Teenagers Have Always Had Messy Rooms
If you're the parent of a teenager, you've most likely had numerous fights and delivered exasperated lectures trying to get your kid to clean their room. Maybe you continue to try, or maybe you've given up arguing and now content yourself with a loud sigh or dirty look every time you pass your teenager's room.
Well, I don't know how to make a teenager clean her room. If you're looking for tips on how to make her clean up, I don't have them. I can, however, offer some explanation as to why teenage girls have such messy rooms. I'm sure many teenage boys also have this problem, but I can only speak to the female mindset.
5 Reasons Why Your Teenager's Room Is So Messy
Even though I'm no longer a teenager, I will use the communal "we" to describe the actions and thoughts of myself and my almost-peers. Because, even though I've passed into my twenties, I still don't clean my room, and I don't do it for the same reasons I haven't for the past ten years or so.
1. Too Much Stuff, Not Enough Stuff-Holders
Teenage girls often like to buy things. Whether we enjoy the act of shopping or not, the fact remains that we like to have lots of good stuff. "Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs" as they say except instead of eating too much, we buy more stuff than we can fit in our rooms. If we can manage to fit it all into our rooms, often we can't find anyplace to put things except on the floor or the desk. We don't have enough storage for all of the stuff that we accumulate.
So perhaps I do have a tip for clutter-crazy parents: Buy your daughter some more storage units! A chest of drawers, a bookshelf, even an extra crate or end table. If our stuff has a designated home, the stuff is less likely to end up in a pile on floor.
Part of the reason why the stuff has no home is that really, a teenage girl's room is the only place in the house that is truly hers. Which brings us to the next reason. . .
2. Personal Property
When we live in our parents' house, there isn't much that truly belongs to us. Parents often use this fact to their advantage: "As long as you live in my house, you follow my rules!" "When YOU pay the mortgage, YOU can do whatever YOU want!"
Not that I find fault with wanting things to be the way you choose in your own space. Exactly the opposite; I agree completely. This is why we feel that things should be the way WE want in the only room that belongs to us. True, teens don't pay the bills (in most cases), but they do spend a large part of their time in that room, and it plays host to most of their belongings.
A girl's room is not just a dumping room for her stuff. It's the one place in the house where she can be herself, where she can relax and not have to worry about following other people's rules. Her messy room is an outpouring of her personality and of her busy life. It's where she doesn't have to pretend to be neat if she's not.
3. Different Priorities
While parents may put cleanliness and orderliness near the top of their priority lists, (most) teenage girls do not. And it's really hard to get a girl (or anyone!) to do something when she feels like she has more important things to get done. Like homework. Or play rehearsal. Or tennis practice. Or shopping. Or sleeping.
No one wants to feel like she is wasting her time.
4. It's Just Not Worth It (aka Futility)
Futile: incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless.
If it's hard to do something that isn't high on the priority list, it's even harder to do something when you know it's a pointless, wasted effort. We know that our rooms are going to get messy again, probably very soon, so it's quite difficult to force ourselves to clean them. Why do something if you're just going to have to repeat yourself a week or a month later?
5. We're Tired
When we come home from school, work, or whatever has occupied our time all day, the first thing many of us want to do is drop everything and rest. This leaves little time for cleaning.
Even if a teenage girl isn't much into napping, the sleep excuse still stands, just in a less direct way. When we come home, we dump everything we are carrying on our beds and immediately go do something mind-numbing like eating or watching TV. When the evening ends, and it's time for bed, we return to our room and, lo and behold, everything is still on the bed. At this point, we are too tired to put everything away in its proper place, if there is a proper place. So, it all goes on the floor. Or the desk. Or the headboard.
See a vicious cycle here? If this pattern continues every day, the pile grows every day, and we become even less inclined to pick anything up.
Deppressio expresso on July 09, 2020:
I have been bullied all of my life, so when it comes to cleaning my room, I don’t like it. I feel like I’m the only thing that in imperfect in that room and it drives me crazy! My parents hate me for it, but what can I say? So stop saying it’s because us girls are lazy. Maybe if you are saying there lazy, and fed up with it, get up from YOUR ASS and clean it yourself. Thank you!
