Sharing a bathroom, whether it’s with a roommate, a spouse, or among siblings, is like a relationship. It requires communication, mutual respect, and establishing boundaries. Having to share personal space, particularly in cramped Sacramento apartments, can be challenging, but it is especially difficult when it comes to the bathroom. It is almost inevitable that you will be forced to share this small space with another person at some point in your life. Despite the inconveniences, it is possible to coexist peacefully as long as you follow some basic rules and guidelines. Here are some tips to avoid anger, tension, or embarrassing moments.

Schedule it out

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Hours: Mon to Sat -9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun -9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

One of the more difficult aspects of sharing a bathroom is navigating multiple schedules. If you are lucky enough to have opposite schedules, then there really isn’t much to work out.  However, if both routines are similar, it is important to determine everyone’s needs and the easiest thing to do is have a discussion. What time do you wake up? How long does it take to get ready? Come up with a reasonable schedule and stick to it. Be fair and considerate of one another, but don’t set a timer, unless you are dealing with young children. If necessary, post the schedule on a small calendar or white board to help everyone remember the routine. Find all sorts of funky scheduling accessories at the Mixed Bag on K Street.

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Keep it clean

Although everyone has a different opinion on what clean is, no one wants to deal with a dirty bathroom. Cleaning the bathroom is a shared responsibility, so make sure you are well stocked on cleaning supplies and set up a cleaning schedule. If one person doesn’t mind cleaning the bathroom, consider trading that for kitchen duty. As long as chores are divided up equally, everyone will benefit. If everyone is opposed to cleaning the bathroom, consider chipping in for a routine housecleaning service such as Joy of Cleaning. Whatever the solution, make sure it is fair to everyone and all are involved in the decision-making process.

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Follow the rules

Hours: Mon to Sun -10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Nowhere do the basic rules of etiquette apply more than in a shared bathroom. Regardless of how close you are to your roommate or how much you love your spouse, lack of common courtesy and respect in the bathroom will cause strife. Clean up after yourself, replace used items such as hand towels and empty toilet paper rolls, respect privacy, and avoid going over your allotted bathroom time. Also, be flexible and maintain a sense of humor. Post the rules on the wall as a daily reminder–the funnier the better. Evangeline’s provides novelty items that bring a little humor to your shared bathroom situation.

Everything in its place

Hours: Mon to Fri -7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat -7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun -8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Organization is the key to sharing a bathroom, especially a small one. Using a caddy from Emigh Hardware will keep the shower free of clutter and give each person a designated spot for their stuff. Hang shelves or purchase an over-the-toilet organizer to give more space and keep the countertop tidy. Use baskets, bins, or small shelves under the sink. Toss out empty containers or items you are no longer using to maximize space.

Make it pretty

Hours: Mon to Sun -10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Giving the bathroom a polished look will encourage cleanliness and order. Decide together on the décor, unless one person has an affinity for that sort of thing. Keep colors neutral to create a relaxing environment. Add small touches such as a plant or candles. Use coordinating toothbrush holders, soap dispensers, and wastebaskets to tie the room together. Stock plenty of towels and throw down a plush bath rug.

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Karen Boruff is a freelance writer living in Sacramento. Her work can be found at