How To Survive A University Kitchen

Image: Daria-Yakovleva (via pixabay)

University kitchens are certainly not a sight many students will have come across before they come to uni themselves- which is perhaps a good thing as it might put them off! Often, leaving a group of fresh-faced young adults to live independently and share a kitchen for the first time can at best, lead to a few passive-aggressive messages in the house group-chat, to worst, like there’s been an explosion in the kitchen. If you want to live in harmony with your new housemates, then here are some of our favourite tips for a clean and happy kitchen.

Words by Ebony Clent

As a returning second year student (now living in a house of seven) I’ve learnt that maintaining the kitchen is an absolute MUST if we want to avoid a total mess.

The first thing that I would recommend is to make sure that you and your flat/housemates each have a designated cupboard. There’s nothing worse than having to rummage through a pile of kitchen utensils which aren’t even yours. Once you’ve each got a storage space, it’s best to put any cooking utensils that can be shared in any spare storage spaces that you can all easily access.

If you’re living in a large house like myself, you really don’t want to have all of you having the “I’ll do it later” attitude.

Now, how to be as clean as possible? The straightforward answer is- wash and dry up as soon as you’ve finished eating! Whilst this may seem a chore at the time (especially after you’ve already spent time in the kitchen cooking) you’ll thank yourself later. Trust me, the more you put it off, the more it piles up. If you’re living in a large house like myself, you really don’t want to have all of you having the “I’ll do it later” attitude.

Finally, I’d recommend all cooking at different times. This just makes life so much easier! Alternatively, you could all plan a night where you take it in turns to cook for everyone. I did this a couple of times in first year, and it was a great way to socialise as well as limiting kitchen mess.

Words by Caitlin Sloman

Of the random handful of eighteen-year-old strangers living together in a student flat, at least one will never have cleaned a kitchen and will not start now, at least not daily. Furthermore, everyone can be messy sometimes, and you’ll be grateful if nobody mentions your dirty pans on the side when you’re behind on an essay deadline. Therefore, here are a few realistic tips to surviving a university kitchen, without the expectation of all flatmates working together in perfect harmony to create a beautiful show home.

  1. If you’re going to leave dishes, place them in a neat little stack in a far corner of the counter, nobody likes playing dirty dish Jenga to make space for a single mug of tea.
  2. You will all leave the odd bread crumb when you make toast, which will gradually accumulate of no individual’s doing, but if you leave a massive ketchup splatter, wipe it up. Don’t expect others to clean up mess which is solely yours.
  3. Every now and then, just clean something, and thank others for their cleaning. Maybe do it together with some music on and overshare for bonding purposes.
  4. Don’t create drama around it. If you make a cleaning rota and someone doesn’t stick to it, maybe they forgot, maybe they’re stressed this week and felt awkward asking for help. You never know, so speak to them directly instead of gossiping.

Words by Sarah Belger

Wash. Your. Tea towels. For some it might go without saying that you should be doing this; for others it might be fresh news. Just think of all the various spillages you’ve had to clean up in only the first few weeks of the semester. And then imagine using the same tea towel to dry your clean plates. It’s been scientifically proven that they are often the dirtiest thing in a kitchen and yet they’re associated with cleaning our hands and the plates we eat off of.

Have different tea towels for different tasks; one for drying clean plates and one for cleaning surfaces.

While it’s recommended that you change or wash them every day, that’s not going to happen in a student kitchen. Let’s be honest, every two weeks is probably better than the frequency you’re doing it at the moment. Take this as a reminder to wash your towels as well. Do it at the same time so you don’t have to mix them in with your clothes. Clean tea towels combined with basic hygiene standards in the rest of your kitchen should ensure that you don’t make it into one of those articles that pop up on Facebook about students finding whole colonies of ants making a home in their cutlery drawer.

Words by Anna Kerslake

When it comes to keeping a clean kitchen at university, it is almost impossible to do. Unfortunately, you can’t know the cleanliness levels of any of your friends truly, until you move in with them. I’ve personally been lucky in this regard, with the vast majority of past housemates being very clean. However, if you are dealing with problems with your flatmates, I would advocate an honest approach. During the time of a world-wide pandemic, its fair enough to have a whine about not wiping down the kitchen tops. Having a calm conversation with flatmates about your concerns could be very beneficial. If their habits do not change after this, stick to your favourite counter area and contain all your prep and cooking work to that area. I would also advocate for having early meals to avoid busy and disgusting times in the kitchen. Having dinner at 4.30 or 5 allows you to have the space to yourself and to lead by example by making sure the area you cook in is always clean.

Words by Shubhangi Dua

Dear Freshers, beware of the chaotic, awfully messy but rather social environment of university shared kitchens. In the first year of university, I cautiously picked Aberdare Hall (Old Hall) as my primary accommodation thinking that I am part catered so the shared kitchen space will probably not be as cluttered but rather respectful of others utensils and groceries. However, that was not the case. Coordination with flat mates can get more complicated especially when you’re sharing a refrigerator with 5 or more people depending on the type of your accommodation. Confusion will indefinitely strike especially when you share the same tastes and store the same fresh fruits and vegetables. It was quite tricky for me as more than 10 girls shared one massive kitchen at Aberdare Hall. I made sure to write my initials on each and every utensil of mine, as often somebody would use it, and then leave it out in random spots unwashed!

Cupboards can be efficiently divided equally amongst flatmates with an automatic understanding of trust and respect for space.

Moreover, it’s necessary to keep a track of items like fruits, vegetables, readymade food or confectionery that you store in the kitchen. Cupboards can be efficiently divided equally amongst flatmates with an automatic understanding of trust and respect for space. Dividing space in the refrigerator is harder but manageable. Marking your initials on the covers of fresh foods will help you remember what’s yours. I would also recommend flatmates to collectively purchase kitchen storage organisers in order to keep the kitchen neat and clean as well as for individuals to keep a track of their personal items and food.