Back To School: Tips For Harmonious College Bathroom Sharing

roommates sharing bathroom
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September is once again knocking at the door, and with it the return to normal school-time routines. But for many young adults, it announces a big change: going to college.

College is a fun and exciting time, but it can also bring up anxieties. Among them, moving out of your parents' house and living with roommates, either in a dorm or in an apartment, can be a pretty stressful transition.

And among the things that can cause conflict with roommates, a top cause is definitely bathroom sharing.

From half-hour showers to really smelly toilets, from hair clippings in the sink to clothes all over the floor, sharing the use of this rather private space can be difficult, especially if you have had access to your own personal bathroom in the last few years.

Want to keep your roommate relationships smooth and conflict-free when it comes to the bathroom? Follow these tips, and you'll have a much easier time sharing this essential space.

Sit down and talk first

The first thing you should do when you meet your roommates is to sit down and talk about how you want the house to run. That can include lots of things, but you should make a specific point of talking about bathroom sharing and rules.

Try to get a general idea of how long you need the bathroom to shower and prepare every day. Are there things you can do outside the bathroom, like putting on makeup or drying your hair? Maybe it would be best to just do the essential---showering/bathing, toilet and tooth brushing---and leave the space open for others to use.

Make a schedule

Two roommates sharing a single full bathroom can easily be managed. But when it comes to three or four people with only one bathroom, some schedule needs to be put in place so that everyone can get to class or work on time.

Share your class and/or work schedules among yourselves and determine when everyone needs to be ready each day.

If times are tight, put a time limit---20 minutes is more than enough for most showers. Some mornings will be easy, while others will be super busy. Just be ready to accommodate others if need be.

Everybody cleans

One big problem with sharing a bathroom is: who the hell will clean it? 

Everyone has a different level of tolerance for dirt. But it's not up to the cleanest person to do ALL the cleaning, is it?

Just as you should make a schedule for bathroom use, you should also make a schedule for who cleans the bathroom when. Since a bathroom should be cleaned at least weekly, you should have a weekly rotating schedule for taking care of it. 

Remember that there are certain habits you can adopt to keep the bathroom cleaner. If everyone does their best to keep the bathroom cleaner for everyday use, the weekly cleaning will be much less of a chore. But with multiple people using a single bathroom, expect to do ​at least some scrubbing!

Remember to keep these practical cleaning tools at hand when chore time comes around. They will make bathroom cleaning easier and less work-intensive. ​​

Keeping your stuff

If you're lucky to have a larger shared bathroom, then storage won't be much of an issue. But for older apartment buildings and homes, you might find yourself using a bathroom that's smaller than you wish.

No worries, though: there are many things you can do to maximize bathroom storage space, without having to keep everything in your own bedroom. Things like towel management and storage can easily be managed with a few clever hacks.


Don't be afraid to maximize space by minimizing clutter. Add shelving where possible; the walls of a bathroom are woefully underused. Add accessories in the tub/shower to keep everyone's soap, shampoo and shaving gear close by. 

Make it cool

Okay, the practical (and sometimes icky) stuff is taken care of. Now, how do you decorate the bathroom? 

First, a small bathroom can be made to look bigger using these visual tricks. If you're not ready to let your bathroom cramp your style, then these ideas are for you.

Roommates may have different ideas about what makes a bathroom look nice. But you can agree on a general style (how about boudoir, if you're in an all-girls environment?) and then go shopping together for accessories and decor elements you like.

The shower curtain will certainly be an important choice! Make it the trendiest piece in your decor with these pattern ideas. Your shower curtain can help add interesting color and energy to your space.

No more bland, boring bathrooms!

But decor isn't just for ladies; gentlemen can also enjoy beautifully designed spaces. These bachelor pad bathroom ideas can help you get thinking about how you want to decorate your space. Bathrooms don't have to be feminine! There are plenty of things you can do to reflect your manly interests and style in this space.

If you're looking for specific style advice, here are ideas for shabby chic, beach-style, retrotropical spatraditional, and modern. But feel free to let your imagination and style take you where it wants---the one rule of design is that there are no rules!

Better roommie relations

If you remove a big source of conflict---bathroom sharing and cleaning---then you'll have a better time with your roommates.

College is an exciting time: you'll have new experiences, make lifelong friends, and begin your life as an adult. It's a good idea to act like an adult, too, when it comes to bathroom sharing. You'll only have more fun and less conflict as a group!