5 Tips for Avoiding Roommate Cleaning Drama!

Living with a new set of roommates comes with unique challenges, from getting used to each others schedules and preferences to sharing your living space with them! That’s generally where cleaning drama can start to unfold – living with roomies that have different expectations of cleanliness than you do! But, this doesn’t need to be a deal breaker!

Whether you’re a neat-freak or self-proclaimed slob, part of your responsibility in your apartment is keeping it tidy and clean. Your security deposit is on the line upon move-out, and you want your first place to be one you’re proud of! To manage (and AVOID!) cleaning drama between roommates, follow these quick tips.

Set expectations up front

When you move in with new roommates, schedule an hour to go through key expectations – things like ‘quiet hours,’ hosting guests, splitting food, paying bills, and yes… cleaning. While it may feel like a weird way to get to know your roommates, having this formal “meeting” to set expectations can be a lifesaver later on, because it’s all out in the open.

Consider your expectations when it comes to cleanliness (use the next tip!) and share honestly. If you are both neat freaks, ensure you’re “freaky” about the same things, and same goes if you’re both a little unkempt.

Establish needs vs nices

Now, think through priorities for cleanliness and share them during your conversation with new roommates. “Needs” may be things like: No overflowing trash can, limit dirty dishes left in the sink, or no soap scum ring around your tub. “Nices” may be things like wiping down countertops, limited clutter, etc.

Consider the things that really make your skin crawl (for me, it’s old dirty dishes in the sink…BLEH) and make a list of key cleaning priorities for your apartment to tackle.

Set a schedule 

Based on your and your roommates’ “needs” and “nices,” build a reasonable schedule for cleaning – and feel free to split tasks by person, too! Here’s a quick sample…

Daily            Clean out sink             Clean own dishes
Daily            Put away clutter          Tidy own clutter
Weekly        Take out trash             Stephanie
Weekly        Wipe counters            Morgan
Weekly        Clean toilet                 Marian
Weekly        Empty dishwasher    Rotation
Bi-weekly   Wipe down shower   Rotation

The idea is to take key cleaning activities and divide them fairly. If Stephanie HATES having trash overflow and doesn’t mind taking a walk to the dumpster, give her that chore! Then, set expectations for the cleanliness items each roommate should take care of themselves.

Another idea that worked great for some friends of mine (if you have kind roommates!): Put a whiteboard on your refrigerator and list out various chores: taking out trash, doing dishes, unloading dishwasher, vacuuming. Then, when you do one of those chores, write your name underneath the chore. If you notice one roommate doing more (because you’ll see it on your fridge!) make sure to step up. This is a great method for roommates that have already lived together or know each other well.

Assign accountability

Now that you’ve had this great conversation about cleanliness, position your roommates well for accountability. Print your chore schedule and post it to your refrigerator! You can even build a quick version with check boxes to help ensure each chore takes place in a timely manner. If you find that your roommates (or you!) aren’t meeting the expectations you set, talk to them about it and adjust as needed.

Note about Pets

If you have pets in your apartment, take extra time to set expectations on cleaning up after the pet. If it has an accident inside when the owner isn’t home, should other roomies clean it up or leave it? If the pet sheds, should the owner be tasked with vacuuming or sweeping more often? Have an open conversation with your roommates on what feels fair to everyone.

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Author My First Apartment
Sarah

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Sarah is a dog lover and advocate for conversation & laughing at your own jokes. Since finishing her college career in communications, she began working (and living) in Atlanta. After living in a few different apartments over the last few years, she's ready to share experiences. Stay tuned for adventures, tips and advice!

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