We all know the classic "my housemate is a slob" issue. Quite often, people get frustrated because their housemates do not clean after themselves. My issue is a little bit different, in that my housemate does clean up the dishes once in a while, but everything is still dirty afterwards.

When it comes to dust etc. we have pretty similar cleanliness standards. I'm lucky that he contributes a little to household chores, which was not the case of all my previous housemates. However when it comes to dishes, things are really problematic. Quite often I can guess what food he ate two or three days before, just by looking at the remains on a "clean" plate... gross!

Obviously, when I need to use some kind of special utensil (e.g. food processor), there is only one in the kitchen, so I cannot simply look for a cleaner one (which is what I usually do for plates etc) and I have to wash it twice: before and after using it.

Addressing the issue of a housemate who does not clean his dishes at all is relatively simple - or at least, it's easy to explain the nature of the problem. But in his mind, he does clean the dishes, so I am not sure how to address this issue.

How can I ask him to finally make an effort to ensure that things are really clean after he washes them?

  • 5
    Could you elaborate why simply telling them is not an option? Why is this any different from asking them to clean plates? It must be different for you, so please explain
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 8:07
  • 2
    You say "finally make an effort" - does that mean you've asked him before to clean the dishes better, and/or mentioned the extra work that this creates for you? Was this discussed at all when you moved in and (hopefully) talked about the division of chores? Are you asking for advice because you have concerns with how he'll respond (if so, what are you worried about?) or because you've tried already and that approach failed (if so, what was it that didn't work?).
    – Em C
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 16:36

2 Answers 2


An alternate approach, more tactful if perhaps a little less honest:

Don't complain about your housemate's dishwashing skills. Instead, complain about the hard water that makes it difficult to get dishes clean when washing things by hand. Buy a new brand of scrubbing sponge with the suggestion that this might address the cleaning issue. (Note: lying about hard water in specific might not be the best approach, but presumably you can find something plausible in your situation.)

This lets your housemate know that the dishes are most decidedly not getting clean, but saves them the shame of being blamed personally for it.

A simpler version of the scenario: "Hey, JamesJulia, I've noticed that a lot of the dishes seem to be not quite clean, so I've bought us a new brand of kitchen scrubbies that might work better."

Source of advice: extrapolating from a different household issue that I handled by blaming low-flow toilets.

(A final thought: if your housemate has always lived in a place with a dishwasher they might have never been taught how to clean dishes by hand.)


In this case you need to be straightforward with your housemate and let them know that they are not properly cleaning the dishes. Grab a dish, take it to your housemate and show them exactly what was wrong with their cleaning and how they can improve it. You can tell them something like:

I really appreciate that you are trying to help keep the dishes clean but please make sure that you double-check to make sure you do not miss any of the dirt.

I used to live with someone and volunteered to help hand clean dishes ( I had only used a dishwasher prior to that ). I missed some spots just like your housemate and learned my lesson when my roommate confronted me with a dirty dish and showed me exactly what was wrong with the dishes that I had "cleaned". I have not had any issues since then.

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