Story by Dakota Murphey
Photography by Various
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Guest writer Dakota Murphey shares a few of her top tips for transforming messy, dilapidated student bathrooms
There are lots of perks to student living, but sharing a bathroom with five other people is not one of them. To this day I am scarred by some of my third-year experiences, and remain somewhat convinced that some of my flatmates were only human until they crossed the bathroom threshold, upon which they morphed into farm animals.
It’s all life experience though, right? And it’s thanks to those baffling messy individuals (who, I reiterate, were perfectly charming at face value), that I quickly learned how to combat the most offensive problems the crop up in a shared bathroom.
1. It’s messy
Endless bottles of beauty products, stains and gunk on every surface and strands of hair everywhere – and that’s just down to the guys. When you’re sharing with multiple people, mess quickly escalates. Everybody seems to collect shower gels; nobody wants to claim the almost-empty tube that missed the bin, which is now getting stickier and fluffier, potentially forever.
To combat the clutter, you first need to hold a bathroom amnesty. Get all your flatmates to remove the items they do want to keep (give them a deadline), and then brutally discard the rest. Yes, I know it’s gross, but that’s what rubber gloves are for. Grab in some disinfectant wipes and get scrubbing.
Next, invest in some half-decent bathroom storage. The most practical option will depend on the size of your bathroom, but usually a standing rack or baskets that sucker on to the side of your shower are your best bet. These Edwardian-style bath racks tickled me while I was looking at options (in Antique Gold, no less), but there are literally hundreds of online articles crammed with budget-friendly ideas. Just make sure everyone has their own storage space and sticks to it.
2. It smells
Student bathrooms witness some pretty grim stuff, and it seems that nobody ever really thinks to open a window (if there even is a window). At best, your student bathroom is going to cultivate a damp, musty smell caused by lots of showers and poor ventilation. At worst, it’ll be contending with the side-effects of questionable diets, killer hangovers and generally-dubious hygiene practices.
If you gag every time you walk into your shared bathroom, it’s time to take action:
- Keep the window open (or on the latch) as much as possible
- Make sure the fan is on when people shower, and stays on for a bit afterwards
- Wash hand towels and bathmats regularly
- Invest in a bin with a lid, and empty it every now and then
- Buy some air freshener while you’re at it. Go easy on it though, they’re not great for your lungs
3. The shower is awful
As a student, you learn how to handle disappointment. Hangovers are inescapable, good grades don’t magically appear and some people will always, always be unreliable. It sucks. One thing that doesn’t have to suck? Your shower – even if it currently trickles water at a rate that makes you wonder whether licking yourself clean would be more efficient.
Chances are, the shower head is covered in scaly white limescale. Get rid of it by filling a small plastic bag about half-full with white vinegar (it’s like, a quid from the supermarket). Dunk the showerhead in it – probably easiest to unhook it so it dangles in the bath – and secure the bag around its neck with an elastic band. Leave it for a couple of hours, then scrub the deposits away with an old toothbrush.
If that hasn’t really worked, or if your showerhead was never scaly to begin with, it might just be worth grabbing a better showerhead. Most bargain homeware shops will sell them, and it’s unlikely to cost more than about a tenner. Go for one that has fewer holes than your current one, which should boost the pressure of the water as it comes out, even just a little.
4. It’s ugly
Unsurprisingly, few landlords seem to give a toss about updating the bathrooms in student flats, so most of them look like a hideous tribute to the early 90s. Don’t worry, there are a few ways you can spruce it up without breaking the bank.
For example, grabbing an inexpensive bathmat and hand-towel combo (hello, IKEA). Bonus points if you can coordinate them with the colour of your floor, shower curtain or wall tiles to make them look at least somewhat deliberate. You could also grab a little plant for the windowsill (Aloe Vera is notoriously hard to kill and won’t mind a bit of moisture), or hang a framed print up using Command strips.
The only thing to keep in mind (with any of these tips) is that your flatmates might not care about the state of your bathroom as much as you do. You can spend as long as you like tidying, cleaning and picking up nice soaps and bathmats, but one of the biggest lessons you’ll learn at uni is that some people are, frankly, just monsters.
First published date: 15 January 2018