Telling roommates not to leave toothbrushes in the bathroom
February 6, 2017 5:09 PM   Subscribe

I own my own house but I am renting it out to roommates. I have been telling everyone so far to not leave their toothbrush, dental floss, and toothpaste in the bathroom, but I instead tell them to take it back to their rooms. It keeps the bathroom clean and less clutter. Is this a strange request? My friend told me that it's kind of pushy to make someone do something like this and enforce rules on roommates. But I explain it's like college where people take their toothbrush to the bathroom and take it back to their dorm room.
posted by pieceofcake to Human Relations (86 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, you're the landlord so I guess you can do as you like, but I would find that unusual and kind of oppressive.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:12 PM on February 6, 2017 [166 favorites]


That's... definitely strange, yeah. Nothing I've ever heard of someone requesting in a roommate scenario.
Within your rights, I suppose, but I'd also be weirded out.
posted by CrystalDave at 5:13 PM on February 6, 2017 [27 favorites]


If you don't like people leaving so much as a toothbrush in the bathroom, you shouldn't have roommates.
posted by cakelite at 5:14 PM on February 6, 2017 [176 favorites]


That is a strange request.
This is why people warn against being roommates with the homeowner.
posted by homodachi at 5:14 PM on February 6, 2017 [108 favorites]


Yeah, it's kind of strange, and it also establishes a dynamic where you set the rules and your roommates obey them. If I were looking for a shared living situation and you told me that I had to take my toothbrush back to my room, I would see it as a big red flag.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:15 PM on February 6, 2017 [59 favorites]


Hmmm ... I would probably be put off by that as well. One of the benefits of having a room in a shared house as opposed to in a dorm is that you are living in a *house*, with the feelings of a home. In my own house, I don't carry my bathroom supplies back and forth to my bedroom.

On the other hand, if that was in the "roommate agreement" and these people agreed at the outset and now just aren't doing it ... maybe you could get everyone cute/snazzy little caddies or containers as an indication of how serious you are about the matter. Not saying that you have to go full-on sorority style with paint-pen initials, but maybe something from Bed Bath and Beyond?
posted by mccxxiii at 5:15 PM on February 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


This is a loud and clear signal to your roommates that the house they live in is not their home and you don't want them there. I'm guessing you have roommates purely for financial reasons and would strongly prefer not to?
posted by Dynex at 5:15 PM on February 6, 2017 [94 favorites]


Yes, this is extremely strange. It is like college... That's not a good thing. They live there, as long as they're not being messy or gross, leaving basic supplies in the bathroom is an expected behavior.
posted by brainmouse at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2017 [18 favorites]


Do they also have to take their shampoo, towel, etc?

I have lived in many group houses and indeed am a homeowner with housemates, and I have never experienced or requested this.

What do you have by way of bathroom cabinets and storage? Could you just give everyone a shelf or cubby and ask that they keep their stuff there?
posted by Frowner at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2017 [13 favorites]


You really can't go making demands that aren't spelled out in the lease, regardless of what analogies you use to justify them.
posted by jon1270 at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2017 [12 favorites]


This is what bathroom cabinets are for. Each roommate gets a shelf. Stuff goes on the shelf, not on the sink.

When I was looking for housing once, the landlord was like this, and I noped the hell out of there right quick.
posted by nat at 5:18 PM on February 6, 2017 [12 favorites]


They can leave everything else.
posted by pieceofcake at 5:18 PM on February 6, 2017


But my bathroom is small, and not much shelf space, and there are 4 of us, so it will be very cluttered if there were 4 toothpastes, 4 toothbrushes each in their container, dental floss and all that.
posted by pieceofcake at 5:19 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Are you actually renting to college students? If not, then emulating the dorm experience is probably not what you want to do.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:20 PM on February 6, 2017 [9 favorites]


I would install more shelves.
posted by slateyness at 5:20 PM on February 6, 2017 [57 favorites]


So what if it's cluttered? That's a real question. Cluttered is less of an issue than having to tote stuff back and forth.
posted by brainmouse at 5:21 PM on February 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'd install a little shelf, and probably put out four differently coloured cups as a goodwill gesture. Because that is definitely weird.
posted by kmennie at 5:21 PM on February 6, 2017 [12 favorites]


If you have four roommates and one bathroom, it's going to be cluttered. As the homeowner you are capable of installing shelving that would help, they are not. Instead of dealing with the clutter in a practical manner, you are putting it on them.

