How To Live With Someone Who Is a Slob

by guest blogger Ronald Wolf

Sharing your home with anyone can be a problem, no matter whether you are roommates, romantic partners or family. But the most problematic of all possible issues may be the chores. This is especially true if your household cleaning habits differ significantly from those of your cohabitant. It can be a torture to live with someone whose (un)cleanliness level could rank them as a slob. But if you have a functional relationship, aside from the cleanliness issue, there are steps which can work both for you and your household.

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Don’t call them a slob

Name-calling may be our first instinct, but that doesn’t make it the best approach. Passive-aggressive texts and post-its and sarcastic comments are also a big no-no. Nagging is also not going to work. In truth, it is more likely that such an approach would backfire.

Just think of it this way, from your point of view they are a slob. From their point of view, you are a nag and a neat freak. Perhaps your cleaning habits are a bit much or at a completely reasonable rate, however to them they are definitely too much to handle.

Find the real problem

Now that you have resisted the urge to argue, it is time for the talk. Try to start an open conversation with them and find the reasons for the lack of cleaning. Is it too boring, does a chore seem irrelevant? Perhaps it is simply too hard for them to do or they don’t know how to do it?

Remember that you are a part of the problem, but together you can be the solution. Share your reasons behind keeping the house tidy. Mention that it would save you some time and effort if they helped out. Just make sure you leave out the ironic comments.

Negotiate a cleaning schedule

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Dividing household chores is the simplest way to leave out blame and actually get some chores done. Negotiate when each chore will be done, how frequently and who should do it. Don’t force your cleaning habits on them but consider a compromise. Perhaps the dishes don’t have to be done as soon as they are in the sink, but can be washed once a day. And remember all parties have to agree for the plan to work.

Backup plan

As soon as you draw up a cleaning schedule, negotiate a backup plan. Just because you both agreed upon the rules doesn’t mean that the rules will be followed. In case a chose is not performed until a certain time, you should be allowed to do it yourself. In order to compensate they should get one of your chores in turn. Skipping on chore is almost bound to happen at least once, so don’t let it get to you and don’t use it to go back to the blame game.

Stacking is also a problem

Though some people have problems with cleanliness, there might be more who have problems with tidiness. They like to collect, keep, save and stack their possessions in such a way that makes the cleaning and even moving around more difficult. Try to reason for a clearing out, but don’t make them throw out or donate anything, as it must be their choice. If they are attached to something but you just don’t have space for it, try to suggest putting it in storage. Understandably when you are living in a dorm or a building without a garage or any type of storing space try finding an affordable self storage facility near you. Some of them are even mobile and will come and get your stuff.

Technology instead of nagging

Keep your chores schedule somewhere all can see, like the kitchen, but you can also take a picture of it to have with you.

Instead of nagging your slob to get to work, suggest a calendar or reminder app which they can put on their phone. This way they can schedule it at a time convenient for them and won’t forget about it.

It is all too easy to forget that other people have their own habits and problems. Instead of attacking each other about your opposite approaches to household chores, have a constructive argument and negotiate the division of chores. Use technology as a chore reminder and cut down on nagging as much as possible. Be patient and resourceful and you will strike the perfect balance in your household.


Ronald Wolf is a law and business postgraduate student by day and a blogger by night. Although law and business are his expertise, he also enjoys home improvement and has been working with his father's construction company during summer breaks in Australia.