Dorm Living: The Dos and Don’ts of Communal Bathrooms

The daily routine begins anew on a Monday morning, and it never fails. I will stride into the girl’s bathroom on my floor, ready to take on the day and as I enter the shower stall, I see it: a glob of hair. Honestly, the sheer size of these mounds of dead skin cells never fail to make my nose crinkle out of pure disgust and wonder.

Who would just leave this on the shower floor for all to see and step in?

Unfortunately, this is a question I cannot answer. I can, however, tell you that there are simple rules of etiquette you simply learn to follow after entering the journey of university housing. While some students will be blessed with the opportunity to have one bathroom per suite or an apartment all their own, the rest of us are not so lucky. Thankfully, with the proper care and consideration, communal bathrooms (one bathroom per floor, per gender) will cease to be an obstacle and simply become a fact about dorm living we, as students, accept.

Here are a few simple guidelines to live by if you plan on (and you will be) staying in the dorms for a year or so into your college experience.

Dos and Don’ts of Communal Bathrooms:

  • DO bring a shower caddy. These little wonders will save your life in the long run. Coming in a variety of colors and sizes, shower caddies make it possible to bring all the necessities to the bathroom without making the trek back to your room every ten minutes. Plus, you are less likely to leave something behind if it’s packed nice and neatly together, which brings me to my second point…
  • DO NOT leave items (or hair) behind. Despite the number of times we go over it in floor meetings, residents never seem to pick up on the fact that if they simply pick up their stuff when they leave, there will be nothing to complain about. Entering the bathroom to find abandoned facial scrubs and scraps of hair will make anyone want to turn and run. Understandably, you may not want to pick up someone else’s hair, but at least pick up your own. It’s the little contributions that add up and help the most.
  • DO wear flip-flops. While communal bathrooms are kept fairly clean, there is always a danger of contracting some sort of bacteria from the floor. It makes more sense to be safe and look slightly dorky with the rest of us than get Athlete’s Foot from a shower stall. Also, flip-flops are insanely cheap (especially at Wal-Mart), so this purchase will not make a dent in your ramen noodles fund.
  • DO NOT wash your dishes in all of the sinks. This guideline varies depending on which residence hall you live in. In my dorm, we have designated one sink specifically for washing your dishes in to avoid someone brushing their teeth in a “food sink.” Unfortunately, not everyone heeds the colorful and well-drawn signs above the sinks. While it should be applauded that you managed to cook chicken parmesan in your room, this does mean the rest of the floor should have to deal with a clogged sink that reeks suspiciously of chicken. If there is a designated sink, use it. If there is not, locate the kitchenette in your dorm and use the sink there.
  • DO show respect to your custodial staff.  The service workers who clean the bathrooms are some of the unsung heroes of the university’s facilities and services. These brave men and women face the messes that leave us cringing and racing from the bathroom to tell our friends. Often, they will wait politely as people finish their business with the sink before sweeping the bathroom clean. In the future, step to the side to allow them to clean if you are in their way. It’s a simple courtesy, but you owe these people a couple moments of your time. Also, the bathroom ends up cleaner as a result of a little kindness. Prove me wrong. I dare you.
  • DO NOT romp around in your towel. While this may work for most male students, the possibility of a towel slipping is just too great for me to bear an entire floor of half-naked people. Robes or frumpy attire is just fine, and you will be much more comfortable walking around. Also, never underestimate the chance you may get locked out of your room from time to time. There will be a miscommunication; you may forget your keys and your roommate will leave. Now tell me, would you rather be stuck outside in your towel or nice and warm in a shirt and some athletic shorts?

Be diligent, future college goers.

While you may scoff at my advice now and believe that none of this will ever happen to you, it will. At times, several situations in college can be solved if and only when someone speaks up or does something about it. Do not fall into the pitfall of “well, no one else did it, so I won’t.” Pick up after yourself, be healthy and order will slowly but surely be restored. College is not the dark comedy everyone makes it out to be, and the food is not half bad either.

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Tori Stukins

Tori Stukins

Tori Stukins is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Theatre. On campus, Tori can often be found working on various projects for Her Campus Illinois, acting in a production or reading. While at home, she enjoys working at her family’s restaurant or exploring with her friends.