How to split chores with your roommates

We’ve all been part of that group project in which everyone naturally takes on a role. There’s the micromanager, the person who’s annoyed by being micromanaged, the person who does whatever the micromanager wants, and the slacker. Avoiding this dynamic when it comes to keeping your home spic and span will help you live harmoniously with roommates. That’s where the roommate chore chart comes in.

yellow rubber gloves holding note pad on pink background

Table of contents

Why it’s important to split chores equallyStep one: Get on the same page about your standardsStep two: Make a complete chore listStep three: Divvy up the choresStep four: Agree on accountability Step five: Say thank you

Why it’s important to split chores equally

There can be an unspoken gender divide about chores, as men and women often grow up with different expectations around chores. It can be easy to accidentally slip into these roles—or, again, those class project defaults. You (and everyone else) should feel comfortable in your home. Having up-front, open, and direct conversations about expectations—especially around the essential business of how your shared home should run—is the key to creating an equal, happy environment. Plus, it’s an important life skill.

Step one: Get on the same page about your standards

Hold a meeting with your housemates and discuss the world of chores that need to get done to make the home feel clean and comfortable to everyone. Now’s the time to iron out all the details. For example, you can get nitty-gritty: if you decide everyone has to do their dishes immediately after each meal, does that include drying and putting dishes away (if you don’t have a dishwasher)? The more you can agree on now, the smoother coliving will be.

If your household doesn’t already engage a cleaning service, this is also a great time to discuss the option of hiring one for either monthly or seasonal cleaning. Paying for cleaning service with some frequency can reduce your and your roommates’ chore list, and many households find it worth the expense. (Note that some coliving housing platforms—like Bungalow—provide monthly cleaning as part of your rental, making chore-divvying easier.)

Whatever you decide regarding cleaning expectations, document it in your roommate agreement

Step two: Make a complete chore list

Next, make a master chore list: a comprehensive index of all the chores that need to get done on a daily, weekly, and monthly or seasonal basis. This list should comprise both personal and communal chores. 

Step three: Divvy up the chores

You’ll want to give everyone daily, weekly, and deep-cleaning responsibilities. For weekly cleaning, some roommates use this as a bonding opportunity and do it together on a set day. Other roommates prefer to take care of their weekly tasks at their convenience. Discuss what will work best for your household.

When it comes to assigning tasks, there are a few ways to do it.

  • Play to your strengths: One option is to let people claim what they feel most comfortable doing. If you go this route, make sure to check in a few months later to see if anyone is getting burned out.

  • Weekly rotation: Consider grouping tasks (for example: group 1 includes the kitchen and floors, group 2 includes bathrooms and trash, etc.) and giving each person a new group each week.

  • Random assignment: Try writing all the different chores on scraps of paper and keeping them in a jar. Each week, people can pull chores until all the scraps of paper are assigned.

Again, make sure there’s a written record of it. Add it to your roommate agreement and keep a copy displayed in one of the common areas for easy reference.

Step four: Agree on accountability

Last, address how you’ll avoid those group-project vibes head-on. Plan for the slacker in everyone to come out sometimes. How will you hold each other accountable? Whether it’s a group huddle after cleaning or an agreed-upon way to point out missed chores, decide how you’ll double-check completion, and write that down, too.

But remember the line between accountability and micromanaging. When you’re putting the elbow grease into your own chores, try not to micromanage your roommates or become resentful that you’re working hard. If you’ve agreed upon a way to distribute chores, trust that your system will work, and communicate if you find that it isn’t.

pink rubber gloves in a kitchen forming a heart

Step five: Say thank you

Make sure you do your part to make your roommates feel appreciated. While people may hold different beliefs about how a home should run, there are some universal ways to make people feel good and diffuse tension. 

Usually, when someone is rolling up their sleeves and working hard, it’s not helpful to act guilty or insecure about the fact that you aren’t doing the same. Instead, genuinely thank the person, and do your part when it’s your turn. 

Erring on the side of overcommunication might seem tedious now, but having a plan for cleaning will nip unnecessary roommate conflicts in the bud. So embrace the chore chart, get the work done, and move on to spending your time doing the things you love.

Having a cleaning service come monthly reduces your chore-load—leaving more time for doing the things you love. Bungalow offers private rooms in shared homes where monthly cleaning is always on the books—and included in your monthly rental cost. Find a Bungalow near you.

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Move in ready homes and a built-in community so you can feel at home, together — wherever you are.