were a child.

Often happens where they come from a family that a maid did them.

Also as their parents served them as a maid would. Their parents also never made them do chores around the house, or even clean their room.

The worst thing about this is because your roommate’s parents did not teach them this lesson. You are left to do it.

Make it clear that you are not your roommate’s parents or their maid. This clearly shows who you are, what your relationship is, the social norms and what’s acceptable.

This is better than telling your roommate to do the dishes, as you’ll be doing the job their parents should have done. You will also be becoming like their parent.

If your roommate has never had to do the dishes, ever. They will have this as a habit, which makes it even harder for them to change and less likely that they will do so. Usually, only a big issue may make them change and the older they are, the less likely they are to.

If you fail to do it, their future boyfriend or girlfriend will have to. Otherwise, they get will dumped by them, or never really grow out from being looked after by their parents. They go around expecting other people to serve them, like their parents did, like adults that have not grown up.

Often the only thing they understand is if they pay for and organize for a maid to do their dishes. This is the only thing that worked with my last roommate.

If you’re doing the dishes and they are watching a tv program while laughing at something funny on it. Watching any show and not something special, with no sympathy, care or compassion that you’re working hard, while they’re having fun. Then they’re a selfish child, that expects others to look after them.

They may even think they’re above doing such manual labor and that is why your roommate doesn’t do dishes.

Of course, your roommate’s childhood are just influencing factors. Your roommate may have had all these childhood influences, but still choose to do the dishes, because they’re a good person who cares.


b, Young and just left home

Whatever happens, it can take time for them to learn these new skills.

On top of this, there are two kinds of people; those who want to learn how to wash the dishes and do cleanliness things, and those who don’t.

If they want to learn, then I can totally understand it takes time to gain new skills.

If they don’t want to learn, they need to learn why they need to gain these new skills. They may be in for a rude awakening.


18, On average, men clean less often than women

I didn’t want to write this. It was not there in the first draft of this list. However, the feedback that came back from the first draft said that this is true and I shouldn’t leave it out.

They had experienced it themselves, or friend of theirs had said it to them when they experienced it.

I then looked at the online forums and social networking sites which also confirmed it, and there were very few people on them saying they had experienced the opposite.

From the feedback showed that men more commonly don’t do the dishes, or leave them out longer, compared to women.

This is of course an average, each person is different!

When a roommate doesn’t do dishes, more often they’re a man and not a woman. It can also be that the man cleans less often, or not to the same level of detail.

Even if the man does clean, it’s not to as high a standard. The old idea of men not looking after themselves properly, really shows here.

I asked female friends for some perspective which has been useful. Basically on average female roommates will not tolerate if a roommate doesn’t do dishes. Men on average don’t mind as much if dirty dishes are hanging around for a while.


19, Your roommate doesn’t know how to do the dishes

Believe it or not. If your roommate’s parents or a maid always did it for them, then they may not know how to do it properly. They can come out badly, even if they’ve tried their best.

Maybe no one has told them how badly they do it and they never thought to learn properly, or they are not naturally good at it and haven’t practiced.

After doing them, there’s still bits of dirt or grease.

You may think it’s easy, but you have probably done it before, been shown how to do it, watched someone else doing it and practiced.

You can show and train your roommate how to do to dishes properly. Make sure you show them professionally and scientifically, really explaining how soap works and so on. This makes it harder for them to argue that you don’t know what you are doing.

Also, demonstrate in front of your roommate how to do the dishes, so they can copy you.

Things to watch out for are:

1. They do it poorly on purpose, to get out of doing it.

2. They do not care and pretend cannot do it. They are just lazy.

3. They do not care, and this means they don’t put proper effort into it. Not scrubbing the dishes enough, expecting the water and soap to do everything. Also not inspecting their work, so redoing anything that they should do again.

4. Failing to clean the outside of pots, bowls and so on. So there’s also dirt there, as well as on the inside of them.

5. Not rinsing the soap off the dishes, after cleaning them.

6. Not rinsing the soap off things well enough.

Sadly roommates who have a roommate like this, often have to carefully look at the dishes, cutlery and so on, before using them. To see if they’re clean or have any dirt on.


20. Leaving dishes to soak, makes them easier to clean

If your roommate doesn’t clean their dishes right after using them, the dirt dries, and they’re harder to clean. For example, cereal becomes stuck like cement.

The dishes are harder to clean, so your roommate is even less likely to do them. Being harder to do correctly, they might not put in the work to get them properly clean.

Once your roommate uses a dish, get them to put it briefly under the tap, the main dirt will quickly come off, then it doesn’t become dried and hard to clean. Not great for keeping water usage down though.

Then your roommate can do the full dishwashing and scrubbing a bit less often.

However stagnant water is not a good idea, and bacteria can grow in it. So they shouldn’t be left to soak for too long.


21. Educating your roommate on the dangers, of not doing the dishes

This can justify why you are taking your roommate not doing the dishes seriously, and hopefully scare them into seeing how they could get seriously ill from it.


Raw meat

Raw meat is dangerous, which is why your roommate needs to cook it before eating.

If there’s a dish with raw meat and that’s not cleaned, it will have this dangerous raw meat bacteria on it. If the raw meat juices spill or the meat touches another surface, it will spread these hazardous bacteria.

If someone touches the dish, the bacteria goes on their hands, and they will spread it to other places and people. These bacteria include salmonella and all kinds of pathogens that cause food poisoning, and it can get as serious as hospitalization or death.

There are other types of cross-contamination, such as if cooked meat, or other foods, touch where there has been raw meat, and your roommate hasn’t clean.


Attracting pests

Dirty dishes have food and mold on them, which attracts mice, rats, flies, and other pests, to come into your home. The pests see the dirty dishes as an excellent source of food.

These pests also spread diseases. As they’re small, even a tiny bit of dirt will be enough to attract them.


Dirty dishes left around make you ill

Food left out goes off and causes diseases.  Even a tiny bit of dirt in the prongs of a fork, could make you ill.


Dirty tricks

Some roommates who are so annoyed their roommate doesn’t do dishes, that they do dirty tricks to prove the roommate needs to do them.

They plant signs of a pest infestation in the property

One trick is to get mice poo from a pet shop and putting it on the floor.

Even getting a dead cockroach and putting it in the place.

I cannot recommend more strongly not to do this. It may be tempting, but it’s not the right road to go down. In the long term, it damages the relationship with your roommate, other people, and if you are discovered no one will trust you again.


22. Separate your clean plates, cups, and cutlery, from theirs

This is never as nice because it is more pleasurable to share a home. However, if the nice steps haven’t worked, this may be necessary.

The first step is to have your dishes which are a different design to theirs.

If cost is an issue, you can get cutlery and dishes very cheaply from a charity shop, or a discount store. Stuff you can use when you are roommates with this person and then buy nicer ones at a later date.

You will only be using them while you are sharing with your roommate, so they don’t have to be great.

You may need to keep them in a lockable box, so your roommate cannot use them when they’ve run out of their dishes; if they’re that lazy and shameless!

