How to Handle Messy Roommates

roommates

Growing up, my mom always drove me nuts with her (what I considered) obsessive cleaning. She’s a very thorough woman and I assumed she was simply Type A and I wasn’t because it didn’t matter so much to me. However, that all changed when I became the ruler of my own domain. Now, one of my biggest pet peeves is coming home to a mess…whether it’s clutter or dirt, they’re both equal offenses in my book. So Mom, you finally rubbed off on me, and now comes the challenge: how to deal with others who might be less tidy than myself.

After a bit of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that these are the best methods for handling the offending parties-

Compromise With Your Roommates If you feel it’s necessary to have a clean kitchen, but nobody else is cleaning it, offer to tackle the responsibility of that area for a chore or task in return. This way you clean to your own standards without feeling completely slighted on the responsibility end. Also understand that their bedrooms are not necessarily a topic of discussion (you wouldn’t want someone else telling you how to manage your personal space) unless there’s a health hazard.

Be Diplomatic Like with all confrontation situations, it’s best to be diplomatic and try not to ruffle feathers. Make sure when you bring up the offense, you aren’t using language that sounds like you’re accusing your roommate. That will cause hurt feelings or make the situation more volatile and harder to smooth over. Try explaining ways you’d like to keep the apartment cleaner. Avoid using the word “you” when pointing out offenses and be as mature and conscientious as possible. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s better to have these conversations face-to-face and not over text message. It will come across less passive-aggressive and more genuine. You do live with these people and it’s probably best to keep the peace and be considerate while you get your point across.

Don’t Let it Make You Bitter When you’re habitually frustrated by someone’s habits, it can easily cause a rift in your friendship. Try to understand that your roommate’s habits are not necessarily something they realize they’re doing and it has little to do with your initial chemistry. You also don’t want to add extra stress to your plate by being upset every time you come home to your apartment, which should be your personal safe haven. So take a deep breath, and try to remain calm!

How to Get Your Apartment Date Ready in 15 Minutes!

date-ready-apartment

If you just got off work and remembered someone is supposed to come over and you still have to shower, get dressed, possibly pick up a bottle of wine and you, gasp, realize your place isn’t looking so hot… never fear! Unless you haven’t cleaned in months and your place is in need of some serious deep cleansing (in which case you should suddenly suggest the two of you go out), you can spruce up your apartment in 15 minutes with no trouble at all. Here are the most important things you can take care of before your date arrives-

  1. Grab all the extraneous stuff lying around with no real home and put it in a place where it isn’t visible. This is the point when a junk drawer or junk box with a lid is advisable. If all else fails, shove it in your bedroom closet to be sorted with later. Don’t use a hall closet, though because that’s a spot more likely to be opened by a guest.
  2. Take out all the kitchen and bathroom trash – you can handle to waste one bag if there isn’t much in there because if there is so much as one banana peel in that trash can it can stink up a whole apartment. Make sure there aren’t any pizza boxes lying around on countertops either. Then grab the febreeze and give everything upholstered a light spritz. If you don’t have febreeze, light a candle or make coffee to cover up any extra household odors.
  3. Adjust the lighting to mood lighting – lamps, string lights, but cut down on overhead lights. Not only does this create ambience, chances are it will minimize the amount of attention paid to the less organized areas in your apartment.
  4. Tweak a few thoughtful details by putting one of your favorite books or magazines on the coffee table along with a dish of snacks or a bottle of wine for the evening. If you have additional time, put on some music in the background. Now, breathe! You did it.

 

Declutter for a Cause

declutter

Whether it’s the weather that’s got you in a cleaning and decluttering mood or the fact that you’re moving out after graduation, it’s a natural time of year to shift gears and get things done at home. And this go around, instead of just tossing all your unwanted items to the curb, consider donating your gently used goods to local Gainesville organizations who will pass them on to those in need.

When I’m clearing out the clutter, I try to make three piles of items: things to put away, things to trash, things to donate. This will help you keep track, room by room, of where everything needs to go. While you’re sorting, keep these organizations and groups in mind for potential donations.

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore

The ReStore accepts donations of most household goods – appliances, furniture, decorative objects, books, cd’s, and tools. Proceeds from the ReStore’s sales go toward helping Gainesville families in need acquire a home of their own.

2317 SW 13th Street Gainesville, FL 32608

(352) 373-5728

Alachua County Tools for Schools

Tools for Schools is a program which helps provide area school teachers with the supplies their students need and may not be able to afford. You can donate office supplies of almost any kind, paper, math and science tools, and so forth. Check the website linked above for a complete list of suggested donations. The Tools for Schools center is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-5:30 pm throughout the school year.

