Let’s talk dirty [mugs].

Wait, your members don’t all wash their mugs either?

TLDR:  There’s pretty much nothing you can do to eliminate the mugs in the sink issue completely but there are steps to be taken to make it better.

I can and likely will forever gripe about this issue. It weighs on me daily and no matter what, I promise, even if you execute on everything I talk about below you will still find yourself face to face with a pile of coffee-stained mugs.

I have posted messages in slack, mass emailed and shared my concerns about this in our monthly community event Zero Day and without fail, the next week we have a sink full of mugs.

Do I think people are doing this maliciously? Nah. I think people fall into one of these categories.

  1. They are lazy
  2. They are in a rush
  3. A member’s guest leaves it unwashed and with that, it’s usually a large meeting

Here’s what you can do, from the most extreme to the easiest to execute.

  1. Never say anything. Wash every mug yourself. Cry yourself to sleep.
  2. Eliminate the kitchen/coffee and all dishes from the coworking space! Ha. That’s not going to happen.
  3. Make it your community managers job to wash all the dishes. That’s if you want them to hate their job and resent you for life.
  4. Go the 1984 route and point a camera at the sink, instantly giving yourself the tools to hold people accountable. The issue here is you’re going to create a real awkward environment and the moment you have to confront someone it’s going to suck.
    • “Oh hey, ummm, we were watching you and  you didn’t wash your mug.”
    • “wait, what?”
    • “nevermind.”
  5. Pay your nightly cleaning crew (hopefully you have one) to also wash the dishes. This is probably not cost effective, but I have met a couple spaces that do it this way.
  6. Install a dishwasher. You can pick one up for $250 or so, watch a YouTube video, and install it yourself. Stay tuned for a future story where we discuss how members refuse to empty a dishwasher. Ha! Seriously, though..
  7. Replace your sponges with a brush and/or a Scrub Daddy. Regular sink sponges hold water, get gross, and start to smell real quick.
  8. Set the standard in your membership guidelines, during tours, prior to meetings and on day one of someone’s membership. Repetition is good.
  9. Practice what you preach. Make sure members see you being a good housemate.

Just remember –  if this is your worst problem then you’re doing great!

5 replies
  1. Brandon Olsen
    Brandon Olsen says:

    I just had an idea while reading. What if you didn’t provide mugs? What if it was a bring your own mug situation and if there were mugs left in the sink you’d throw them out after a week. Just thinking out loud, don’t know how it would play out in reality.

  2. Garrett
    Garrett says:

    Interesting idea. It definitely adds a barrier to entry. I could imagine someone being like “Oh wait, you’re serious”. I wonder if I could find a space that does that!

    I have thought about really cheap paper cups. For me the yellow “easy.” mug has become such an important part of the Hygge brand. I can’t imagine not having them.

  3. Garrett
    Garrett says:

    Womp womp. We’re thinking of adding a dishwasher to the 2 locations that don’t have one. Hoping it alleviates some of it. We get piles.

  4. Roger
    Roger says:

    We have a dishwasher and it still happens to us as well.

    The best solution I’ve come up with is to have my desk become “control central” by relocating it to the kitchen. Unfortunately that requires a major renovation but I can’t wait to spend the money! If I can pull it off I’ll be able to be the bartender, and I think, able to minimize things a little. At the very least I’ll eventually be able to correct the few repeat offenders.

    The next best solution I heard from another space owner, is to swap out the sink for a really small bar sink. So small that it just can’t hold much so people tend to start putting dishes in the dishwasher after a few things pile up.

    Then the next logical problem is how to you teach tenants raised by wolves how to load a dishwasher and to clean the melted cheese off before they put their chili bowl in (hopefully upside down!)


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