13 Unwritten Household Rules That Make Sense

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Society can’t function without rules, and neither can homes! While we might not have them officially written down somewhere, most of us—especially those of us who live with other people—have house rules to promote harmony and help our lives run smoother. Here are 13 household rules that make so much sense we might start using them, too!

Replacing the Trash Bag Is Part of Taking Out the Trash

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Nothing is more frustrating than going to throw something out and discovering that whoever took the trash out last forgot to replace the bag. It’s nice that someone remembered to take out the trash, but it’s not fair to the next person. Some people make it a rule in their house that the job of taking out the trash isn’t considered done until a fresh, empty bag is back in the bin. 

Whoever Gets Out of Bed First Makes the Coffee; Whoever Gets Out of Bed Last Makes the Bed

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When it comes to starting off the day on the right foot, teamwork makes the dream work. Whoever gets out of bed first puts on a pot of coffee for themselves and anyone else who wants it. In exchange for getting to sleep in and having a fresh cup of coffee waiting for them when they wake up, the other person has to make the bed. 

If You Use the Last of Something, You Buy the Next Pack

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Whether you live with roommates or family members, there are bound to be certain items that are meant for common use, like toilet paper, condiments, or drinks. 

In many households where expenses are shared, residents usually expect the person who finished off the last pack to buy the next one. This way, one person doesn’t end up always paying to replenish communal goods, and there are fewer arguments over who gets the last of something—although some people have reported that the last can of soda goes untouched for months because no one wants to be on the hook for the next pack!

If You Cooked for Just Yourself, You Clean Up

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As adults, we understand that it’s common courtesy not to make other people clean up our messes. Cooking a delicious, homemade meal can be quite the process and leave behind several dirty mixing bowls, pots, pans, and other dishes. Even though you might not feel like cleaning up after you’ve gone through the effort of cooking, if you were the only one who got the benefits, it’s your responsibility. 

If You Cooked for Multiple People, You Don’t Have to Clean

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However, if someone else took the time and effort to cook for you, it’s not fair to leave them with the job of cleaning up all by themselves. Many people consider labor fairly split if one person cooks and the other person (or people) clean up. Depending on chore preferences, you can alternate who does what or give each person an assigned job. 

Turn off the Lights if You’re the Last One to Leave a Room

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While modern LED lights use less energy than older incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, leaving them on in an empty room is still a waste of energy. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s also bad for your wallet. A general rule that many households follow is that whoever leaves the room last has to turn off the lights to minimize energy waste. 

When You Empty the Dishwasher, You Also Have to Reload It With Any Dirty Dishes in the Sink

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Part of being a considerate housemate or partner means doing your share of chores and doing them completely. If you’ve emptied and put away the dishwasher and there are still dirty dishes in the sink, your job isn’t done. It’s quicker and easier for you and everyone else in your household to get any dishes that have accumulated while the last load was running into the dishwasher so you don’t end up with a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink.  

Leave Your Shoes at the Door

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Setting a certain standard of hygiene and cleanliness is beneficial for everyone in the house and any guests. A little bit of clutter, like books on the table or unfolded blankets, won’t hurt anyone, but you want to prevent dirt from building up around your home. Since shoes come into direct contact with the dirty ground outside, many households require both full-time residents and guests to take them off in the entry hall or mudroom—and especially to keep them off the furniture. 

Close the Lid Before Flushing the Toilet

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This is another rule that helps keep your house more sanitary. Studies have shown that when you flush the toilet, any germs or other particles become airborne. Not only could splashing water leave someone else with a mess to clean up, but this is also a way that certain diseases spread. Keeping the lid closed when flushing keeps the spray contained and prevents disease transmission. 

Empty the Dust Cup When You’re Done Vacuuming

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When the dust cup on the vacuum gets too full, the vacuum stops working as well. If you fill-up the dust cup and leave it, then the person who goes to vacuum after you will have more work on their hands. Like many of the other chores we’ve talked about, vacuuming comes with an extra step: emptying the dust cup so the vacuum is ready for the next person to use it. This is also a good rule to apply to the lint filter on the dryer. 

No Cell Phones at the Dinner Table

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Between school, work, and even our free time, we spend a lot of time looking at screens. Eating dinner with our families or roommates may be one of the only opportunities we have all day to really be present with other people face-to-face. If you’re sitting down at a table to eat with other people, you should be focusing on eating and connecting, not your phone. 

Keep the Bathroom Door Open Unless It’s Being Used

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One of the easiest ways to prevent people from walking in on each other in the bathroom is to develop a system for signaling whether it’s already in use or not. Several families and roommates have found it easiest to leave the door open if the bathroom is empty and close it when they go in. That way, there’s never a question of whether a bathroom is available or not. 

Having a Pet on Your Lap Absolves You of All Responsibilities

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This rule may seem a little silly, but many pet parents swear by it! If your dog or cat is snuggling with you, you shouldn’t disturb their rest. This means you don’t have to get up to take out the trash, do any other chores, or even get your own drinks until your furry friend gets up. 

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