Stop being a Jerk When You Share a Bathroom


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Photo: Darryl Brooks (Shutterstock)

Nearly one in three U.S. adults live with an “extra adult” in the same shared household, according to Pew Research. Whether it’s with a spouse, sibling, best friend, elderly parent, or a roommate you found on Craigslist, many of us are cohabitating. Which often means sharing a bathroom, the very space in which we clean and groom ourselves. It can feel weird to share such a private, personal domain—but there are ways to do it respectfully.

Do: Wipe down and pick up after yourself

It goes without saying (or it should go without saying) to put the toilet seat down, but the best bathroom sharers will go the extra mile to clean the seat, too, if necessary. Similarly, do your part to wipe toothbrush spray off the mirror, dry up wet footprints on the floor, close the shower curtain so mold and mildew don’t develop in the folds, and hang up towels and bathrobes. Don’t have much space? Hooks, hooks, and more hooks.

Do: Tidy up (your area of) the sink

Do you and your co-habitant share a sink? Do you also share it with pint-sized human gremlins? Then it is of utmost importance to clean your clutter off the edge of that sink. Not only is it dangerous to have razors, the remnants of liquid medicine, and cleaning spray hanging out next to toothbrushes, it’s also not a good look. Use drawers, cabinets, baskets, hanging shelves—whatever you’ve got—to make the space tidier and safer.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a double vanity, hooray! Still put away your stuff, though, because there’s growing evidence that clutter increases the stress hormone cortisol and negatively impacts our cognitive functioning.

Do: Replace the toilet paper

How many times have we sat down and done our thing only to be met with one a one-inch square of shrapnel when we needed it most? If the TP runs out on your watch, even if you replaced it last time, even if it’s all the way downstairs, be a friend and get a new roll. (And there is a right way to hang it, according to the inventor himself and the mechanics of limiting bacterial contamination—and that’s with the paper hanging over the roll.)

Do: Harness your hair

There will always be errant hairs floating around a bathroom, but good roomies don’t leave copious quantities in one location. Sink shavers should rinse all recently shorn whiskers out of the basin and wipe the surrounding countertop.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t call myself and my fellow long-haired friends out here. Yes, it’s good we aggregate the follicles we lose to hair-washing in one spot instead of letting them clog the drain. But no we cannot leave them on the wall until they fall like desiccated corn husks to the shower floor. We gotta throw that mess out, after every shower. Period. (And while we’re here, let’s all dispose of the bushel of hair currently living in our brushes.)

Don’t: Leave the door open

Of course, close the door while you do your business. But that’s not what we mean here. If our roomie has just taken a shower, and is basking in the atmospheric warmth of said shower, we mustn’t fling the door open, start doing our thing, and leave it open until the cold surrounds. That person (who is still wet and be-toweled) singed their skin for a good ten minutes in jacuzzi-level heat to generate that kind of ambient air temperature. It’s theirs now. Please don’t callously let it escape.

Don’t: Use your roomie’s towel

Towels may appear soft and fluffy, but there’s a lot of crud growing in all that absorbency. Besides the grossness of skin cell/bacterial cross-contamination, it’s a bummer to emerge soaking wet from the shower and be met with a cold, damp towel someone else grabbed because they “couldn’t find” theirs. We know it sucks to realize your towel is missing mid-shower, but good roommates make that dreaded, sopping trip to the linen closet to get their own. (Or at least, immediately replace the one they swiped with a freshie.)

Don’t: Drop bombs and walk out like it’s NBD

Listen, the body needs to do what the body needs to do. No one can fault you for that. But leaving something nuclear in the toilet then waltzing out without making an effort to minimize the nasal damage to innocent bystanders? Uncool. There are windows; open them. There are fans; turn them on. There are matches; light them. There is Poo-pourri; spray it. There are doors to adjacent rooms (sometimes kitchens!); close them. Please, we must all do our part to protect the innocent.

Don’t: Take forever

Nobody likes a bathroom hog. If many people in your home need to share the bathroom, it may make sense to devise a schedule of designated times for each person and post it on the door. If you can survive without, be mindful of all the things that can be done elsewhere: Getting dressed, putting on makeup, drying hair, clipping toenails, applying lotion, etc. Set up another spot, with a mirror, where these non-bathroom-essential things can be done.

And seriously. Put the seat down. We’re falling in over here.