You will no doubt have been shouted at to keep your things – your room, your clothes, your dishes, your washing – clean and tidy your whole life.
Right from the moment we are born, we have someone chasing round tidying up after us. First it’s our nappies and our puke. Then it’s our toys and our food, which, try as we might, we just cannot seem to be able to get into our mouths without dribbling it all over our faces, our clothes and the floor. Then, when we’re bigger, it’s our muddy clothes when we come back from a mammoth game of British Bulldog at the park. As we enter our teens and begin to cherish our privacy a lot more, we like to take our breakfast and our supper alone in our bedrooms, and build up a rather unhealthy collection of dirty cups and crockery to blend in nicely with all the other stinky crap we’ve got lying around on the floor.
In this final period, however, those doting hands that have so lovingly picked and cleaned up after us for so long, become replaced with stern tones that demand that we must start doing this ourselves.
Some of us, for shame, are so churlish as to object. Though of course we do not do so vocally. In fact we don’t actually do anything at all, and instead just leave all of our dirty plates and cups and pants and knickers and shirts and bras exactly where they are. Eventually someone else comes and cleans it up (those loving hands again), and, because someone always does, we never break the habit.
And then finally, as we fly away to university and make our nest elsewhere, we suddenly find that loving hands have disappeared altogether. And, what is more, we are living with 3 or 4 others who are also missing their own loving hands chasing around tidying up after them.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but our brand new nest very quickly begins to look and stink like nothing more or less than an absolute shit hole.
And what happens then? Someone else will come and clean it up, won’t they? Someone always does, don’t they?
Not anymore they don’t.
The Inevitable Conflict
But, before any of us actually get around to making a dent in the diabolically grimy job in hand, we have to fall out about it first.
Oh yes – many tears before bedtime have been shed in university digs over raised tempers and voices trying to weasel out exactly whose mess belongs to whom. In fact, these rows are as much of a right of passage as any part of the experience.
But, when all’s said and done, after all the tears have fallen to the wine-stained carpet, after all the doors of all the cupboards and all the rooms have been slammed shut in temper and frustration, after all the weeping phone calls have been made back home… the mess is still there. And no one else is going to come and clean it up. This is the real world now, and no one ever does in the real world. It doesn’t matter how desperately you sobbed down the phone – those loving hands are tied, and your shit hole is your own.
So what to do about it?
Well, with the odd exception, most of the students that you will find yourself living with will be in the same boat as you. That’s right, the lazy boat. The boat that all of a sudden becomes very reluctant to pull up its anchor and remove itself from the settee any time someone mentions the C word (that’s C for “cleaning”, by the way, for any of you whose mind is more filthy than the cups in the kitchen sink).
But, sooner or later, the arguments must stop and you will have to don your sea legs and get scrubbing. And this is a good thing, incidentally. Honestly it is. If you’re living in rented accommodation then you will have coughed up a deposit before moving in. In order to get
that back you will be required to leave your house exactly as you found it – and if it was clean, then clean is what it shall have to be.
But on top of that, nobody likes living in a pig sty (just ask Snowball and Napoleon), and if you look after your stuff then it will last longer. If you keep the kitchen tidy and clean you won’t be poisoning yourself with invisible bacteria every time you prepare something to eat. And if you clean up the beer immediately after you’ve spilt it, then your house won’t smell like a brewery for the next 3 years.
So take heed of these tips below, and you will end up living in a much happier, healthier, fresher and above all cleaner household.
Make A Rota
Most arguments over cleaning duties happen when everyone is denying their responsibility to do the regular chores. So, write up a weekly rota that’s fair, ensuring that all cleaning jobs get rotated throughout all housemates.
In case you’re wondering, the jobs will be:
Mopping the Kitchen Floor
All of these jobs, if done by one person once a week should take no longer than about 10 minutes (with the exception of the oven, which might take up to half an hour or more). In fact, since they take so little time, then each person should really be assigned 2 or more from the list. Remember, cleaning is easy when things are relatively clean – it’s a pain in the arse if you leave it for too long.
The kitchen will need to be kept clean on a more regular basis than the items on the list above. So, you need some hard and fast rules as to who’s going to keep on top of it.
My suggestion is that it should be the rule that whoever uses it, cleans it. So, this means that no piles of dishes ever ever get left in the sink hoping that some loving hands will come along and clean them up. If you’ve made yourself some toast and jam for breakfast, then make sure that you wipe away all those crumbs from the surface before you leave the house, and go and grab your dirty coffee mugs from your room, along with any glasses, plates and cutlery, and give them all a wash.
Tidy As You Go
Student households usually become messy because everyone seems to think that it’s a good idea to try and leave the clean up until the very last minute when there isn’t a clean saucer left in the house to eat your 12 inch pizza off of.
The simple trick is to not let it get to this stage. Every time you go into the kitchen, take a plate or a cup with you. Every time you use the bathroom, pick up your dirty towels off the floor. Doing some laundry? Why not bung a few tea towels and dish cloths in as well.
If you can keep the place looking generally nice and ship shape as you go along, then when your name comes up on the rota you shouldn’t be in for too much of a time of it.
Got any more great tips on how to keep your accommodation clean and tidy? What about any advice on how to deal with those inevitable arguments that come as part of the deal? Tweet us your thoughts.
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