Taking Care of Chores When Living With a Roommate

Living with a roommate can be a tricky business. Do you know them already? If not, do you try to be friends with them? Either way, communication is essential to making sure you live in the most harmonious apartment possible. Otherwise- chaos.

One of the biggest issues between new and old roommates is chores. Ideally, before moving in with a roommate, you’ll have an idea of how they live, and more specifically, how they clean. If you haven’t approached your roommate about the subject of chores and apartment cleaning, here’s a quick guide to how you can start!

Establish what “clean” means.

Clean has different meanings for different people! Your definition might be shining surfaces and a bed you can bounce a quarter off of. But on the other hand, your roommates definition of clean might be just the act of moving 8 dirty mugs from a table to the sink. If you and your roommate have the same definition from the start – lucky you! However, if you and your roommate fall on opposite ends of the cleaning spectrum, do your best to meet in the middle and find a definition of clean that will appease both of you.

Make a list

Sit down and create a list of chores that need to be taken care of and how often they need to be done. If you’re clueless about chores and looking for some guidance, here’s a quick outline of typical housekeeping chores:


  • Doing the dishes
  • Feeding pets
  • Preparing meals
  • Wiping down commonly used surfaces
  • Watering plants


  • Dusting
  • Sweeping
  • Vacuuming/Mopping
  • Washing bedding
  • Taking out the trash


  • Cleaning the fridge
  • Changing or cleaning air filters
  • Cleaning the blinds
  • Vacuuming furniture and/or curtains

Divide and conquer

Divide up the chores. You like vacuuming but hate dishes? Great. Volunteer to do the vacuuming each week if your roommate does the dishes. Try to divide chores as equally as possible so everyone in the apartment is pulling their weight. If you really want to spice up your cleaning (because this stuff is exciting), rotate chores every few weeks so your mind stays fresh. No seriously, multiple studies have shown that your brain works best when participating in novel activities every few weeks!

Make a calendar

Work better when you’re on a schedule? Hold you and your roommate(s) accountable by putting together a chore calendar or chore wheel.  If you’re going to do a chore wheel or chore list, make sure all roommates are on board with it! Some roommates can find a chore list or wheel insulting and overbearing so it’s important to communicate with them prior to assigning any chores or hanging up any dang lists. But if everyone agrees that a calendar is a helpful way to keep track of essential chores, then by all means hang up that list!

Set reminders

If you’re prone to forgetting about doing chores (it happens!), set up a recurring alarm on your phone so you don’t forget. Yes, sometimes we come home from work and the last thing we want to do if take a broom to the kitchen tile, but having an alarm annoyingly going off reminding you of responsibilities is a step in the right direction.

Split up costs

Dividing the cost of cleaning supplies between all roommates can help make sure that everyone is contributing equally to the household. As far as budgeting goes, financially investing in cleaning supplies may also make everyone feel a bit more motivated and invested in household cleaning. Here’s a list of common cleaning supplies you and your roommate may need:

  • A general cleaning bucket and cleaning gloves
  • Disinfectant cleaner/ Glass cleaner
  • Microfiber scrub pads
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Toilet bowl brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Floor cleaner
  • Duster
  • Trash bags
  • Trash can
  • Paper towels

Your cleaning list will vary based on the surfaces in your apartment and the type of cleaning it requires, so this is just a starting point!

A clean apartment will give you and your roommate piece of mind. Clean rooms reduce stress and anxiety, both in your personal life and between you and your roommate. A clean apartment will also reduce the chance of getting sick, especially since cold & flu season is officially here! Just remember, communication is essential between roommates, especially when it comes to chores. When in doubt, talk it out and then do those dishes.

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Author My First Apartment

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Digital marketing specialist from Milwaukee, WI. I semi-hibernate through Wisconsin winters and eventually make it to spring. My hobbies include reading, piano, the gym (gains?), and spoiling my puppy. I've never met a hobby I didn't like. Follow along on my journey of apartment triumphs and defeats, served with a hearty side of sarcasm.

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