Every Thursday we highlight a problem from a listener. We give our advice and ask other listeners to offer advice. Welcome to the Counseling Corner.

Dear Brain,

I’ve been having this issue for a while now, and I really don’t know if I can take it much longer. I signed a lease with two other people and we all began living together this past August. The house is old and doesn’t have a dishwasher – something I didn’t think would be that big of a deal when we first moved in.

One of my roommates, however, is a huge raw-food fanatic. This diet involves a lot of meal prep, bulk recipes, and the use of many crazy kitchen appliances that are constantly taking up sink and counter space, like his eternally-dirty food processor. I’m glad he’s all about being healthy, but he never does his dishes. It seems like my other roommate and I have tried everything – from passive aggressively stacking every single dish he uses on one side of the sink to straight-up confronting him about it.

When we bring it up with him, he’s pretty unapologetic, and he’ll do some of his dishes, but never all of them. The dent he makes is nothing compared to the piles that he will inevitably use later that day when he’s making his next meal.  We've even tried a compromise where he's not allowed to use any of our dishes or appliances unless he's done all of his own dishes, but he continues to use all of our dishes, too. Short of stashing our dishes away from him and making our time in the kitchen more annoying than it already is, I don't know what else we can do.

How do I make my roommate do the dishes? Talking to him hasn’t worked, filling one side of the sink hasn’t worked, and I feel like I’m losing my mind and my kitchen. Help!


What Our Listeners Think

Rachel recomends stacking the dirty dishes up in his room because it will be hard for him to ignore them when they're stinking up his room.

Laura thinks putting his dishes outside the front door so he has to see them every time he comes into the house might be a wake-up call for Peggy's roommate.

Will has had this problem before with former roommates except it was so bad in their house that they actually had cockroaches! He put his foot down and started putting the dirty dishes on his roommates' pillows. It didn't take them too long before they got the message.

Dave went through something similar when he was in college and their solution was everyone in the house was only allowed  to have one plate, cup, fork, knife, and spoon.

Beth said maybe Peggy should start a money jar for every day he doesn't do his dishes, he has to put in a dollar towards buying supplies for the apartment like sponges, dish soap, paper towels, etc...

BRAIN SAYS:  It takes some people longer than others to learn about responsibility and courtesy.  If it takes something as nasty as putting dirty dishes in his room or bed, so be it.  Your requests are not out of line.  If he doesn't like the situation, then perhaps he should find someplace else.