How to Share Your Apartment Refrigerator Without Killing Your Roommates

Open refrigerator

Does this sound familiar?

You’re finally home. After searching far and high for the perfect place, as well as people you’ve deemed good enough to share an apartment with, you can finally exhale. Well, that is after you decorate your bedroom, furnish the living area, decide on utilities, split the bills, and work out the parking arrangements – whew!

At long last, everything seems to be set. After all of the big details, you get on with your life in your new home. You finish a long day at work and even decide to hit the gym on the way back home, knowing full well there’s a nice soon-to-be hot meal awaiting you. Or so you thought before your newest roommate wolfed down everything you had in the refrigerator.


This is an all too common practice that can easily be avoided with an initial roommate agreement. We’d all like to believe that each person is decent and would do no ill-will toward us. This is generally true, but only if they know the difference between what is fair game and what is crossing the line. This isn’t to say you need to housebreak your roommate like a stray pup; simply establishing a set of rules for everyone to follow.

Having rules in place will come in handy when you come across a roommate who always seems to forget to stop at the store on the way home or becomes too lazy at night to stock up on supplies. Rather than make the trek, they will eat your precious food and “hit you back” when they get to the market. Not bloody likely.

You’re likely guilty of doing this from time to time as well. It’s really easy to grab something so close rather than spend time and money when your friend may not even notice. Just realize they are as likely to notice as you are.

It would be a lot easier if none of this was an issue. If roommates didn’t have to share the communal apartment refrigerator space, many resentful feelings would not need to be harbored. But before you start stocking your closet with ice to hide your TV dinners and freshly squeezed orange juice, why not simply lay out some ground rules.

Rules for Sharing an Apartment Refrigerator

  • The biggest no brainer of them all: Split the shelves of the apartment refrigerator and freezer for equal space.
  • Make a rule on the items that everyone uses such as condiments and drinks. This will be one of the easier rules to adhere to as the person to finish the item has to run out and replenish.
  • Mark, but only selectively. One of the issues with marking everything is that you look like you can’t share and come off a bit selfish. However, if you simply mark a few of your important items, your roommates will have no issue respecting your key foods.
  • Set a rotation for cleaning. An apartment refrigerator can quickly become a mess and if everyone ignores it hoping someone else will clean it, eventually the same person ends up cleaning it every time. Have everyone pitch in on supplies, set up a weekly rotation, and make sure it’s enforced.
  • Strictly adhere to a rule that requires cleaning up any major spills immediately.

Roommates seem to gloss over the fridge etiquette when they first move in because it seems so minute compared to the larger tasks early in the moving in stages. But just like everything else in your new home, you need to set up a system you and your roommates agree on to avoid the potential headaches down the road.