Life long Dad on June 23, 2020:
It can be very dangerous. Power cords and electrical appliances left under any clothing will ignite. It happened to our family due to a very messy sibling of mine and we were very lucky nobody was killed. We did loose the top floor of our house and it was a year to rebuild.
AISHA on May 30, 2020:
I AM A FOOL TEEN
Gabe on May 17, 2020:
To all the girls that are replying upset about this post. Shut up, stop being lazy and just clean. It all boils down to being lazy. I lived with a girlfriend and we have a spare bedroom she uses as a closet. It hasn’t been cleaned for 5 years. Not because of time or being to tired or whatever you want to blame it on. LAZINESSSSSS!!!!!!
Chuff Adams on October 29, 2019:
No, you are lazy and slovenly. There is no excuse, get off your ass and tidy up and stop blaming others,
Katrina on September 07, 2019:
My sister is now 19 years old and has always struggled to keep her room clean since a baby she’d always mess up clean things .her room is far worse than the picture you showed and always has been my sister has not cleaned her room in 2 years my mum has kicked her out 3 times because of my sisters refusal to clean her room she will buy new clothes because she can’t be bothered looking for the ones she has and buys new bedding instead of washing her own she is now looking for new flat so she dosent have to clean her room! It’s actually insanity however it’s affecting our hygiene of our own home because the mess is spilling out into our halls and the smell of the room is unbearable it’s so bad! The house is so dusty because of this and there is beetles in her room we thought it could be that she’s depressed but she’s always had this issue since she was a baby so it can’t be that so yes children need to clean their rooms or they will end up hoarders and ruing relationships with their parents
Lily on September 03, 2019:
Man idk if this even applies to me I’m a teenage girl and everything around never HAS to be clean I feel physically dirty if my room, locker, or back back are unorganized
Camila Di Cesare on June 01, 2019:
Oh my God, I loved this blog, I just typed on Google a thought wondering if there were other girls as messy as I am, then found this and was presented a bunch of statements I agree with, haha
Em on May 27, 2019:
As a teenage daughter with a room so messy you can't see the floor, I'd like to say that I agree with everything said in the article!
Right now, my priorities are school, friends, relaxing and having fun! I don't mean to upset my mother by not cleaning my room, but her yelling at me and throwing my stuff away only makes me want to clean my room less. :(
Gianna Wildrick on April 19, 2019:
Yes everybody should respect their elders but, I don't think anybody from baby's to 100 year old should be forced to clean their rooms. People should stop telling their kids to clean their rooms. People should be aloud to have freedom of what they get to do as long as it is according to the laws.
Barra on December 10, 2018:
So we're having this problem with my girlfriend's 19 year old daughter! What do you when an adult is living in such squalor that she has to walk over piles of dirty clothes and rubbish to get to her unkempt bed?!
Exhausted on November 20, 2018:
So what do you do when she expects so much with nothing in return. She doesn’t have lots of stuff. We don’t spoil them, they have to earn it. I wished my daughters bedroom looked as tidy as the messy bedroom above. It’s beyond a joke. Bleach on the carpet, her bathroom is revolting with mould in things, her bin is over flowing and you cannot see the carpet anywhere. Oh and food plates cups bowls etc that I don’t allow upstairs all in her room. I wouldn’t mind if like the article she was busy with homework etc. She’s not on top of that either. She’s always late, makes everyone else late and arguments start when expect something to be done. I haven’t seen it properly tidy in two years!!
Dee on October 06, 2018:
My daughter is 14. She gets pretty much everything she ask for and all I ask from her is to keep her room clean. She has no other chores in the house. With a very busy schedule with school and Volleyball there is not a lot of time for homework and room cleaning throughout the week. On the days she don’t have practice I expect her to clean her room. I shouldn’t have to tell her over and over to get it done. Recently I had her bring ALL her clothes into my room for me to sort out and determine what will be ideal for her to keep. My thought is maybe she have to many clothes and me downsizing her attire will help her get more organized. A clean room will keep her focused and not misplace homework assignments, not forget knee pads or gear needed for volleyball, not have me running back and forth to the school because she forgot something she needed because couldn’t find it in her messy room. It’s not about being mean it building character and will help in her adult years to come. Am I wrong for taking her clothes away??? I just want her to be more responsible and clean. It’s nothing like being in a clean room.
Syd on September 27, 2018:
I think cleaning allows a surface for dust to re settle again.
