One of the biggest issues in apartment living is making sure all roommates are doing their fair share to keep the apartment clean. Many otherwise happy roommate relationships have quickly gone downhill when all parties weren’t on the same page about cleaning. The key to avoiding this situation is establishing expectations early, and keeping all roommates accountable.
1. Establish a definition of clean. Before you even move in together, you and your future roomie should have an honest conversation about what each of you considers to be sufficiently clean. You don’t have to agree perfectly on everything. But if you like your apartment to look straight out of a magazine and she’s more lax about her apartment living situation, then you’re clearly going to run into some problems.
In addition to defining clean, you should also define dirty. There is a difference between being a bit messy and being downright dirty. While you might find a couple articles of clothing occasionally strewn around the living room to be annoying, it’s probably not on par with a week’s worth of dirty dishes piling up in the sink.
2. Create a cleaning schedule or chore chart. A simple chore chart with weekly or monthly chore assignments can keep everyone on track and accountable. Just make a list of all the chores that need to be done and assign each to a roommate along with a due date.
Can’t agree on who should do what? You can rotate chores so everyone is responsible for each chore an equal number of times. Alternately, you can assign chores based on everyone’s weighted preference using a chore calculator.
3. Keep each other accountable. Make sure your chore chart is someplace where everyone can see it. Hopefully the social pressure will keep everyone on track and your apartment living situation peaceful. However, if doesn’t, be sure to address the problem quickly, tactfully, and with respect. Bring up to the offending roommate that you noticed they haven’t been completing their chores on time. Offer to switch chores with them or give suggestions on ways they might make the chores less of a hassle.
Make sure to keep the conversation about the state of the apartment and not about the roommate’s behavior. “I’m worried we’re going to get ants in the kitchen because the dishes haven’t been washed in a few days” is likely going to be better received and more productive than “You never wash the dishes and now our kitchen is filthy.”
You may also want to consider adding some sort of penalty for repeatedly missing chores. For example, roommates who miss more than one due date during the month might have to buy the other roommates dinner or pay the entire Internet bill for the month.
Have you ever had different ideas of cleanliness than a roommate? How did you handle the situation? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter.