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Shampoo…OK. My Razor? Not OK.

I just had my very own e-hell experience with some rude guests.  My housemate was having a birthday and had several of her family members and a couple of friends staying in our house.  My housemate has an ensuite, I use the main bathroom and we opened up both bathrooms to the guests.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend much time in the house that weekend but upon returning home on Sunday I noticed that several of my toiletry products had been used, including my expensive shampoo and conditioner and my toothpaste.  Had the guests asked they could have used the products without any problems but I was a little annoyed they’d not asked permission.  I mentioned it to my housemate hoping she’d perhaps pass it on – if it had been her family I’d have said something myself but it was only the friends who used my bathroom and I didn’t know them well enough to feel comfortable doing so.

All seemed well and everyone left yesterday.  However when I went to shower last night I noticed that not only had all my products been used again but the guests had also helped themselves to my razor and hairbrush!  Ewwww!  Apparently my housemate hadn’t said anything to them and they’d moved on to using some of my most personal products.  When I told my housemate again she got angry with me for mentioning it and I’m not really sure why.  She did offer to replace the products which was nice but that wasn’t the point.

Was I wrong to mention these etiquette breaches to my housemate?  In my way of thinking they are her guests and she is responsible for them.  Also, what houseguest travels interstate and doesn’t take these essential items with them?  All very strange.  0131-11

Guests sometimes forget to bring items and in your case, they may have assumed that items left in the bathroom were for their use.  Particularly among family and close friends, there seems to be this silent assumption that their host will provide all shower products.   I can’t think of the last time a houseguest of mine actually brought their own shampoo and conditioner or body wash.

I keep a small wicker basket in the bathroom closet for when overnight guests come.  In the basket are sample sizes of soap, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, a toothbrush and a disposable razor.   I leave it on the bathroom  counter when guests arrive and it’s obvious it is for their use.

Next time your roommate has overnight guests, collect and hide your personal hygiene products in your bedroom.  Then, if you find them used, you will discover that you have a much worse problem than dirty, hairy guests using stuff they find in the shower.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Angie February 8, 2011, 1:39 pm

    Okay, the razor and brush, downright icky. I don’t borrow those from the people I live with and am related to!

    The rest, I don’t get so upset about. I don’t expect my guests to have to package up their entire medicine cabinet to come visit me or escort them to the store to purchase what they may need only a bit of during their stay. Travel sizes often can get very expensive. When guests come to visit, if I don’t want them using some expensive something, then I just remove it to my own area and put in the other stuff I keep for guests. In my group of friends/family, especially for short weekend stays, it would be considered more rude to make my guests pack and bring all of those things.

    I understand that they weren’t the OP’s guests (and her roommate certainly should have offered to reimburse her for the lost shampoo, etc) but considering them rude guests if she doesn’t know what the usual custom is and that her stuff was in the general use bathroom is a bit out of line.

    I guess I’m glad I don’t have to stay at some of your houses. Do I need to bring my own napkins and dishes, too?

    Still bothered by the hairbrush and razor…though personally, I would never have left them out because I would want them with me…..

  • Gloria Shiner February 8, 2011, 1:49 pm

    So, I’m curious: how well should personal hygiene items be hidden? Is putting away my razor and brush in a drawer in the bathroom sufficient? Or do I need to put them in my bedroom? Where do guests draw the line? If a razor and hairbrush are fair game, what about a toothbrush? What about condoms? Maybe a list should be posted in the bathroom of things that it’s OK for a guest to use. OK, I’m being tongue-in-cheek, but really some things should be common sense.

  • phoenix February 8, 2011, 2:10 pm

    Jillybean- but the OP was NOT the host. That’s the point. This is a case of how to tell your roommate how to manage THEIR guests, not being a good host.

    I always put out fresh towels, washclothes, etc and point out to guests that they are welcome to use the shampoo/conditioner/face cleanser that is in the shower. But I would certainly never expect them to use the razor that sits in there as well. The same with my toothbrush in it’s little holder. In fact, these items can’t be “hidden away” if they’ve been used recently, as they are wet and need to dry to avoid some nasty bacteria.

    These comments are a pretty good indication that folks have really different version of what is acceptable to assume and what isn’t.