If the dishes were yours in the first place, say that they cannot use any of them. This is because by not cleaning them, the plates are getting damaged and will wear out more quickly. Also because they’re not doing the dishes, is not fair on you, when you are kind letting them use your stuff.

Also if your roommate doesn’t do dishes, and puts their used dirty ones in the sink, so they’re getting in the way of you doing yours. Make a space or rack for your roommate to put their dishes somewhere else near the sink.

If they are that lazy, you may even have to create an area for your roommate to put them; such as a plastic box on the kitchen counter. This means their dirty dishes affect you even less, as they’re sealed away.

Having to hide your stuff is a sign that you are getting near the end of being roommates unless you like sharing with them for another reason. The best roommate situation is where you’re all a community helping each other. Acts such as this, take away from that.

When you have to separate your possessions from others, so you are not sharing and helping each other. Then others are less likely to help you, such as by washing up the dishes.

However, if your roommate is not a person who helps others and horrible dirty dishes lying around are a deal breaker for you, it’s what you need to do.


23. Move their dirty dishes into their part of the room

This is not to tease or push your roommate around; you have a right to defend yourself. If their dirty dishes are causing nasty hygiene and living situation; you have a right to move the hazard they’ve have created into their part of the room.

It’s horrible to have these putrid dirty dishes in your life, your roommate caused them, and it needs to be their problem. Maybe that’s the only way they will sort them out, or they are such a lazy slob your roommate will live with them.

Whatever happens, they caused it, and if they don’t sort them out, the dirty dishes need to be their problem.

Dirty dishes can cause genuine pest problems such as rodents, infections, health issues and so on. Doing this will not stop a general infestation, but at least they’re not directly in your life.


24. Never be passive aggressive

Passive aggressive is where you pretend that you’re not aggressive, but you are.

You say things, or behave aggressively, but you pretend you are not because are being indirect. This is to pretend that you’re not aggressive when you are.

People might say you are aggressive, but you deny it because it’s all wrapped up in fake politeness.

You need to be firm but fair; passive aggressive is for weak cowards. It just annoys other people as well, because you are not being straight with them.

It doesn’t work because you’re not dealing with the issue properly.

Continually being passive aggressive is annoying for you and the other person, as it just goes on without resolving the problem.

If you get passive aggressive, it could also because you’ve held your annoyance in and not talked about it. It is important to vent, so you don’t explode later, or continue being passive aggressive.

Being passive aggressive once or twice when the problem starts might be a good idea, but if it doesn’t work, then you need to be more direct.

The best thing when the problem starts that your roommate doesn’t do the dishes is to be direct with them, but gentle with their feelings, make sure they don’t lose face and polite. If they don’t change their ways, you can get harsher from there.


25. Sort the problem out immediately when it starts

When you start with a roommate, they’re wondering what you will be like, what will be seen as acceptable behavior and what will not be.

They’re seeing what they can get away with!

This is the time when their expectations are set. There’s nothing they have to change, as the situation hasn’t yet started.

Many people will see if they can get away with things, like not doing the dishes. They’re doing little tests.

If you have a roommate that does all they can get away with, and they are getting away with it, it becomes their normal behavior. For your roommate, not doing the dishes becomes a habit, something you are okay with, even thinking it’s their right.

The longer this does on, the harder it is for them to change and the more they will defend no doing so.

After a while, a roommate sees not doing the dishes as their right. By this point, it is tough to change things. The habit is ingrained and strong.

It can be very tempting to wait to sort out that your roommate doesn’t do dishes. However the longer you wait, the harder it can be to sort it out.

Examples of this is a new teacher at the start of the year. Some pupils will see in the first lesson if they can get away with not behaving.

If the first time a pupil misbehaves, the teacher lets them get away with it. The pupil will think that they can misbehave and get away with it. The longer it goes on for, the harder it is for the teacher to pull things back.

It’s like a war where the enemy has established themselves on a piece of ground and doesn’t want to give it up.


26. Reasons you might delay sorting out that your roommate doesn’t do dishes

When you initially found that your roommate doesn’t do dishes, it can seem like a small thing.

It seemed easier not to take the risk and effort to sort it out. Maybe even hoping that it’ll sort itself out.

Your roommate could have gotten confrontational when you brought it up, and you didn’t want to risk them getting aggressive.

Maybe you don’t bother these things out until they’ve made you really mad.

However time and time again your roommate has not done the dishes, it’s gotten more and more annoying. They’ve done it so much, and it’s now a big thing and really frustrating.

Many people in this situation, don’t do anything until they’re very angry.

If you can get angry, but still have the self-control and not to do anything stupid, then this anger is useful energy. As long as it’s for the right reasons.

Otherwise, it is best to wait until you’ve calmed down, so you don’t do anything stupid, or that you’ll regret. Such as going over the top in a way that can get you in trouble.

The skill is not to wait until it has gone on and on and on. Look long term and act before it is gotten really annoying. Easier said than done.

Best to deal with your roommate not doing the dishes when it starts, and so it’s a small issue. It’s easier for both you and your roommate to sort out then. Also, there’s less of a risk of you losing your temper and getting really mad because you are so annoyed by it all.

27. Might be difficult in the short run, but the best thing in the long term, is to sort it out now

The following can be a way to motivate yourself to act sooner rather than later. Think about how annoying it will be if the problem that your roommate doesn’t do dishes continues.

Dealing with it early, with your roommate can lead to arguments and problems. However best for the long run to get it over and done with. Bring it up and sort it.

You may be waiting until later, but later never comes…

You may have a massive argument, maybe not talk to each other for a while and so on. However, if it’s going to bothering you that much, best to get it out of the way now.

Just make sure that neither of you does something in the argument, that there’s no way to settle or get back together after. This happens if you get to a low level of taking revenge out on each other or raising the stakes too high.

Sometimes you have to go to the edge, for if a roommate doesn’t do dishes. So they can see it is unacceptable.

It’s a risk, which is why you have first to calculate it and the possibilities of what could happen.


28. Never go for revenge, no matter how tempting

You and your roommate probably have the same amount of power.

Especially if you’re both responsible for paying the rent to the landlord, it’s also the place where you both sleep.

Having revenge happening in your home is not nice and can affect you being able to function outside the home as well. Your home is an essential place for you to rest, recuperate and feel safe.

Revenge can cause a continuous cycle, of you wanting revenge and then the other person wants revenge back. It can also escalate into something worse.

There is an old Chinese proverb ‘A person who goes out for revenge, should dig two graves’. One for you and one for the other person.

Justice is different; justice to help other people and not yourself, to make people learn, so they don’t do it again. Revenge is different; that’s for yourself.

Your aim if your roommate doesn’t do dishes, is to get them to do the dishes. What happens to them is not your concern; it’s about getting them to do this job and what’s right for you. It is not about getting revenge.

This is a hard one, and easier said than done. However, after doing revenge a lot of times and it not having good long term consequences. Eventually, people learn.

It’s tempting, but temptation does not mean that it is right.