1147 SE 7th Ave

Gainesville, FL 32641

(352) 374-5213

Humane Society Thrift Store

The Humane Society’s thrift store collects used household items as well to benefit their shelters for animals. Most of the types of items you would be cleaning out of your apartment would be accepted there, like books, clothes, furniture, etc. However check the donations list on the website above to see some of the items not accepted at this particular store.

4205 NW 6th St.

Gainesville, FL 32609

(352) 373-9522

 

Training Yourself to Keep Your Apartment Tidy

tidy-fork

If you can train your dog to sit and stay, you can train yourself to keep your apartment looking neat and tidy. It sounds silly, but basically the same principles apply: reinforcement and reward. While it requires a little bit more self discipline to train yourself, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Developing these habits takes time, but can be rewarding in the long run, especially when you want to have an attractive living space for entertaining friends.

The key to training yourself is repetition and positive reinforcement. Getting into a good habit can be as difficult as getting out of a bad one, but if you make a point of doing something every day (maybe with reminders on your phone or post-its) it won’t be long before you’ll get in the groove. Once you’ve accomplished your task, reward yourself with a treat of some kind- what is it that you can indulge in a little to help motivate you? Maybe it’s a piece of your favorite candy or an episode of a show that’s a little bit of a guilty pleasure. Once you’ve got the routine down, you’ll be amazed at what you can train yourself to remember on a daily basis.

So the routine idea is laid out, but it’s good to plan several habits to focus on. Here are some of the things I like to do every day in my living space:

Wash all the dirty dishes I truly dislike waking up and seeing a sink full of dirty dishes. Not only is it unattractive looking, but it can be unattractive smelling too. Yuck. Keeping up with the dishes may not seem like fun at first, but once you get into the habit of doing the dishes right after dinner, it will be worth not looking at them the next day.

Putting clothes away I’m a stereotypical female when it comes to choosing an outfit. I pull out a thousands things before I can decide on what I want to wear, and sometimes I change halfway through the day depending on what I have planned. So I like to take 10 minutes at night before bed to put away all the clothes in their proper places before I go to sleep so I don’t have to deal with it the next day.

Recycling Luckily, I don’t have to sort my recycling, but I still like to gather up all the things lying around that I know can be recycled and rinse them out. Then I can put them in my recycling bins so I can easily grab them on my way out the door to take to the recycling center.

Tricks for Keeping Apartment Carpets Clean

vacuum

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of carpets – I definitely seek out apartments with hardwood floors or even laminate before going for the carpet. However, it’s not always avoidable and many great apartments come with carpeted floors. You may even prefer carpet to hardwood floors, which I won’t judge you too harshly for (I promise). One of my qualms with carpet is how dirty it gets, often unbeknownst to its owner. So if you are the proud renter of a carpeted place, keep these tips in mind.

Buy a vacuum – A decent one. You really can’t make do with anything else, so if you plan on staying in an apartment with carpets for any real length of time it’s one of the best things you can invest in. Spot treatment and those little rolly sweepers only go so far. Especially if you have any kind of dust or dander allergy, you will be thankful you did.

Get in the habit of using your vacuum regularly – Once a week or so is best for keeping little bits of food and debris from the outdoors up. If you have pets, think about how much pet hair is working its way into the little fibers in your carpet. Unless your apartment is massive, it takes a lot less time than you think to run the vacuum.

Spot treat – Stains should be blotted up as best as possible before applying cleaners. Do not rub them in! Use this Martha Stewart page to help find the right stain removal method for each kind of carpet and stain.

Rent a steam cleaner twice a year – If you’re lucky you may know someone who owns one you can hopefully borrow it, but otherwise you can rent one. It will be worthwhile to really deep clean your carpets. If you’re not confident in your steam cleaning abilities there are companies who can be hired to do it for you. Totally worth it so you can breathe easily in your apartment.

Always talk to your property manager before you bring in professional cleaners – they may have a preference or even require tenants to professionally clean the carpets before moving out.

 

How Long Has That Been In There?

spring

Yes, it’s that time of year! It’s time for the spring cleaning to begin if it hasn’t already. There are a million ways to purge, repurpose, reorganize, and straighten your apartment. If you’re not exactly thrilled about the thought of spring cleaning, focus on the sense of accomplishment and peace of mind you’ll feel when you’re done!   If you don’t want to do a total closet overhaul or complete reorganization, then just focus on one easy area: getting rid of old, expired things in the bathroom.

