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Living with roommates can be great—the decreased rent, the constant companionship, the divided chores. But it can also be a pain if not handled properly. Over my life, I've gone from being an only child and never having to share a thing to living in a chaotic house that rotated between 4 and 10 people living there (college, am I right?). Now, I live with my partner and three other roommates in a somewhat normal city-apartment situation. So I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to live with a variety of other people.
People start to get on each other's nerves about dirty dishes, overflowing trash, and hair left all over the sink (Dear God, just clean up your hair after your shave your beard! It’s not that hard!). To solve these common problems, it’s always good to have clear and open communication with all roommates. Making sure everyone is on the same messaging app like Messenger or WhatsApp or even just getting on a group text will do. It’s also good to make sure everyone is on the same money transferring app like Venmo, so you can easily pay your roommate back when they pick you up cold medicine or when everyone goes in on a large buffalo chicken pizza.
Other these basic apps and just general good communication, you can also solve some common roommate woes with a few useful products. Here are 22 things for the shared spaces in your home that will make shared living a breeze—and hopefully lessen the passive-aggressive notes on the fridge.
1. A sign to get people to do their dang dishes
One of the biggest complaints people have about roommates are the dirty dishes left in the sink. People tend to "forget about them" because 1) they’re lazy or 2) they’re unsure if the dishwasher is clean or dirty. So why do dishes at all, right? Wrong. If it’s No. 1 and they won’t do anything about it, you might have to start leaving their dirty dishes on their bed so the point gets across real clear. But No. 2 is an easy fix—use a dishwasher sign like this one. Once you turn the dishwasher on, slide it to "CLEAN," and when you get around to emptying it, slide it back to "DIRTY." With over 4.5 stars from over 2,100 reviews, it's a simple, easy, and effective way to avoid conflict.
2. A magnetic whiteboard for chores and passive-aggressive notes
Although it may seem trivial, having a chore chart can be very helpful with roommates. Maybe you have it so every week you alternate cleaning duties or each person will keep one room clean for the entire month. An easy way to keep track of this is on a dry erase board that you can put it on the fridge, so it's easy for everyone to see. Plus, you can also write snarky comments about how the trash has been overflowing and how you’ve taken it out the past three times. This Magnetic Dry Erase Whiteboard comes in two different sizes, both with an eraser and 4 different colored markers.
3. An actual bag for your bags
Although plastic bags are becoming a thing of the past, we all still have about a few million in every household. We've all done that thing where you shove your plastic bags into another plastic bag and then shove that into some dusty corner of the kitchen. Instead, this Wall Mount Grocery Bag Dispenser makes them accessible on the wall or the inside of a cabinet. It's basically a plastic bag vending machine! Join the over 5,000 people who have bought and loved this nifty product!
4. A place to keep your knives safe and looking good
You don’t want to be running your expensive knives through the dishwasher willy nilly or they’ll get ruined. To keep your fancy knives separate from your regular day-to-day utensils, use this Magnetic Knife Bar. For only $17.49, it will add some decor to your kitchen and be quite functional as well. With 2,689 4.6-star reviews, you can trust this knife bar will add some class to your kitchen.
5. A functional dish rack that won’t get gross
Speaking of washing dishes, there are few a lot of things in your kitchen that should never go in the dishwasher. Instead, they should sit comfortably in a nice drying rack. This one by Joseph Joseph is our favorite budget dish rack because you can adjust the width depending on your counter space situation, and it has a small spout that drains excess water back into the sink—all at a price your roommates won't complain about.
6. A place to keep your sponges safe
One thing I’ve found about living with roommates is that sponges wind up in the worst places: In a pan soaking with bacon grease, halfway down the drain, or at the bottom of a sink that’s clogged with mysteriously smelly water. The culprit of this madness? People just leaving them in the sink or dangerously close to the edge of the sink. With this little kitchen sink caddy that clips onto the corner of your sink, you can keep all of your sponges safe from the nasty surprises that lurk below. I love this one by Buytra because it the triangle design doesn't take up much space and it has slots designed to allow the water to drain from sponges and scrubbers.