Stay on the higher ground, so that you can win from there. It also means you can stay blameless.


29. Looking at what kind of person your roommate is, is the best way to resolve the problem with them

Logical and law-abiding

Some people are very educated and respect the rule of law. So a roommate agreement works well with them, a schedule for which days each person does the dishes and so on.

Then wait for a good time and go over these things with them. Also agree that you will have monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly meetings, to go over progress, or issues.

A person does not have to be educated to work this way; it’s just how their mind works.


Might is right

Some people think paperwork, working together and agreements are a load of rubbish. They believe in ‘might is right’ and whoever shouts loudest. They also think they are going to win.

Then a lot of these logical arguments don’t work. However, even these people have some moral code. Even the roughest bars in town, have some code of behavior.

For example, a thug might get into fights at school, but maybe they are always protective of women and their mother. With these people, you have to stand up for yourself, but also appeal to their more basic sense of what is right.

They’ll not want to do clever and complicated agreements, and may not even be able to understand them. However, they can know if you agree the end of the day everyone will do the dishes and they have not. Things like fairness and keeping your word. There is no point doing something complicated as they won’t engage with it.

Also, keep things simple so they can understand.

With this kind of person, you need to learn how to stand up for yourself, but also not provoke them. They may also be a bully, in which case you have to be tough and strong.

A dishonest roommate

A lot of dishonest people are still relatively honest within their social groups. Some gangs think is it okay to take things from other gangs, but not from their own.

The only way is to be in their gang. However, do you want to be like them?

As part of being in their gang, you’ll always get sucked into things that are not good to be involved in. If you don’t do these things, they won’t accept you.

It is a balance, be in with them as much as possible to get by, but move to a different place as quickly as you can.

Even if you are in the same gang or social group as a dishonest person, they will still steal from you to some degree. It will just be a bit less than if you are seen as part of a rival group.


A selfish jerk

You may like being their roommate because they’re fun and easy going. However, they may also be lazy and someone who doesn’t care about others. Sometimes they appear benevolent, or all charm but there’s nothing behind it.

In reality, they are happy to give a sweet smile and false promises, but not do any work for anybody.

This means they will only change if they have to. Not because your roommate cares about anyone else, or even themselves. You will have to be more forceful, or threaten to leave, and maybe they then realize they have to do the dishes.

These people rarely change. If they do, it’s for a short while, and then their old habits come back. Like they will change for a week after you have agreed on something, and then go back to their old ways.

A sign of this laziness and that they are perfectly capable; they only do the dishes when their friends are coming around to visit. It’s for their benefit, or to pretend to their friends that they are a better person than they are.

Some people are even too lazy to do that, and their friends may not care, as they are also lazy slobs.

Even if they do things differently when you are around, bare in mind, they will be a slob while you are away, such as on holiday.

So it is just a decision of if you like being their roommate, so it ‘ worth putting up with the negatives. If not, it is time to move on.



Mostly it isn’t that a roommate doesn’t do dishes because they are going out of their way to be selfish; it’s that they’re lazy.

Being too lazy to do the dishes, also leads to them make excuses.

Of course, they are often lazy, because they don’t care about others and probably don’t care about themselves either. If they did care about themselves, they would do the dishes as it is the right thing for them as well.

They know they are in the wrong but are too lazy to do do the dishes.



If a roommate does nasty things to you; it can be for power, to put you down so they feel bigger, take things from you and so on.

Getting you to do their dishes, without you wanting to, or without giving you anything in return, is wrong. This includes them using the dishes and not cleaning them, and expecting you to clean them.

If they’re nasty to you when you bring it up with them, or you ask them to do their fair share of the work, then they are a bully.

The problem is that a bully is not just someone who’s physically aggressive. They could undermine you verbally, or with other psychological things like non-verbal communication. They can be very subtle.

Like making you think, that them not doing the dishes, is because of something you are doing. That you are wrong for thinking, they should wash the dishes.

It is very easy for a victim of a bully to think that it is their fault; it can affect the victim’s self-esteem, confidence, and life as a whole. You may not believe your roommate at first, but after prolonged exposure to them which comes from them being your roommate, it can happen.

If you cannot stand up to this bully, know you are right and move out as fast as you can. Also, make sure you speak to your friends about this, so they can give you support, and show you it’s your roommate who’s in the wrong, not you.

There are loads of nice people in the world to share a place with, without wasting your time on this bully. It’s time to find someone else.

Bullies never end up in a good position in the long run. If you see them in 30 years, they usually not having a good life.


30. Play to your strengths

Each technique is not always right or wrong; the right ones for you depend on what kind of person you are.

It depends on your personality, skills and character traits.

Logical and non-confrontational

If you are a logical person that is non-confrontational, then clever thinking may work best.

Just like a chess player you can be strategic. For example, by looking at the long term aim and not worrying about an individual confrontation. Just like a chess player looks at the whole game and not just a single move.

You may do things with lateral thinking that the other person may not even be aware of.

If your roommate is confrontational and less educated, they will not want to do all the complicated legal stuff like roommate agreements. You will be talking about different things and different language.


Confrontational and tough

If you’re a tough person, then you can quickly sort it out with the other person as they will be scared of you. You can be direct and don’t care if the person calls you an idiot, vindictive, nasty and puts up a fight.

You will probably win, and if you wish, they will probably move out, because they cannot take it. Just make sure you can get another roommate quickly if you need one. Also make sure you do not act in a way that they can sue you in court for something, such as if you threaten them.

If you are this type of person, make sure you are fair, as otherwise, you will pay the price in the long run.

You want to use your powers for good, so people like and not hate you. You are protecting good people from bad people and not the other way around.

If people hate you, they may take revenge on you. If your roommate is more cowardly, they may take revenge in a way you never find out about or realize came from them.

In the end, people are helpful because they want to be and you are useful to them. You have to defend yourself, but not harm or take from others.

If you are a good person, you are acting correctly and doing it for the right reason. They will understand if you have to be more forceful with them.



Sorry, but if you are dishonest to your roommate, even about things that are not related to the dishes. They will be dishonest to you. They will not feel a moral obligation to be helpful.

You may only be being dishonest with them, about something unrelated to doing the dishes. However as they see you as unfair, they still feel no moral obligation towards you, or are taking it out with you in other ways like not doing the dishes.

Work out why they think you are being dishonest, or unhelpful with them and sort it. It may need you to have an honest heart to heart chat with your roommate about it.


31. If there are more roommates, there’s more you can do about the one roommate who doesn’t do the dishes

Harsher rules

If there are three roommates. Two clean their dishes and one doesn’t; you can generally be harsher with the rules. For example, if they don’t clean their dishes, you will put the dishes in their room, or even on their bed.

Best to do it in the nicest possible way, like putting them on a tray or in a box on their bed, so the dishes don’t spill dirty water, or dirt, on their bed. Messing up their bed will escalate things and could lead to retaliation.

Also, be careful of people’s private living space, this can be a violation that escalates things. Which is why should put them outside their private space, such as outside their room, or next to their area if you can.

