Sharing a Kitchen: A Guide to Peacefully Share a Kitchen with Roommates

two women sharing a kitchen

Sharing the kitchen has always brought challenges and, in worse cases, cold wars! But if you also, like so many of us since last year, have started to cook meals for yourself, then you’ve suddenly had a lot more to learn about kitchen maintenance.

It’s hard enough doing this alone, and it can go either way when the kitchen is shared – especially if it’s a small one! It can be the most annoyed you’ll ever be with your roommate, or you’ll work with so harmoniously together that it’s no sweat.

Here are some kitchen etiquette and tips to share a kitchen with roommates peacefully.

Click here to read about Groceries and Roommates: How to Budget Better!

Clean up your own messes

Wash your own dishes as soon as you’re done cooking and eating with them (yes, immediately, if possible!). These dishes include cutting boards, knives, and everything else you’ve used. Wipe the counter and the stove/oven if you see mess. Basically, leave the kitchen the way you’d like others to leave for you! Sharing your kitchen doesn’t mean sharing your mess.

Pro tip: If all of your schedules are too busy to afford time for cleaning, hire help to clean your kitchen.

Call for kitchen meetings – communicate

Talk with your roommates about kitchen etiquette and understand each other’s habits. Things will only get better with more communication and there’ll be no space for petty grudges.

For a peaceful kitchen in the house, talk about your expectations and take time to get used to one another’s routines. You’ll also understand what everyone uses their kitchenware for, what groceries belongs to whom, and where to draw the boundaries.

Create a cooking schedule

Too many people trying to use the kitchen at the same time will end in frustration and a dirty kitchen that no one wants to take the blame for. Plan a rotating cooking schedule so there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen. If Eric leaves home earliest, he should use the kitchen first, and if Salma doesn’t mind a late dinner, she gets to have the kitchen last for the day.

Pro tip: Give your roommates a heads-up if you’re planning a big cooking project that takes time.

Related: Redefine Your Quarantine Cooking With Quick And Easy Recipes From Around The World

Set some kitchen rules

A shared kitchen inevitably has some shared items and utilities. Set rules that everyone must follow; they very from “return the knives to their tray” to “don’t use the microwave for long hours on busy work-from-home weekday” to “replace the dish soap when it’s over, for heaven’s sake!” And does everyone get to use the kitchen garden?

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Two great additions to help you out: a white board with reminders and a fine jar that collects penalties from rule breakers. But make it fun! Try using some apps to help you out too.

Clean together or make a plan

Even when everyone has been cleaning after themselves the kitchen is the one place that just doesn’t stay clean. Decide on a day and time once a week or two weeks, when everyone is free, to join and quickly get the chore over with. Share the chore – many hands do make light work!

Related: How to Declutter When you Share an Apartment

Respect others’ kitchen items and time

It’s very tempting to borrow your roommate’s nonstick pan to make your pancakes, or his clean cutlery. But does he know about it? As long-term roommates, we hope you are comfortable letting each other use your belongings in the kitchen – with permission, of course. Trust one another to be the adult you’d like to see them as. Well, at least to give them a chance!

But reaching for someone else’s groceries is a big no! Unless you have already talked about it and have an understanding of replacing them.

Pro tip: Explicitly discuss what items in the kitchen are shared. For example, everyone uses the towels and the soap, but not that expensive bottle of oyster sauce. Also talk about big purchases and how everyone is going to share them.

You may also be interested in: How to Resolve Conflicts When You Share an Apartment

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