Share House Cleaning Is Rarely Organised

Share House Cleaning Is Rarely Organised

Arguments over whose turn it is to wash the dishes are a common feature of house sharing. As a site keen on organisation, we’re disappointed to report that not many people try and solve that issue with a proper division of the cleaning tasks.

A survey of 724 people by accommodation sharing service EasyRoomMate suggests that despite the potential for annoyance, less than one in five share households actually bother to set up formal rosters for cleaning. Indeed, the option of letting one person do the cleaning was just about as popular as setting up a schedule. Most households simply settled for cleaning on an ad hoc basis, which is pleasingly informal but can also result in silent resentment building up over time.

How do you ensure your share house doesn’t turn into a pigsty? Share your strategies in the comments.


  • I’ve experienced the following… 10 years, 12 share houses, and about 20 different housemates…

    After many years of trying with limited success, I found the simplest, and least stressful method was to just keep one very small set of things I used… 1 bowl, 1 spoon, 1 knife, 1 fork, 1 cup, etc… I would wash these (and anything else I used) immediately and put them away. I then just ignored everyone else’s stuff (unless they cooked for me).

    You’re never going to align the planets when it comes to expectations in the level of cleanliness, and you’re not going to live together with your housemates forever. So the best thing to do is to keep the friendships the number 1 priority and just ignore the mess. Group houses are filthy by their very nature. Accept them for what they are and stay happy. Wait until you end up with your own place before getting stressed out about cleaning up.

    In the end its the friendships that count – you’d rather be remembered as an easy going and fun housemate than a grumpy, stuffy, angry clean freak! Just tidy up after yourself and don’t comment on your friends/housemates – they’ll respect you for it and will be more comfortable in *their* home too.

  • Depends on the house. I have lived in some wonderful communal places that had a sense of shared responsibility that wasn’t verbally communicated, just understood. Of course, that’s the exception – not the rule. The dilemma is if you say “wash the dishes”, you’re automatically a house nazi. I don’t want to be demoted to stiff and unfun housemate, so I just go the passive aggressive route. I keep my own key items in a box in the kitchen as something to fall back on if the shared stuff is dirty. In that case, I just take the dirty items outside and put it near the bins. It risks the ire of your housemates, but they get the message eventually.

    It is also important to remember that if you do clean up after other people, it will make the problem worse. People will come to expect it and when you do finally snap and confront them about it, they’ll get angry when they are forced to re-evaluate their assumptions. One leans a lot about human psychology when living in share houses.

  • Dean nailed it with different expectations of cleanliness. I sublet rooms to students during semesters, and my partner and I have a much higher standard than those we sublet to.

    We have a good reference for how much mess we make living together, especially the long term build up messes. With just the two of us we virtually never have to clean the microwave, mop the floors or scrub the cooktop (once every 3-4 months). With three students they’re all filthy every fortnight. None of them know how to wash up properly or seem not to care.

    Depending on the type of share house and lease conditions people are going to have differing amounts of responsibility and consideration for others. The lease is in our name and is ultimately our responsibility. We have a vested interest and they don’t.

    Keeping some separate utensils/dishes is a good idea, it’s the communal items like pots and pans that get left dirty for 48+ hours and can’t be chucked in the dishwasher that cause grief.

    Don’t be passive aggressive, it just makes you a tool.

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