Rules for Sharing a Refrigerator with Roommates

Shacking up with friends is a great way to save money on rent. Sharing a place always works out cheaper than if you rented the place yourself, right? And together, you can find an apartment or house with as many rooms and bathroom as you guys would need—but no matter what, there's always only one fridge. Whether you're a post-college professional or a high school grad getting ready to head to the dorms, here's a few rules for sharing a refrigerator.

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There's no need to inflate the power bill and keep a mini-fridge by your bed if you and your roommates would set some ground rules and follow a few of these peace-keeping tips:

  • Decide upfront whether or not you are going to share food, condiments or beverages and make the house rules clear to everyone.
  • When deciding whether or not to split, consider everyone's at-home eating habits. If one of you is home more than another, it won't be a fair split.
  • If you decide not to share as a house, let your roommates know if there's anything of yours they can help themselves to. (In our experience, long-use fridge staples like ketchup and mustard are always easy to share.)
  • If you're the one to finish off the communal ketchup, replace it.
  • Give each person equal fridge space. You could decide upfront to assign everyone a shelf, but even if you don't, at least be courteous enough to not fill your entire cart up at the grocery store.
  • Establish a rule that food put in the fridge needs to be covered to prevent smell and mold. Tightly wrap super-aromatic food like fish, curries and pickles.
  • Label your food with stickers or a Sharpie so your roommates know to keep away from your leftovers, but also so they know who to bug if it starts to stink or mold.
  • Decide as a house how often the fridge should be cleaned and how it will be cleaned.
  • If it's your container that leaks or spills in the refrigerator, clean the spill, no matter who's turn it is.
  • Buy communal cleaning items like baking soda and sponges upfront and split it between each other.
  • Clean out the fridge once a week for rotted fruits and vegetables.