  • Xtina February 8, 2011, 2:27 pm

    @ Gloria Shiner–that’s a good point about how well things should be hidden. I think if it’s out of sight, it should be off-limits for guests. I would expect that anything that was in the shower, on the countertops, or otherwise in plain view could be viewed as “public” for guests to use (once permission has been granted to do so from the host). I would feel really intrusive opening someone’s cabinets or drawers, and would expect that anyone that visited my home would ask me for something that wasn’t blatantly visible in an open area.

  • Katy February 8, 2011, 2:28 pm

    Why is everyone disagreeing with the Admin? She’s not condoning the guests’ behavior, she’s just making a suggestion that if you have a problem with someone using your toiletries either set out a guest basket or clear the stuff out of the bathroom that you don’t want being used. Yes, it would be nice to assume people won’t use your stuff without asking but if it really bothers you then do something about it beforehand. Having had roommates for many years, unfortunately I never assumed that all guests were respectful and courteous. Now amongst my family and friends the house shampoo/conditioner, soap and toothpaste are open for everyone to use – however most usually have some toiletries with them, especially if they have a preferred brand.

    Now the fact that the OP did tell her roommate and the roomate did nothing is extremely annoying and rude. The roommate should offer her some money to replace what was used and apologize for not showing the OP more respect by making sure her guests didn’t use the OP’s toiletries. As for the guests, using someone’s brush and razor is crossing a line – GROSS!

  • Chocobo February 8, 2011, 2:46 pm

    It’s funny how different people have different opinions on what is and is not appropriate to use. Personally I have never understood the taboo people have over hairbrushes. It would never even occur to me that a hairbrush or a comb is such a personal product. I wouldn’t use one I found on the street, but if someone I knew needed to borrow mine (or borrowed it without asking) I wouldn’t be skeeved at all. It’s just hair.

    As for expendable toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and soap, I guess I don’t have pricey stuff so that would be open for general use. Those are the basics needed for cleaning oneself so I would consider that a necessity for overnight guests. I wouldn’t expect my guests to lug around their medicine drawers to that point. But toiletries that are more expensive and unnecessary for a basic clean like perfumes, deodorants, creams, hair products, razors, and cosmetics, I would expect to be asked before use.

    I think the real faux pas here is that the above parameters are described as an acceptable use of my things has a host. The OP was not the host, so the guests were not at liberty to use any of her things. But faux pas or no, I agree with admin that if you don’t want your things to be used, it’s best to be one step ahead put them away somewhere.

  • Tara February 8, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Borrowing a razor isn’t just gross, it’s dangerous. Blood borne pathogens (HIV, hepatitis, etc) can be passed by sharing razors. I’m not sure what sort of crazy person would borrow a razor.

  • LovleAnjel February 8, 2011, 3:05 pm

    I’m going to be on the “personal” side of the argument. I always bring my own toiletries, and I bought special mini-sized bottles for everything and holders for q-tips and cotton balls. Mostly because I am particular. I would never use someone else’s stuff- I may open the shampoo bottle to smell it but that’s about it. My mom has bought “my” brand of toiletries to leave at her place, specifically for me to use, and I *still* have a hard time using it without sheepishly asking permission.

    Anything that can transmit disease is totally untouchable – razors, brushes, even eye drops and contact solution. Just…ew. I would rather look like a wildwoman.

  • Sarah February 8, 2011, 3:39 pm

    OP, count yourself lucky – I once had a room-mate who let her house guest use my toothBRUSH. Fortunately, I noticed that it was damp before using it.

  • Miss Raven, gagging a little February 8, 2011, 3:52 pm

    I also have to disagree with the Etiquette Maven, for once, and it may well be a generational thing. Now that the kids are out of the house, my parents, as well as aunts, and their friends, pretty much all have a guestroom for overnight guests, in their own homes. This, to me, is the kind of situation where one might encounter – but never EXPECT – a nice little basket of toiletries.

    I haven’t been out of college for all that long, and the worldwide economic shipwreck has left people of my generation (out of teens, under 30ish) without the luxuries afforded to our parents’ generation, such as guestrooms and the ability to not only feed and house, but also pamper, overnight guests. We have apartments, and roommates, where space and finances are both cramped. This isn’t some sort of bad luck situation anymore. It’s just normal. And it sounds as though it is also the OP’s situation. I can’t imagine ever going to stay with a friend or a young family member and not bringing my own toiletries. It’s just not done in my circle, and I don’t think we’re abnormal in that regard. It’s just not.

