Living with people is hard to do because no one really likes to compromise. Forget loud sex, doors left unlocked and battles for the bathroom...cleanliness is the root of most roommate frustrations, internalized, or otherwise. Finding fruit fly-infested old meat left to rot in the oven for weeks, rinsing away someone else's (or someone else's boyfriend's) pubes from the tub, picking up a hooded sweatshirt from the banister only to find its hood is full of barf, coming home after the worst day ever to find every single dish you own is dirty, a frosh-week-induced flu (barf again) isn't ever properly cleaned off the back of the can and the floor around it...that's all roomie real talk.
But what about the obsessively anal, drill sergeant-esque housemate who never fails to call you on your shit within split seconds, passive-aggressively picks up after you, all the while sighing like a tennis player and writes harsh to the household notes instead of speaking up? (Dude, I moved out of my mom's house for a reason.) Both sides of the spectrum are just as hard to manage. Maybe your chore-loving roomie implements a cleaning schedule---which is a brilliant idea if you're living with more than one other person---but if everyone's not on the same page, it's never going to fly. To guarantee one person doesn't do all the dirty work and that the schedule actually works properly, here are some tips for cleaning the lines of communication.
1 Determine what in the hell clean means. This sounds really stupid, but maybe one of your roomies hasn't actually ever scrubbed a tub before. Set the record completely straight: cleaning the toilet doesn't mean wiping the dust off with a piece of toilet paper. Air your pet peeves: "Is it so hard to rinse your beard trimming out of the sink afterwards?" And most importantly decide what kind of schedule is realistic for your household. Daily duties? Likely not. Set the bar at a realistic spot--- say, weekly responsibilities, like in our chart below---to avoid as much frustration as possible. Also, if there's a detail that really matters to you and none of the other mates, you'll know to take it on yourself.
2 If something bugs you---say, Roommate A always slacks with the mopping job and pretty much just moves dirt around---bring it up ASAP, in a friendly manner (no notes, plz). Be realistic with your expectations and keep your roomies' schedules in mind, but lay down the law immediately if you're annoyed rather than harbouring shower pube hatred for months. An easy way to avoid motherly tendencies---"Just checking whether you've done your weekly duty yet, I can really tell"---is to post your schedule somewhere very public, like the fridge. If you're leaning on the anal side, people can check off or highlight what they've done once they've done it.
3 If there are huge and awful jobs (cleaning up after a raging beer pong tourney, raking the backyard and bagging the leaves, doing a massive thorough clean after letting things slide a bit during exams) set a date and make it a team task. A cleaning party if you will. Shared responsibility holds people more accountable, meaning one person won't get stuck doing all the work, and...you do enjoy each other's company, right? TEAM WORK! Scrubbing bacon grease off a wall all alone can lead to rage-cleaning, but crank a little Katy Perry and crack open a few beer while you do chores with your buddies and suddenly it ain't so bad. OK, it'll still suck...but it doubles as bonding time.
Five easy things to do daily
Dishes. Whether you're as regimented as having a rotating daily dish duty schedule, follow the courtesy rule of "wash as you use" or somewhere in between, conquering dishes is one of the most important roomie relationship-builders.
Sweep the kitchen, because who wants old, rogue food chunks stuck to the bottoms of their feet? Also, we live in a city highly populated with rodents and they're into the stray snacks.
Wipe/rinse your aquamarine toothpaste gunk out from the sink. No one needs to see your spit-up and that stuff turns into cement mighty quickly.
De-clutter communal spaces. Did you leave a stack of papers in the living room? Are those your dirty socks under the kitchen table? Don't do that.
Keep your eye on the garbage. Don't be that guy who shoves the last possible piece of refuse in then doesn't tie the bag shut and move it.