Do you take your own toothbrush into your bedroom?
posted by Dynex at 5:22 PM on February 6, 2017 [20 favorites]


I would find this an obnoxious request. Agreed that it's the kind of thing that gives renting from an owner who is also living in the apartment a bad name.

Either you don't have enough storage in the bathroom or you have more roommates than the house is intended to support...
posted by sputzie at 5:23 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


You say "my bathroom", my landlord calls this bathroom my bathroom, not his. You need to change your view if you want to have roommates. Install more shelves and live with a little clutter (and be grateful that anyone is willing to share a bathroom with 3 other folks).
posted by stormygrey at 5:23 PM on February 6, 2017 [9 favorites]


Can you get one of those storage carts or units with drawers and each person gets a drawer? Like this or this? This over-the-door idea might even be an option if you have no floor space.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:23 PM on February 6, 2017


Okay, I'll....bite, so to speak. Why the toothpaste and not the towels? Is it that other people's toothbrushes gross you out? Sometimes other people's toothbrushes are gross! (What about mugs for water/rinsing? Do you use little paper cups?)

I feel like this is a storage problem, though. Consider this: it's actually kind of inconvenient, even in college, to have to tote your damp toothbrush to and fro. In some ways it's more inconvenient than carrying your shampoo, because the toothbrush can't be allowed to brush up against anything since it goes in your actual mouth, whereas if you drop your shampoo bottle on the floor, it doesn't matter.

We have a terrible bathroom cabinet, but we have a large bathroom closet. If I were a more organized person, I could easily arrange for everyone to have a plastic basket in the closet for all their clobber. Is something like that an option? You could make a really nice little rack on the inside of the closet door maybe? A little shelf/basket for each person and a toothbrush holder?
posted by Frowner at 5:23 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


I explain it's like college where people take their toothbrush to the bathroom and take it back to their dorm room.

In college, the bathroom is owned by a third party and everyone is inconvenienced in the same way. In this case, you own the bathroom and (I am presuming) you keep your stuff in the bathroom so it's not like college. I find this request odd. Not like "against the rules" odd but odd. I have been in shared situations like yours where I was renting a room and not sharing a house, and I kept my bathroom stuff in the bathroom. There was a medicine cabinet and some drawers. My landlady kept the drawers and we each got a shelf in the medicine cabinet for whatever. And everything you had in the bathroom (except shampoo/conditioner) went there.
posted by jessamyn at 5:31 PM on February 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


I think what you want is your own bathroom. Since you're the owner, why don't you call up a contractor and build it?

Otherwise, if you're sharing one bathroom with three other people, you should install the appropriate shelves, as others have stated.

I asked my partner what she would say if a hypothetical apartment owner/roommate made your request. Without blinking, she replied:


"I would say 'Go fuck yourself.'"

posted by Gray Skies at 5:33 PM on February 6, 2017 [44 favorites]


I think if you want this kind of setup you should lay it out in your housing ad, because it is unusual. I've seen housing ads that specify no overnight guests, or no leaving personal belongings in common spaces, and I think that's totally OK as long as the renters know this going in and agree to it.

Otherwise nthing to create more storage space. You can get shelving units that go over the toilet that have doors that close. Give each person one shelf and let them keep their toothbrush there.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:35 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have lived with roommates for nearly all of my adult life. This is a strange request.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:36 PM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


Definitely strange, regardless of reason.
posted by smoke at 5:37 PM on February 6, 2017


A strange, oppressive and unreasonable request. Install wall cubbies or shelves for everyone.
posted by saradarlin at 5:38 PM on February 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's one thing to mutually agree that toothbrushes/toothpaste should be left out of the bathroom because of clutter/lack of shelf space - it's another thing entirely to unilaterally make a rule like that because you're the home owner. Try to see it from your roommates' perspective. They're renting a room in a house and presumably paying market rates for it. They could just as easily rent a room in a house where all four roommates were in the same boat as them. Why should they be deprived of rights they would normally enjoy just because one of their roommates happens to be their landlord? That way lies resentment.
posted by peacheater at 5:41 PM on February 6, 2017 [7 favorites]


If you're worried about clutter, you can do like lots of my past roommates have done -- pick up some cheap wire shelves and hang them up in the bathroom. Everybody gets a shelf to keep their stuff on.