Heather on July 30, 2018:
My room was/is still messy. As i still live with my parents at 27 years old, it is “my space” equivalent to a studio apartment minus a bathroom and kitchen. I use my room as a bedroom, closet, living room, den, and exercise space if my floor has space. It’s not a big space either.
Despite all that, throughout my life I have cleaned my room every year to be spotless clean, everything put away, everything counted, blah blah. Usually over a summer week. But I have the worse nights sleep when my room is too clean. I get nightmares of being kidnapped, even to this day, when there isn’t a mountain of stuff I have to carefully wade through to reach my bed. I have to put something in front of the door in order for my mind to be at peace with a clean floor. So, maybe in addition to all the items listed (which are spot on) there is a feeling of safety when it is messy.
Disabled and frustrated on July 19, 2018:
I have support to a point,but, my family is self absorbed.my son is also disabled on the low end spectrum.i almost died 3 times last was the most severe.my daughter turned 10and I tried to be understanding .her best friend her grandma died of the same. Thing I also almost did10 years later.i got Ms the same time she died and my daughter went through puberty.i have 9diseases and seizures and other things.ever since the Ms puberty thing she and I have problems.she is very smart.got a 4.2gpa in first year college.i am on strong pain meds.she has threatened to kill me in my sleep,slit my throat, threatened so many things I can't count.before I got real sick I got a second degree black belt in karate a couple times I've had to use self defense only.any time I ask things when their dad's around this happens.my son isn't as bad.everyone sees me as weak.i struggle cleaning,but itsy only job.if I don't nap I can't do anything.my daughter has gone a semester without washing her clothes.she will go weeks without bathing.i just shut her door and tell our cleaning ladies not to bother.the kitchen gets destroyed it takes all my energy to make it sanitary.we are selling our house and moving to a better climate.my dog is my only friend she picked up on my health and is my service dog.i sold our house last time it was too big and with seizures my husband didn't want stairs.i was in the hospital when it sold.they and one good friend got it ready.we hired movers that packed I don't know what to do now
John Davies on July 16, 2018:
My Daughters rooms are so messy !!!!! I agree that I dont have enough storage providers
Afnan on June 29, 2018:
The paragraph about ownership really speaks to me to gets me so well this is so how I am feeling all the time when my mom says that I need to clean my room and my mom says the same thing that ‘ As soon as you get your own house and pay your own bill that is when you can do what ever you want’ and it is so annoying when she says that like this is my own space and I should be able to keep it the way that I want to keep it this inspired me to show it to my mom she totally needs to read this to understand how I am feeling about my room she just does not understand but she will when I show her this hopefully and I will let you know if it helps me to tell my mom why I do not always clean my room like she would and why I make it he way I make it and why I should be abele to treat it like I want to and that it is my room and she does not control it that I do not her me
Glenna Auxier on June 27, 2018:
Children will pretty much follow the habits of the same sex parent. When our son was small I kept his room very orderly because i wanted him to be accustomed to order. His father was very orderly. He is very orderly. If you nag your children then the nagging becomes a part of the relationship. They learn that attention comes from not doing something or doing something.
Do you actually have a relationship with your child? Do you know who this child really? What are their hopes and dreams. Does your child know you? Do they know who you are aside from your complaining and dictating? Do you spend time having fun together or exchanging ideas about friends, music, interests?
A mother recently told me that she said to her daughter, "You know I love you but you really do need to clean up your room."
If I were her daughter I wouldn't clean up my room either. This mother was out of touch with the meaning of love and had no communication skills.
Allyson on June 18, 2018:
Hey so I am 15 and my room isn't that bad it is really just disorganized but I am working on it but with my high school years coming up and my 8th grade year ended I haven't had the time and I have tried to explain this to my parents but they don't listen to me and I have A.D.D and when I try to clean up I just keep getting distracted by the cool stuff I find and it takes me hours to clean no matter what I do and i have tried everything I can think of But none of it works
Kaylen on May 31, 2018:
Ghost on April 01, 2018:
So, I have seen a lot of comments for each side. Which is why I have to agree with both; yes, it should be sanitary, but if you want them to clean their room there is almost always a reason they won't. My room is tiny, and my bed takes up all the floor but a strip, I can only move and barely open any if my closers and drawers. If YOU want your child's bedroom to bear tidy, give them some SPACE. I am a teen and I know we often start a game, then leave it out for later. So in my room, it clutters the floor. I have no room in my closet and drawers and no one to put my school supplies during the holidays.