There are shared places and private places. Violating someone’s personal space is very primal and upsetting for a roommate.

Strength in numbers.

Ask other roommates if they have had any issues lately, or about the issue directly.

If it’s annoying them too, discuss penalties for that roommate and the many other solutions on this list with them.

We recommend sharing this page with your roommates so that they can see you are using tried and tested methods.

Strength in numbers makes the situation easier to resolve with the roommate who doesn’t do the dishes. See if your other roommates have ideas too, they’re more likely to go with a solution if they feel it’s their idea or were part of the decision making process.


Putting unclean dishes in a box

With more roommates, you often need to have more processes, or rules; otherwise things can become a massive mess. The work from making these processes is almost the same for two roommates, as it is for ten roommates. As long as you keep things simple!

So it’s more beneficial, for the same amount of work.

This is good because processes make roommate more accountable and organized.

For example, there could be a dirty box where all dishes go that have not been cleaned for 24 hours. It has an airtight seal, so it does not cause further smell and disease to spread.

Often the dirtier people do not mind if their stuff goes in this box, they’re just the kind of people that don’t care. As long as no stigma and disrespect come from it.

Clean people do their dishes quickly, so there is no risk of their stuff going on this box.

If there is too much stuff in the box, then the people who have things in there, have to pay for a cleaning maid to come and clean them. You have to make sure you do not leave it too long though, or no maid or maid service will touch it. So the maid should be booked within a few days at most.

Otherwise, it could be seen as too unhygienic and smelly to stay in the room or apartment and has to be kept outside, or somewhere else.


It is more economical to hire a cleaning maid

If there are more people, then it’s more economic to hire a cleaning maid to do the dishes. This is because a maid, or maid service, will have a minimum amount of time that it is viable for them to come for.

With a maid, it’s often about 2 hours per visit.

With a service that comes in a car with more than one maid, they may stay for less time, but by the time you have added up the time of all the maids in the car together, it adds up to 2 hours in total. Two maids each staying for one hour is two hours in total.

With more roommates, this 2-hour time slot is shared amongst everyone and may not add up to so much. If people are behaving like children and arguing over chores, this may be the best solution.

Some people will not want to pay for this, so it can be a way of getting those people to do the dishes. Maybe only the roommates with dishes left unclean the next day, have to pay for the maid to clean them.

I have found for roommates who have historically not done the dishes and have promised in the past that they would, I can’t rely on their promise to do them. Just say that if all the dishes are done in 24 hours, then the maid service will not be ordered, as it will not be needed. Otherwise, it will be.

If they argue, say that as they have promised to do the dishes, it should never happen and so should not be a problem.


Why a maid or maid service has a 2 hour minimum time

Travel time is crucial for a maid. Longer jobs on average have the same travel time and are better because they’re getting paid for more time.

A job under 2 hours is not worth it because of the travel time, getting to and coming back from a job.

Even if the maid is local, it will still take them between 10 and 40 minutes for them to travel to you, and back home again or to their next job. Even a short bus ride, still takes time waiting for the bus and walking to you from the bus stop at the other end.

As travel time is unpaid, any less than 2 hours work, makes the time spent traveling for it uneconomic.

On top of the travel time, they are entering your premises, hanging up their coat, putting on their coat to leave, leaving and so on takes time. It may not sound like much, but as maid work is low paid, every little bit of time matters.

For example, if the job is 2 hours and they need one short bus ride to get to you. By the time they have left their home, traveled to the bus, waited for the bus, got to your home, got inside your home and so on, it has taken them 40 minutes. So with each way, that’s adding 1 hour and a half hours in total.

So instead of getting paid for a 2-hour job, they are getting the same amount of money for having used up 3.5 hours.

It’s like getting paid almost half as much.

It’s very different from most jobs at a restaurant or office, where you get there and work for 8 hours, and then come back. There’s no travel time between small jobs to reduce the money.

Some maid services also take this issue especially seriously, as they pay the maids for their travel time in between jobs.

I, and people I have spoken to have found maids who will do less time, but then when they find another job which is more hours per visit, they dump the shorter job.

Otherwise, they have accepted the job, because they do not have any better jobs. Normally because they are not very good and so no one else wants them.

I know one person who hired maids to clean their home and gave them just over 1 hour of work. It was a tiny place with not much to do.

Most of the maids they had stayed for only six months, they were in denial about why this was the case and just thought it was bad luck. Most maids don’t want to admit the truth about why they leave; it’s like the ‘it’s me, not you’ when breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Especially if the client will get angry when told the truth.

Of course, this is just averages, and you may well find a maid that will do less time and is good. The problem then is replacing them if they leave.


32. If your roommate is a guy, show how it will stop him from getting a girlfriend

If the roommate who will not do the dishes is a guy, it will put off girls from having him as their boyfriend.

Girls don’t want their man to be a lazy, dirty, unhygienic, slob. They also don’t want to be in a place where there are old, left out, dirty dishes.

If you say this, once he sees he’s less likely to get a good girlfriend, it’s a powerful motivation.

If your male roommate does not believe it, get other girls to back you up on this, as it is true.


33. The more roommates you have, the higher the chance one roommate doesn’t do dishes

In my experience, about 1 in 5 roommates are terrible at getting around to doing the dishes or doesn’t clean them properly.

So if you have one roommate, you may or may not have this person.

If you have five roommates, it’s very likely that one roommate doesn’t do the dishes.

In probability theory, normal distribution states that 20% will be great, 50% average and 20% terrible. Normal distribution is often called the bell curve and can be put on all kinds of differentiation, even how people tend to compare with each other in hr appraisals.

Once you have five people, expect there to be a person that cares a lot and is excellent and a person who’s rubbish.

That’s unless you have done a fantastic job at choosing roommates. So there are only people there who are great at doing the washing up.

If you can get more roommates, there are fewer people to do the job of the person who can’t be bothered to do the dishes.


34. Put what you agree in writing

After you have chatted with your roommate who doesn’t do dishes, and you have agreed what you will each do. Make sure you put it in writing.

When you send the notes from the meetings, also include in there asking for them check them within 24 hours, and say if they think they’re inaccurate.

This means that later on, your roommate who doesn’t do the dishes cannot say that they never agreed to something, as the notes are wrong. Later on, if your roommate doesn’t do something they promised they would do, they can’t say they never agreed to do it.

By there being notes, people cannot say later that they didn’t agree, NO MATTER HOW CONVINCINGLY THEY ARGUE THEIR POINT. Also, it’s more evident to others when they don’t do what they agreed, that they are dishonest, selfish and lazy, which puts even more social pressure on them.

When you have four roommates or more, things need to be more organized. Always notarize the meetings, or at least write down at the end what was agreed. Then send these notes to everyone.

If making official notes looks over the top, casually send a short message your roommates confirming what was agreed. Make it look casual, so they don’t think it’s over the top.