Frankly, if my roommate/landlord tried to enforce this nitpicky of a rule, I'd be very concerned about what other weird, overbearing rules I was going to be running into in the future.
posted by sarcasticah at 5:46 PM on February 6, 2017 [7 favorites]


no no no
Once I sublet an apartment where they hadn't taken out the garbage in nine months and therefore there was no kitchen (because the kitchen was full of all the accumulated garbage), and I stayed in that apartment, and this toothbrush business is still too weird.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:49 PM on February 6, 2017 [15 favorites]


I grew up sharing 1 bathroom with 3 other family members. There is a solution here that can please everyone, I'm sure of it. In fact, every toothbrush holder I have ever seen has space for 4 toothbrushes.

Possibilities:
1. see if people would be ok making toothpaste and floss a house expenditure
2. explore shelving/storage solutions
posted by veery at 5:54 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


Eh, I've lived in a shared house where we didn't leave our stuff in the main bathroom (the guys upstairs left some items in their shared bath, also technically open to the whole house). It isn't the worst thing in the world to have to tote your stuff. In our case, it was more a matter of not wanting others to use/steal it/mess with it while drunk, so I spent over a year bringing my own toilet paper with me when I went to pee. FUN TIMES.

But nobody prescribed what could or could not be left in the bathroom, and there is no place I've lived where that would have been something that didn't come off as being really out of the norm. Attach cabinets to the walls, hang shelves, assign people a shelf and label it if necessary, but let them have some space that is their own to use as they see fit.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:59 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think that if these roommates are paying you rent money, then this is their home and they should not be treated like college students.
posted by ficbot at 6:00 PM on February 6, 2017 [24 favorites]


I also grew up sharing one tiny bathroom with three family members... and we kept our toothbrushes in our rooms. Maybe we were weirdos, but our toothbrushes were always dry and they never got knocked down on to the gross bathroom floor or the messy bathroom counter.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:01 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


That is a bit weird, but have you had problems finding roommates or anything like that? I'd probably not live anywhere with a 4 to 1 roomie to bathroom ratio anyways (did that as a kid, never again, but not because of toothbrushes), so people who don't mind that ratio may be more flexible.

If you're telling your roommates/tenants ahead of time you're quirky but probably fine. Maybe it even screens out people who'd be otherwise incompatible? It'd be nice to try to figure something out so toothbrushes etc can stay, though.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:03 PM on February 6, 2017


Here's what revolutionized my bathroom storage situation: installing a second medicine cabinet in the hall outside (there wasn't space on the walls). You can then have the roomates put their toothbrushes on a shelf in there -- make at least one shelf tall enough to hold one drinking glass/vertical toothbrush per roommate, then put the toothbrushes in there.

Also: I have a situation around the shower where there's bathtub/tile/shower lining up to about 6', then drywall up to the ceiling. I mounted a shelf from the drywall part (it's actually hanging from studs), that has four chains hanging down to a second shelf, which has four chains hanging down to a third shelf. This makes a lot more space for toiletries and so forth -- sometimes I put my toothbrush there. Since it's a bathtub length away from the shower head, stuff stays dry. Obviously it won't work in every bathroom, but it's really great.

The thing is, it's really difficult to find a good place to keep toothbrushes and other wet things inside a bedroom, especially if it's your only real living space. You run the risk of staining furniture with the wetness, plus it's not really sanitary, plus every inch of surface is precious. Please use your big brain to find another way.

As landlord, it's your responsibility to make things comfortable and functional for everybody. It's a good feeling when you get it right :)
posted by amtho at 6:07 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


Another vote for: this is weird. I would actually go so far as to call it bizarre.

Toothbrushing is something most people do at least twice a day, to have to tote everything needed for that back and forth would create so much ill will towards any landlord who asked me to do this that I would be tempted to screw them over in some other way.