7. A literal lock for your ice cream
At first, this seemed silly to me. You don’t need to lock up your ice cream—that’s too much. No one’s actually going to steal it. And then it happened. Not to me, thankfully. But one of my roommates accidentally ate another roommate’s Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup thinking it was theirs. When the original roommate found it was gone, there was disappointment, heartbreak, and plenty of tears. Don’t put yourself through that. Don’t let anyone else take your precious Ben and Jerry’s. Lock it up with this one of a kind invention by Ben and Jerry themselves.
8. A place for everyone to put their soap
Sharing a shower with a bunch of people is fine as long as you figure out a schedule that works. So not everyone is desperately trying to shower at the same time right before work. But what makes it hard is the lack of space in the shower to store your various soaps and hair products. I have my body wash, shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, razor, and shaving cream. That alone takes up a full corner of the shower, leaving my roommates to suffer to find space. A way to avoid this space issue is with one of these handy tension poles. You adjust it to the height of your ceiling and it stays in place, no screws or tools needed. Rated #1 for Tension Shower Caddy on Amazon and at one of the lowest prices you'll see on the market, you need this in your shower.
9. A way to catch all the hair before it clogs the tub
When I moved into my most recent apartment, we noticed the water was up to our ankles every single time we showered. We tried using a snake to get all the leftover hair out. As a preventative for future clogs, I invested in something I had heard all over the internet and saw had over 18,000 reviews on Amazon: The Tubshroom. Let me tell you, it’s been over six months since I got it and my tub has not clogged once, although it’s caught plenty of hair. I highly recommend getting yourself one if you or any of your roommates have any sort of lengthy hair.
10. A cute way to store your toilet paper
My roommates and I decided this year we’d go in on a subscription of toilet paper from Amazon. Once a month for only $30, we’d get a giant box full of our favorite toilet paper. Between the five of us, it’s only $6 a month for a monstrous amount of the best quality TP. But if you typically wait until you’re tragically out and quickly run to the store for more, a cute toilet paper roll holder can help remind you when you’re getting desperately low. For only $40, you can keep this cute sheep on the floor or hang him on the wall for more space but either way, it's easily assembled!
11. A nice smelling spray to make #2 smell like a #1
We all poop. It’s natural, it’s human, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about it. But it can be embarrassing when living with roommates, especially people you don’t know too well. With a nice smelling spray like Poo-Pourri’s Before-You-Go or Squatty Potty’s Unicorn Gold, you’ll walk out of the bathroom smelling like royalty and no one will ever know what horrendous deeds occurred just moments earlier. At Reviewed, we're currently testing both in our single-stall bathrooms and I have to tell you, they both do a great job — so follow your heart and save your nose.
- Get the Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray on Amazon for $8.68
- Get the Squatty Potty Unicorn Gold Toilet Spray on Amazon for $9.99
12. A mini table for your couch
There have been many times when someone’s lost the remote in the couch and we’ve all spent hours looking for it. Or better yet, when I left my red wine precarious perched on an armrest and a friend accidentally knocked it all over the white couch. But living rooms don’t always have all the space you need for drinks and snacks or to put something down without it spilling, getting lost, or stepped on. This handy armrest organizer turns into a small table just for you. This $13.96 couch caddy is easily removable but still keeps all of your belongings in place.
13. A comfy seat with some built-in storage
Space is a big problem when living with roommates—in that you’re lacking it. When you live with several people, you’re going to need plenty of seating. Other than having a couch or two, you should have a few separate seating options. Even better, they should double as storage. This storage ottoman—which is the number one ottoman on Amazon—is not only comfy, but it can hide your mess in an instant.