    With close girlfriends, maybe you see a lotion they have sitting out that piques your interest and you ask if you can try some. Or toothpaste, if you’ve forgotten it. That’s as far as it goes. But never without asking, never with your friend’s flatmate, and NEVER personal items that can spread disease or parasites, like razors or a hairbrush, or makeup or eeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwww, I have to stop I’m getting the creeps. Unthinkable.

    OP was kind enough to open her bathroom to guests that weren’t hers, and she had no expectation that her things would be used without asking. She was well within her rights (and polite, as well) to ask her roommate to say something. Her roommate was rude for not doing so, the guests were unforgivably rude as well as downright gross.

  • Jillybean February 8, 2011, 3:55 pm

    @Phoenix – agreed, to a point. While the OP was not the host, the guests were still guests there. Unless her stuff was labeled, they could have been blissfully unaware that they were using the OPs personal stuff. And, yes, the post is, in part, about the roommate not responding appropriately about OPs concerns, but the conversation that is being had is just as much about the Admin’s comments, and the concept of what a host should supply and people’s perceptions of what is available to use in a bathroom where you are visiting. My response is perfectly in line with that conversation.

  • Gloria Shiner February 8, 2011, 4:30 pm

    Chocobo: problems with using someone’s brush? Dandruff can be passed from person to person. Head lice can be passed by sharing brushes. Not everyone who uses a brush has clean hair. And I would even have some concern about cut, scrapes or other small wounds that might be oozing blood.

    I could go on, but just that list was gross enough for me.

  • Angie February 8, 2011, 4:32 pm

    @Miss Raven

    Really, the guests were unforgiveably rude? We don’t know if the guests asked the host if they could use the stuff and the host said “no problem” and so they did. Is it really unforgiveable? Wow, you have a high standard for things that can’t be forgiven.

    The OP was offended that no one had asked her if they could borrow stuff yet she freely admits she wasn’t there to ask anyway. She didn’t have a problem with them using things, just that they didn’t ask. Who were they supposed to ask…the magic 8 ball? And if her roommate never stepped in to correct the apparent misunderstanding, how does that make the guests rude? (with exception of the razor and hairbrush…those were over the line no matter how you look at it, for health reasons–Hepatitis and lice, etc)

    I think there is a difference between guests who are staying for a few days and guests who stay for weeks at a time. I would hate to inconvenience those short term guests with figuring out how to pack sometimes damaging liquids to visit my home. It’s not like they are bankrupting their hosts to use a few shower products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion).

    I’m happy to provide inexpensive shower items that I put away in between visits from those I care about.

  • Fox February 8, 2011, 5:02 pm

    On the one hand, I agree completely with the OP – I keep my guest bathroom well-stocked with toiletries, including cheapo, individually-packaged toothbrushes and disposable razors, for unexpected or forgetful guests. I consider this more a courtesy than preventing them from using my things, though if I were sharing a bathroom with guests, the basket of guest items is a great idea. I also wouldn’t mind at all if guests used my shampoo or other essentials if they were the only option.

    However.. 1. Using someone else’s razor and hairbrush is unhygienic and EXTREMELY rude (I think most people wouldn’t even want to share their razor with their spouse!), and 2. as other commenters have noted, the OP wasn’t the host – her roommate was! If I were having guests over in that kind of situation, I would explicitly say “Please feel free to use anything of mine, but X and Y and Z belong to my roommate so please don’t use those.” And if my roomie informed me that my guests had used her things, especially her *razor*, I would be mortified.. and mad at my guests, not her! I am astounded that the roommate, nevermind the guests, thought that this was okay.

    It does remind me of a story.. a couple of years ago I had a (male) friend who was moving into a new apartment, but there was a three-day gap between when he had to move out of his current place and when he could move into the new one. At the time, I lived in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment (with two cats!) where the bathroom was actually *in* my bedroom (not just ensuite – the sink and linen area were in the bedroom itself). But he was desperate, so I said he could stay on my couch. Of course, when he went to get the key to the new place, he discovered that the landlord had totally misled him about several features of the apartment and decided to find somewhere else.. leaving him temporarily “homeless.” So of course I said he could stay on for a few more days, but was clear my generosity had a limit. (I wound up tossing him out after a week [after arranging with another friend to take him] because he was driving me batty.)

