Roommate Refrigerator Rules

The refrigerator is a sacred communal space that has caused countless rifts between roommates since it became a household appliance in 1911. Before you start looking for a more refrigerator compatible roommate try the tips below.

Food with Mold that has Mold

By far the grossest refrigerator issue is food that goes in and never comes out. One of the best ways around this problem is to make dumping everything the night before garbage day a weekly refrigerator ritual. Make it a rule that anything with mold on it and leftover containers that have been in the fridge more than three days are fair game for anyone to chuck during refrigerator clean out night. Likewise it should be a given that a spill gets cleaned up immediately by the person that did the spilling.

Refrigerator Real Estate

It’s not just an issue of what’s inside a refrigerator but also how it’s arranged. The real estate of a refrigerator is quite small at a mere 20-25 cubic square feet on average. All it takes is a single trip to Costco for one roommate to start monopolizing the fridge.

Be mindful of how much space you’re using in the refrigerator, and if your roommate starts to overstep their boundaries speak up. It may be best to divide the shelves/sections up so that all roommates are assured to get their own space. Even if you or your roommate rarely buy groceries each person’s space still needs to be respected. Always ask before putting groceries away in their sections if you’ve already used up all of your own space.

The Actual Refrigerator Resolution

Stefan Buchberger created the Flatshare refrigerator as a college project, but the idea was borne out of real-world necessity. He was living with a roommate that wasn’t the best at keeping the fridge clean. It inspired him to design a multi-compartment fridge with a base station on bottom and four stackable sections on top. Choose your fridge and freezer sections and never again worry about what your roommate is keeping cooled.

Don’t have hundreds of dollars to drop on a Flatshare Fridge? You can also use baskets or bins to contain foods, which will make it easier to spot food that’s past its prime instead of it getting shoved to the no man’s land in the back.

That Was Mine

The biggest refrigerator etiquette faux pas is a roommate that disregards the fact that they didn’t purchase the contents they consume. Just because it’s in the shared fridge doesn’t mean it is a shared resource, but this has to be made crystal clear. The surefire solution is to only eat what you bought, but if there are items like condiments, marinades, drinks, etc. lay ground rules for what is shared, what is off limits and who will replace shared items once they’re gone. Don’t resort to labels unless a roommate has serious trouble remembering what they bought.

Every roommate refrigerator situation is different. You may need to employ multiple solutions or just one of the tips below. The most important step is to have an honest discussion with your roommate about how the shared space should be used and respected. When approached in the right way refrigerator issues should be stopped cold.

PS. Still having refrigerator roommate problems? Find an apartment with the most refrigerator space at!



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