Secondly, any parent who calls their child lazy, or anything else, should shut up. Look at your child a room and actually think about whether it is that messy, because adults rarely make a mess, so anything teenagers move becomes, a MESS? And, they need room, they are growing. If you were in a box, and were growing, you would choose the larger box that is too big, not the box that fits you now. So seriously, stop being mean to your teen and actually use your brain!
We clutter, learn and play sifferently from adults, I know not all adults are bad. So, stop fussing so much over a sock or a cuddly toy, because eventually your child will move it or you should find out why they haven't. If they don't tidy, it is either your fault, or because they have no time.
So leave us be. Our room is ours, not yours. We should feel safe in our bedrooms.
Fresh smell on March 21, 2018:
It is important to keep the bedroom neat so you can find things easily and not step on sharp objects
zoe on March 11, 2018:
my room, at his current moment, has less than 20 things on the floor and my dressers are just a bit cluttered. my mother always says that it's "disgusting" and i can see why - she is a 'always tidy, everything must be clean' person. i am not. if there are no living creatures besides pets in my room, great. my room is definitely disorganized to some degree, but it's not disgusting. once i can't walk around without some clothes being in the way, i'll clean it. but for now, please let me be. high school saps the life and energy out of a person, and add extra activities, eating, sleeping and homework, sometimes we just don't have the time to clean every inch of our rooms.
Priscylla on January 18, 2018:
To be honest I don't think teenage girls should have to clean their disorganised room because there will go messy again in a couple of days sometimes hours. I'm a teen myself and I don't clean my room because I have a forgetful memory and won't remember where I put things whereas when my room is messy I find things more easily. Parents rule over everything in the house apart from rooms of their children and since the children only have one room to rule over they should at least have the privilege to make the room a space of their own.
Destiny on December 28, 2017:
I’m a teen and the view point I always have is, “Why clean itif nobody but me has to go in there?” They’ve always told me to stop being disrespectful or not to talk back. But that’s never worked. I HATE cleaning. Not just cleaning my room. I hate cleaning in general. I rarely come out of my room. I have everything I need in there. So, the real question to be asked is, “Why do parents want their kids rooms cleaned if they never have to go in there?” Well, because parents are narcissistic and liketo cause pain on their children. Just kidding. But the saying, “If you want it do it on your own then,” really works in this situation. Unless you have parents like mine who usually take everything out of your room and throw it away. So, all I have if they do that would be, my bed, tv, night stand and charging stuff. MAYBE they’ll leave my bookshelf for my school stuff.
Sabrina on December 20, 2017:
There is definitely a difference between an unorganized room and a dirty room. My room is 100% disorganized. Stuff is everywhere, and the "clothes on the printer" photo gives a similar peek into how my room is - no place to store stuff, I have a hard time giving/throwing old stuff away, and no one comes in my room besides me. My dad will complain occasionally, but my parents are done fighting about it, which I think is fair.
A dirty room, however, is a problem-causer and should be addressed as so. Bugs, mice, etc. are a huge problem, and can spread past the bedroom. I am not allowed to eat in my room, so I do not have this problem. Forcing teenagers to clean up after themselves to avoid a larger issue should be encouraged for parents. I think parents just need to assess the mess, and figure out what type of "messy" the room really is.
Mean Mom on December 20, 2017:
My teen daughter no longer has her own room because she kept it so nasty. I removed the equivalent of an 80 gallon garbage container of garbage from the room. The carpet is ruined and will need to be replaced. She now temporarily bunks in with her younger brother. She’s going on 18 and will move out this coming summer. Respect my house and rules or suffer the consequences.
Jadyn Robinson on October 28, 2017:
For those of you who think we should keep our rooms clean how about u come and do it for us...we preoccupy ouselvex with other stuff and since u have about 5 or 6 free hours than u come do it
Ellena Navarro on May 12, 2017:
I laugh at the folks that say let their room be. Yeah that's all fine and good until bugs start making their way from their room to the rest of the house. Their nasty rooms affects everyone therefore, at least put dirty dishes away and pick up your nasty underwear.