I actually understand how you feel, but don't do this, please. I dislike anyone decorating or leaving anything that I don't find aesthetically pleasing around, therefore, I've lived alone as often as possible and currently live with a partner who owns very little and is happy to let me do as I please. If you're not in a position to do the same, you must compromise.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 6:17 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is a very strange request, especially if they are allowed to leave some other things in the bathroom. Why toothbrushes in particular?

Find some kind of storage solution -- wall shelves, under-sink shelves, whatever -- that lets everyone have a small section of shelving to themselves and then mind your own business about what they decide to keep on it. Or have a discussion among all the roommates to find out if you are the only one who is weirdly bothered by the toothbrush thing or if there's some other anti-clutter solution that might work for everyone.

I own a condo and rent to roommates and I totally get the innate desire to not have people mess with your flow, but it's also their home, and they get to actually live there, not just perch precariously in borrowed space. Comparing it to a college dorm -- many of which no longer have that godawful one large bathroom per floor scenario anymore because everyone agrees that those are shitty -- doesn't make sense unless they are college students looking for a dorm-like atmosphere. People who choose to live in houses generally have no interest in feeling like they live in a dorm.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:21 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is bizarre, and it would make me never feel at home.
posted by heathrowga at 6:26 PM on February 6, 2017 [15 favorites]


Yes, this is bizarre. The 4:1 bathroom ratio is already kind of pushing it, and I appreciate the desire to keep things neat especially when there are multiple people involved, but ... no. There's a reason why people don't live in a college dorm setup forever.

Get one of these doohickeys and call it a day.
posted by basalganglia at 6:32 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


It's weird. A house isn't a dorm in so many ways, so why would it be like a dorm in this way? One reason I like living in a house is I can actually settle in as though its my place. I pay more for that right too.

If this is important to you I'd try to state it up front next time. But recognize the tradeoff: when you decide this unilaterally, you've made this less a co-created, democratic household and more *your* household. It's totally within your rights but may still contribute to a tension that wouldn't be there otherwise.

You could make a little cabinet or shelf or individual baskets where each person keeps their things instead.

Though if none of the roommates are bothered then I'd maybe let it go.
posted by ramenopres at 6:37 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


"I would say 'Go fuck yourself.'"

I would say nothing, I would write something along the lines of "I'm not paying for part of your mortgage so you can tell me where to keep my toothbrush", I would think "go fuck yourself", and I would do leaving the rental as soon as possible.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:45 PM on February 6, 2017 [23 favorites]


Personally, you would not have to ask me to do this, I would do it on my own. Four people with toothbrushes on the counter of a small sink would have me concerned about the accidental knocking off of my toothbrush onto the floor, etc. Gross. But, that is my issue which I would not impose on someone else. If it were me, I would make it a suggestion and let those who want to leave their teeth stuff in the bathroom live with the accidental consequences.

The real question is are they adhering to the rule willingly? If they are, leave it. If not, forget it.
posted by AugustWest at 6:49 PM on February 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


there are some creative solutions out there that don't require much space.

I think maybe you could pull this off if you said something like "It's a small bathroom, please leave your toothbrush in the allotted toothbrush area, or carry back and forth to your room."

Mason Jar Tooth Brush Holders

and another idea

and a jillion more ideas
posted by Rocket26 at 6:54 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


This would make me feel absolutely awful. Like I had no home at all, like I was living in a hotel 24/7. Like the person I lived with hated the fact that I existed. I would seriously break a sublease over a demand like this.

Put up a shelf ffs.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:58 PM on February 6, 2017 [38 favorites]


It's not so much a "dorm rule" as a flophouse rule, and flophouse rules will make your renters feel like they're in a flophouse. +1 strange.
posted by holgate at 7:09 PM on February 6, 2017 [19 favorites]


I perceive this as weird.
posted by latkes at 7:23 PM on February 6, 2017


Although I wouldn't like this, I could accept it with a "worried about accidental germs, here's a nice bag to keep things in". If you do stick to this, are there things you can do to make it more palatable for them?