    Ahem.. sorry for the lengthy background. I noticed that my mouthwash was dipping down noticeably every day, way more than just one capful at a time. I was faintly horrified, as mouthwash typically involves drinking it straight from the cap, and that was a little more intimate than I was comfortable with. I also began to have a suspicion. After a couple days (during which I stopped using the mouthwash!) we went grocery shopping to grab something to fix for dinner and I steered us into the toiletries section, grabbed a new bottle of mouthwash and pointedly asked if my guest needed anything… at which point he admitted yes, he should probably buy a toothbrush, as he had forgotten his and had been using my mouthwash constantly instead! He “figured it was the same effect..” This boy was a graduate student in physics, and one of the smartest people I know. But he was too forgetful to just pick up a toothbrush on Day 1, and too embarrassed to mention anything to me! I can only hope he was being truthful about the mouthwash and wasn’t also helping himself to my toothbrush when I wasn’t in… ugh.

  • Fox February 8, 2011, 5:06 pm

    “On the one hand, I agree completely with the OP..”

    *facepalm* I meant “with the admin…” Big meaning difference there!

  • Enna February 8, 2011, 5:07 pm

    The housemate offered to replace the used items – that was right of the housemate to do and does help to address the issue so it is the point, as since the housemate knows how the OP feels and would so warn other guests in future to ask permission before hand. OP – at least you have a housemate who is prepared to listen.

    Using used razors is just gross. It’s one thing using someone’s shampoo (expense shouldn’t be an issue, if you spend more money on products which you make a habit of buying then don’t complain about expense, ifyou can’t afford them don’t buy them) but if it is special shampoo that you’ve treated yourself too as a treat or if it was a gift keep it in your room if guests come round.

    If it is for one night I’m styaing at somene’s house I won’t bother with a shower if I only have to skip a shower for 1 night max. I’m not good remembering things like towels or hair stuff but I always ask or I will go to the shops (normally firends are fine with me using their’s cos I ask). I’m also good at buying gifts too so that helps! I’m not expecting 5 star hotel treatment and I give something back.

    The only time going through a host’s cupbard is acceptable is if a lady guest has started her cycle and doesn’t have the required products to hand to use. This happened to me once and I saw what I needed on the windowsill (they were new). There were 2 left so I took one and told my firend whose house it was. She was fine with that and said she was glad that I had told her as she wouldn’t thinkg “I thought I had 2”. I didn’t have any in my handbad otherwise I’d have left one of pm]

  • Enna February 8, 2011, 5:08 pm

    sorry keyboard playing up again:

    If I had some in my handbag I’d have left one in the bathroom to repalce it. But I didn’t – I told my firend and she was okay with that.

  • Alice February 8, 2011, 5:23 pm

    I disagree with the comments that say, “They probably didn’t know it was yours.” Um. They knew it wasn’t THEIRS. The magical bathroom fairy doesn’t just have stuff laying around. And any logical person would realize that their host had their own bathroom, and as such, the stuff in another bathroom probably wasn’t the host’s either. One shouldn’t have to label their belongings to prove they are their own possession. If you didn’t bring/buy something, it isn’t yours, and you have no right to assume you can use it. This is especially true when staying with someone who has a roommate you may not know. I hate the, “I didn’t know it yours” debate in any circumstance, whether it’s someone at the office taking Post-Its on my desk or photocopies out of the machine. Surely you can keep track of your own belongings enough to realize what isn’t, as well as what is, your own.

    That being said, I agree with the basket idea. I rarely have weekend guests, and when I do, I don’t think twice about allowing them to use my own toiletries in the shower (except, of course for the razors and hairbrushes – I echo the “ew”s regarding that, but if I had an extra, new razor they’re welcome to it). Even so, there are a couple of items I have that I do not want anyone to use, mainly expensive facial products I spend a fortune on. I make that clear, and also have a ton of alternatives anyway. I’ve also noticed that if I’m particular about something, a guest usually is too and brings their own, so I’ve never come across this problem.