35. Nicknames, for the roommate who doesn’t do the dishes

If there are lots of people, you could all call the roommate who doesn’t do dishes a nickname that refers to how unhygienic they are, like ‘dirty’, ‘ selfish’.

Introduce this person to visitors using this nickname. Make it clear you will stop using this name when they no longer deserve it.

Social pressure is a powerful thing.

Again, need to be careful it does not get out of control. Ganging up on someone or bullying is not nice, so it needs to be justified and not done for your amusement. It’s purely done to get them to do the dishes.

Also if the roommate that does not do the dishes has excellent social skills, they could make everyone turn on you!


36. Penalties for not doing the dishes

If someone doesn’t do the dishes when it’s their turn, they have to pay a penalty.

This needs a majority to agree with all your roommates, especially as the roommate that doesn’t do the dishes may be the one to object.

If it’s just you and your roommate sharing, maybe you can say you don’t believe they will do the dishes and use the penalty to get them to prove the argument that they will. You are even turning it into a fun game, like with a swear box where people have to put money in a tin if they swear.

To help get an agreement, your roommates need to see it as fair. For example, being an amount of money in line with how much money people have and what their hourly wage is from any other work they may have.

The one who doesn’t do the dishes is paying a fair wage to people who will end up doing it for them, as otherwise, the dishes are too stinky and horrible.

This can then be charged to the roommate who has not done their turn on the dish cleaning schedule.

You can also say that if you do get pests, then because your roommate would have caused it from not doing the dishes. They have to pay for the pest control people to sort it out, and this can be put in a roommate agreement, so it’s a legal requirement.

It’s possible to get these things agreed with there are just two roommates, as long as it is fair. For example, the roommate who doesn’t do the dishes pays the exact cost of cleaning the dishes with a cleaning maid. So the person can do it themselves, pay a maid or their roommate to do them.

It could be that you will do it for them, but charge the same rate as you get paid at work.

Other ways to get the penalty accepted by other roommates:

• Make it a fun jokey penalty, that people can talk about with their friends.
• Make it a penalty that benefits all the roommates, such as having to buy a pizza that everyone shares.


37. Arguments you can use to debate things

You may get flies flying around, especially if you live in a hot area or it’s summer. Flies love all the bits of food on dirty dishes, especially when it starts to go off.

Also, look for tiny bits of poo and other things around the place.

Pests are a good excuse and a very valid reason for you to get serious with your roommate.

Say that each time you want to eat, you are having to do their washing up, or move things out the way. You also cannot enjoy eating, because of their mess.

If you get sick, are they going to pay your health bills, catch up on your study for you, do your job for you and so on?

Don’t just say it with logic. Make sure your roommate can see how you feel. Feelings and emotions are moving and persuasive, just like how you are moved by characters when watching a good film, or a good speech.

Some roommates will respond to logic and others more to feelings. In any case, each time you need to speak from the heart, with confidence and passion for getting your point across. Just like how good salespeople and politicians do.

Never lie with your reasoning though. Once your roommate catches you lying, it will undermine everything you do with them, and they can use it against you. Having a roommate is a long term thing; you never want your roommate to be able to destroy your reputation.


Other things to look out for

The roommate who complains that they’re always doing the dishes, but most of the dirty ones are theirs.  Especially if they’re always getting new cups, plates, and knives our every 15 minutes, when they should use the dishes, cups, cutlery and so on they have just been using.


38. Your cleaning standards are exceptionally high

Sadly a lot of people have average hygiene and tidiness.

If you are the kind of person that dusts things almost every day, has to have everything so tidy that everything lines up perfectly and so on.

Then you are probably the same about your dishes. Such as all dishes being washed, dried and put in the cupboards, every time immediately after you use them.

The problem is that a good way to get a less hygienic person to do things is by saying what they’re doing isn’t normal. Other people are cleaner and more hygienic than they are.

However if what they’re doing is considered normal, as most people are only average with how quickly they do the dishes after using them. Such as they do their dishes only twice per day and not immediately, your roommate can say that your cleaning requirements are not normal. Then it’s harder to make your roommate conform to your ideals.

The only real solution is to have roommates that are the same as you. If your roommate is average in their cleanliness, it’s hard to expect them to be more than just average. Unless you can ask them to do it to be nice to you and you do something extra that they will appreciate for them in return.

Do something they want that goes over and above normal levels. So they will do the same for you with the dishes, which is what you want.

Also, try to build up a great relationship with them that’s full of goodwill. So they want to be better than average for you.

You may think that your speed and cleanliness with doing the dishes is normal. However, you may only find out that your standards are much better than average when you are comparing it to others. Such as when you have a roommate.


39. Different washing techniques in different countries

It’s easy to think when your roommate does something, that it’s particular to them. However, if they come from a different area, or culture to you; it could be cultural.

If your roommate comes from abroad, they may have different washing habits, for example, Americans tend to rinse their dishes under a running tap.

People in Australia tend to rinse their dishes by putting them in a sink of clean water that doesn’t have any soap in. They have severe water shortages and rinsing dishes under running water is socially unacceptable.

Many people have found British people don’t rinse dishes in water after washing them, so the soap is still on them. People from countries with descendants from Britain such as New Zealand can do the same.

Of course, this is with some British people and not all of them.

British people also refer to soap, using the words dishwashing liquid/detergent.

What you may think is just your roommate not doing something when washing up, could also be cultural. You can probably resolve the problem by having a friendly chat with your roommate using this understanding.


40. Listen to why roommate doesn’t do dishes

When you speak with your roommate about them not doing the dishes, they will probably say why they don’t do them.

Often people do not listen to another person’s reasons, as they don’t say things they want to hear. Their answer is not something they want to do, want to hear, is not how they view the world or something they can do anything about.

However, what your roommate says, will tell you if it’s something you can solve.

An impartial mediator can help in this situation because they can hear the painful truths that you may not want to face up to.

If you cannot find a proper mediator, a friend may be of use to hear these painful truths and tell you what they are. As your friend is not directly affected by the situation.


41. Having the talk

Okay, we’re getting serious now. You’ve tried all the subtle things or quick sentences. It’s getting close to the end game and time to sit down for the serious talk.

Check that a serious formal talk is the right thing to do

Be sure you can’t do it casually. Having the proper formal talk is always a bit more uncomfortable for everybody.

See if you can throw comments in here and there. Basically in a way that they don’t lose face and feel embarrassed because you are throwing them in as general side comments. Things not directed at them.

You can still say how serious it is, just not in a way that embarrasses them.

If that doesn’t work, then you need to have a proper formal talk! You are justified in doing so because you have tried the gentler methods.

Just make sure you aren’t going over the top because you are mad about it and haven’t tried the gentler ways first. Going in over the top at first can make things worse.

See if you can first resolve it without involving others. Your roommate may not like it if they feel the’are being gossiped about and slandered. They are made to look stupid in front of others.

However if they will not help you by doing the dishes, then you are justified to get others involved.

Getting advice from others may be good. However, be careful about gossiping about them. It’s okay to get help from others, and you should always do so. Doing things by yourself means you don’t have the advantage of third-party advice, opinions, knowledge, and viewpoints of others.