I'd also take some time to consider whether this is a particular-issue thing (which we are all allowed) or whether offering space for roommates is really comfortable for you and there are other ways they feel edged out. I have had roommates that had a few quirks and that was fine. I have also had roommates that made me feel bad for existing in a shared space and that it really not great.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 7:30 PM on February 6, 2017


seriously though this is the kind of petty dictatorial "under MY roof it's MY rules" shit that is the cause of a lot of long-term familial resentments among many people i know. i would give you a bit of leeway if you ALSO don't keep your toothbrush etc in the bathroom; that would still be weird but more in a strange quirk sort of way. otherwise it's still weird, and also alienating, and definitely obnoxious.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:31 PM on February 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


If your bathroom is quite small and there are four people using it, then you should upgrade the storage situation for that area, regardless of the toothbrush question. That will make it more livable for people. Is there storage you could put in the hallway outside the bathroom, if needed, where people could put things?

I think part of being a good landlord/roommate is making your shared space as functional as possible, and if that isn't an option, not putting the burden on your tenants to keep perfectly reasonable toiletries out of the bathroom.
posted by delight at 7:33 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


I understand the idea of wanting to keep the bathroom looking "clean", but if they are paying you rent, this is actually their home. You are treating them like you are doing them this big favor by letting them use the bathroom; it's their bathroom just as much as it is yours.

I expect that your rule makes the renters feel unwanted ("you gotta hide your stuff!") and more like they are paying rent for a place, but being treated like some stranger staying two nights at a Youth Hostel or a KOA Campground.

Maybe you could have a drawer with a silverware thing in it and each person (including you) could put their toothbrush in there. Or better yet, a little segmented rack that lives behind the bathroom mirror.

The idea of their having to continuously ferry their stuff back-and-forth and back-and-forth every single day is really tiring--but more importantly: unfriendly, intentionally or not.
posted by blueberry at 7:33 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


Keep your own toothbrush in your room. Explain to roommates that you do that so that it never gets knocked down/confused with someone else's/etc. Let them use that knowledge as they will - perhaps they'll think it's a splendid idea and do the same. Perhaps they'll think you're nutty in which case let them use their gross toothbrush that gets knocked into the sink or thrown out by accident or whatever.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 7:38 PM on February 6, 2017


I would not leave my toothbrush anywhere someone else can even touch it, much less a shared bathroom. I don't understand any body feeling put upon to store it elsewhere. Also, if you watch one of those videos about flying fecal matter, you won't leave ANYTHING in there.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:41 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yeah not to pile on....but this is really weird. If you did this to me I would probably respond by brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink!
posted by tabula rasa at 7:44 PM on February 6, 2017


...maybe you could _ask_ your roommates if they have ideas about how to address this? I totally get that space is tight and most people don't handle that well by default.
posted by amtho at 7:56 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is this a strange request?

Yes, it's strange. Leaving bathroom implements in the bathroom is a pretty basic expectation.

But I explain it's like college where people take their toothbrush to the bathroom and take it back to their dorm room.

They're not living in a college dorm.

They're paying you rent. It's their home too.

Put some more storage in your bathroom. Or get some toothbrush holders that you stick on the wall or something.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:58 PM on February 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'd bristle at that request if I were a renter.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:13 PM on February 6, 2017 [25 favorites]


In my old house, the sink was so small that we could only fit a piece of soap on it, so we got a toothbrush rack and kept the paste and floss in one of the drawers. Does the bathroom have a medicine cabinet? My mom puts her guest toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet. In small bathrooms, sometimes the mirror can be replaced by a medicine cabinet with a mirror on it.

But yeah, these aren't guests. This is their home. I think it's weird. The least you could do would be to have a house meeting where all of you come up with a solution together.

I visited a friend who rented a room from/lived with the owner of a two bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in NYC. Between the two women, the bathroom was full of organizing devices, both in the shower and on the wall. It worked, everything was neat, even though there was a lot of stuff in a small space.
posted by Pearl928 at 8:21 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I lived in a shared house once where the landlord (who also lived there) required that people keep their toilet paper in their room and bring it back and forth to the bathroom. (She didn't like the idea of everyone sharing the same roll, and four separate rolls would apparently have been too much clutter).

I left after two months, and strangely enough she never managed to keep a room mate for much longer than that.

It's probably not the toothbrush thing by itself that would be a problem for people, just like the toilet paper thing by itself was an inconvenience, but not a dealbreaker. It's what it signals. (That the house isn't really theirs, that they have to do what you say even if it's weird, and that they are only there on tolerance. Also a signal that maybe you have unusual expectations in other areas too.)

