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Hints From Heloise: Messy college roommates

Dear Readers: Hints for college students are always popular and well-received. I asked for hints on dealing with messy roommates. It seems the major problem is with roommates not KEEPING DISHES WASHED. Here are only a few of the comments we received:

* “When my son was in school, he shared a room with three boys. The common areas contained a small kitchenette. Since my son was a good cook, he offered to cook for the other guys if they would do the cleanup. This arrangement worked for only a few days, until the other boys started letting dirty dishes pile up. My son started washing only his dishes and putting the others into a garbage bag, which he tied up and placed under the sink. The next time he cooked and only he had clean dishes, his buddies learned in a hurry to do their part.” -- Karen in Virginia

* “I started tossing my roommates’ belongings into their rooms and letting them pile up there. Once they couldn’t walk into their own space, they started cleaning up.” -- A Texas Reader

* “My husband, while living with five other young men, had an issue with one roommate who never washed his dirty dishes. After a time, my husband finally took a whole sinkful of this boy’s dirty dishes and put them all on his bed! After that, he was much better about cleaning up after himself -- and the others in the apartment were so grateful that they never told the slob which of them had done the ‘dirty’ deed.” -- Meredith in Colorado

* “I would say communication is key in any roommate situation. Having dealt with a plethora of different roommates myself, I can assure you that a simple, well-timed statement will make all the difference when dealing with messy roommates.” -- A Reader, via e-mail

* “If you have space in a closet or behind the couch for a fair-size plastic basket, place all of the items left out in the basket. When your roommates need these items, they can get them out of the basket.” -- Barbara in Texas

Well, some interesting suggestions. My take for messy students: Buy a big stack of paper plates, and save the utensils from fast-food takeout! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When I’m opening such things as canned baked beans or other canned items, I open them from the bottom. This way, I don’t have to fight to get all of the contents out of the can. Thanks for your time, and I enjoy your column. -- J., via e-mail


Dear Heloise: Using dusters daily and cleaning curtains briskly can help them retain their shape longer and delay having to dry-clean them. Fostering a homeless pet who sometimes sought refuge curled behind curtains taught me this cleaning ritual. Sometimes, a lint roller is whisked on the floor to pick up seemingly invisible shed fur. -- Margarette in Texas

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate



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