You can say the truth, but it is not fine to slander and gossip about others.

You need to make you’re not saying the things about your roommate for your enjoyment. You’re talking with others about it because you genuinely need to solve the problem.


Preparing for the talk

Before the talk, prepare what you would like to say. Think about what your roommate might reply and prepare for as much as possible.

Prepare your answers for as many of their excuses as possible.

Remove all the excuses your roommate who doesn’t do dishes can make. Such as having done your dishes, so they cannot say that yours are in the way.

Start it in a way that they can tell it’s a serious issue. Behave in an adult and solemn way. Make sure there are no distractions around, like ensuring the television is turned off.


How to do the talk

Speak in a straightforward way, so your roommate is more likely to be straight forward as well. If your roommate uses any childish excuses or silly things, they look silly, and it is easy to see how in comparison to you, they’re childish.

Make it comfortable, so your roommate can absorb the information and not be distracted.

Be honest, candid and frank. However be careful not to humiliate your roommate, or make them want revenge.

Either they care about your feelings, or they do not.

Always be polite, never give them the excuse that you were rude.

Put things simply, never give them the excuse that you made it too complicated.

Keep it friendly, you can say the rudest thing, but if you say it in a nice way it doesn’t seem rude.

Use jokes and make it funny; this is also a good way of saying unpalatable truths. Laugh about the issues.

Use examples from other situations, that they can understand and see are true.

Think about what’s essential to your roommate who doesn’t do the dishes. For example, maybe it’s important to them that they can play video games. Imagine if you did things so that they couldn’t play video games. Being in a clean environment is essential to you.

Make the issue about the thing they’re doing, not about them personally. Their action and not the person. If you say, it’s them not doing the dishes that’s the problem; then they may not get so upset. If you say, the problem is them, then that it’s personal and they may get more upset. However, if that doesn’t work, you may have to get more personal.

You are trying to work together to find a solution, not blame the other person. Blame can make people defend themselves, fight to protect themselves and not look for solutions that are best for everyone.

Of course, if they will not be constructive, you have to make accusations as long as they are true, but this will probably make the relationship go downhill.

Be in a good mood. If you are frustrated and stressed, you will be annoying to be around. Also, your roommate will become stressed and frustrated as well. If you are happy, then they will become the same.

If your roommate is confrontational, you may need to be angry and firm, so you have the emotion to be assertive and defend yourself, but never provoke them. Everyone has the right to defend themselves, but not to attack others.

Have logical reasons that they can understand. Your roommate may not care about things looking pretty, but can understand if it is a health risk, or could cause a mice infestation.

Make sure the person who wins the argument is the person with the right answers — not the person who shouts the loudest. You are looking to find solutions, not a ‘might is right’ argument, although in the end, it may come down to that.

Make sure you give the meeting enough time, maybe 20-30 minutes. Make it an enjoyable experience, so they’re happy to do it again.

Also, make sure to listen, so you hear their issues and thoughts. They may like to talk a lot, and this is a good way for engagement to happen. You may not need to talk much, to get the job done.

By letting them talk, you can see where they contradict themselves if they are lying or what they say does not make sense.

Finally, make sure your roommate can tell you’re not going to give up on this one. You are not going to go away and decide it doesn’t matter. You will win through being persistent. If they’re not going to do the dishes, the problem will be the same and not go away.


Things not to do in the talk

Don’t try and change them and their world views.

If your roommate wants to change, then you may be onto something. However, usually people don’t, and they will hate you for trying to do this. It just makes you even more different to them and annoying.

You are negotiating a compromise here. You are both different and are trying to find a solution.

Remember you are asking your roommate to do something that they hate doing. As a result, they will hate you for that each time they’re doing it.


42. If they start blaming you, don’t get aggressive back

Just stand your ground; it’s their choice and their problem. Your roommate has their opinion, and you have yours. If you are not going to change their mind, agree to disagree.

Escalating a fight when you are in the same living space, can lead to big problems, especially if you don’t have a tactical advantage.

Just make sure you do not get sucked into their fantasy world bubble, that not doing the dishes is okay.

If they don’t want to change, they will not change. You can say to your roommate that you disagree with them, but you will get pressure from them back, whether it is passive-aggressive, or straight aggressive.

If they start saying you’re wrong and they’re right, then on this aspect you are not compatible as roommates. It might be time to move.

Especially, there aren’t other things that make you compatible. Like you enjoy hanging out with each other, that makes up for your incompatibly that your roommate doesn’t do dishes.

The only reason to get aggressive is if it will make them see how wrong it can go with a massive argument. Especially if they know, that neither of you is going to be moving out.

My last roommate and I had to have an explosive argument every few years to see how there were certain red lines we shouldn’t cross, and then we made up for it afterward.

Then, when things have calmed down, and the anger has gone away. One of you will need a apologize, even if it is you who has to be the better person for doing it.


43. The 1, 2 and then 3, warnings method

Imagine you did a small thing wrong at work and they instantly fired you. They had given you no chance to sort it out, or even make up for your mistake. You also had no idea that the company takes that thing so seriously and would fire you.

In the same way, if you’re going to do something because roommate doesn’t do the dishes. Give your roommate a warning and say what you will do.

For example:

1st Warning: If your roommate has said once that they were going do to wash the dishes, and they don’t. Bring it up with them how it’s not fair.

2nd Warning: The second time your roommate should have done the dishes, and they didn’t. Say to them that if they don’t do the dishes next time, you will put the dishes in front of their room, because it’s a hygiene hazard and means you cannot do yours.

3rd Warning: They did not do the dishes for the first and second time, you warned them what you would do, and now you do it.

This 3 step idea comes from the book Winning, by Jack Welch with Suzy Welch and many organizations use it for their hr policies.

It means when you put your roommate’s dirty dishes in front of their door, or by their bed, it’s not a surprise. Put them there in a box, or on a tray, so the dirty dishes don’t cause a further mess by dirty liquid leaking out onto the floor. Do it nicely, so your roommate doesn’t mind. It’s not so bad for them as you have boxed them so nicely.

It’s essential that you do it and don’t give them another chance, because otherwise you lose your authority and credibility. You have given the game away, and you are now a walkover.

Especially as your roommate sounds like the kind of person, that doesn’t keep their promises and would take advantage of your leniency.

You want to be careful to do what’s needed, but not raise the stakes, as this can lead them taking revenge which makes things worse.

Hopefully, they will then learn it’s best to do the dishes and have an easier life.

You, of course, have to work out what your roommate is like and how they will react.

For example, if they are a real slob, they may leave the stuff in a box outside their room. Then the dirty dishes then stay there and after two months are stinking out the whole place.


44. Don’t be a pushover

If you have done your roommate’s dishes once to set an example or encourage them to do them; when it’s their turn next, your roommate won’t do them, even to say thanks.

You can tell your roommate won’t change. They’re too lazy, spoilt, or just done care.