At the one-toilet-roll-each house, there were also endless little notes everywhere reminding people how to behave, and we weren't allowed to use some pots and pans, but it was okay to use others, and we weren't allowed to receive phone calls after 8pm, and the landlady used to check the recycling and rubbish bins to make sure we had sorted everything properly. If I were considering living in your house, your requirement about toothbrushes would make me wonder if all of these other sorts of things were going to gradually happen as well.
posted by lollusc at 8:22 PM on February 6, 2017 [17 favorites]


I'd find this request really strange, as in, unless you could give me a better reason for doing it other than "avoiding clutter", I'd probably continue to ignore the request while seeing what I could do to get less particular roommates. Even if I don't "own" the place I live in, I value having that space being set up so that it's convenient to live in, as much as possible.

If I were you, I'd look into better bathroom organizers that would increase your storage space to the point where it's no longer an issue. If you've got a modicum of wall-space, adding shelves or baskets or whatever should be an easy way to go.
posted by Aleyn at 8:31 PM on February 6, 2017


Asking anyone other than college students in a dorm or campers at a summer camp to not leave basic grooming tools in the bathroom is not acceptable. This is their home. To not hang their drying undergarments in the bathroom? Maybe, if you don't have a laundry room. To not leave their clothing or electronics in there? Sure. But not personal grooming items, especially dental care items.

College students aren't supposed to leave their mugs in the common rooms or dorm kitchen, but would you expect your housemates to keep their pots, pans, and dishes in their rooms and not in the kitchen?

Add an over-the-tank shelving unit, or hang an over-the-door shoe organizer on the back of the bathroom door to allow people to keep their personal grooming items in the bathroom. Or stop renting space in your house.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 8:34 PM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


That's a strange request, and I wouldn't obey it if I were living with you.

And I say this as someone who currently keeps my toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash in my room (in my own home! Because my family makes a mess of my toothpaste and blows through my mouthwash otherwise). Additionally, my previous "rent a room in a house" situation, I kept my toothbrush in my room (because it's an electric toothbrush and the bathroom had no outlets; another roommate with an electric toothbrush did the same thing).

But here's the thing: at no point did my homeowner's daughter roommate say "No, you may not keep your toothbrush in the bathroom." Doing so is a thing I chose to do (either by using an electric toothbrush, or not having to replace things twice as fast as anticipated). And it's still super annoying.

So, add some shelves, or baskets, or an over-the-toilet storage unit or something.
posted by smangosbubbles at 9:19 PM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


In a small shared bathroom, it is certainly reasonable to ask that roommates keep the majority of their personal grooming devices, unguents, and supplies in their own rooms. E.g. hairdryers, electric razors, those handheld face-buffing machines if they're still a thing, moisturizer, toner, eye cream, sunscreen, makeup, bath salts, hair gel, tampons, nail clippers, tweezers, etc.

However, toothbrush/toothpaste are the very items that typically DO get priority for the limited real estate near the sink. Your request is odd and offputting for people who live in this house. (I mean, c'mon, there's a reason why there's a romantic cliche about keeping a toothbrush at your significant other's house as a sign of the relationship being on the road to cohabitation.)

Also, if you told me, a grown-ass adult, that any condition of renting a room in your house was was "like a college dorm" I'd be both offended and amused. Ohh, are there multiple toilets and showers and a paid housekeeping crew, too? Then it ain't like a college dorm bathroom. I'd recommend using a better and more honest explanation.
posted by desuetude at 9:34 PM on February 6, 2017 [7 favorites]


I wouldn't want people leaving their dental shit in my bathroom either, and that's why I don't have housemates.

However, these people are paying rent and deserve to have some kind of autonomy and level of decision-making in their home, so perhaps a less obnoxious approach would be for each person to have their own toiletries bag or plastic case or something, where they keep their stuff? Less busy and cluttered that way, but at least their toothbrushes will be actually in the place where people brush their teeth (which makes sense).