14. A smart way to store DVDs and games
Maybe this is a personal problem, but my roommates and I are nerds. We have a lot of video games. Like I’m talking a lot. We collectively own seven different game systems and have about 30 games per system, and we like to switch between each system to play different games frequently. We can’t just dump these games in the back of a closet—they need to be easily accessible. That’s where these storage boxes come in handy. I love the Stock Your Home boxes because you can easily see the cases, to make an easy choice of the game or DVD you want, without making a mess of the others.
15. A place to keep mail and other random papers
Living together means you'll be sharing a mailbox with a few people—a.k.a. once in a blue moon someone will check the mailbox. Typically, they’ll take the mail that’s relevant to them, leave the rest on the kitchen counter, and it seems to disappear within a few days. It happens far too often, and it’s not okay (especially when jury duty’s involved!). A simple mail organizer basket can assure no important documents get lost. I love that this one by mDesign not only comes in 3 different styles, but hangs on the wall and has hooks for keys so it's (slightly) harder for people to lose them!
Organization and other
16. A communal and customizable shoe rack
Something essential for shared living is a shoe rack with multiple levels. Leave it in the hallway or vestibule and let everyone store their various footwear on it. It saves space in bedrooms, stops people from leaving them all over the house, and lets guests know it’s cool to leave your shoes at the door. This shoe rack by Simple Houseware is great because you can customize it to your own living space and make it work for you rather than the other way around.
17. A place to hold all your larger cleaning tools
Right now, we have a small corner of our bathroom dedicated to “cleaning supplies,” which includes several brooms, a mop, two Swiffers, a dustpan, and other cleaning tools. They’re in a messy pile, and if you grab on, they all come tumbling down. It’s a mess and not functional, making us not too keen to clean. But this Broom Holder Organizer with 4,636 4.6-star reviews on Amazon might be the solution to storing larger cleaning tools.
18. A 'bot to do the cleaning for you
Like most people, I hate cleaning—and so do my roommates. We’re in our mid-twenties and all have full-time jobs, so there's plenty of dust bunnies strewn throughout the house. I’m considering getting myself the best affordable robot vacuum we've ever tested because the price is so reasonable for something that cleans for you. I’d love to take one more chore off my plate by having the Eufy RoboVac 11S do it, and hey, it’ll entertain (or terrorize) the cats, too.
19. A saving grace for when you inevitably forget your keys
When we moved into my current apartment, one of my roommates ordered this highly-rated lockbox for keys We set a code we could all remember and put an extra set of keys in there—just in case someone forgets theirs. I can’t count the number of times we've all had to use that set of keys. It’s been life-saving. Find a place to hide the lockbox so that it’s still easily accessible by you and your roommates, but so it’s not obvious to outsiders. If you are going to get anything on this list, it should be this. It will no doubt save you more than once.
20. A label maker to protect your food
I’ll admit it: I don’t like it when other people use my food. Maybe it’s the only-child-ness in me. but if I don’t give you permission, I don’t think you should be using my perishables. If you’re like me and you find that you’re roommates are "accidentally" eating your food, use this label maker with 4.4 star reviews from 2,580 people to throw your name on it and they’ll (hopefully) be less inclined to mess with you.
21. A handy first aid kit with all the bells and whistles
Chances are someone’s gonna get hurt in your apartment. It might be you, it might be your roommate, or it might be a friend you have over for lunch. You need to be prepared, so someone won't be bleeding all over your floor (or suffering from headache or a minor burn). Running to the store to grab a box of ibuprofen in an emergency isn’t cheap, but this highly-rated 299-piece first aid kit is just $14.28, and it comes with everything you could possibly need for a minor injury—minus the ER doctor.
22. These headphones for when you need some sweet, sweet silence
This product is just for you and you alone. If you’re going to be living with anyone—whether it’s one person, two, or twelve—you’re going to want a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Roommates are great and their constant company means you’re never lonely, but sometimes, you just need some peace and quiet. Our favorite noise-canceling headphones are the Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones. Do yourself a favor and grab yourself a pair before you start life with others. You can thank me later.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.