    I think the main point to remember is that these were NOT the OPs guests, so there’s really no debate about the etiquette of allowing guests to use your products, nor is there any reason to assume you have to hide your own belongings in your own apartment/house that you pay for. It wasn’t her/his responsibility to provide anything to them whatsoever. The guests and her roommate were rude, both in taking of the stuff, and of not quickly trying to amend it. I’m sure should I ever have guests and a roommate, I would point out before they shower, “Oh, this is my stuff, this is my roommate’s. You’re free to use whatever you want on my shelf.” It seems downright silly to not think of that.

  • lkb February 8, 2011, 5:31 pm

    I agree with those who say the housemate who’s guests would be the one to have had some extra stuff, rather than the OP. But I can see how that doesn’t happen in some households.
    I’m trying to find the best possible explanation for the use of the razor/hairbrush (gross and a hygiene issue, I agree). How did the OP know they had been used? Perhaps the razor was just wet (as in, accidentally bumped) or the hairbrush was moved? (Of course, if there were hairs, obviously….)
    Just trying to give the guests the benefit of the doubt. Naturally, I wasn’t there.

  • kudeenee February 8, 2011, 5:38 pm

    I am surprised that you didn’t remove your personal products from the bathroom that people were going to share. Now you know to do so next time.

  • Chelle February 8, 2011, 5:44 pm

    I have to disagree with Admin too. I travel a lot, and stay at friend’s houses and hotels frequently. I have a second set of full-size toiletries that I travel with (LOVE LL Bean Toiletry bags). I even travel with my own towels. I am very picky about my toiletries and only like what *I* use. If there were a situation where I forgot something, I would ask before using someone else’s products. I would also expect any house guest of mine to bring their own toiletries also. Towels…not so much. If it were an emergency or unplanned ‘sleepover’, then I’d have no problem with them using my toiletries, since there was no time to plan.

    ~Chelle (not the same Chelle from earlier)

  • Magicdomino February 8, 2011, 5:47 pm

    I don’t expect to have anything provided except towels, TP, and some sort of soap. Even in hotels, little bottles of shampoo, etc. are a nice touch, but I don’t plan on it. If I forget something, I ask my host first, or stop at the nearest drugstore.

    Having said that, I keep the little hotel bottles, along with a couple of disposable razors, cheap toothbrushes, and other toiletries, in the guest bath medicine cabinet, and make a point of telling my guests that they are free to open the cabinet and get whatever they need. The first aid stuff is in that cabinet too.

  • Sharon February 8, 2011, 6:07 pm

    It is rude and very gross for people to do things like this.
    I don’t use anything without asking my host first. But, when people come to my home, I cannot just trust that everyone has the same manners and descretion. I know you should be able to leave your personal property right where you want it to be, but, it takes all kinds to make a world… unfortunately not many have sense or tact.
    I know the people weren’t your guests but, as someone said in an earlier post, “…now you know…”.

  • Liz February 8, 2011, 7:07 pm

    I don’t understand the assumption of some commenters here that if you go into someone’s home as guest, everything in that house is fair game for you to use. After you were invited into some one’s home, they’ve probably been feeding you as well, it’s ok to do what ever you please? Use what ever you want? Someone’s home is not a public space, just because something is there does not make it communal.
    It is polite to ask if you can use toiletries first, it’s just rude to go into someone’s home and expect them to cater everything for you, should they buy fresh underwear for you to use as well?! You don’t live there and you are a grown up now, act like it. It’s called boundaries. How hard is it to throw you own razor into your suit case any way? or buy a cheap disposable when you get to the destination?

  • alli_wan February 8, 2011, 7:22 pm

    Having thought about this more, why were the roommate’s guest in the OP’s bathroom at all?

    Assuming the two roommates had divided up the bathrooms such that the en suite one was the roomate’s and the ‘out of suite’ one was the OP’s, the guests had no business being in her bathroom anymore than they had any business being in her bedroom.

    I’m sure it’s much more convenient to use the ‘non-ensuite’ bathroom, and it would also be reasonable to perhaps use the OP’s toilet (though that should be agreed upon beforehand), but her shower, sink and personal grooming areas should be off limits. It’s HER bathroom, the roommates guests should never have had the opportunity to require shampoo and razors to begin with. The roommate has her own bathroom to share and her own toiletries to be pillaged.

  • Ange February 8, 2011, 8:00 pm

    Hi all, OP here.

