I live with five girls, which means our apartment can get pretty messy. It’s really important for everyone to pull their weight. Since there are six of us, everyone has a role in the apartment when it comes to cleaning. We have the messy ones (who usually don’t clean unless confronted), the ones who clean just enough to avoid conflict in the apartment (that would include me), and the clean freak with a splash of OCD. At one point, each of these people will drive you up a wall. Allow me to explain.
Let’s start with the messy ones. Everyone has at least one messy roommate. The problem is not just that they refuse to clean, but that he/she constantly lies about whose dishes (clothes, shoes, etc) are left out or dirty (always his/hers). Here is a scenario to work from: you see one of the messy roommates eating spaghetti for dinner and put the plate in the sink after. For a few days, you have looked at that same dish in the sink, knowing it’s his/hers. Once the pasta sauce has become crusted on and you have seen the same dish in the sink for the past four days, it’s time to take action. This is when the mess anxiety riddled roommate comes in handy…sort of.
Your roommate with a pathological need to clean can be extremely helpful. In our apartment, we like to have family meetings. These usually only come about when Mrs. Clean is annoyed with how messy it has been. Recently, she created a chore wheel which has been working out much better than everyone just doing his/her own dishes. The way it works is that each person has a day of the week where they do all the dishes in the sink, take out the garbage or vacuum, and so on. Having a few forks in the sink is nothing compared to half the sink filled with dirty dishes that all belong to the same person. As a person somewhere in between, I love the chore wheel. Try it out and see if it works. You never know.
As for living with roommates that get annoyed with three dishes in the sink, be patient with them. They are looking for instant gratification. As much as they like having interventions about cleaning, you and your other roommates might need to have one about chilling out and letting a few dishes end up in the sink. The dishes won’t kill anyone. Be creative when you are trying to come up with ways to problem solve. Try a chore wheel and see how it works. If not, there’s always Pinterest.