Your toiletries are disappearing at a faster than usual rate, but you are not at home more often.
Here’s how to stop your roommate from using them:
- Have your toiletries in a separate bag and keep it under your bed.
- Put them in a shower locker.
- Maybe your roommate doesn’t see it as a big deal, so start off gently.
- Change the roommate agreement rules.
- Help them buy their toiletries, or shop with them.
- Use an app like Splitwise to share the cost.
The toothpaste you use is not exactly where you left it.
Your toilet paper roll is smaller but you’ve been out of the house.
You are sure your shampoo bottle feels lighter.
All these signs (and more) probably mean that your roommate is using your toiletries.
Here are 9 top ways to solve this problem:
1. How to talk with your roommate
When my roommate was using my toiletries, I found out that she didn’t think it was a big deal.
There were three of us living together in the house. She ‘borrowed’ equally from myself and our other roommate.
For my roommate using the toiletries, it was a few sheets of toilet paper here and there; a squirt of shampoo and conditioner a few times a week.
She saw it as a small thing each time. I saw it adding up to make me spend more money.
Top Roommate Tip
Shared homes are often difficult to manage. Why?
Everyone feels ‘at home’ in this space. So, even though it is shared, we expect ourselves and our possessions to be safe and protected.
As a result, relatively small ‘crimes’ can seem large to us while the ‘criminal’ feels it is no big deal.
Time to explain your side of things
Step 1: Prepare your mindset
Keep in mind that your roommate who is using your toiletries may not feel it is such a big deal.
So, it is most effective to be low-key and matter of fact.
In other words, explain what is happening and why you don’t like it without getting too emotional.
Step 2: Script and practice a dialogue
Having a script in mind helps keep the drama to a minimum.
Of course, you don’t have to follow your script word for word…and you probably won’t.
But having that ‘template’ in your mind and rehearsing it several times will keep you focused on the facts and not the feelings.
Let’s look at a few templates using the roommate ‘Lisa’.
You: Lisa, I am noticing that you are using my toiletries. For example, my shampoo. I thought we agreed that each of us would buy our own toiletries, right?
Lisa: I don’t remember that conversation but no problem.
You: Thanks. I really appreciate that.
You: Lisa, my toilet paper roll is running out very quickly but the thing is, I am not home most of the day while you work from home. I am sure we said that each of us will buy our own TP, right?
Lisa: What’s the big deal? I only used a little bit of toilet paper because I forgot to buy my own.
You: I understand. However, it doesn’t seem to be only once or twice. It seems to be a regular thing. I would really appreciate it if you try your best not to have this happen again.
Step 3: Speak with your roommate
Choose a convenient time for the both of you.
Create as pleasant an atmosphere as possible. Perhaps over a cup or coffee/tea?
Keep your goal in mind: facts not feelings.
2. Change the Roommate Agreement rules
Sometimes, the rules need to be changed to keep the home harmonious.
In this case, the fact that your roommate is using your toiletries means that the rule of ‘everyone buys their own’ is not working well.
This is especially true when there is more than one roommate.
Could you change it so that things will work to everyone’s satisfaction?
Have a roommate(s) meeting to make a new rule
DO be ready to see things from everyone’s perspective.
For example, is the roommate using the toiletries new? Was this rule set up before they moved into the home? Did they have a chance to have their say?
As a citizen of the home, your roommate deserves to have an equal vote in how things work.
DON’T look to find fault.
Keep your eyes on the prize: an effective solution…so you don’t have to do this again.
Conversation Opener Idea
Again, our roommate is ‘Lisa’.
You: Lisa, I remember that we spoke about the house rules on the day you arrived, but I feel the toiletries rule isn’t working so well.
I am thinking that you should have a say in how we set things up.
Just to remind you, I mentioned that we’ve always bought our own toiletries. But it seems like that’s just not good for everyone.
So, do you have any ideas about how to change things so we’re all happy?
DO listen with an open mind (and heart) to your roommate’s suggestions.
Then, together, agree on a toiletries rule that better suits all the people in the home.
3. Keep your toiletries in a toiletries bag (aka wash bag)
Sometimes it’s just easier all round to keep things separate.
Depending on the toiletries which your roommate is using, keeping your products in a toiletries bag might be enough.
You keep the bag in your room, bring it with you as needed, and return it to the privacy of your room.
Toiletries bags come in many shapes and sizes.
Many of us are familiar with the smaller, ‘cosmetic bag’ size or a slightly larger size that can fit travel-sized toiletries.
Yet, there are toiletry bags even larger than the one pictured above which can easily accommodate full-sized toiletry bottles.
4. Use a cleaning caddy for your toiletries (aka shower caddy)
Yes, yes, don’t worry. I know these are not the toiletries we are speaking about. Just read a bit further…
There are two big disadvantages of a toiletries or wash bag:
- You have to open and close snaps, zippers, etc.
- The toiletries bottles tend to be wet after use. This makes the inside of the bag yucky.
A toiletries caddy solves both these problems.
