Study: What’s the Most-Broken House Rule? A State-by-State Look

By HomeAdvisor

Published November 8, 2022

mom and son washing dishes

From “no dirty dishes left in the sink” to “no eating in front of the TV,” many American households run smoothly by following a common set of rules. Whether you live in a household with children and pets or an apartment shared with roommates, your home can likely benefit from standards like a chore chart and a few ground rules.

To find out which house rules are the most common and which are the most broken across the United States, HomeAdvisor surveyed 2,200 Americans on their household rules. Read on to discover the most common and most frequently broken house rules on a state-by-state basis.

Key Findings

  • The most common house rules are putting items back in place (88%) and sharing household chores (81%).
  • House rules are broken at least daily in one in three households.
  • 1/4 of American households with pets break the rule of no human food.

The States Where House Rules Are Broken the Most

Though house rules can provide structure and responsibility, people clearly feel at home breaking the rules. In fact, according to our results, breaking the rules is all too common. Of our survey respondents, someone in one in three households breaks a house rule at least daily.

states where house rules are broken the most

North Carolina is the most naughty state surveyed when it comes to breaking house rules, where 46% of households disregard a rule at least daily. Other top contenders include Alabama (44%), Michigan (43%), and Oklahoma (43)%. According to survey respondents, the most-likely culprits of rule breaking are dads and brothers. On the flip side, some of the most rule-following states surveyed include Nevada (24%) and Massachusetts (30%).

The Most-Broken House Rule in Every State

But which house rules are folks breaking? We polled respondents on the most-broken house rules overall, and this is what they reported:

  1. Put things back where you found them
  2. No interrupting
  3. Keep your room clean
  4. No eating in front of the TV
  5. Turn off the lights when you leave the room
  6. Make your bed
  7. Clear your dish when you’re finished eating
  8. Knock before entering rooms

Wondering how your state compares to others when it comes to following house rules? Based on our survey results, the majority of the country has trouble putting things back where they belong. People living in states like Georgia and Washington have difficulty keeping their rooms clean, while folks in states like Utah and Wisconsin continuously break the rule of not eating in front of the television.

most broken house rule in every state

Most Common House Rules in the U.S.

Naturally, many facets of a house require upkeep. That’s why dividing chores and setting clear rules for accomplishing tasks can help everyone live in a happy, tidy home. So, what are the most popular house rules that Americans set to keep their homes in order?

Overall, the top 10 most common house rules in the U.S. are as follows:

  1. Put items back in place: 88% of households
  2. Share household chores: 81% of households
  3. Keep room clean: 80% of households
  4. Turn off lights leaving the room: 76% of households
  5. Clear dish after eating: 76% of households
  6. Turn off the TV when not watching: 75% of households
  7. No climbing on furniture: 65% of households
  8. Knock before entering rooms: 54% of households
  9. No interrupting: 50% of households
  10. Help set and clear the table: 47% of households

most common house rule in every state

In some cases, the most common house rules overlap with the most broken. While the majority of American households prioritize a tidy home where every item is in its place, more specific rules, such as not eating in front of the television or making your bed, fall away from the map.;

Additionally, even though 77% of respondents reported that implementing house rules causes less conflict, 25% of respondents believe that these rules only increase household conflict.;

The Most Common House Rules for Pets

A clear set of household rules not only benefits the human members of the household but the four-legged members, too. We asked respondents with pets to rank what kind of boundaries and expectations they set for the household regarding pet care.

most common house rules for pets

The most common was the rule of not letting pets jump on people, with 58% of pet parents setting this rule. Safety rules, such as not disturbing pets while eating (55)%, and cleanliness rules, such as not letting pets inside without cleaning (37%), were also popular.;

Of course, it can be hardest to resist puppy dog eyes. That could explain why 25% of households with pets break their no human food rule, and nearly 20% break the no pets on the couch rule, likely necessitating some furniture repair. Plus, 20% of pet parents admit to letting their pets jump on people.;

Household rules can be an important guide for people of any age to contribute to a safe, functional home. If your home requires something that is outside of your skillset, from baby proofing to WiFi installation, you can find a local professional for just about any project.;


From September 23 to 29, 2022, we surveyed 2,212 Americans on their household rules. Our respondents were 44% men, 53% women and 3% nonbinary or preferred not to say. The generational breakdown includes 13% Baby Boomers, 32% Gen X, 48% Millennials and 16% Gen Z.

Due to insufficient survey responses, local results do not include the following states: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

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