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How to keep your apartment from being clean, ever


Need a little help keeping the place untidy? These 8 handy tips are sure to get you well on your way to domestic disgruntlement.

Though you wouldn’t know it from flipping through interior design magazines, browsing Pinterest, or visiting the home of your friend’s Lysol-embracing mother, it is actually very easy to keep your home messy and disorderly.

From extensive experience, which I began collecting at an early age, I can guarantee you the following eight steps will have your apartment, condo or makeshift lean-to looking like the scene of a police raid after a teenage party in no time!

  1. Have a vacuum that is awkward to use and probably broken. Make excuses when someone tries to come fix it for you.
  2. Do the dishes, but not often. This is especially effective if you have a dishwasher but don’t bother filling it, but equally useful if you simply leave dishes in the sink to crust up before bothering to clean them. It is possible to mitigate the effects of not washing your dishes by donating most of your plates and bowls to organizations in need, but that takes time.
  3. Own a lot of stuff. Particularly things you don’t use often, that only have a single use or that you bought at a weird surplus sale and are too bulky to take out to the dumpster without a second person getting involved/bribed.
  4. Don’t do laundry so often that you never have to reach in the back of your closet for an outfit. A bedroom floor littered with t-shirts that smell faintly of your underarms is the sign of a creative mind and an open heart.
  5. Eschew shelving. Your floor is there for a reason. If you have shelving already, you can render it useless by putting things on it that you don’t use or even really like (see #3).


    All of these boxes are empty.

  6. Spill things in the kitchen and only clean up half-heartedly. You can ensure this happens frequently by being careless when measuring granular foods such as rice, raw sugar or cornmeal. Other spill options include being too enthusiastic with sriracha, letting the lid of the honey fall to the floor sticky-side down and pouring your third glass of wine while telling a story that requires vehement gestures.
  7. Be excited about recycling. But don’t take your stash of pizza box cardboard and sort-of clean tomato sauce cans to the recycling place down the block until your collection starts to topple. Alternatively, start putting your recyclables on a shelf (see #5).
  8. Have a bunch of pretty cool things to do. Who needs a tidy apartment when you have so many things to be doing out in the world? Just note that the friends you make while out doing these things will expect to see your living place eventually, and on these occasions, you will feel obligated to clean, be briefly resentful of your friends, and then become thankful that they forced you to see how the other half lives. Don’t worry, once they leave, you can begin again at Step 1.

RELATED: How to wash your dishes, finish that project and other lessons from a messy girl’s kitchen

Filed under: How-To

About the Author

Posted by

I am a writer living under a pile of scrap paper and unopened fan mail from the cable company. I believe a messy desk is simply a sign of inspiration waiting to be uncovered. But I’m biased. More from me on Twitter: @zoeywrites


  1. Jon Calon

    Or with respect to your friends wanting to see your place, politely decline with (insert-excuse-here) and that your place just isn’t up to hosting anyone at this time (which happens to be all the time, but they don’t need to know that…)

    And if they insist, still apologize for the place not being all that clean. If they don’t respect that, use their blood stains as a demonstration point for future guests… “Oh, that’s the previous person who complained about the apartment being messy.”

    Problem solved! You’re welcome.



  2. Pingback: Tired of scrubbing dishes? Four ways to shrink your kitchen, and your time elbow-deep in suds | Zoey Duncan

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