Not all college dorm bathrooms are created alike -- you may get lucky enough to only have to share a bathroom with a few people, but may have to share with an entire floor. If you end up in the latter situation, you’ll need a few tips to get you through your first few weeks of sharing a bathroom until you get more comfortable with everyone and their routines!
Our ambassador, Khalia, a marketing major from the University of Hartford and active campus tour guide, women’s advancement supporter and NSLS member -- gave her experience as a freshman who shared a bathroom with 12 other girls. She explained that she is an only child who never had a roommate before college and previously only had to share a bathroom with her mom. While she says she would not want to go through the experience again, she dealt with it and survived it -- so the good news is you can too!
Whether you have no experience sharing a bathroom, or you have and feel prepared for the communal bathroom experience -- the adjustment can sometimes be harder than you think. This is because you now have to work around others and their schedules while ensuring you get your bathroom time as well.
1 - Shower Caddy
You Will Use This Everyday
This shower caddy will be the first bathroom item you’ll want to invest in -- and it will become your new best friend! Sometimes your room will be down the hall from the bathroom, so unless you want to hold all your products in your hands, this is a great way to keep everything conveniently portable and organized. Additionally, the bathrooms will lack storage space for your shower items and you won’t want to set everything on the floor.
Khalia explained that her bathroom had two showers, two stalls, and two sinks for all the girls on her side of the floor. Because of this you likely won’t be able to leave your shower stuff in the bathroom and you’ll need to transport it to and from your room every time you want to shower. This is another great reason to invest in a shower caddy.
Shower caddies get you from point A to point B in seconds or minutes. They are a convenient way to pack in all your products, especially if you’re in a hurry -- you don’t have to worry about fumbling through your things to find what you’re looking for -- just grab the caddy and go, rest assured your product will be there when you arrive at the bathroom.
We love this caddy because it has separate compartments for all your products and tools -- bottles, soaps, razors, and toothbrushes. It also features drainage holes on the bottle to ensure your products dry out and accumulate bacteria or mold.
2 - Shower Shoes
Keep Your Feet Safe
Shower shoes are also an essential item for your communal bathroom. Your bathroom will have a regular cleaning schedule and you’ll also be able to call your school’s maintenance staff anytime an issue arises that needs immediate attention. However, you’ll still want to take extra precautions when it comes to protecting your feet. There’s no telling what is lurking on the bathroom floors, and you don’t want to risk contracting athlete’s foot!
These shower slides are built with your needs in mind -- they have drainage holes, antimicrobial layers, and slip resistant protection. You can also use these for much more than your daily trips to the shower -- they are great for gyms, locker rooms, pools, your dorm room in general, or anywhere bacteria, mold, and fungus can be found. The stylish design means you can wear them just for fun too!
3 - Bathrobe
For Your Comfort
Since you’ll be living on a floor with different people, there’s no telling you will be on your floor at any given time. Most dorms allow residents to have guests over -- so your floormates might have friends, study groups, or significant others over at any time. One of those times may be when you want to take a shower.
When you’re walking down the hall to get to the bathroom, you probably don’t want to run into strangers while wearing your towel. This can make you feel very uncomfortable and you shouldn’t have to feel that way in your own residence hall. An easy solution to this problem is to purchase a bathrobe! These are super comfortable and cozy. They can provide you with almost full coverage so you can walk to the bathroom with confidence, no matter who may be on your floor at that time.
These three essential items will help make your transition to communal bathrooms smoother and more comfortable. Once you’ve got your shower items to make the process easier and more convenient for yourself, it’s time to figure out the logistics of bathroom etiquette.
1. Choose Bathroom Down Times
Make it Easier on Yourself
This might take a few weeks of practice, but to make the most of your shower time, you’ll need to pick less common times to use the bathroom. There’s nothing worse than waking up late for your class, running to the bathroom and realizing all of the showers are in use. Instantly, you have to decide to wait until someone is finished and shower quickly or forgo the whole idea entirely.
In college, your private time decreases significantly -- so showering becomes one of the few moments when you really get to have some alone time. For this reason you want to enjoy your showers and not have to worry about being rushed. So, our best advice is to figure out when everyone uses the shower and do the exact opposite. This is the best way to ensure you get that quality YOU time!
2. Help Keep the Bathroom Clean
Do Your Part
Even though you’ll have a cleaning staff and can always call for maintenance if something needs serious attention -- do your part in keeping the bathroom clean to avoid these problems. If you leave food sitting out or let all your hair go down the drain, this will only make things more difficult for you in the long run.
The bathroom will either attract bugs or animals, start to smell, or your drains will be clogged -- and all of this will affect how you can use the bathroom. Because let’s be honest, you’re not going to want to use a bathroom that stinks.
We’re not saying you have to look around the bathroom and pick up after others. But if you do your part to make sure you’re being clean, and encourage others to do the same, you won’t have any issues throughout the year.
3. Avoiding Others While Using the Bathroom
Is it possible?
This is a common concern of students going into their first year of college. You’ll probably ask yourself -- should I use the shower if someone else is also in the bathroom? What happens if I really need to use the bathroom and someone is already in the shower? Should two people use the shower at once?
The truth is, it’s really unavoidable to be the only person in the bathroom at one time. There will most likely be occasions when you’re in the shower or stall and you will hear someone else come in the bathroom. Remember you can’t control the actions of others -- so yes, it can be awkward in these situations, but you’ll learn to become accustomed to them over time and it will start to feel normal.
One thing you can do is choose how you want to go about it. Maybe you hear someone in the bathroom and decide you can wait for your turn, or maybe you decide to use the bathroom anyway. The choice is yours, whatever option you take, others may follow. If you want to, you can also talk to your resident assistant about any problems or concerns you may be having.
4. Common Courtesy
Like we’ve said, do your part in making sure you clean up after yourself while using the bathroom. But also make sure if something does happen, you handle the situation. People get sick, it happens, try at all costs to make it to the toilet if you feel like you’re going to vomit. But if there’s some reason you can’t make it and you end up getting sick on the floor or the sink -- handle the situation. Don’t run and hide from it -- think of it as, you wouldn’t want someone to get sick and leave it for you to find, so don’t do it to anyone else.
The same goes for the toilet, always remember to flush and make sure you check to make sure the flush was successful.
Don’t leave your all of things in the bathroom and create clutter -- people may end up moving them or worse, stealing them. Your room is the safest place for all of your belongings, so even if you’re running late -- quickly take your things back to your room, it only takes a few seconds.
All of these tips should make your bathroom experience easier and more comfortable. Communal bathrooms are an adjustment and not ideal, but the reality is -- you just have to deal with it. It may be hard at first, but everything will start to become normalized over time. If you’re ever feeling down about the bathroom situation -- remember that you will get through it and as an upperclassmen, you most likely won’t have to deal with them anymore!