Every apartment has common areas that roommates must share. Because these spaces belong to multiple people, each individual should treat them with care. Here’s a look at roommate etiquette as it pertains to common rooms in an apartment and building:

What Counts as a Common Room

Simply ask yourself “Do other people use it?” If your answer is yes, then it’s a common room. Here are some examples:

  • Living room

  • Bathrooms

  • Kitchen

  • Laundry room

  • Hallways

  • Amenity spaces (i.e. swimming pool or fitness room)

Pick Up

Whatever you take into the common space with you should leave when you do. For example, don’t leave your towel by the pool, and pick up trash you drop in the hallway. Your roommate or building neighbors won’t appreciate dealing with your stuff.

[Roommate Living: Splitting Chores]

A few obvious exceptions apply: You’ll only remove your laundry after its done drying (don’t leave it there very long afterward) and you can keep some things in the living room and bathroom (toothbrush, bath towel, etc.) Here’s a guide: Only leave things in a room if they belong there or if it’s something everyone uses (such as a TV or DVD collection in the living room).

Do Your Equal Share

Part of roommate etiquette involves cleaning. Start by focusing on your own messes, which will decrease the frequency of having to do major cleaning tasks. If you wash your dishes when you’re done with them, you won’t have to spend hours scrubbing at the end of the week. If you clean the bathroom counter after trimming your bangs or shaving, you won’t have to scrub the bathroom as often.

[How to Make a Chore Chart]

On top of being generally neat, many roommates expect others to do apartment chores. While cleanliness decreases how often you’ll have to pull out the rubber gloves and bleach, scrubbing the bathroom, kitchen and floors are regular chores. Consider making a chart that details each task you must do and who will do it.

Be Timely

You may not get to your dishes right away when you’re in a hurry, and you could have forgotten when you put a load in the laundry. While things like that happen, be aware of time while using common rooms. People don’t like it when your wet clothes are sitting in the washing machine, backing up the line. As a side note, don’t pull other people’s belongings out of the machines–you wouldn’t like it if they did that to your clothes.

Keep Quiet

You might like to stay up watching TV until midnight, but your roommates could have a strict early bedtime. Respect that when you use common areas. For instance, turn down the TV volume at night and save the noisy appliances (like blenders and vacuums) for the afternoon.

[Don’t Be a Noisy Neighbor: Tips for Keeping the Peace]

The same goes when you’re in the hallway. Screaming into your cellphone on the way to your door might wake the neighbors if it’s late. Simply be cognizant of the clock and you shouldn’t have any troubles.