Home > Case Studies > Flatmates and How We Established Cleaning Routine: A Case Study

Flatmates and How We Established Cleaning Routine: A Case Study

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 18 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Cleaning Flatmates Roster Problems

Tim shared a flat with his friends, Mark, Simon and Lucy and the foursome generally got on well, avoiding many of the quarrels and resentments that often plague flatmates…until it came to cleaning, that is.

A Dirty Problem

“I felt like everyone was always pushing the responsibility onto everyone else. I mean, we never sat down and talked about the cleaning – I guess, we all just sort of hoped that someone else would take care of things. And so things just got dirtier and dirtier – especially the bathroom and kitchen!” Says Tim. “Every so often, one of us would sort of make an effort – especially if we were having a date round or something and we didn’t want them to see the flat looking like a pigsty – but overall, it was just getting worse.”

A Cleaning Revolution

Finally, Tim could stand it no longer. He called a meeting one weekend and sat all his friends down for a serious talk about the cleaning. He was surprised to find that they all shared his feelings and were in fact glad that someone had taken charge and was addressing the problem.

“We realised that one of the biggest problems we had was not planning things properly. It was all very haphazard – and sometimes, we’d even end up cleaning things that one of the others had just done!” Says Tim wryly. “We also realised that we had to make a list of priorities, so that we tackled the important things first – otherwise what happens is that we all get home from work and are exhausted and just can’t face the thought of cleaning and feel like there is so much to do that we can’t get through it all. This way, if we had a list if important things first, we could focus on those if we had limited time and at least feel like we’ve achieved something.”

Divide and Conquer

Following the discussion, Tim and his flatmates drew up a proper cleaning roster which was clearly labelled and stuck to the fridge, so that everyone had clear access to it. Cleaning was now split into several sections – such as kitchen, bathroom, vacuuming and dusting – and each person was assigned to a section each week, with everyone rotating through the weeks. Somehow, now that each person only had to do a portion of the cleaning, it didn’t seem such a huge ordeal.

The Time is Right

While they agreed that it was important to be flexible, they also agreed that it was better to set aside time each week for cleaning – this actually made it easier to schedule their diary around that period and ensured that cleaning wasn't skipped one week. Sunday morning was the consensus choice and they were surprised to find, the first Sunday they tried it, how quickly the entire flat was cleaned with the four of them working simultaneously. Naturally, there would be times when one of them might not be free on a Sunday morning but as long as they rearranged their diaries to fit the cleaning time in elsewhere, that was fine.


Simon also came up with a great idea for making the cleaning more enjoyable. A keen music enthusiast, he decided that having rousing music accompanying their cleaning efforts would make the job seem more pleasant and pass quicker – so he compiled his own CD of “housework songs”. The other were delighted with his idea and quickly found that with the enervating music, the atmosphere almost became that of a house party!

“It was amazing the difference it made,” Tim declares. “I wouldn’t say I looked forward to the Sunday morning cleaning sessions but I certainly didn’t dread cleaning anymore and I would even go so far as to say that I actually enjoyed myself during that time, in a strange sort of way. Three of us have sedentary office jobs so there was something actually quite nice about all doing physical work together, with the great music in the background.”

Bonus All Around

The other bonus Tim discovered was that with everyone’s more positive attitude towards cleaning, they were also showing more interest in the process and discovering many household products such as vinegar and lemon juice which were very effective cleaners, thus reducing their household bill for cleaning products while also benefiting the environment!

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