    Just to clear a couple of things up the only reason I knew everything was used was because I am left handed and thus put things back a certain way, when I went to the shower the next morning everything was reversed. The hairbrush and razor were obvious, sadly.

    Though this was the ‘main’ bathroom it’s only my housemate and I living there and she has an ensuite so clearly it’s for my personal use, there was no mistaking who the items belonged to. I’d never met the guests before and they’ve never stayed with us previously. I suppose it really only bothered me because of the hygiene aspect… at one point one of them actually forgot to flush the toilet as well!

    Thankfully I do a lot of travel for work so my housemate and I agreed that I’d start hoarding the little shampoo/conditioners/lotions etc the hotel supplies and bring them back for next time. We’ve been friends forever and this was just a little hiccup in an otherwise awesome weekend.

  • Ange February 8, 2011, 8:24 pm

    Oh and Angie? I was there in the mornings, and of course at the birthday party. 🙂

  • PrincessSimmi February 8, 2011, 8:49 pm

    Tell your roommate you’re concerned as you have some sory of body-bug (lice, etc) and the friends and relatives may have caught it from using your stuff. They’ll learn a lesson and you’ll get a giggle.

    Well, don’t, because you’d be stooping to their level, but it’s a nice thought.

  • Rug Pilot February 8, 2011, 8:50 pm

    I always travel with my own stuff. I never know what will be available in a hotel or whether I can use what is at my friends’ homes because of allergies. It’s just easier that way. Using other people’s personal grooming things is disgusting. I dare anyone to survive an infection that I have no trouble overcoming because of my immune system.

  • Guinevere February 8, 2011, 8:58 pm

    Magicdomino – that’s such a great idea about the hotel-sized shampoos and conditioners. In some places you get hand cream, mouthwash, body wash and shower caps. Perfect for guests.

    I’ve never heard of borrowing someone else’s hairbrush or razor – you never know what the person’s health situation is, so why risk it? Just weird to me. I would also feel strange if I was staying over as a guest in a family member’s home, but they had a roommate. I would be on eggshells, not wanting to offend.

  • Emily February 9, 2011, 12:01 am

    Many people keep saying that she should have removed her things from the bathroom. But it is HER bathroom. She is being nice enough to share it with strangers and they use her things.

    I have recently been forced to share my bathroom with my sister and I tried to do that. I take my things out so she won’t use them but that is not fair. I am sharing it and the bathroom is as much mine as hers so I should be allowed to keep my things in there without being used by her.

    It is rude to use others belongings without permission.

  • Ange February 9, 2011, 12:09 am

    @ Alli-wan

    We decided to open up both bathrooms because of the sheer number of people in the house that weekend. Including the residents there were 8 people in a 3 bedroom townhouse (I think it’s called a condo in America?) so it wasn’t even a question to me as to whether or not to open up my bathroom. Besides, I have a big mirror in there and 7 of us are girls so…. 🙂

  • Maryann February 9, 2011, 1:54 am

    Wait. Why would they assume the things in *that* bathroom, the one located in the letter writer’s room, the one that was supposed to be off-limits to them, were for them?

    They had two bathrooms of their own to use. Their assumption would have been reasonable in those bathrooms (although not applicable to obviously-in-use hairbrushes or razors) but not in the one that was in the letter writer’s room. Being roommates is just that. That doesn’t make one family. That doesn’t make every part of that home open to one roommate’s house guests.

    I think it’s time for a very serious discussion with the roommate who refused to lay down the rules, and to make sure that if guests come again, they know what is their territory and what is not. In print if necessary.

    That or put some locks on some doors.

  • kidsis February 9, 2011, 2:41 am

    Since I use specific products, I always have my own if I plan on staying somewhere long enough to take a shower. I always find it shocking when people don’t do that.

  • Katie February 9, 2011, 6:03 am

    I’m also kind of shocked at all the people who seem to think anything at their guest’s home is fair game unless hidden. I live interstate from my family, and when I visit I wouldn’t so much as use my sister or mother’s shampoo without asking! I mean obviously they’ll say yes, but it’s just manners.