If the sink is full with their dishes, take them out, put them to the side and don’t clean them, so they’re not in your way. If needed, seal them in a plastic box with a closeable lid, so they don’t stink the place out.

Once you lose ground, like giving in and doing the dishes for them, your roommate won’t respect or believe anything you say. They expect you to sooner or later give in and do the dishes for them.

You’re a pushover, and it’s even harder to come back from that.

Make your roommate doing their dishes a non-negotiable, or at least get them out of your way and don’t clean them.


46. Turn your solutions into a fun game and make them jokey

If you’re living with a whole load of roommates, and you do firm but fair things on the roommate who doesn’t do the dishes.

Your other roommates could say you’re bullying or being too harsh on that roommate.

For example, if your roommate’s dirty dishes are have been out for ages and are horrible. Put them on his or her bed as they’re stinking up the kitchen.

Do them as funny, creative jokes. It will make everyone laugh, and they will love you for it.

Do hilarious pranks, like if the dishes have been in the sink for ages, add some jello to the mix, so it all goes hard.

It needs to be funny stuff though, not just mean.

If you do it in an entertaining and fun way, you’ll win other people over as well.

However, be careful to keep it fun and not cross over a line. Creativity here is key, to keep things new, fresh and fun.


47. Make sure your roommate doesn’t enjoy seeing you get upset

If your roommate is bored and a not very nice person, they may be getting a kick out of getting you upset. They enjoy seeing you upset and bothered that they’re not doing the dishes.

The power of being able to control you, by making you mad.

They might even be doing things like not washing the dishes, to get attention. Like a child does something naughty to get attention. If they do negative things, I recommend giving them less attention and making sure they see that what they’re doing not making you angry or upset.

You’re not rewarding your roommate’s negative acts by giving them attention.

A sign they are doing things just to upset you is if they say stupid arguments, for why they don’t do the dishes. To see you getting mad from putting effort into answering their stupid childish arguments.


48. Never get resentful, that just hurts you

Resentment is dangerous. If you get to this point, it can seriously affect your health and happiness. It’s also no way to live.

There are lots of great positive things in life to focus on, rather than that your roommate doesn’t do the dishes.

If you have the choice of laughing, crying, getting angry or so on. Laugh at your roommate, how stupid they are. Be careful not to make them react to you laughing at them out loud. You may have to think and feel it, but not say it.

If you can’t let it go and you are getting resentful, it’s probably time to put your effort into finding another roommate.


49. Let it be

If there are just two of you sharing the place, maybe it’s easier just to let it be. Each day you do their dishes as well, so they don’t build up too much.

It may just be a couple of minutes work each day, rather than the mountain of dishes they’ll turn into if they’re left there.

It may be quicker and easier, than all the work and hassle of trying and get your roommate to do them.

Especially if you can get your roommate to use fewer dishes, as they reuse them, or you both don’t keep many in your cupboards.

You may be able to tolerate it as you like a lot of the other things about living with your roommate. Such as when you watch television together and do other social things.

Otherwise, you cope with it, as you know you will be moving out soon.

Nothing is permanent, everything comes and goes.


50. If hygiene gets bad and you have tried everything, it can just be easier to do the dishes yourself

This is not the greatest point. However, in practical terms, it can be the best solution, especially if your roommate is not going to do the dishes, no matter what you do.

If this happens, find another roommate as quickly as possible though.

Also, let your roommate know you’re looking for another place as they don’t do the dishes. If losing you as a roommate if they don’t do the dishes, doesn’t make them start doing them, then it’s probably right that you move.

If you’re thinking of staying with the roommate; when it comes time to renew the lease, make sure you have a good roommate agreement that states about the dishes. You’re sure they’ll stick to it, and there are penalties in there if they don’t. Such as your roommate having to pay for and organize a maid, if they don’t wash the dishes within 24 hours of using them.

Having said that, if they weren’t doing the dishes before the roommate agreement, they are unlikely to do so reliably after doing on.

Also reminding them becomes a nuisance.

Either you are happy to tolerate your roommate not doing the dishes because you like other things about sharing with them, even if you have to do the dishes when they get horrible.

Or you move out.


51. Let it go to the edge

If with the dishes, you’re as unhelpful as your roommate is on purpose.

Eventually, the place may become unlivable in.

It will be so dirty and grimy, that your roommate is forced to ask you for help to pull it back. Also, they will have to start doing the dishes as well.

Maybe they never lived away from their parent’s place before and did not realize why the dishes need to be done, or they thought you would step in and do everything.

You can also subtly say that you gave up because they did too.

The chances are if your roommate doesn’t do dishes. They’re probably not doing other cleaning things as well. So the whole place is horribly dirty.

You may like to do this at a time when you don’t have to be there much. Like when you’re about to go on holiday, can be at your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s place a lot, or stay with friends.

Also if you can stay in your part of the room or apartment, so you don’t have to use the parts that your roommate also uses.

If your roommate is okay with dirty dishes everywhere and all the other mess, they’re probably doing. To an extent it’s unsanitary, you get pests, and there’s no way guests would ever come. Then your roommate has a psychological problem and probably not a proper grasp on reality.

At least you know what you are dealing with.


52. Your safety and if your roommate is violent

Some people are more hassle then they’re worth. No good will come from them, whatever you do.

An example of this is a roommate with bad anger management issues or who can get violent.

Unless a person chooses to change their ways and gets therapy if needed, they’re not going to change.

If you confront them where they could get angry, such as about them not doing the dishes, could put you in danger. Nothing is worth risking your health and safety. Especially not making a point, or doing the dishes yourself.

Psychopaths and sociopaths can be very charming. Before you became roommates, you may not have been able to tell, that they are a sociopath or psychopath. Your friends may not have worked it out yet either.

Don’t worry about getting other people’s approval on this one; you will have your own experiences and instincts with your roommate. You are living in your home where others can’t see, so you may have seen things that others haven’t. Although you still chat with your friends to make sure you aren’t paranoid.

If you are in danger, get out of there. It’s your life and well being.

It is a matter of priorities, your health and well being come first.


53. If you are the landlord

If you’re the landlord, then you have more control. For example, you could change the WiFi password and other things as well. So if your roommate doesn’t do dishes, you won’t give them a new password.

If they are paying the rent and the rent includes WiFi, they could say they are not getting to enjoy the property and so could withhold rent. However if you don’t think they will do this, or the place does not officially come with free Wifi, it may be an option.

A good idea is not to include WiFi in the rental agreement or put that you may provide it optionally but can remove it at your discretion at any time.

There may be other things that your roommate depends on you for, things you are not obliged to do. You could always say that you will not be doing these until they do the dishes.


54. When you should move out and find a new roommate

This may not seem like a tip for if your roommate doesn’t do dishes. However, if your roommate doesn’t want to change and you’ve done everything possible to try and get them to do so.

The kind of things that would make any reasonable roommate see they should start doing the dishes.

Then moving out is probably the best solution.

So what follows is advice on how to move out.

How to work out if it’s time to move out?

