Shared Apartment Laundry: What to Do with a Messy Roommate

in Roommates on by

Sharing an apartment laundry room can lead to the same problems you face with any shared space. One of the most common problems is the messy roommate. Whether it’s piles of dirty laundry, spilled detergent or collected junk and garbage, your roommate’s mess all too frequently becomes your problem. Don’t just deal with it: here’s what you should do when sharing your laundry room with a messy roommate.

Lead by Example

The best possible thing you can do when dealing with a messy roommate is to lead by example. If you want things to be clean and tidy, make sure everything of yours is neat. Specifically in the laundry room, be sure to wipe up any spills and to put your clothes away. Don’t allow your laundry to pile or your messy roommate will think that kind of behavior is acceptable. Set a high bar for the level of tidiness so that there won’t be any confusion to the expectations you have. People tend to feel more ashamed of their behavior when they’re clearly the culprit. As long as you’re holding up to your end of the deal, your roommate should be doing the same.

Make Cleanliness an Easy Option

It’s much easier to be tidy when you have the proper tools at your disposal. In the laundry room, those tools could be a shelf, large hamper and a drying rack. Having access to a large hamper, for instance, gives you and your roommate a better alternative than throwing clothes on the floor. Making things easy for your roommate might be the right solution. You can casually mention (aka: hint) to him or her that you noticed the clothing was starting to pile on the floor and purchased a hamper to keep it contained.

Create Clear Rules

Most of the time messy people carry on with their behavior because they don’t know it bothers other people. If you make it clear that you want the laundry room to remain tidy—and that the spills and strewn clothes bother you—your roommate is likely to be more mindful of the messes he or she is making. Reminding your roommate that it’s a shared space is important. It’s one thing to have a messy bedroom that only he or she enters, but it’s another thing completely to be junking up a space you both use frequently.

Don’t Be Passive Aggressive

While the best thing you can do in this situation is to lead by example, the worst thing you can do is be passive aggressive. If you have a problem with the way things are, you need to talk to your roommate about it in a conversational manner. Don’t leave written notes in the laundry room or resort to hiding your roommate’s dirty clothes out of spite. Be mature and bring the situation to your roommate’s attention in the form of conversation. It’s the only way to handle things effectively.

Dealing with a messy roommate is never fun, but if you take some of these steps you should be able to make the situation manageable at the very least.


Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

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