Keeping your abode clean

dryer

Do you ever pick up your bath towel and you can’t remember when you switched it out? Or a pair of jeans that get the ol’ sniff test? Life is hectic and crazy and sometimes it’s easy to overlook the little chores around your apartment – like switching out the dish sponge or dusting the blinds (I say this like I actually dust the blinds – don’t tell my mother). So since things can be tough to remember, here’s a little cheat sheet to stash in your cleaning closet.

Towels – Twice a week

You should wash your bath towel and washcloth or replace it every 3 uses or so.

Bed Linens – Once a week

To keep them looking nice, according to Martha Stewart, wash linens in warm water rather than hot. Most pillows are washable too, but require much less frequent care. Pillows can be washed every few months.

Toilet – Once a week

Not only is this a sanitary practice, but if you have guests they won’t see the awful ring if it’s clean.

Kitchen Sink – Once a Day

It’s a good idea to wash your sink out with soap and water each day since it is a hot spot for germs, especially if you cook meat with your meals.

Rugs and floor mats – Once a week

Vacuum or wash (if applicable) rugs and mats once a week to keep the dust and grime from shoes to a minimum.

Curtains – Once a month

You can also take your blinds down and wash them, too with warm soapy water and a soft scrub brush.

When Was the Last Time I Cleaned That?

dryer

Do you ever pick up your bath towel and you can’t remember when you switched it out? Or a pair of jeans that get the ol’ sniff test? Life is hectic and crazy and sometimes it’s easy to overlook the little chores around your apartment – like switching out the dish sponge or dusting the blinds (I say this like I actually dust the blinds – don’t tell my mother). So since things can be tough to remember, here’s a little cheat sheet to stash in your cleaning closet.

Towels – Twice a week

You should wash your bath towel and washcloth or replace it every 3 uses or so.

Bed Linens – Once a week

To keep them looking nice, according to Martha Stewart, wash linens in warm water rather than hot. Most pillows are washable too, but require much less frequent care. Pillows can be washed every few months.

Toilet – Once a week

Not only is this a sanitary practice, but if you have guests they won’t see the awful ring if it’s clean.

Kitchen Sink – Once a Day

It’s a good idea to wash your sink out with soap and water each day since it is a hot spot for germs, especially if you cook meat with your meals.

Rugs and floor mats – Once a week

Vacuum or wash (if applicable) rugs and mats once a week to keep the dust and grime from shoes to a minimum.

Curtains – Once a month

You can also take your blinds down and wash them, too with warm soapy water and a soft scrub brush (do as I say, not as I do!).

Welcoming Our [Cleaning] Robot Overlords

robot

Cleaning robots, like Roomba, have been around for over a decade now. I’ve always been a pretty traditional do-it-yourself type of vacuumer and so I didn’t have a particularly keen interest in the little robotic helpers. However, my roommate recently got one of the ILIFE brand ones on an Amazon Black Friday mega-special and I’ve been learning what it’s like to let something inanimate clean for you.

The first go-around was mostly to see how the cats reacted to it, which I won’t lie, was pretty entertaining. Then, the actual observation began. This particular little robot works pretty well on hardwood floors to pick up loose debris, dust, and pet hair. With three cats here, it’s hard to keep up with that amount of shedding. Even if it didn’t pick up anything else, that’s enough of a reason the little bot is a lifesaver. It’s quiet and will maneuver itself around obstacles gently, without hurting the furniture or decorative objects.

The battery life is pretty good at 160 minutes on this model, which provides enough time to clean an average sized apartment at least once over. When the vacuum loses power, it can be charged on a charging port before getting it going again. It works on hardwood floors, carpet, and tile, and it will find its way from room to room. All you have to do is click the on button and off it goes.

One of the drawbacks is since it’s round it does not get into corners. It’s really best for getting the “worst of it” out of the middle of the floors and up under the furniture (it’s thin enough to fit under most types of furniture). You’ll still need some old fashioned deep cleaning to really be thorough, but as for keeping down pet hair and dust among other allergens, it’s a huge help! I definitely recommend one to help yourself out with the day to day upkeep – who couldn’t use a little help with that?

The Only Cleaners You Need In Your Apartment

cleaner

Apartments don’t always come with your ideal amount of storage space. When you look under your kitchen or bathroom sink and it’s cluttered up with bottle after bottle of various cleaning products you might wonder how you could get better use out of your precious storage areas. The simplest answer is to minimize the number of cleaning products you use – it will save you space and money in time.

How many spray bottles and cleaners do you have piled up under the sink? First, clean out what you don’t want for sure – products that are old or ones you don’t use anymore. Do this responsibly by following the instructions on the bottle for safe disposal. Water soluble cleaners can be poured down the drain, but not all products can be disposed of this way. Make sure you follow directions or look up an alternative method to safely empty the container.

Identify what you need then ask yourself – What kinds of surfaces do you have in your apartment? If you have marble countertops or other special surfaces, you might want a specific cleaner for those because they can be damaged with standard solutions.

