Talking Points

Unhappy young woman stood with a vacuum cleaner in a messy flat after a party

How to get housemates involved in cleaning

If there’s on subject that causes more arguments than any other when it comes to house shares, it’s cleaning.

Whether it’s because someone didn’t do their washing up straight away and it’s now sitting beneath a pile of other dishes no one is taking ownership for or someone has left rubbish everywhere after a weekend bender and is refusing to sort it out until their hangover wears off, cleaning is a huge reason for fights and tension in shared accommodation.

The best solution, clearly, is for everyone to do their bit. So, how exactly can that be achieved?

Here’s some top tips for how to get everyone involved in cleaning.

1. Let bygones be bygones

One major stumbling block many people have when it comes to approaching this subject with their housemates is that some arguments regarding cleaning may have already happened. Generally, people don’t need to have a conversation about it if some tension hasn’t already occurred.

Unfortunately, this means that people will take you trying to organise the cleaning as an attack on them for not doing their part. Therefore, let all the old grudges go. Explain that this is simply about making things better going forward and is not about blame, but rather pragmatism.

2. Have a meeting

This doesn’t need to be terribly formal, however it is important to have everyone in the same place. Otherwise, friendly suggestions and conversations can get twisted when told to third parties and your words, as well as everyone else’s, can be misconstrued.

So, when everyone is together, sit down and have a calm and civil talk about how best to move forward.

3. Don’t be a dictator

The important thing to remember here is this is a talk between two people: not one person making demands upon the other. Listen to what other people have to say and make suggestions. Don’t slap a chore chart on the fridge and declare yourself their manager.

A cleaning schedule is the best solution for a lot of people but demanding rather than discussing will almost certainly get good ideas shot down.

4. Discuss what to do when thing go wrong

Coming up with a fair solution to cleaning issues is the easy part: it’s sticking to them that’s difficult. The most important part of the discussion has to be what do you do when one person is not following the division of labour you have all agreed to.

Perhaps everyone should be given the opportunity to call another meeting if they feel things are unfair or they need something to change for whatever reason.

5. Deal with issues as they arise

However you collectively decide to address cleaning issues, the most important thing you can do is to deal with them as they arise.

Leaving issues to mount will only cause resentment and may leave you in a situation where one or more people are simply refusing to participate because of these tensions. Dealing with problems quickly ensures they don’t get out of hand.

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