Now, my research found that toiletries caddies are:
- Often made out of flimsier material in order to ‘look nice’, so their ‘lives’ are shorter.
- Priced higher even when they look just like a cleaning caddy.
You can easily save the price of your favorite barista coffee buy shopping around and buying a nice-looking, cleaning caddy in the color of your choice.
5. Invest in a personal shower locker
Both toiletry or wash bags and toiletry or shower caddies have one big disadvantage: you have to carry them back and forth.
Enter the personal, combination-locked, shower locker.
Shower lockers are made to be installed on the wall of the shower. They require drilling two holes into the tiles for the screws which they hang from.
If your landlord objects, they can also be hung on a wall close to the shower—still lots better than carrying a bag or caddy back and forth from your room to the bathroom.
The Schlocker (shower locker) brand started out as a Kickstarter campaign. Evidently, they succeeded and are now in production.
6. Do your roommate’s toiletries shopping…and get paid back
Is your roommate a very busy person?
Sometimes, buying toiletries is way down at the bottom of the list, and people just find it hard to make the time to get to it.
Perhaps this is the first time he or she has been a roommate?
First-time roommates could be overwhelmed with all the things they now have to handle (which mom or dad did before).
There is paying bills, buying food, doing laundry…maybe even getting up on time by themselves.
Buying toiletries just might not fit on their plate at the moment.
Is your roommate sort of disorganized; not good at time management?
I had a roommate once who had a lot of difficulty with this.
Let’s say that he wanted to leave the house at 4 pm for a work meeting.
When I arrived home, it was 2:30 pm. All he had to do was get dressed, pack a snack, and go.
At 3:45 pm he would be racing around the house, trying to do several things at once in order to leave on time.
Mostly, he wouldn’t make it.
My roommate kept getting distracted by things: telephone calls which weren’t urgent, doing some unimportant shopping on the internet, etc.
Basically, things which caught his attention but easily could have been postponed.
I could well understand why it was difficult for him to find the time to buy toiletries
For the reasons above, it could be a nice idea to help your roommate out.
Ask your roommate if they would like you to buy their toiletries when you are next buying yours.
After all, you are there anyway, right?
They should give you a list of the products and amounts/sizes they want.
Agree that you are only going to the store you usually go to…not running around the mall, trying to find their specialist brands and products.
If it isn’t at that store, then, sorry, they’ll have to do it themselves.
As far as the money, they can give you cash in advance or pay you back in an agreed method.
In either case, you will show them a receipt of just their purchases to keep things clear.
So, have the store ring up their items separately from yours.
7. Manage the toiletries via an app
In my experience, many roommates manage their toiletry purchases via an app.
Very often, one roommate always buys the toiletries and then the other(s) pay them back.
Another method is that all the roommates buy toiletries on an ‘as needed’ basis and then the other(s) pay their share.
Which apps to choose
My colleague, Ian uses Splitwise because it’s popular, and you can adjust the amounts owed by roommates at the end of the month. It also integrates with Paypal and Venmo.
Venmo is also a good choice because it sends your roommates reminders and automates the process really well
Acasa is also highly favored.
They take a bit of time to set up, but are so worth the effort.
Top Roommate Tip
Use a physical, paper chart of keep track of toiletry purchases.
Make sure everyone is on board with this option.
For example: Let’s say I room with two other roommates.
Here is how the chart might look:
|Item + Cost||
Roommate 2 owes
Roommate 3 owes
|Dec. 17||Toilet paper $22||Lisa||$0||$7.50||$7.50|
|Jan. 10||Shampoo $25||Roommate 2||$8.33||$0||$8.33|
Once a roommate repays an amount, X out (or check off) the relevant box.
8. Go shopping for toiletries together
Some people just don’t like going to the store.
For them, shopping is a bore and a hassle. Shopping with a friend can make it easier.
Make an event out of it by going together. If you take turns using cars, you’ll save on gas, too.
Have a roommate ‘shopping night out’
Drive together to the store. Each roommate takes their own shopping cart or basket.
Walk around together or separately. Each person pays for their own purchases.
Not only will the toiletries get bought, it’s a way to spend some ‘quality time’ with your roommate(s).
9. Gift your roommate some toiletries
People who are having budget issues don’t always tell others.
Perhaps your roommate is on a tight budget?
Maybe them using your toiletries is their way of saving a little for food or other things they can easily ‘borrow’?
Sometimes, people underestimate how much living on their own will cost.
When they get into the situation, they don’t have enough money and feel shy telling others about their problem.
Be a friend in need
The next time you are shopping for your own toiletries, get a selection for your roommate.
No need to stress over brands. Choose the ones you use [since your roommate is evidently comfortable using yours 🙂 ].
When you give the items to your roommate, say something like: “I noticed you were using my toiletries. I thought that perhaps your budget was tight but you didn’t feel comfortable saying anything about it. I decided to help you out.”
Whether your roommate accepts them or not, you will definitely have made your point in a super kind and thoughtful way.
And if they don’t accept your gift, you have more of what you are using anyway.