Roommate Rift: Apartment Cleaning

For a short time when I was in between roommates, I lived alone. I loved it with one exception, my imaginary roommate never did any of the cleaning. Cleaning is one of the unavoidable unpleasant things in life. I spend more time thinking about cleaning my apartment and working myself  up to do it than actually getting the job done. Ultimately the chore is never as unpleasant or time consuming as it seemed in my mind. 

However cleaning among roommates is even worse than cleaning alone. Some things just build up and even though no one really made the mess no one wants to clean up something that they don't feel responsible for. Standards of clean can be different among roommates and chore charts can be ignored.

As with most things, the way to tackle this issue is to talk about it early on. Weekly cleaning is the way to go. You can rotate chores or pick one for the duration of your time as roommates (i.e. Roommate "A" takes care of the kitchen, taking out the trash, moping the floor, cleaning counter tops; Roommate "B" takes care of the bathroom, as smaller area, but often thought of as a less desirable task). Some roommates have chores that are more desirable than others, so you may find this is the way for you. However if everyone thinks that cleaning hair out of the shower drain is the worst, a rotating chart may be the way to go.  

Set clear expectations. List out what needs to be done in which area and on what time frame. I had a roommate in college who would freak out if someone didn't clean the bathroom by 8 pm on Sunday night. My other roommates, procrastinating thought the week cycle ended on Monday night. She would also nag like crazy starting Friday afternoon, "when are you planing on cleaning the bathroom... don't forget it's your weekend to clean the bathroom... have you had a chance to clean the bathroom." It could be a good idea to make some rules regarding nagging and reminders. 

(Tip: Use google calendar to set chore appointments and reminders for everyone in your apartment for the term of your lease. This way no roommate has the play the mom, reminding others to do their chores)

Finally, clean up after yourself! Think of weekly cleaning as "wear and tear" cleaning, you shouldn't have noticed this chore being created, it just happens with living. Anything that is more is a mess, you should clean up after on your own. This means wash your own dishes, put your things back where they belong and clean up after any spills. 



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