If it's a bathroom with a toilet in it they should want to do this anyway, since toothbrushes are basically poo-aerosol absorption devices. People might be ok with brushing their teeth with their own poo, but surely not somebody else's.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:35 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


This would piss me off. I'd feel unwelcome in my home, and move out as soon as possible. I would probably comply, but I would passive-aggressively refuse/delay cleaning the bathroom as long as possible.

Do you have any other rules? Double check those with your friend too. You don't seem to understand how having housemates works.
posted by kjs4 at 10:12 PM on February 6, 2017 [14 favorites]


I'm extremely anxious living with other people and I would absolutely tote my toilet articles with me to the bathroom. That said, if a person moves into your house and accepts it as a home, then they must be comfortable and if that includes a shelf in the medicine cabinet then so be it.
posted by bendy at 11:27 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's probably not the toothbrush thing by itself that would be a problem for people [...] It's what it signals. That the house isn't really theirs, that they have to do what you say even if it's weird, and that they are only there on tolerance.

I concur. You should live alone.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:54 PM on February 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


How about 1 cup w/ 4 toothbrushes in it + shared paste & floss.
posted by fritillary at 12:55 AM on February 7, 2017


Mr Nilehorse is the landlord in a house shared with three tenants (and me). There is no way we would ask this of the tenants. They are paying rent to use the space, so it is their bathroom. If it is inconvenient because of a space issue, it is totally up to you to fix that.

If I moved into a house where someone requested that of me, it would signal that this was going to be an oppressive and uncomfortable place to live, and that the requests were going to become more and more unreasonable over time. I would be moving out as soon as possible.
posted by Nilehorse at 1:14 AM on February 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


Weighing in for "strange request."
posted by spitbull at 2:25 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Whoa. Totally unreasonable and controlling request. Makes no difference whether you own the house or not. If someone I shared a house with asked me to keep my toiletries in my bedroom I would feel super uncomfortable and angry and make plans to end the lease. I'd also trot out the story at parties when people chat about their worst housemate experiences.
posted by Chrysalis at 2:32 AM on February 7, 2017 [11 favorites]


This is a somewhat off-the-wall idea. If you actually have no room in the bathroom, to the point that you're knocking toothpaste off the sink all the time and the "install a shelf" idea is a non-starter (so, to be clear "it looks cluttered" is not crossing this line), what about communal toothpaste and floss? There's no real reason for four people to have four tubes of toothpaste and four things of dental floss. It invites roommate strife and people bickering over who uses too much toothpaste and how it's truly unfair that they have to chip in (less than) a dollar each month towards toothpaste and so on, but I did live in a house that had communal tampons and laundry detergent, which both seem like common things to buy separately. Now, we financed Costco trips and utilities by renting parking spaces in the driveway, so we didn't actually have to chip in, which may have helped us avoid that argument, but it has been known to work.
posted by hoyland at 4:26 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


I hear you on the "but the sink looks cluttered". My bathroom actually has a big closet-y kind of space in it, but my current roommate keeps his toothbrush, aftershave, and shaving stuff alongside the sink, even though he has a whole two empty shelves in the closet where he could put them if he wanted. It looks cluttered as hell, and I'd prefer he didn't.

But I'm not going to say a thing because he lives here, it's his bathroom too, and I don't get a vote. Literally the ABSOLUTE MOST I may do is on a weekend when he's out of town, if I have friends coming over, I'll sneak his stuff onto one of the shelves, only to put it right back when they leave and before he comes back, because it's his bathroom too and that is where he wants the stuff to be because it works for him.

Unless it is causing sanitation problems, people should be able to leave whatever they need in the bathroom in the bathroom. If all you're trying to do is improve the aesthetics of the space, brainstorm with your roommates for an alternate solution, but asking them to bring their bathroom tools to the bedroom with them is a pain in the ass for them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:46 AM on February 7, 2017


This is weird, yeah. But I am home with a sick kid (possibly norovirus) and getting the shudders over shared toothpaste. Is there even a way to get it onto your toothbrush without smearing germs from one brush to another? Ditto for four toothbrushes in a glass. (On the other hand, put out a toothbrush glass. Maybe that'll make them take their brushes to their rooms? It probably would work with me.)
posted by instamatic at 4:50 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Here is a wall mount toothbrush holder that takes up 4" of wall space and costs $4. My family has been happily using it for three years. They make fancier enclosed ones, and ones that hold toothpaste too. If you would like to minimize the number of toothpaste tubes in there, spend $4 a month buying a big shared tube.

