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Living with Roommates? Here are Helpful Organization
Tips to Keep a Shared House Clean

December 18, 2018

If you live with roommates, you all won’t agree on some things that affect everyone involved, and housekeeping seems to be one area that can cause friction. With some open communication, a good cleaning schedule and some organization tips, it is possible to come up with a plan that works for everyone and keeps your place clean.

The first step is to get everyone together to figure out what cleaning tasks should be done, how often and by whom. Putting together a plan like this requires everyone’s commitment if it’s going to be successful, so make sure you have a buy-in from all of your roommates before getting started.

Organization Tips for Creating a Fair and Effective Cleaning Plan

Make a list of all the cleaning chores.

Start your plan by listing all of the cleaning tasks that will need to be completed regularly. Again, everyone should be involved in making this list, and it’s going to be important for everyone to keep an open mind. With some effort and good communication, you should be able to come up with a list that everyone is comfortable with and still gets the job done.

Determine how often each cleaning task should be done.

Some things like dusting and vacuuming may be done only weekly, while cleaning the fridge and scrubbing the toilets may need to be scheduled less often. You’re going to need some give and take for this stage, but you can come up with scheduling that is agreeable to everyone.

Figure out how long each chore should take and how hard it is to complete.

Once you have your list of cleaning tasks and everyone agrees the frequency, decide which ones are the more time-consuming and more difficult. Assigning these less-attractive chores evenly is important so that everyone feels they are being treated fairly.

Make a cleaning checklist or chart.

Now that you have all the details, it’s time to put your plan on paper so everyone will know what’s expected. There are plenty of references out there for creating a good cleaning chart or checklist, so you’re sure to find one that works for your particular situation. Have fun when you create your cleaning checklist and get everyone involved. The more input you get from everyone, the more likely they are to follow the plan.

Set deadlines

Whether it’s a daily, weekly or monthly cleaning task, set deadlines for when those chores should be completed. If it’s daily, agree on a specific time that you and your roommates should expect the chore to be completed. If it’s weekly or monthly, decide on a day or date the chores should be completed.

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Assign each chore to a specific roommate.

Each cleaning chore needs to be assigned, and it’s a good idea to find out what cleaning tasks your roommates enjoy, or at least which ones they hate! One roommate may not mind vacuuming, while another hates the very idea. These are the things you want to get out in the open upfront to make your cleaning schedule as efficient as possible.

Keep communication open.

Just because everyone helps with the planning and you’ve all come up with an acceptable chart or schedule, that doesn’t mean things are set in stone.  If the chore chart isn’t working for someone or some task, get together and talk about it. Personal schedules change, and there will always be unexpected circumstances, so everyone should be prepared to make changes when necessary.

So everyone is on board, and you’ve come up with a nifty cleaning chart that covers all the bases. The key to making this plan a success is going to be for everyone to agree that they will stick to the schedule and always be responsible for cleaning up after themselves. If everyone agrees, you can plan to revisit your cleaning schedule quarterly or within some other time-frame to keep things from becoming too tedious.

Now is also an excellent time to share and discuss organization tips for keeping the schedule on track. Keep reading to learn about some great organization tips and tricks to keep your new cleaning schedule on track and make cleaning easier for everyone.

Use These Organization Tips and Tricks to Make Cleaning Chores Easier

Purge the clutter.

The first step to getting your home set up for ongoing cleaning success is to get rid of all that stuff no one needs. Shared housing can often mean smaller spaces, so any unneeded clutter is going to have an impact. Many of us defend our hoarding tendencies with thoughts like, “What if I need that someday?” or some other thin defense. But the truth for most of us is that there is a lot of stuff we could get rid of if we really thought about it.

Once you decide that it’s okay to throw away that stack of National Geographics that have been collecting dust for two years in den, you are off and running. The key at this stage is to purge ruthlessly. All that stuff has been piling up, often for years, and now it’s time just to let it go. Take a look around and identify things that you haven’t used in the last year or so and start making those tough decisions. And don’t forget to include your kitchen. Trust us, there’s a lot more in your kitchen that you realize!

Maximize closet space.

Closets can become depositories for clutter so they should be a top priority when it comes time to purge. Once you get them back looking like a closet again, it’s a good idea to set up a closet organization system to maximize space. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive; it just has to work for keeping things organized. Think of additions like shelves and hooks to make your closet more efficient at storing items.

In most closets there is often unused space either at the top of the closet, the bottom, or both. Could you fit that little dresser into the bottom of the closet instead of having it shoved right up next to your bed? Do you have room to put in some shelves all the way to the top for storing books and other items you don’t access often? Could you use a closet for double-duty like setting up a closet near the kitchen as a pantry and a place to hang coats?

Utilize vertical space.

Making the most of vertical space should be one of the more obvious organization tips, but most of us get so used to that unused space that we don’t give it a second thought.

Just like with urban planning, when you can’t build out, build up! Just like in most closets, there is often a lot of extra space higher up throughout most homes, so that presents a great opportunity to get creative with storage options.

Tall bookshelves, wall-mounted shelving, baker’s racks, pegboard and other storage options can make a big difference when it comes to decluttering and keeping things organized. We’re not suggesting you give your apartment or house a makeover to give it a chic “warehouse” look; we’re just letting you know that you have a lot of space you’re not using efficiently. Creating optimum storage solutions, even in small spaces, doesn’t have to mean ending up with an unattractive decor. With some imagination and planning, you can keep your place feeling like home and win the storage war.

Be very vigilant about what comes into your home.

If you’ve gone to the trouble of designing your cleaning chart, ruthlessly purged your home of unnecessary items and optimized your home’s storage capabilities, you certainly don’t want to end up back where you started. Maybe you and your roommates aren’t actually hoarders, but we all know how difficult it can be to refuse anything free or pass on those “treasures” we run across! From that cool little ottoman your uncle is giving away to that “unbelievably unique” chair your roommate found at the thrift store, there’s always going to be a temptation.

The only way to make sure all of your hard work was worth the effort is to learn to say “no.” You and your roommates have to be very picky about bringing anything new into your household inventory. If you just can’t resist bringing in some more stuff, at least put a little thought into it. It’s a good idea to only bring home an item that serves multiple functions when possible and to think ahead about how it will fit into your streamlined and organized home. Say “no” to clutter so you can say “yes” to a clean and organized place to call home.

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