6 "Polite" Things You Do in Your Own Kitchen That Are Actually Rude

You may want to check your habits so you can be the best roommate possible.

Whether you live with roommates, a spouse, a partner or family, you have probably noticed some kitchen behaviors that are less than ideal. Every shared kitchen has some unspoken or assumed rules—and when those rules are broken, the house dynamic can get dicey! These "polite" things you do in your very own kitchen are actually rude and might even cause some rifts between you and your housemates. To become the best kitchen-sharer you can be, think twice before you do these "polite" things at home.

1. You clean up everyone's dishes but don't pay attention to special cleaning instructions.

When the sink is full and you're feeling generous, the first instinct you may have is to just get to work and clean up the dishes. And while your kindness is applaudable and appreciated, the next time you go to clean up the dishes in your shared kitchen, be sure to run through a mental checklist of cleaning instructions first.

If you have a roommate, family member or partner who is anything like me, there are some sacred pieces of dishware and utensils that need special attention when cleaning. For example, a wooden cutting board or a cast-iron skillet have specific cleaning instructions. When a roommate swoops in and cleans up everyone's dishes, they might actually be ruining a piece of high-quality kitchenware. If you ever encounter this problem, just ask your roommate how to clean it, or (brace yourself) just leave the dirty dish for your roommate to clean their own way!

2. You replace someone else's food that you ate but don't buy the right kind.

If you say you've never stolen food that is not yours, you are either a really amazing roommate or a liar. Sometimes the takeout Chinese food looks too delicious to not sneak a bite, or the last drop of your roommate's Dijon mustard would complete your sandwich. If this temptation gets the best of you, the next step might be to replace what you took from your fellow kitchen-dwellers. An eye for an eye, right?

Wrong! When you try to replace the brand or food order, you could be getting everything wrong. For example, replacing the jar of mayonnaise with imitation mayo is, simply put, dishonorable behavior. If fessing up to your food heist is top priority for you, we encourage letting your roommate know and sending them some cash to make up for the lost food!

3. You share the love and make food for everyone but don't clean up after yourself.

I am the chef of my apartment. If I make a batch of cookies, popcorn or have some leftover grocery-store sushi (I can feel the heat for that one, already), I often leave the treats on the counter for my roommates to consider fair game. What I never do, however, is leave a mess for them to clean up. Kitchen dynamics are different for everyone—some families have a "you cook, I clean" policy while other households tend to operate the kitchen independently with rules consisting of a less "all-hands-on-deck" approach.

No matter what the rules of your household are, leaving a mess for other people to deal with is never ideal. My kitchen's rule of thumb is that if you're sharing, you should also extend the love by leaving the kitchen mess-free.

4. You remember to run the dishwasher but it disrupts others.

If your household is lucky enough to have a dishwasher, you might have some more kitchen etiquette to brush up on. While a dishwasher is a game changer for many households, it can also be a major battleground.

First off, if your dishwasher is as loud and disruptive as mine is, make sure you're running it at the right time of day. Sometimes the sound of the dishwasher is bothersome to the people you share a kitchen with. The rule at my home growing up and at my apartment with roommates now is that we treat the dishwasher like an after-hours session: it runs when we're all done in the kitchen and asleep in our own rooms.

Another piece of dishwasher etiquette you might be missing is what can and cannot go into the dishwasher. The people you share a kitchen with might not appreciate their high-quality glassware or cast-iron pans being run in the dishwasher, and likely prefer to hand-wash them. In order to keep tabs on what is and isn't dishwasher-safe in your shared kitchen, give everyone a heads-up when you use cookware that has special cleaning instructions.

a photo of a woman looking at a glass with the dishwasher open
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5. You wipe down the counters but don't clean the sponge afterward.

Am I the only one whose blood boils every time there is a crumb or sticky spot on the counter? You may feel like the cleanest person in the house when you wipe down the counters after cooking, but I can promise that there is much more nuance to this practice than you thought.

When wiping down the counters, make sure you clean off the sponge, washcloth or scrubber in the sink when you're done with the counters. The only thing that might be more annoying than a dirty counter is a dirty sponge! A quick rinse-off is very appreciated by your housemates.

Another important thing to consider is what you're wiping down the counters with. Growing up, a certain member of my family (Hi, Mom!), would get so upset if we wiped down the countertops with harsh chemicals like bleach or glass cleaner. She would remind us that a gentle cleanser was best and some warm water with dish soap did the trick, just fine. So be sure you're not cleaning with an unnecessary chemical—or the nicer dish towel that's meant for drying hands.

6. You take out the trash but don't line the can with a new bag.

Taking out the trash is polite, plain and simple. But what isn't polite is not lining the trash can with a fresh bag. When your roommate, family member or partner goes to dump out coffee grounds or a banana peel, they will not be happy to learn that they have to now clean the trash bin. Instead of creating this rift in your house, always remind yourself that when the trash gets taken out, a new trash can liner must be put in.

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