Living with roommates is rarely an experience of complete “smooth sailing.” One issue that I have seen come up time and time again with even the best of roommates is Dishes. Animosity can arise over whose responsibility it is to clean or put away certain dishes. More conflict can arise when one roommate feels that another is disrespecting their dishware. Below are a few tips that can help you avoid drama surrounding dishes.

  • Are you the problem?

    Are you the one who is never washing a single dish? Never unload the dishwasher? Maybe you enjoy cooking amazing meals, but then fail to clean up the kitchen afterwards. If this sounds like you, it’s time to change your ways. Even if your roommates are just as messy in the kitchen as you are, and even if they haven’t said a word to you about your lack of washing dishes, it is still time that you step it up. Cleaning up after yourself in the kitchen is a life skill. It’s ok if it seems daunting to you. Just take it dish by dish.

  • Don’t share.

    If it is becoming super annoying that you can never find a clean dish or spoon when you want to eat, or if you feel that your dishware is not treated kindly, you are within your rights to take action. Gather all your dishes and store them in your room (or a place only you have access). Take them out as you need, and wash and put them back when you’re finished. WARNING: this action may be viewed as passive aggressive by your other roommates, and is kind of a hassle. Both may be avoided by having an honest conversation with your roommates first.

  • Limit the number.

    Talk to your roommates. If you all can agree to it, one very effective strategy to ending dirty dish drama is limiting the amount of dishes in the kitchen. It works best if each roommate gets:

    -1 spoon, 1 fork, 1 knife

    -1 cup

    -1 bowl

    -1 plate

    Make sure each roommate can distinguish their set of dishes from the other. And that’s it!

  • Create a chart.

    Using a white board, write down all the kitchen/ dish-related chores that need to be done. Under each chore write the roommate in charge of doing that chore for the entire week (meaning you don’t just get to do it once a week!). The next week, rotate the chores. For example:

    Take out trash     Unload Dishwasher     Load Dishwasher     Wipe Counters

    Sara                      Ashley                          Ashley                        Kylie

and the next week…

              Take out trash     Unload Dishwasher      Load Dishwasher     Wipe Counters

             Kylie                      Sara                                Sara                           Ashley 

*Keep in mind that if you are solely responsible for making a pretty large mess in the kitchen, you should still clean it up even if it falls outside of your chore responsibility that week.

  • Keep it all in perspective.

    It’s just DISHES! There are somethings a roommate can do which can cause real problems in your relationship with them, and in your living environment. Dirty dishes does not have to be one of those things. Respectful and open communication along with collaborative problem-solving usually can get rid of any dish drama.