This would solve your "clutter" problem. If you're finding yourself coming up with excuses for why it wouldn't work, think about what your REAL concern is.
posted by metasarah at 6:55 AM on February 7, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ordinarily I would think "Well, the consensus is loud and clear, I don't need to add my two cents," but since the poster's only response so far has been pushback, I'll add it anyway: definitely a strange request, and if I were your roommate/tenant I would complain loudly.
posted by languagehat at 7:45 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yep, I'll weigh in too with "this is completely ridiculous and I'd be looking for another place to live." I'd be wondering what other bizarre requests were going to come down next.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:49 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


(As for shared toothpaste, I use a particular brand because my dentist told me I needed to, and other people definitely have their own strong preferences for toothpaste brands. I don't think that's a super-chill request to make, either.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:59 AM on February 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


I agree this is a strange request and would be unacceptable to me if I were renting a room from you.

Have you considered carrying your own toothbrush and toothpaste to and from the bathroom and letting your roommates do whatever they want with theirs?
posted by Juffo-Wup at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't know what age you and your roomates are, but one of the prime reasons people move out of dorms as early as possible is not wanting to live the dorm life anymore. Including things like having someone else (be they Resident Assistant or Landlord/Roommate) micromanaging aspects of one's life like this.

At the most, if this is really bugging you, you could have a more general discussion about "hey, the bathroom seems really cluttered, does anyone else agree, and if so, what can we do about it?" Maybe you'll find your roommates do agree there's clutter and will be willing to take some measure to help reduce it, but it may not be the specific measure you want. So before doing that I'd think carefully about whether that's an acceptable outcome.

Or this may be something that, as your renters naturally turn over, you can find a way to screen for / discuss with new ones, to find people who are of similar minds with you on this issue. Long term, that's probably your best solution.
posted by Stacey at 8:48 AM on February 7, 2017


my friend, i rent my house to two other people and there is often a fourth around at least. we have one bathroom. i looked at our toothbrushes in said bathroom after reading this just to see if i was missing something. this could be because i come from lefty/punk/bucket flush world but my house is pretty nice these days and we keep it clean.

we do have a set of tall, deep built-ins in the bathroom that everyone can keep their crap in, so consider me another vote for storage solutions. put in a shelf. part the landlord challenge when you got tenants and lots of shared space is how to turn a house into a functional space for non-related people, installing storage solutions is part of that.

ps i do totally feel you that some things your housemates do will forever drive you low key mad, it is the human condition.
posted by beefetish at 8:52 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Clutter is not a good reason to be a dictatorial landlord.
posted by Everydayville at 1:07 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but I would never rent from you. If somehow I signed a lease without knowing you were going to ask me not to leave my toothbrush in the bathroom I would pay whatever it took to get out of said lease. That is controlling and ridiculous.
posted by Marinara at 3:10 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


If I had already signed the paperwork for the rental and you dropped this on me, I would tell you "That's not going to be possible" and would make a mental note to move out as soon as I could. As others have said, if you're going to make this kind of overly-controlling request, what else about my life in my home that I'm paying to rent will you try to control?

If you told me about it before I signed paperwork I would hopefully only blink at you in surprise a couple of times (because it's rude to guffaw with disbelief) and say "yeah, no, that's not going to be possible. Bye!"

I recognized your username from previous questions. It seems clear that you're dealing with anxiety and similar issues that are causing you distress and getting in the way of ordinary daily life. Speaking as someone who did seven years of therapy (before finding Zen Buddhism, which I now practice instead) and who expects to be on antidepressants until the day I die, please consider seeing a therapist who specializes in anxiety. You could be enjoying your day-to-day life a whole lot more than it sounds like you are now.
posted by Lexica at 3:27 PM on February 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


FWIW, I don't think you're necessarily being awful or overly controlling. You probably just hadn't thought the toothbrush thing through all the way, and really, other people's toothbrushes are legitimately icky and also legitimately in the way. Having a clear space to work in the morning is a real issue. This situation just needs a little more consideration is all.
posted by amtho at 4:48 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


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