    I’ve also lived in a share house. Friends of all three housemates would often stay unplanned as we lived close to the city, so if people had a bigger night than planned and didn’t want to take an expensive cab home they’d crash at our house. When I showed my guests to the bathroom I’d grab one of my towels out of the cupboard, hand it to them and say, ‘The [brand name] shampoo and conditioner and the cucumber shower gel is mine, so use those ones. And my mouthwash is here to the right of the sink.’ My housemates did the same – obviously telling their guests about their toiletries, not mine 😉 Not once did any guests use anyone’s stuff without asking, and there was never a problem. A quick laying down of rules to your guest prevents a lot of problems, which is clearly what the OP’s housemate did not do. It’s just showing respect – same as cleaning up after yourself, being quiet when you came in late, or not drinking the last of your housemate’s special milk without asking and leaving them unable to have breakfast that morning!

  • Bint February 9, 2011, 7:09 am

    Actually, I should add that the housemate should have told her guests that what was in that bathroom was the OPs. If I’m staying somewhere I’ll bring my own stuff, but for my guests, I assume they’ll use the shampoo, conditioner etc without having to ask me. They may bring their own, they may not, I don’t mind, but if it’s someone else’s stuff in their, I’ll let them know not to touch it. That should have been done by the room mate. Poor show on her part. Unbelievable about the razor and hairbrush!

  • Ali February 9, 2011, 8:45 am

    Uh… It’s pretty clear what is half-used and what isn’t. Especially if you know someone else is actively using that bathroom. I’m not going to take my toothpaste/razor out of my bathroom if my roommate has a guest. I think the fact that my razor is sitting on my shower rack makes it pretty clear that you shouldn’t touch.

    If you forget something, you ask. I thought that was common sense.

  • Ali February 9, 2011, 8:59 am

    Just adding, certainly, younger people my age who don’t have guestrooms or guest bathrooms are not going to clear out their whole bathroom of personal items. We barely have any space as it is. I stay over at my friend’s house all the time and I’d never take her shampoo without permission.

    One exception though, I think it’s fine to steal a boyfriend/girlfriend’s shampoo if you’ve slept over and need to shower. But not a hairbrush. Gross.

  • Aje February 9, 2011, 9:41 am

    My question is that since the OP wasn’t home for two days when the guests were staying, why didn’t her tolitries travel with her? Surely she would have needed at least the hairbrush if she was gone the entire weekend!

  • Caper February 9, 2011, 10:50 am

    She didn’t really say she was gone out, just that she didn’t spend much time at home. I didn’t really get an impression that she actually went away or was in a situation where she had to take her toiletries. If I were her, I’d just not let my roommates guests use my bathroom from now on. They can use hers.

  • Michelle P February 9, 2011, 1:20 pm

    I agree with Alice and Chelle. I have to respectfully disagree with Admin that the OP should clear out anything and certainly should not have to set out toiletries. They were not her guests. Even if they were, common sense dictates that you don’t use someone else’s personal property (personal in every sense of the word!) I visit my sister often, and I bring everything I would need with me. I wouldn’t borrow her stuff, especially without asking, and we’re family!

    I love the idea of a toiletry basket for guests, it’s lovely, I just disagree that it was the OP’s responsibility to have it.

  • --E February 9, 2011, 1:41 pm

    When close friends and I visit each other, we all understand that it’s okay to use each others’ shampoo and soap.

    But I cannot not think of any circumstance short of extreme poverty that would inspire me to touch–much less use–a stranger’s hairbrush or razor! That’s disgusting. (Heck, I wouldn’t want to use a close friend’s hairbrush or razor if it wasn’t an emergency. Don’t get me started on toothbrushes!)

    I’m not a fastidious person at all–I think “slob” may be reasonably accurate–so the thought that there are people with even lower personal hygiene standards out there is making my skin itch.

  • Angie February 9, 2011, 3:17 pm

    @ Ange

    Good to know you were home and able to enjoy some of the festivities. The person I would be most mad at is your roommate. She needed to get things under control and the moment that she realized things had gone amok, she needed to be fixing things and making apologies right and left. I think that would have been the most frustrating thing for me.

    I had a roommate who was like that though. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what the horrible smell in the apartment was…I was sure that a rodent had crawled in the walls and died. Right before I was planning on having a birthday party for a friend, I mentioned it to my roommate and said I might call the landlord to have it looked at. She, who had the main bathroom, then proceeds to tell me that she thinks she knows what the problem is…her bathtub has been backed up for weeks and the water in there was starting to smell. She’d been showering in a filled up with stagnant water bathtub for WEEKS and didn’t think it was a big deal. YUCK. Turns out she was also responsible for the constantly missing personal care items from my room…she also thought that everything was hers!