This is how to weight up the pros and cons of your current situation and compare it to moving out.

In most sharing situations, all roommates don’t help equally, even if they should.

Whether it’s that one roommate helps more with the chores, does them better, or takes more initiative. This will be the case in most room shares, and maybe you can cope with this.

If your roommates are friendly and you enjoy their company, maybe you are happy to do more things for them. Perhaps they’re doing different things for you that you don’t realize. Like inviting you to join their friends, or letting you use some of their stuff.

If your roommate doesn’t do dishes and you are pushing them to do them. It usually goes one of 6 ways:

1. You are such a pain they move out

2. They are such a pain that you move out

3. You become so annoyed that it affects your health and you should have moved out

4. They change

5. You stay waiting for them to change, but they don’t

6. You wait and get so frustrated that you have a massive argument. This either solves it or does not. Not the best way to go, best to sort it out before it gets this far


Be careful not to ruin a friendship. Your roommate could be great as a friend, but not as a roommate. You get on well when it comes to going out and having fun, but you look after your living spaces differently.

Also think about if you really will be better elsewhere, or you are just angry right now as your roommate doesn’t do the dishes.

Could a small countertop dishwasher, be cheaper than the cost of moving? You may have to pay for it, but is it a cheaper and easier option for you than moving out?

They are not right for you and you are not right for them

After being with a roommate for a long time, it is easy to forget that there are lots of different people in the world and lots of different roommates out there.

Some roommates do the dishes immediately after they have used them.

Some roommates never wash their dishes.

It is great having a roommate that you get on with and if you are not having that you are loosing out. So maybe it is time to find another roommate or move out.

However, there are two things we recommend considering first:

1. Whatever roommate you have, they will have downsides. It could be that they make noise late at night, are not nice people to be around, have a temper or something else.

2. Are there things you like about your roommate, such as you like being part of their social group. You may not know what you had until it is gone.

3. If you like to share with your roommate because they’re a friend and you get on socially. The chances are you won’t get that relationship, and your new roommate will not want to do as much socially. Unless you choose a place with loads of roommates in, where there’s a higher chance someone will want to do stuff socially with you.


If you are going to throw your roommate out, plan for it first

It’s so easy to throw your roommate out because you are mad at them, or do something that causes them to move out very quickly.

You live in the same space, and both of your anger can very quickly escalate to boiling point.

If you are dependent on your roommate paying their half of the rent and you don’t have someone else lined up. Be careful before throwing them out, or doing something that means they move out.

Make sure you have planned it all out before you do anything too drastic. Such as finding someone else who will replace your roommate if they move out.

Making sure your roommate doesn’t owe money to the landlord that you will have to pay as your old roommate says they don’t need to pay it as you threw them out.

It is very easy to get angry and then do something you regret later on.

As great as websites for finding a roommate are, there are still ordinary people on them. Loads of people won’t turn up for viewings; you need to meet loads of them to find someone suitable, some can’t move in immediately and so on.

If you do have another roommate moving in, make sure they are going to commit to moving in such as by leaving the deposit and paying the first month’s rent. Not just saying they will move in, but never actually doing so.


Telling the landlord

If there’s an issue that could affect the landlord, such a pest infestation from your roommate’s dirty dishes. It’s best to tell them early on.

Transparency and openness are key. Say your landlord can come around and see the property, then you can show them what’s going on.

After each communication with the landlord, make sure you keep notes. Maybe even send your landlord copies of the notes you made of the discussion, after each one. This is in case the landlord takes advantage of your good nature or lies about what has been communicated and agreed between yourselves. Of course, do it politely.

Telling the landlord about your situation with your roommate means they can be more on your side, give you advice and know it’s not you causing the problems. If you have an experienced landlord, they will have rented out to roommates before, and their advice may be very useful.

However, if you are on the lease as well as your roommate, you are also liable for the property and paying the rent, as much as your roommate is.

If the roommate causes you financial damage, such as you losing your share of the security deposit, or you not being able to use the property because of the damage they caused. Then your roommate can become legally liable, and you could take them to court.

Showing your roommate is liable in this situation, is where a roommate agreement is also important because you can then get the money from them.

However, it’s still a nuisance if your roommate won’t pay and you have to take them to court. It takes time and just because you get a successful judgment, doesn’t mean your roommate will pay up.

No one knows what a slow and time-consuming nuisance going to court is until they’ve done it themselves.

As with all things, you need to be careful to find out what your landlord is like. If they cannot get money from your roommate, they may say you have to pay for all the rent because you are an easy target.

If you can solve the pest problem and other issues from your roommate not doing the dishes, you may choose to do so and not let the landlord know.

Usually, the best thing is to wait until the end of the lease then move out. Otherwise find someone else to replace you as the roommate, someone fine with dirty dishes. There are loads of slobs out there.


55. In the long run, it all works out

The roommates who do the dishes usually are also those who take more responsibility for things about the place.

Also from doing all these things for others, they have more political capital. They can make use of it, by negotiating stuff on other roommate issues as they have bought political capital, from how much they have done for others.

Such as getting other roommates to do the dishes because they helped the other roommates in different ways.

Eventually, as the people who do the dishes are nice people, they find more helpful people to live with. The lazy slob ends up sharing with other lazy slobs.

Justice is slow, but it does get there. Like attracts like.


Writer: Ian Taylor

roommate expert

Please comment below, to give your recommendations. Your help will be really useful and greatly appreciated.

1, Reddit LPT Request: How to get your roommate to do the dishes

2, Reddit. My one roommate never does dishes, cleans, or takes out the garbage. Her bf is always here and they both trash the place up and smoke like 80 times a day. I’m living w her again next year and don’t know what to do.

3, Reddit. Roommate that doesn’t do dishes gets mad at me for doing dishes (?) now what?

4, Reddit. Roommate can’t do dishes.

5, Reddit. Dumb roommate doesn’t understand dishes

6, Ask Housemate doesn’t clean up after himself. Help.

7, Ask Question about roommates and kitchen cleaning habits and finding a happy medium

8, Ask My roommate/friend has no idea how to wash dishes, but he thinks he does, and I’m worried for my health!/a>

9, Ask Tips and Tricks for Living With Roommates

10, Ask Housemate doesn’t clean up after himself. Help.

11, How to deal with a roommate that refuses to do the dishes?

12, What Do I Do About the Dreaded Roomate-Dirty Dishes Situation?

13, BuzzFeed. 23 Painful Truths Only People With Messy Roommates Understand

14, College of Geek. 6 Simple Ways To Deal With A Disgusting Roommate Once And For All

15, Wikihow. How to Survive a Messy Roommate

16, Apartment Ratings. Roommate Problems: How to Deal with Messy Roommates

17, byuiscroll. Dealing with the messy roommate

18, byuiscroll. Dealing with the messy roommate

18, Apartment Therapy. How to Survive with Messy Housemates

19, Wikipedia. Transactional analysis

20, Wikipedia. Normal distribution

21, Winning, by Jack Welch with Suzy Welch

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