How to Share a Bathroom (and Keep the Peace)

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As far as house drama goes, the bathroom has got to be one of the most common key players. With real estate at a premium and more people than bathrooms, sharing can definitely land you in hot water — and not the soothing kind. Whether you’re sharing with a roommate, spouse or your kids, you can take some of the stress out of splitting the space. With the right organization, you can take the drama out of the bathroom routine and save it for more important places. (Don’t even get us started on the kitchen!) Try these tips to learn how to share a bathroom and restore the peace.

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European style white bathroom

Cut down on clutter by keeping stuff off-site. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Invest in bathroom caddies

When you keep all of your gear in the bathroom, the problem is two-fold. First, it clutters up a space that might already feel too small. Second, it makes it hard to get to your stuff if someone is using the bathroom. If possible, keep your bathroom stuff with you using a caddy system. Assign each person in the house their own caddy, which keeps their soap, shampoo, toothbrush and all the rest of their goodies close at hand. Growing up, I shared a bathroom with my four brothers and a caddy system was invaluable in keeping the peace. The caddies can be carried into the bathroom and right back out again. This keeps the space neat and everyone’s paws off of stuff that isn’t theirs.

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White bathroom with towels on the door

Color coding towels makes laundry day easier. Image: Jodie Johnson/Shutterstock

Separate towels

I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to share a bathroom with my three kids. Still, they have a way of migrating into my master bathroom every so often. One way I keep everything organized is to assign a specific color of towel to each bathroom. This makes sense whether you have several bathrooms or several people sharing one bathroom. Assigning a color to each person or each bathroom makes laundry super simple. It also can give you an idea of who’s been leaving their towels on the floor.

With color-coded towels, you don’t need to divvy up towel bars or add hooks to the walls. Each person is responsible for their color, their laundry and keeping their towels neat.

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Master bedroom with view of master bath

Save the bathroom for specific activities only. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Limit time

We recently finished a master bathroom renovation that was so extensive, it required we move our stuff into the kid’s bathroom for a few weeks. In sharing with five people instead of two, we quickly learned that the best way to learn how to share a bathroom and keep the peace was to limit bathroom time altogether. Instead of my daughter doing her makeup and hair in front of the bathroom mirror, our new rule was this: the bathroom is for showering, brushing teeth or going to the bathroom only. Everything else could be done in other rooms without tying up the bathroom for other people. A strict bathroom-stuff-only rule means it stays open for the important stuff.

Get creative: you can take contacts out at the kitchen sink or set up a makeup mirror at your desk. No need to use the bathroom for stuff that can easily be done somewhere else.

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Natural light master bathroom

Skip the morning rush by resolving to get up earlier. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Schedule around peak times

Let’s face it: no matter how sensitive you are about sharing a bathroom, there’s always going to be certain times where you feel the crunch. With everyone rushing around first thing in the morning, it’s peak bathroom time. This can definitely cause spats and stress, so it’s best to plan around those times. If some of the household members can shower at night to relieve the pressure, make sure to schedule that time. Or resolve to get up a half hour earlier to get in and out of the bathroom before the rest of the household starts stirring. Take note of when bathroom usage seems to be the highest and schedule your day around times when it’s not so crazy.

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Clean modern bathroom

Assign cleaning days to keep the peace. Image: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Assign the cleaning

You hope that all of your roommates — be they spouse, friend or child — will clean up after themselves. Bathrooms can get cluttered, messy and downright dirty and, unfortunately, not everyone is willing to keep the bathroom as tidy as you are. Instead of just hoping the bathroom stays clean, be proactive. Schedule cleaning times and assign the cleaning to someone specifically. Without assigned cleaning, it’s all too easy to blame that toothpaste on the sink on someone else.

Skip the cleaning drama and make sure everyone takes a turn. That way, if the bathroom remains messy, you know exactly who isn’t pulling their weight.

Hey, we put a lot of pressure on bathrooms. The small space is everything from a spa to a makeup chair, catwalk and quiet place. Make sure that it doesn’t become the main source of stress in your home. While the bathroom in your home might not be perfect, knowing how to share it can help everyone stay organized and reduce the daily squabbles in your space.

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