Roommate courtesy

Frank Lillig

Having a roommate or roommates during one’s college years has many great financial and social benefits. It’s a great way to keep living costs down and host gatherings where one can meet many dynamic, eclectic, and diverse people. But sometimes it can be a hassle to deal with the day-to-day chores and household business. What happens when there are no more dishes to use because they’re all dirty? What happens if there is a mountain of trash that is about to go all Mount Vesuvius in the back stairwell? Who will buy the next drum of toilet paper? The best way to keep tempers down and friendships alive while living together is to deal with these issues courteously.

When dealing with roommates, it is best to pick your battles. Whether it’s about whose turn it is to wash the dishes or take out the trash, remember that these are relatively small issues. If it is such a big deal, be the better person and just do it. There is absolutely no need to argue with a roommate for hours because no one has cleaned the bathroom and the landlord is coming over. In the time it would take to argue about it, the bathroom could have been cleaned many times over.

When it comes to food, I tend not to share unless asked. There are only a couple communal things in the fridge that are for everyone. Even then, I am a little hard pressed to give it up. Just be courteous about what is being taken and put it back where you got it. When it comes to cooking, the adage in the house where I grew up was “Cooks don’t clean” — if you cooked, you didn’t have to clean the dishes afterward. However, now I do not accept this mentality.  I tend to clean up my messes while I am cooking. I clean my cooking utensils once I am done using them and unless there is still some food left in the pot or pan, I will clean that too and then go eat. It helps keep the kitchen clean and ready for the next use.

It also helps to be observant. If you know that your roommate keeps things a certain way, and it isn’t in your way, don’t mess with it. It’s unnecessary to reorganize the kitchen because you couldn’t find the can opener; just put the can opener somewhere else and tell your roommates. If you borrow your roommate’s stuff, return it the way you got it and put it back where you found it. Or give back to the one you loaned it from at the very least.

The best way to deal with most of these issues is to be on top of them before they become issues. Cleaning dishes, taking out trash, and cleaning bathrooms is easily enough taken care of if you don’t allow messes to accumulate and turn into disasters. It usually takes a minute, a little bit every day to keep things tidy and clean, or you can put it off and turn it into a whole day thing with friends if you are lucky enough to have friends who are willing to help clean a nasty house.