Joe Blow on April 18, 2017:
They should clean it, just to be organized and to be able to find things, also get out all the dirty clothes, and the clean clothes put away where they belong. WTF?
Natalie on January 11, 2015:
Maybe this is true for some people having a messy room when growing up, but I never did I like things to be organised and always have. My mum never had rules about cleaning our rooms we just did as we wanted too. To this day I still do not like mess and still like things to be in order.
Rose on January 12, 2013:
I'm 14 and i have a really messy room. I believe I have mice and My parents are not forcing me to clean it. I'm scared of mice and hate them. I know this is my fault but is there anyone out there that can help me get it clean in one day?
Rebecca on August 21, 2012:
I'm 15 years old and my mom and dad always complain to me about my room. The only reason I don't clean it is because I'm too lazy. I think of how long it would take for me to clean it and I get overwhelmed. When my mom does yell at me to clean, I really do try....but then 5 minutes later I'm distracted by all of the things I find. I'm really trying to work on my messiness. I've noticed that the condition of my room is affecting my school grades as well (Not being able to find an important paper because of my mess) I just need to figure out how to overcome procrastination and laziness. :/
Fran on May 31, 2012:
My room is a tip :D. I will carry on dumping stuff on my floor or bed until I get to the stage where even I am sick of it. I will tidy it up a bit and then it will be back to the same state within a month and the cycle repeats.
I lnow what clothes are clean and what's dirty; clean clothes are on my desk chair and smell of washing powder the rest is in a pile on the floor behind my door. It's organised chaos.
rebecca on May 07, 2012:
I am a teenage girl and I want to keep my room clean but I don't want to spend the time doing it.
Anjili from planet earth, a humanoid on April 26, 2012:
Thanks for the advice on teenage girls. I have several under my roof who make me blow my top whenever I peep in their rooms in their absence. You painted a clear picture on their private thoughts. However, I usually insist on each person having more than enough hangers around such that, none of them excuse their untidy mess. I have one daughter who has finished high school and refuses to spread her bed despite previous training. I hate untidy beds. They keep me away from the bedroom. Makes me wonder how she will maintain her own house in future. It might keep me away. I wish girls would be more careful.
Girl3Boy on August 06, 2011:
I am 15 years old. When I was in elementary school I always had REALLY much stuff on the floor, when I always woke up I did always look first down from my bed and I did see a mess and then I always became depress because in my dream my room were clean and by the way I have loft bed.
But know I clean my room without anyone say' it to me because if there are just little of stuff lay' around because I hate when stuff are lay' around and I have a lot off storage to my stuff but they will take to much space so know I have plot of my room and know I have to decide what I will throw a way and I got a plan I will clean one wardrobe with is in my room and put everything in there organized and all my clothes are next to my room in a very little stock tomorrow is clean' time.^^he he he he heee~~
Megan on June 08, 2011:
I have a tip for parents with a messy teenager (since I'm a messy "young adult"). Give them a decent sized room. Before my parents decided to move, I had a fairly large bedroom. I had the room to put in shelves and containers for my stuff. Sure my laundry was usually on the floor but it was dirty and it was washed when the washing machine was available (when you have a family of four, the washing machine works overtime). If I did have random debris on the floor, it didn't stay there long because it had a spot and there was room to get it to that spot.
In my new house (yes, still with mom and dad), my room is MUCH smaller. I can barely fit my bed, dresser, and bird in. Even that is pushing it. I have a hard time getting to my dresser so most of my clothes stay on baskets on the floor. I can't fit shelving of any kind and the closet is already full. I have no place for my things so they go wherever there is space.
If you can't get away with giving your teen a small bedroom, have another place they can store their "treasures". Someplace that you won't go. It could be a closet or another small room or anything really. As long as your kid knows that what goes in that room is for their eyes and you won't go through their belongings in that area. It's similar to a diary with a lock on it. What is in there is for your kid's eyes only.
graceomalley on February 05, 2011:
I am a mom of an 11 year old girl, and you have just helped me understand her room behavior better. Tomorrow i am going to follow your advice and get a few storage units.
nefia on January 18, 2011:
I'm 15 and have been kicked out of my house by my mum. she thought my room wasn't up to her OFF standards. my room is just the ,way I like it and having things all over is the only way I can function ESPECIALLY in my room. its the only thing I have any control over and by having someone constantly on my ass to clean it I feel more stressed and defiant than necessary. plus I have to worry about getting excellent grades on top of having everything orderly. by the time my homework is done I barely have time to sleep let alone clean my room.
