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I'm currently in college, dorming in a room with 3 other guys. A few months ago I started noticing a disgusting smell in the room. After looking around, I realized that one of my roomates, who is on the football team, only showers around 3 times a week and is the source of the smell.

My question is, how can I tell him - without being offensive - that he needs to shower more often?

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Just keep it simple:

Hey man, you might want to take a shower(, you're a bit smelly). You might want to shower a more often, at least after working out, to minimize this :)

It gets weird if you make it weird, otherwise it's just a comment (like "Hey man, you have something on your cheek"). You often smell your own body way less because you're used to it, it's not odd that someone points it out.

You might also want to check for dirty laundry, what are your policies on that? If you leave it around a lot, that might give off an odour. A friend of mine keeps his shoes in the hallway to avoid the smell in his room.

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It is important to take him aside for this and not tell him in front of other people. So maybe if you find a time where you are alone with him in the room.

Then you want to tell him exactly what you told us:

  • you noticed a bad smell

  • you think it is him

  • you would like him to shower after he comes from the football training

Hey, do you have a moment to talk about something?

Non-confrontational, this way you don't start off on the wrong foot, and you will notice when you should better come back at another point in time. After all you want something from him.

Lately I noticed an unpleasant smell in the room [...]

Gauge his reaction. If he seems to want to say something, let him speak. Maybe it's not him and he has noticed it too. Then you wouldn't want to accuse him of something. Otherwise just continue speaking:

and I think it might be you, because of your football training. Could you please take a shower after coming home? Thanks.

This way you show him how you came to the conclusion that it is him and you also offer a solution. On top of that you don't directly accuse him of something and give him opportunity to explain himself.

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I think it is important not to place accent on him, but on you and your common environment. Saying statements starting with "I" is a good psychological trick. You don't show him he's the fault, you are expressing your concerns. Something like:

"Hey, I am very sensitive to smells, and for me the cleanliness and nice air of the apartment we all live in is very important. I believe your training is very strenuous and creates a smell that can be washed off. I would be really glad if you respected our common environment and showered every time after training. Thanks!".

Not a perfect example, but once at work I had a manager whose habit was to approach me and discuss my tasks after he was smoking. I hate the smell of cigarettes, and I was a timid newcomer at the time, but at some point I still decided to just say to him: "I'm sorry, but could you please come to me before you go smoking? I am really sensitive to smells.". He understood.

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Is he a typical jock? The reason I ask is because your approach could vary based on personality. If he is a typical jock /cool Joe type, just say "Hey man no offense but you smell gnarly. Grab a shower. In fact, any time you have football practice go directly to the nearest shower. I can't have your stank stanking up the joint." If he laughs, nip it "I'm laughing but I'm still serious. Please go shower. Now."

If that doesn't work be more serious "Yo rob. We gotta talk. I was trying to be cool about it but I have to get this off my chest. Lately the smell in here is getting to be too much and it's not the room. It's just your BO. Could you grab a shower real quick?" And then continue to reinforce that by reminding him as needed. "Bro - shower."

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