Inevitably, and in every household, one person is inherently cleaner than the rest. In the same way, one person is always more punctual, one better with finances and one fussier about lists. Unfortunately, ongoing messiness can be a bit annoying that’s hard to swallow for the other party — our home is our sanctuary and as such, keeping it clean is an important part of everyday life. Not being able to keep things in order can actually have wide-ranging consequences for the more unkept among us.
Below, we look at eight helpful ways to make things a little better when living with a messy person.
Know they’re not doing it on purpose.
Everyone’s brain works differently and focusses on different things. Constitutionally messy people simply don’t “see” the mess. At least not in the way you do. So don’t think they’re doing it just to annoy you.
Work out your non-negotiables.
What is that really irks you about their mess? Is it the tea cups all over the house? The dirty clothes on the floor? Their inability to make the bed? Figure out what they do that really drives you to distraction and make a promise to work on it together. You might not win every dirty battle, but you can (and should) make requests on the two of three things that you really can’t stand and then calmly remind them of their promise should they lapse back.
Compromise a little.
Living by the creed “my way or the highway” never really worked for anyone. While they could no doubt stand to be cleaner, you could probably afford to relax a little. Remember that there’s a big difference between dirt and mess. The former means germs and potential illness, the second is just clutter.
Draw up a cleaning chart/schedule.
Decide between the two of you (or group) what each person is going to do each week. Set realistic goals that can be achieved depending on everyone’s work schedules and stick to it. If it’s clearly outlined what someone needs to do in a week it’s more likely they will get it done. It’s also worth assigning everyone with chores they most like doing!
Go shopping together for organizational items.
Hopping on over to places like Ikea is a fantastic way to motivate people to get clean and organized. If you can make things so they are easy to organize at home, you will see better results.
Purchase items that make cleaning easier/more entertaining.
Cleaning tools that are efficient and new can inspire people to get up and clean (especially if they look good). A Dyson vacuum is a perfect example of this. They work so well that it almost doesn’t feel like you’re doing much work at all! Using beautifully scented products is also a great way to entice people to get up and cleaning.
Ask them to keep their mess in one corner.
If you’re living with roommates the standard rule is that you can do whatever you want with your own bedroom, but you should keep the communal areas clean. Rather than expecting your roomate to make sure everything is always clean, ask that they just keep the mess to their specific area of the home.
Be the bigger person.
Life is better lived together. While some of their habits might not align with yours, it’s our differences that make life worth living and relationships worth pursuing. You’re not their mother, father, or butler so try not to get into the habit of acting like one — it will only leave you feeling frustrated and unappreciated. Instead, remember that you’re adults, equals, and friends.
Being sympathetic is also necessary if you’re living with someone who works long hours or is in a high-stress job (or both). Everyone is different and many of us simply need time to unwind and don’t have the emotional capacity to come home and clean.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.