Dear Abby, how do I get my roommate to clean up?

Dear Abby,

How do I get my roommate to clean up his shit? He is a lazy slob and I am stuck with him until May.

– The Smell Travels With Me, Class of ’13

Dear Travels,

Roommates are always tricky, but there are lots of ways to take care of an inconsiderate roommate problem (even when you are only considering legal options). The various approaches you may try are likely to fall under either the confrontational or sneaky category. If confrontation solves the problem, it is likely to stay solved for good. However, if the confrontation does not go according to plan, you will have a much more serious problem on your hands than having to deal with his untidy ways. Therefore, I recommend a sneaky approach. For example, you could try stealing his belongings so he is forced to clean up to try and find things. If this doesn’t do the trick, passive aggressive post-it notes are a favorite strategy of mine. Make sure to leave post-it notes in obvious, easy to find locations. An integral part of these sneaky approaches is ensuring that your roommate never knows that you are responsible. You will need to use the utmost caution.

If you are still unsuccessful, I have a shovel you can borrow.

Any questions? Email life expert Abigail Demke at


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