Kate comes home from a long day at work. She’s ready to have dinner and watch TV before going to bed.

She walks into the kitchen…and sees dirty dishes on the stove and on the sink. It’s a MESS.

Stack of dirty dishes, bowls of food, knife dripping with jam

It can be awkward to start a conversation with your roommate about cleaning. You don’t want to start an argument.

Find a polite way to approach the issue and tackle the problem with realistic solutions.

Find A Good Time To Talk

You don’t want to go into the conversation upset!

Your roommate might feel defensive. If they’re feeling attacked, they may not respond well.

Find a good time to bring up your concerns calmly and face-to-face.

Say something like:

I think we need to talk about keeping the apartment clean and tidy.

Cat putting their paw on the table with text saying 'we need to talk...'

Bring Up Your Concerns

Two women on a couch talking

Start by explaining that you want a good experience for both of you as roommates. When bringing up your concerns, avoid "you" statements. Again, your roommate may feel attacked. 

Be specific about why messiness is bothering you. Focus on your experience and explain why you feel that way.

Use "I" statements:

I feel frustrated when I come home when laundry is left on the couch. I like to relax and watch TV after a long day.


Kate needs to have a conversation with her roommate about dishes being left in the sink. How should she start bringing up her concerns?

Come Up With A Plan

Have some solutions ready to offer. If it’s a particular issue, be specific:

I know we can get busy, but could we clean dishes the same day we use them?

A person in an apartment telling their roommate,

Some other solutions that might help:

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You can suggest a chore list. What needs to be done daily? Weekly? Create your list and split them up evenly. You can even alternate chores to change things up. 

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Clean together if they need motivation. Have a dedicated day and time where you can have a cleaning session, then do something fun or relax together after.

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Be prepared to compromise and listen if your roommate brings up their own concerns or comes up with other solutions.

Take Action

Two roommates dancing with each other

Maintain a good relationship with your roommate! You don't want the dirty dishes to lead to a messy relationship.


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