You be the judge: should my housemate stop letting dirty dishes pile up? | Life and style

The prosecution: Anita

Doing your washing up straight away is just common sense – and much more hygienic

We don’t have a dishwasher in our flat, so the washing up became an issue pretty quickly. Jakiyah and I have lived together for two years – we met through mutual friends at university.

I prefer the washing up to be done straight away, but Jakiyah is a “worry about it later” type of person. If she’s in a rush in the morning, she will leave a bowl with bits of porridge in it soaking in the sink all day, sometimes for several days. After a big dinner, Jakiyah rarely washes up straight away. There have also been times when she’s chopped raw meat and not cleaned the knives and boards immediately after.

If you leave dirty dishes in the sink, they can get very grim very quickly and become a breeding ground for germs. Jakiyah thinks I’m a clean freak, but to wash me up straight away is just common sense. If you leave dishes soaking for days, then have to stick your hand in the sink to clean them or pull the plug, you are going to get germs on your hands.

One Friday, I was working from home and Jakiyah was heading to the gym. She made an elaborate breakfast and then left all the pans in the sink. Then she came back with a friend that night and cooked a curry, and left those pans in there, too. On Saturday she must have cooked something else as by Sunday there was a mountain of unwashed dishes in the sink.

I said, “This is gross, why did you let it build up?” She told me it wasn’t a big deal, but I was annoyed. My cooking had to wait while she cleaned everything. It was very inconsiderate.

We do get along well, but with housework I am tidier. I try to design a schedule. We split the chores. I can try and be a bit more relaxed with other chores, but not with the washing up. I work from home so I notice when things aren’t done.

We are both busy women, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to ask Jakiyah not to let dirty dishes pile up. We are in our mid-20s, we aren’t students any more.

The defense: Jakiyah

I do most of the cooking, so it’s not unfair that I sometimes leave the dishes if I’m in a rush

There are two types of people in this world: those who stress over menial chores, and those who don’t. I fall into the latter category.

If I’m in a rush I will leave out my dishes for a day or two and I don’t see anything wrong with that. There are simply not enough hours in the day to be tidy as you go when cooking. I don’t buy this idea that one bowl is a breeding ground for germs that could make you sick – that’s very over the top. If I’m chopping raw meat I will wash up the chopping board immediately. Other than that, I think it’s fine to leave things.

In the mornings I’m in a rush to get out the door, so it makes sense to soak my bowl after I’ve had my porridge. It’s also easier to clean after a few hours’ soaking. On that weekend when the dishes piled up, I was out and about. The washing up was the last thing on my mind. I did it on Sunday and Anita had plenty of time to use the kitchen after me. It wasn’t a big deal.

I usually do most of the cooking in the flat, so it’s only fair that Anita does a little more of the washing up. She enjoys the dishes I make because they are elaborate. Using all the pots, pans and utensils to make a meal is a sign of a good chef. If I was cooking basic food, she wouldn’t like that either.

I think a lot of it is down to the fact that she works from home, whereas I go to an office. She spends most of her day inside and so naturally she notices the little things when I’m not there. I try to stick to her cleaning schedule, but when it comes to the washing up, she needs to relax.

Anita and I generally get on well, but it’s irritating when we argue over this very small issue. I have tried to be better and wash up immediately, but I can’t always manage it. And Anita will bring up the fact that I’ve left one mug, a spoon and a bowl in the sink if it’s been there for more than a day. It’s a bit ridiculous. There’s more to life than washing up.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Jakiyah wash up straight away?

It sounds like Jakiyah watched the first 10 minutes of Withnail and I and decided the pair offered good lifestyle tips. If she were to drink a cup of tea in the last clean mug, put it on pile of her dirty pots and pans and stroll to the bathroom, only to find Anita was soaking a lot of dirty laundry in the sink, wouldn’t she think it was a bit selfish?
David, 63

Anita’s demands really aren’t extreme. A dirty environment is counterproductive. Jakiyah should invest in a dishwasher, or compromise – perhaps by using less equipment. This “menial chore” isn’t going away any time soon.
Rosey, 28

Jakiyah – nice try, but you know what’s even easier to clean than a soaked porridge bowl? Yes, one that is rinsed straight away! It takes two seconds. And leaving things lurking in the sink for days on end is just plain unpleasant.
Janet, 55

In our house, if you cook you wash up – then you’re more aware of the mess you make. Jakiyah needs to be more respectful of the kitchen as a shared space, especially if she knows it winds Anita up. (Although porridge bowls aren’t a breeding ground for germs, Anita. They just go a bit gray and slimy.)
James, 29

Disagreements about chores are common, but how well has Anita communicated her discontent? Has there even been a discussion? Has Anita only moaned? Setting time aside time for a frank discussion may go some way to resolving the issue.
Katherine, 43

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You be the judge

So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below to tell us: should Jakiyah stop letting the dirty dishes pile up?

We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.

The poll will close on 10am GMT on 17 March

Last week’s result

We asked if Brendan should stop watching television in bed, as it annoys his girlfriend, Charlotte.

5% of you said no – Brendan is innocent
95% of you said yes – Brendan is guilty

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