Otherwise, most hard surfaces can be cleaned with simple, natural cleaners. If you want something that will cut grease on counters and surfaces but does not have harsh chemicals in it, try a product like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day multi-surface cleaner. This is just one example of a number of products made from non-chemical ingredients that’s safe on a number of surfaces. You can also make your own vinegar based cleaning solution by mixing equal parts vinegar and water. Most surfaces are safe to use vinegar on except porous ones like marble and hardwood floors because the vinegar can harm the finish. Another benefit to using a vinegar cleaner is it disinfects.

Once you’ve identified what you need, you should be able to minimize your under-the-kitchen sink to about 3 bottles – a basic hard surface cleaner, a disinfectant or window cleaner, and a carpet or upholstery cleaner.

When you get simple, multi-purpose cleaners that work harder for you, you’ll benefit from the extra space.

 

How to Survive Not Having a Dishwasher

dishwasher

I’ve previously written about how I’d basically live in a cardboard box before renting another apartment without a dishwasher. Well, as fate would have it, I have rented another spot without a dishwasher. Maybe I was being a bit dramatic about the life or death nature of the dishwasher, but I still maintain I’d much rather have one than not. Thankfully I’ve learned to live in harmony without the beloved kitchen appliance and I know you can too. So if you find yourself in a new spot where you’re the dishwasher you can keep these things in mind to help you cope:

  • Don’t let the dishes pile up If you wash the dishes every night before bed, you’ll thank yourself later. It only gets worse if you let it go. Not only does it make doing the dishes a much more time-consuming chore but things start to smell bad in there… better to nip this one in the bud.
  • Embrace the act of washing dishes If you give it a chance, washing dishes can be kind of a therapeutic, mindless activity. This is a great time to meditate or clear your mind while your hands do the dirty work. It’s similar to having time to think while in the shower, but in front of the sink instead.
  • Keep your sponge / wash rag clean Don’t walk away with smelly hands and dishes – keep your sponge fresh! There’s some debate currently as to whether or not it helps to run them through the dishwasher or microwave them. Some people recommend just replacing it every couple weeks. Or you can get a few of these bad boys and wash them regularly and cut down on the waste.
  • Cut down on how many dishes you use Reusing cups throughout the day and washing your plate for each meal will cut down on all the dishes piled up in the sink! Be conscious of how many dishes you’re using and it will keep you from stacking the dishes up a mile high.

Caring for Countertops

countertops

Apartments are getting pretty spiffy these days and even student housing frequently has some variety of stone countertops. Which is great! Thank you to those who are making good design choices for those on a potentially limited budget. But it begs the question, how do you take care of these nice counters?

If you have granite countertops that are properly sealed (you can check this by dripping water on them and checking to see if it quickly beads up and doesn’t soak into the counter) they actually require little maintenance. Granite is a very hard stone, primarily made up of quartz, which is hard enough to scratch glass. So thankfully it’s a durable surface for you to work on in your kitchen. To keep your granite counters in spiffy condition, use a mild detergent or soap and water to clean them and wipe down with a microfiber cloth. If you use harsh cleaners it will eventually harm the sealant on top of your counters, so steer clear of bleach and ammonia. There are special granite cleaners which work well, but they’re truly not a necessity.

If you have beautiful marble countertops, they are not such a breeze to take care of. Marble is porous in nature and is a metamorphic rock, mostly limestone, dolomite, or calcite. Keeping marble clean is very important if you’re in charge of it – puddles of anything acidic can harm the surface. Like granite, using a mild soapy water to clean will do the trick. Never use acidic cleaners or anything bleach based. There are additional products which can help you keep marble in tip-top shape, such as a monthly sealant and marble polishing powder.

 

Do You Feel Like the Only Roommate Who Cleans?

cleaning

Do you live with roommates? Having roommates is an important part of growing up and maturing. It can be great for you because roommates can be fun, supportive parts of your day to day interactions. But learning to live with other people is one of life’s great struggles because we all do things so differently.

Do you split up the chores evenly between yourselves or do you feel like you do them all by yourself? If you find yourself struggling with your roommates because you feel like you’re the “responsible” one who cleans and takes care of the tidying up, an article from New York Magazine’s Science of Us page may have some insight for you:

“As behavioral economist Dan Ariely recently explained in The Wall Street Journal, even when we make it clear who’s in charge of what and everyone’s taking care of their own chores the way they’re supposed to, it can be easy to grow resentful. The reason: We tend to overestimate how much work our own tasks require, and underestimate the effort the other person puts into theirs.”

Simply put, it’s much easier to understand what you’re doing than what others are doing. You know exactly how long you spend on a task and how much you put into it. You only see the results of what the other party has accomplished and it’s easy to feel like yours was more intense.

What this calls for is something that will help in any relationship: empathy. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is the quickest way to the possibility understanding another person’s feelings. While this particular example only relates specifically to chores in your apartment, empathy is a mindful and helpful tool to maintaining healthy relationships with others in any part of your life.

