A Failsafe Guide To Cleaning In A Flat Share – From People Who've Made It Work

Piles of unwashed dishes getting you down? Avoid that pass-ag life.

The chances are that if you’ve ever lived in a house share – at uni, with friends or, at the rate house-buying among millennials is going, forever and a day – you’ll have either secretly seethed with irritation at someone’s tidying habits or had a full on clash over cleaning.

Whatever your living situation and whichever your own approach – laid back about mess or fastidiously tidy in the face of other people’s laziness – sharing chores with others can be a pain. But there are ways to make it work.

We asked people for tips on achieving house cleaning in a flat share.

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Take a long, hard look at your own cleaning habits.

Your flat is messy. But are you the problem? This may be a hard question to ask yourself. But taking an honest look at your own cleaning habits is a worthwhile exercise if you want to live harmoniously.

Are you one of those people who leaves unwashed dishes on the side for days? Who never cleans down the sides after cooking and walks past the overspilling bins each day? If any of this rings a bell, then change starts with you, my friend.

But if you’ve established your cleaning habits are tip-top and your flatmate is to blame, then read on for top tips on how to make it work.

Establish some golden rules.

Living with other people isn’t always easy – even if they are great friends. Not only do we all tend to have different working hours, commitments and hobbies, but pet hates and standards of cleanliness also differ. Establishing golden cleaning rules will stand you in good stead for trouble-free living.

Becca McAuley, 22, lived with five girlfriends while studying at the University of Exeter trouble-free. The group established some rules in the house, including “basic stuff like not leaving your stuff on the side after eating”.

“We’d all make sure after eating that we’d wash our plates straight away, or if someone else was in the kitchen we’d make sure our stuff was out of their way first,” she tells HuffPost. “We were all quite respectful in that way – but we felt quite lucky when we saw the state of some of our friends’ houses.”

Stick to a rota.

Becca McAuley (far right) and her housemates.
Becca McAuley
Becca McAuley (far right) and her housemates.

McAuley says establishing a rota helped to keep living spaces clean. The group of six women divided tasks into six jobs: hoovering, cleaning the three bathrooms, changing the bins and cleaning the kitchen. The rota changed each week so the division of labour was split fairly – and the flatmates didn’t have any arguments as a result. It was also printed out and stuck to the noticeboard, so that nobody could forget.

“We were all quite particular about the cleaning, none of us wanted to live in an unclean house,” says McAuley. “The two main things that could make it difficult were if someone went home for the week or the weekend [when] we tended to do the cleaning. But we got that we had to pull our own weight so we’d just do it the day after we got back from the flat. It could be difficult around deadlines but we’d all [get stuck in] and do it, it was never too major.”

It’s not about being completely rigid with the rota, McAuley adds, As the group were good friends, they also supported each other when needed. For example, if someone was “having a bad day” the others chipped in to help. “And if the bins were overflowing but the person whose job it was wasn’t there we’d just do it, and didn’t make a big deal out of it.”

Get a cleaner

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Jasmin, a 27-year-old living in London with three friends, recommends getting a cleaner for communal spaces. “We have had a cleaner since December and it costs £40 fortnightly. It has been great to have all the communal areas of the house cleaned so we can enjoy spending more time together as a house without having to clean as often,” she says.

While paying for a cleaner might not be an option for everyone, especially if you’re tight for cash, Jasmin says can help to remove the burden of bigger cleaning jobs. “Our cleaner is also great because she mops, hoovers and cleans the surfaces in our rooms too,” she says. “I would really recommend getting a cleaner (if you can afford it).”