Living alone certainly has its perks — watching anything you like on Netflix, the ability to keep food that only you love in the fridge, and being as loud as you like at any time of the day, to name a few — but one of its main drawbacks is the fact that all the bills, rent, and chores must be dealt with solo. For that reason, one of the biggest perks of having a roommate is having someone to share the burden of dishes, vacuuming, and dusting with. But when you live in an apartment with one or more roommates, how do you decide who does what or what constitutes an even share of the chores? And what do you do if one of your roommates isn’t quite pulling their weight when it comes to chores?
Splitting up the household responsibilities doesn’t have to be a chore (sorry — we had to). Let’s go over some ground rules for evenly splitting up household chores for a more harmonious, and most importantly cleaner, home life.
Make a List of Everything that Needs to Get Done
Every household is set up a little differently. Some houses have huge kitchens with built-in dishwashers and deep sinks, full laundry rooms with plenty of shelving and space for baskets, and large bathrooms with built-in vanities and lots of storage space for toiletries. If you live in an apartment, you might have all, some, or none of those things, which might make the process of keeping your home clean a little more challenging.
For example, if your apartment doesn’t have a dishwasher, it’s likely going to take you much longer to do dishes (and dishes are probably going to pile up faster in the sink). If your apartment doesn’t have a ton of storage space in the bathroom, things tend to get cluttered rather quickly.
As you take into account the things your apartment does and doesn’t have as far as space, storage, and tools go, make a list of everything that needs to be done on a weekly basis.
You can go about actually splitting up the tasks in a couple of ways:
Have All Roommates Do Their Individual Chores Separately:
This method of splitting chores typically works best for college roommates or roommates who are just getting to know each other. Splitting things up individually means that if you cook for yourself, you clean up your mess (fairly soon after you’re done eating). Your roommate isn’t responsible for cleaning up your mess and you’re not responsible for cleaning up theirs. Obviously, this could get tricky if you are a neat freak and they’re a bit more relaxed when it comes to cleaning, but for the most part this system can work if everyone agrees to hold up their end of the deal.
Assign Specific Areas or Tasks to Roommates:
This method of splitting chores typically works best for roommates who have been living together for a long time or who were pretty good friends before they started rooming together. Assigning specific areas or tasks to different roommates means that one roommate will be responsible for vacuuming once a week and another roommate will be responsible for doing the dishes. You could even break things down into a chore chart if you want to get really technical with it (although we only recommend doing this if you know the person pretty well— otherwise you might come across as a little high-strung).
Split Up Who Buys the Cleaning Supplies
So not only do you have to worry about who does what in the household, but you also have to take note of who is buying what cleaning supplies to actually clean the house with. And let’s face it: cleaning supplies aren’t cheap. Dishwasher detergent, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and other cleaning accessories can add up fast.
It’s unfair to expect one roommate to cover the entire cost — and it doesn’t quite make sense to have each roommate buy an individual bottle of Windex.
The best way to deal with this issue is to have each roommate be responsible for refilling a cleaning item once it runs out. Keep tabs on who paid last, and then you’ll know whose responsibility it is when you run out the next time. Alternatively, you could all go grocery shopping together, get everything you need in the cleaning aisle, and split the tab down the middle.
What Should I Do if My Roommate Won’t Clean?
Everyone has a different definition of the word “clean.” For some people, it simply means that the dishes are put away. For others, it means that the floor is so sparkly that you could literally eat off it. When roommates live together and one person’s idea of cleanliness clashes with the other’s, tensions can start to rise.
If you are having difficulty with a roommate who isn’t pulling their weight, take a step back and really think about whether or not they’re actually not doing anything or if they’re simply not meeting your high expectations. If they really aren’t cleaning at all, don’t be afraid to confront them. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind stepping their game up a little bit in the kitchen or if they wouldn’t mind running the vacuum every once in a while.
If they’re still not budging after a few (polite yet firm) confrontations, you may want to try to figure out a different living situation when you can. After all, it’s just not worth it to live with someone who expects you to do all the work.