Karla on December 20, 2010:
I keep a tidy home, although I remember that I didn't always keep a tidy room as a young girl. I try to cut my daughter some slack and I'm surprised to find that when she has the time, she ends up cleaning her own room. As long as the job gets done, I don't mind if she doesn't clean up as soon as I tell her to.
tina S on November 24, 2010:
I believe they should keep their rooms tidy. If they do not learn to keep their room tidy and in order, what will happen when they get married or get their own home? They will just continue to live in the same way. They will continue living in a messy, smelly, unorganized, cluttered house. Has anyone seen the TV series "how clean is your home"? That is what happens to people who do not learn to clean their homes.
joanne mathias on October 28, 2010:
You are just making excuses to do your work !!!!
Annette G on October 14, 2010:
I believe as a girl begins to mature especially an older teenage girl, she should clean up her mess and be responsible. There is no excuse for a big girl, and I mean big girl to be so blasted nasty. I cannot stand clutter. These girls need to get up off their ass and help around the house and especially to keep their rooms clean. They do not have a maid and it reeks of selfishness when they are so disgustedly untidy.
Nali on March 17, 2010:
I am 17, and this is one of the biggest issues I have with my parents. I agree with all of the points. May I also add, that sometimes it is about you are too tired to put things back in the right place, if they have one. I come home from track meets where I am too tired to even take my contacts out, let alone make sure everything in the right place. Or, unpreparedness. Like, if I have my a-game on, I may pick out my outfits for the next week, or next day. However, if I don't, all heck breaks loose on school-day mornings. And, I also have a problem with being late, so add 2 and 2 together and you get clothes all over the floor. Also, you might want to consider getting distracted. Because in the few times i have tried to clean my room, I'll start, go downstairs, and then BAM! its nighttime. Oh, that pile of clean shirts doesn't need to be hung up, I can tell what's clean if it is on the floor. BTW, I do my own laundry (most the time, if I remember). IDK, maybe that is just me, ADD. But, thanks for providing this article. It helps to know that I am not the only teen girl facing this dilemma.
Beth100 from Canada on January 19, 2010:
I'm laughing as I read this...same struggle with my daughter but I've learned to just let her be. She'll clean it up when she can't stand it! lol I just close the door, and it's out of my sight and out of my mind. Oh, she has plenty of storage...too much probably, but she still doesn't use them. I think she's over compensating for my over cleaniless, maybe?!? :D
marilyn ferrell on December 15, 2009:
i think that cleaning ur room is a waste of time if u dont like it then ill just close my door so u cant c it
LillyMoore on November 13, 2009:
I'm 15 and a love cleaning my room! Is that weird? Maybe, but I can't keep it clean enough! What's the point of having your own space if you can't even be bothered to take care of it? If you clean your room it shows your parents a bit of responsibility and respect. I don't see the points in teenagers trying to rebel against their parents rules about room cleaning because it just backfires on them, and then they have to live in a mess! Love this article, but I'm just defending all the teenage girls who do clean their rooms :)
Funnyhaha on November 03, 2009:
This is kinda weird but I luv the pics of the room it gives good examples, and I really like the article but im still kinda wondering how to/do I or them get my or their room so messy?!
sally on September 08, 2009:
thanks god my daughters room is not that messy.we've been bought up with European culture.so the girl gets taught to clean up at a very early age.even thou i thought she was messy seeing this photos made me realize that she is actually alright.i think she needs more storage like you said...
Rainbow Brite on January 22, 2009:
WAY too funny and very true! And btw, love the pic of the cat, my cat was doing that this morning. I was like ok, mice are NOT pillows, nor are they meant for you to chase! lol. In any case, I thoroughly agree with the points you have set forth here, and I would like to add that these habits may or may not follow us into our adult lives depending on the type of person we end up living with. Perfect example - my ex-husband was a pig! No matter where we lived when I was with him, it was always a pig sty and there was nothing I could do about it. Then we broke up and I moved in with someone who was a neat freak. The apartment stayed spotless 24/7. Got back with the ex, and the house got thrashed. You follow my line of logic here!