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Rules for Sharing a College Bathroom

Some Public Rules Can Make a Private Place a Little More Pleasant


Rules for Sharing a College Bathroom
(Shannon Fagan / Getty Images)

Whether you're living in the residence halls or in an off-campus apartment, you'll still have to deal with the inevitable: the college bathroom. If you're sharing a bathroom with one or more people, chances are there's going to be some funkiness before too long. So just what can you do to prevent a place no one wants to think about from turning into the issue everyone needs to talk about?

Below is a list of topics that should be covered in a discussion with people you share a bathroom with. And while some suggested rules are included, it's important to make sure everyone's on board and adjust, add, or eliminate rules as necessary. Because with everything else you have going on in college, who wants to be dealing with the bathroom all the time?

Issue 1: Time. Just like all other areas of your college life, time management can be a problem when it comes to the bathroom. Sometimes, there's high demand for the bathroom; other times, no one uses it for hours. Figuring out how to allocate time in the bathroom can be one of the most important issues. After all, if everyone wants to take a shower at 9:00 in the morning, things are going to get ugly. Make sure to discuss what time people want to use the bathroom to shower at night or in the morning, how long each person wants or needs, if it's okay to have other people in the bathroom while it's being used by someone else, and how other people can know when someone else is officially done.

  • Ideal Time Rules: Create a schedule during the busiest times for when each person can shower, etc.
  • Realistic Time Rules: Have a general understanding -- e.g., Marcos usually gets done by 8, Octavio usually gets done by 8:30 -- of when people come in and out and plan accordingly.

Issue 2: Cleaning. There is nothing grosser than a nasty bathroom. Well, maybe a ... no. Nothing grosser. And while it's inevitable that a bathroom is going to get dirty, it's not inevitable that it will get gross. Try to think about cleaning the bathroom in three different ways. First, the daily yuck: Do people need to rinse the sink out (from toothpaste, say, or from bits of hair from shaving) after they use it? Do people need to clean their hair out of the drain every time they shower? Second, think about the short-term yuck: If you live off campus and don't have cleaning services coming every week, how often does the bathroom need to get cleaned? Who is going to do it? What happens if they don't? Is cleaning it once a week not enough? Third, think about the longer-term yuck: Who washes things like bathmats and hand towels? What about cleaning the shower curtain? How often do all of these things need to be cleaned, and by whom?

  • Ideal Cleaning Rules: Have a schedule of who cleans the bathroom, when, and what specifically needs to be done. Also have general rules for things like cleaning up hair and rinsing out the sink. Have each person assigned to take a shift doing a quick 15 minute clean-up every other day.
  • Realistic Cleaning Rules: Ask people to leave the bathroom like they found it and generally clean up after themselves. Have an agreement in place that when the bathroom reaches critical nastiness, someone puts on crazy music and everyone cleans it at once so that many hands make light work.

(Next page: Guests and Sharing.)

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