For most of my adult life, I have lived alone. I’m something of a perfectionist, and I like it when things are just so. Thus, the idea of sharing common spaces—like the kitchen—with roommates makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and anxious. Still, there are plenty of people who prefer to live with roommates, and I’ve heard my fair share of kitchen horror stories from friends and family members. Moldy fruit, dirty dishes, and fruit fly infestations are all problems that can be avoided if everyone involved makes an effort. To be respectful of your living companions, here are the kitchen crimes you should never commit.
1. Putting empty ice trays into the freezer
There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re going to shake up a wonderful cocktail only to stick your hand in the freezer and realize there is no ice. It takes 11 seconds (I know because I just counted) to fill up an ice tray and place it in the freezer. That is no time at all, so just do it.
2. Filling the sink with dirty dishes when the dishwasher is empty
Why place a dirty dish in the sink when you can place it in the dishwasher? It’s illogical! It doesn’t take that much longer, and it keeps the kitchen looking tidy.
3. Filling the sink with dirty dishes when the dishwasher is full
Realize that the dishwasher is filled with dirty dishes? Many people don’t even have a dishwasher, so be grateful you have one—then turn it on and run it!
4. Not emptying the dishwasher when it's clean
It’s not the most fun of chores, but it has to be done. The kitchen will run more smoothly if the clean dishes are put away. If you don’t have a dishwasher, the same applies to the dish rack. If it’s filled with clean dishes, put them away.
5. Always drinking wine, but never bothering to wash the glasses
If you had a little get-together with friends and are too tired to wash the glasses that night, wake up the next morning and do it. Your roommates aren’t your housecleaners!
6. Leaving moldy fruit on the counter
If you purchased a bunch of peaches last week at the farmer's market with the intent of making smoothies each morning but never got around to it, don’t leave them there to rot. You’ll end up with an infestation of fruit flies.
7. Leaving almost-empty takeout containers in the fridge
That broccoli beef that had two bites left in the Chinese takeout box that you put in the fridge three weeks ago? Yeah, it’s still there. Get rid of it now.
8. Sticking food in the oven and forgetting about it
It seemed like a great idea to bake that frozen pizza last night when you came home from the bar at 1 a.m. However, you forgot about it, and now there’s a burnt, smelly mess in the oven. If you’re using the oven, set a timer!
9. Not taking out the trash or recycling
If the trash and recycling bins are full, take them out.
10. Mixing the trash and the recycling
If your roommates have made the effort to set up a system where trash goes in one place and recycling in another, be respectful and throw your beer bottles in the correct bin.
11. Eating someone else’s food (or drinking someone else’s drink) without asking
Unless you jointly shop and pay for the groceries, ask your roommates before you dive into their turkey to make a sandwich.
12. Putting knives in the dishwasher
The quickest way to make a sharp knife dull? Sticking it in the dishwasher. Don’t do it. Instead, wash them directly after using, dry them with a towel, and return them to the knife block.
13. Not putting dirty towels in the laundry bin
Discuss with your roommates how you deal with kitchen linens, then follow the rules. It’s disgusting to wash your hands after dealing with raw meat then reach for a dishtowel that is crusted with salsa or other remnants of food.
14. Not paying attention to where you put things
I realize that some people aren’t super organized, but you should have a basic understanding of where things go in the kitchen. Don’t empty the dishwasher and put all the glasses where the plates normally go. Try to keep the items in the general vicinity of where they belong.
15. Using up an ingredient and not refilling it
If you like to cook and share certain everyday ingredients (like olive oil, salt, pepper, etc.) with your roommates, don’t use something up and not replenish it.