  • Ange February 9, 2011, 7:55 pm

    @ Angie.

    Ewwwwwwwwww! That story wins x 1000000000. At least my housemate is clean.

    As you said I think that was my frustration at the time, that my housemate didn’t ask her guests to stop and ask for what they wanted to use. I enjoy being hospitable but I don’t like my hospitality being presumed upon, particularly by people I don’t know. That said though we’ve talked things out and in future we’ll be well prepared for guests.

  • Alex February 10, 2011, 1:53 am

    I wouldn’t get upset about the shampoo etc. because when you are staying at someone’s house you normally are allowed to use that but the razor? Wrong on SO many levels!

    Also, she asked her roommate to say something and she never did. I would be mad at the roommate too!

  • jenna February 10, 2011, 2:55 am

    The hairbrush and razor – gross. Fortunately razors are cheap to replace (one would imagine you don’t need to replace the entire hand-held thingo – just the blade)…hairbrushes not so much.

    As for the other stuff, I agree with Jeanne. Sure, guests shouldn’t have assumed they could use it, although I can kind of understand why they’d think they could (still…ask first! Jeez). When I stay with friends, if something is clearly set out for guest use – a basket full of stuff on the counter in a guest bathroom, or a small assortment of travel-size items – I will use it but if it looks like it might be a personal product I don’t – or I ask.

    Though I am clearly the weirdo here – I do in fact bring a toiletry kit that includes shampoo, face wash etc. whenever I travel, even when staying with friends, so I never have to borrow. I even bring a small towel in case none is provided. Part of that is my own finicky hair and skin: I can’t use any old shampoo or conditioner and I certainly do not expect a host to have what I use on hand.

    As for telling the housemate – as long as it was phrased politely I don’t think there was any etiquette breach in mentioning it.

  • YWalkalone February 10, 2011, 3:43 am

    I have done a lot of traveling, especially staying at others’ homes, and I ALWAYS bring my own toiletries. (P.S. Don’t worry about the rules for carry-ons, pack your normal shampoo &c. in your checked bag, but put it in a gallon-size ziploc bag first. If it spills, no big deal.) Even when staying with family, I was raised to NEVER use something without permission. Usually when the host was showing me around, they would say, “Oh and if you need to shower, you can use my shampoo” but it was never assumed.

    And @Chelsey, you don’t understand why people are so upset about the personal items being used? Because it’s violating. Consider this scenario: when I lived with a male roommate (we were never involved) I was disgusted to find he’d used my razor, which was only kept in the shower. Why would a man use a razor in the shower? I really hope he was shaving his face without a mirror, because anything else, especially his man-parts, with a razor I use on my woman-parts? Pretty questionable if you’re involved. Horribly disgusting and violating if you’re strictly platonic. And it was even worse for the OP, because whoever used her razor was essentially a stranger.

  • Amy February 10, 2011, 5:00 am

    I have guests often in my home….I do not supply them with essential hygiene products, nor do I expect this from my host when I stay there….The hotel toiletries are for when you forget your shampoo, your lotion, ect. These toiletries usually have some sort of advertisement on them for the hotels’ free adversiting when guests take them with them. Personal hygiene products are personal things and should be packed along with your underwear.

  • Eisa February 12, 2011, 1:17 am

    Ew. Just ew. I have never assumed that what my host/ess had in their bathroom was fair game for me to use unless they specifically said “hey you can use the shampoo/soap/what have you if you want!” And the hairbrush and razor? DOUBLE EW. No, you bring your own. I have always brought my own–it’s actually kind of fun to shop for them, to be honest. And now, I actually need special medicated shampoo, so I definitely wouldn’t just be grabbing them off someone’s shelf.

    Also, OP, I’m left-handed, too! Lefties unite! xD

  • Jillybean February 14, 2011, 11:48 pm

    YWalkalone – that only works if you actually check bags. I don’t. With all the fees etc, it’s not worth it. So lugging full sized bottles of anything never happens.

    To some of the others – I must have missed the posts that implied that EVERYTHING in a person’s house is available to guests. We’re talking about basic toiletries, not someone’s $200 perfume.