Essential Shower Etiquette for College Roommates

Living with a roommate is a big deal and the thought of sharing a bathroom can be daunting. A big part of a successful, happy, and healthy roommate relationship is proper shower etiquette.

Some of your roommates may have it already while others might be learning it “on-the-job.” If you are experiencing issues in your bathroom, or if you are about to embark on your first roommate situation, here are eight potential problems you may face and eight solutions you can use to clean things up right away.

1. Problem: The floor is always wet.

Solution: Talk to your roommate about purchasing a bath mat. You can get one for as cheap as $10. Bath mats are an inexpensive way to save the hassle of wet floors. Talk to your roommate about wiping off her feet with her towel before stepping onto the mat. This way the mat is nice and cushiony on your feet, but does not get too wet.

If the mat does get wet, drape it over the tub side or shower door after each shower. This helps ensure it has time to dry.

2. Problem: There are bathroom products and empty bottles everywhere.

Solution: If your shower is filled with products like shampoos, conditioners, and body washes, suggest that you and your roommate each get a shower caddy. You can then decide to bring it back and forth with you each time you shower or just keep the items in your respective baskets in the shower. This should help keep things tidier.

People often forget to take empty bottles out of the shower. Try keeping a small recycling bin next to the trashcan in the bathroom. It is much easier to remember to take care of recyclables if you have a place to put them in the bathroom.

3. Problem: There is soap scum all over the tiles.

Solution: Talk to your roommate about taking turns scrubbing the shower a few times a week. Some people keep shower cleaners and a scrub brush in the shower at all times. This is a great reminder to clean the shower tiles. If one or both of you are not comfortable keeping the cleaning products in the shower, then keep them somewhere else in the bathroom, for example, under the sink.

The easiest way to ensure scrubbing gets done is to have the cleaning supplies easily accessible. Bleach is a good alternative to scrub sprays, and you don’t have to use it as often. Just make sure to dilute the bleach with water; do not get any in your eyes or on your clothes, and be sure to wash it off completely.

4. Problem: My roommate and I are on very similar schedules.

Solution: Plan your morning schedules carefully. One of the most important aspects of roommate etiquette is being mindful and respectful of each other’s time and schedule. If you both have a 9 a.m.class, for example, come up with a routine that works for both of you. One of you may offer to wake up earlier to shower, or you may agree to take turns waking up earlier every other day. Another option is for someone to shower at night. Be flexible. Both parties should have the opportunity to be happy, so be willing to make compromises.

5. Problem: My roommate leaves his/her clothes in the bathroom.

Solution: If your roommate forgets to take his clothes out of the bathroom after he showers, chances are he started this habit long before he moved in with you. He might be used to a hamper in the bathroom to throw dirty clothes directly into it before a shower. Suggest keeping a hamper in the bathroom if there is space to do so. You can get a basic one for $9. For $5 more, you can get a more decorative one. If you do not like the idea of a hamper in the bathroom, then talk to your roommate in a calm and respectful manner about being more mindful of grabbing the clothes as he leaves the bathroom. And remember not to leave your clothes in there either!

6. Problem: There is hair in the drain.

Solution: The dreaded hair problem. This is an issue that all people face. No matter what we do, we always end up with hair in the drain. Hair can’t be avoided — it just has to be cleaned up. If you notice hair in the drain often, talk to your roommate about both of you checking the drain after each shower even if there is nothing visible. Both of you should get in the habit of checking and then removing the hair. This will ensure the drain is always clear. Staying on top of this will also help avoid potential clogs.

7. Problem: My roommate is using my toiletries.

Solution: If you notice your toiletries disappearing at a faster rate than you are using them, you may want to talk to your roommate about sharing shower items. You may decide to share toiletries and then split the cost of them. This can really cut down the expense. However, if you have certain shampoos or conditioners that you do not want anyone else to use, talk to your roommate about each of you using your own items. You can always bring your stuff with you when you leave the bathroom (see solution two). This will ensure you are the only one who uses them. Also, be sure to ask before you borrow something from your roommate. This will cut down the likelihood that she will borrow something from you without asking.

8. Problem: There are towels on the floor.

Solution: If you are facing a towels-always-on-the-floor dilemma, purchase a few over-the-door hooks. There are some inexpensive ones out there like these. If a towel has already been on the floor, do not hang it up on the hook. Wash it before using it again. Talk to your roommate about other places to hang wet towels to dry properly. A door may be a good choice until you are able to get a towel bar or hooks.

When living with roommates, try to be a problem solver, keep communication open, and always follow your own rules and expectations. Your roommate is more likely to take care of the apartment if you are as well. Be respectful and mindful of each other’s wants, needs, schedules, and items.

The space should be home to both of you. If you are both comfortable and happy, then you know you have a successful roommate relationship!

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