One way to “force” empathy in the cleaning situation, as later suggested by the article, is by switching chores with your roommate on a regular basis. When you trade responsibilities, you both know what is entailed in the job and what it takes to complete it.

Opting for Greener Cleaning Options in Your Kitchen

kitchen

With Earth Day approaching and spring in full bloom, it’s easy to think about our planet and the state of our environment. How we live day to day in a global population of 7 billion has a dramatic effect on earth. However, dramatic change can happen with small changes made even in just your apartment. Simply adjusting home habits can significantly reduce waste and help you live a little greener.

Here are two small ways to seriously reduce waste in your apartment’s kitchen:

Opt for washable dish cloths instead of sponges

Sponges have a limited life and have to be replaced every couple weeks, or more often. Unless you’re using a natural sea sponge, they’re not made out of a biodegradable material and just become more trash in a landfill. If you threw out a sponge every two weeks for a year, that’s about 26 sponges you’re tossing each year. What I’ve done recently is bought a couple washable microfiber dish cloths with a soft side and a scrubby side. They still clean really well and after a week you can toss them in the wash with your other laundry and reuse them. The ones I got are inexpensive from Target and are well worth it.

Reusable bamboo paper towels

I’m not a big tv person, so I’m usually pretty out of the loop on the current cable shows. But thankfully the internet exists and I can at least absorb the gist of it without watching hours of television. What I’m getting at is that apparently Bambooee Towels were one of the products on Shark Tank recently and also apparently they’re pretty awesome. I read a detailed review on the bamboo paper towels, which come in a perforated roll just like regular paper towels, but are much more absorbent, durable, and they can be washed. The Bambooee company claims that one roll of their bamboo towels can replace 286 traditional paper towel rolls. That’s quite an improvement!

Spring Cleaning Your Apartment Can Be Fun!

cleaning

Finally! Spring is here. We can officially stop being depressed about the long and dreadful winter months, which dragged on like always. Thankfully Gainesville doesn’t get what other parts of the country consider a dreadful winter, but who’s going to complain about the onset of spring either way?

With the milder, more pleasant warm weather of spring comes the opportunity to throw open your apartment windows and doors and let the fresh air in. This is the best time to do so before the mosquitos get too bad, too! Letting fresh air circulate through your apartment can dramatically improve your mood and can help keep you breathing clean air.

Getting some fresh outdoor air in your lungs may also help motivate you to do some spring cleaning. Maybe you’re moving soon after graduation or the end of the semester and it’s better to get a head start on things. Or possibly it’s just been a while since you’ve given your abode a thorough cleansing and it’s the perfect time to hop to it. Either way, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be drudgery. It can be a fun and rewarding process to keep you healthier at home and lift your spirits!

Play some music Cleaning is much more fun with some peppy tunes to work to. Make a playlist of your favorite motivating music on iTunes or Spotify to accompany your spring cleaning regimen. Then get grooving and tidying!

Think of the workout you’re getting You’d be surprised how many calories you’re burning while you’re cleaning! Tasks like scrubbing, vacuuming, carrying laundry, or climbing a ladder all burn calories!

Time to do some thinking Tasks which require little focus, such as doing the dishes, the laundry, and so forth are great ways to relax and zone out while not being distracted elsewhere. The simple task occupies your hands and you can let your brain work on projects or ideas all the while. I do some of my best thinking while doing the dishes!

Follow your nose Cleaning itself helps make your apartment smell good and fresh, but it’s fun to find a good smelling essential oil and add a few drops to soapy water when you’re cleaning. You can choose an uplifting scent like orange or lemon oil, or a relaxing one like lavender to channel how you want to feel when you’re at home in your apartment.

 

One Simple Trick For a Cleaner Kitchen

kitchen

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to sharing an apartment with a roommate is going to wash the dishes and the sponge stinks. I am borderline obsessive when it comes to wringing the water out of the sponge after use and moving it to a good location for drying. In my eyes there is little worse than washing the dishes and afterwards realizing your hands stink. Ok, can you see the fire blazing in my eyes and smoke coming out my ears yet?

Instead of constantly replacing nasty sponges, they can be regularly sanitized to remove bacteria and subsequently removing the icky smell. Hooray! There are several ways to go about this process and all of them remove about 99% of germs. According to Good Housekeeping, their study showed that soaking the sponge in ¾ cups of bleach mixed in a gallon of water for 5 minutes killed nearly all bacteria. The next method (which is usually what I do) is to put the sponge in the dishwasher when you run a load. You can also soak the sponge in water and put it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, but it’s good to watch it while it’s in there in case it gets too hot. Also important: do NOT touch the sponge for several minutes after you microwave it! It’s very hot! Trust me, I didn’t realize that the first time and it’s wasn’t too much fun.

With regular weekly cleaning, your sponges will smell fresher and keep your kitchen cleaner and prevent the spread of germs. It’s recommended that you replace your sponge every one to two months depending on how dirty it gets.