10 tips for coping with a share house kitchen

For those of you that live in share houses, you’ll know how catastrophic shared kitchens can become if left unchecked. It can be a bit of a nightmare sharing a kitchen with several other people so here are a few tips to help keep your kitchen clean, tidy and usable in a share house situation.

1. Hire a cleaner

If you live with several other people, adding a cleaner to the cost of your rent won’t make that much difference to anyone’s budget. Have the cleaner come in once every fortnight and give the kitchen (and the rest of the house) a good clean. When a kitchen is clean, people tend to want to keep it clean so this is a worthwhile investment for the usability of the shared kitchen.

2. Have a roster

There’s no guarantee that a roster will work but it’s worth a try. Allocate one person, once a week to give the kitchen a proper clean. A good scrub of the kitchen counters, any pots and pans that are lying around and throw out anything that’s in the fridge.

  • Use a roster for a once-a-week proper clean

3. Live with like-minded people

Some people need to have a spotless kitchen and other people are more relaxed. There’s no right or wrong way to live but if you’re going to freak out about a cereal bowl sitting in the sink all day, it’s probably best that you don’t live with someone who is allergic to packing the dishwasher. Similarly if you don’t mind a few coffee mugs on the counter tops you might want to think twice about living with someone who expects a full sterilisation of the kitchen every time someone makes a cup of tea. If you’re on same cleaning wavelength as the people you live with it make for a much happier share house experience.

4. Keep your stuff separate

If it gets really bad in the kitchen and you can’t handle it, simply take your own bowl and cup to the kitchen, use them, wash them up and then return them to your room. Sometimes you’re fighting a losing battle trying to get your housemates to stop living like animals, so just remove yourself from the filth.

5. Be reasonable

Sometimes your housemates will leave a saucepan in the sink to ‘soak’ for a few days and while it’s very annoying, it’s not the end of the world. Try to be understanding, particularly if your housemates are great most of the time.

6. Use the one plate system

If you have to have an intervention, take away all of the plates and cups in the kitchen and allocate each house member one plate and one cup. If they want to use their plate or cup, they have to keep them clean and ready to use because there won’t be any other options. This works well when you live with lots of other people or if you live in a forced sharing environment like a university or school.

7. Name and shame

If you know who the culprit is that keeps cooking ten-course meals and then refusing to clean anything, name and shame them. If they think they’re getting away with it, they might keep doing it. Just let them know that you’re aware of who is being lazy with the kitchen maintenance and it might just deter them.

8. Organise a cleaning roster on a usage system

If you live with a housemate who is interstate 3 out of 4 weeks every month and you cook yourself a beautiful meal every night while they rarely even step foot in the kitchen, it should be your responsibility to do most of the extra kitchen cleaning. It’s a bit rough asking someone to mop the floor of a kitchen they’ve only used to make tea twice in last month while you’ve been going Jamie Oliver in there three times day.

Don’t expect too much from a housemate who barely uses the kitchen.

9. Clean as you go

If you have lots of people cooking dinners at once in the evenings, fill up the sink with hot soapy water so people can clean as they go. This works brilliantly for high-traffic times of the day and saves that horrible build up of mess that happens when four people try to cook four different dinners at the same time.

10. Make the rules very clear

Everyone has different standards of cleaning, so make sure there are blanket rules that everyone is aware of. Make a list and stick it to the fridge. Some people don’t mind a tea cup in the sink and others abhor it – make the rules clear so everyone knows where they stand.


Originally published as 10 tips for coping with a share house kitchen by Carly Jacobs. Author at realestate.com.au