I’m guilty of keeping a bottle of nail polish for 5 years or a bottle of perfume even longer, but these products do actually expire and should be thrown away if they haven’t been used up within their good by date. Most products like this don’t list a specific date on them, but these are the recommended guidelines:

  Medicine – Most medicine is safe beyond its expiration, however if you want to play it safe or you haven’t used something in a very long time and see no need to keep it, use this guide for instructions on how to safely dispose of medications.

Makeup – Makeup will break down once it is opened and oxidize over time. If it has not been opened it has about a 2 year life if stored away from heat and the sun. Mascara is the one to throw away the quickest, after three months. Bacteria can collect, grow, and cause infections if it is kept too long. Pencil eyeliners, eye shadow, pressed powder, and lipstick can be kept for about two years. Liquid facial makeup should be kept no longer than six months.

Sunscreen and Lotion – about three years is the limit to sunscreen’s effectiveness and it should be thrown out if it starts to smell bad. Lotion does not have any active ingredients, but some ingredients will break down after this time.

Perfume – Perfume lasts about 3-5 years, or longer. There is a little bit of debate as to how much perfume really breaks down over time. One trick fragrance enthusiasts swear by is storing it in the refrigerator where it is safe from sunlight and heat. So you may just want to move your fancy smells to the fridge.

The Safe Way to Keep Your Apartment Spider-Free

spiders

Spiders are a wonderful part of the ecological structure. They help keep pesky insects in check, which most people are thankful for. The bad part is, when it starts getting cooler outside, these little eight legged things come inside and hang out with all of us. Frequently, they are relatively harmless. Unfortunately some arachnids are venomous and potentially very dangerous. Widows and Recluse spiders are native to Northern and Central Florida and both can cause severe illness or permanent tissue damage, so it’s needless to say they are not always welcome inside the apartment.

If you want to keep the spiders out, you can buy a regular chemical based spray to kill them. But these chemicals are harsh and also potentially dangerous to yourself and your pets. There are simple, natural solutions to thwarting spiders: they dislike vinegar, citrus, and peppermint. Mixing ingredients in a spray bottle, combine water and about 15 drops of essential oils, or use equal parts water and vinegar. Shake the contents well and spray around the interior perimeter of the apartment. Remember to shake the bottle well anytime before you use the solution.

Another alternative is using sticky glue traps, which you can find in the supermarket. Make sure to keep your apartment neat and clean. The less mess you have, the less there is to attract pests of any kind. Always check your shoes before you put them on (spiders love a nice dark environment and frequently hide in shoes) and shake out clothes or blankets that have been lying around before you use them.

(photo credit: brainlesstales.com)

Spring’s A Long Way Away: Commence the Fall Cleaning

closet

Most of the time we associate the emptying of closets and deep cleaning with spring, but there’s a good argument for repeating this process in the autumn months as well. Inevitably, most of us will have to change our wardrobe at least slightly to accommodate the cooler winter months. De-cluttering before the holidays is another reason to tackle the mess now. If there is less clutter, generally means there will be less additional holiday stress. If for no other reason, it’s good to divide the mess up into a biannual exercise instead of leaving it all for spring!

The first step is to remove everything from your closet(s) (Maybe just tackle one closet at a time!). Clean the floor and baseboards in your closet and dust the shelves. Organize your clothing items into piles: cool weather/winter attire, warm weather/summer attire. Then systematically go through one pile at a time and sort further: things to keep, things to donate, things to throw away. Once this step is complete for both summer and winter piles, pack away summer clothes and organize the winter clothes   Now you can take inventory of your cool weather clothes that are easy to look through in your freshly cleaned and organized closet. This will make it easier to see what you may need to add for the upcoming season!

(photo credit: pinkmintkiss.tumblr.com)

Cleaning Habits to Embrace Now So You Don’t Have to Clean Later

Nobody likes an all day cleaning extravaganza, but if you don’t want your place to constantly look like a well lived-in bachelor pad, embracing some simple tidy habits may help in the long run. If consistently practiced, cleaning your apartment will be like a dream (not a nightmare)!

 

  1. Make the Bed – It doesn’t sound like much, and Mama always said to, but it can REALLY help your place look put together and tidy. And the best part is, this only takes about a minute to do.
  2. Put Clothes Away – Stop dropping them all over the floor as you change your clothes when you come home. Or if you’re like me, put away the 30 different articles of clothing you got out so you could decide what to wear. Nothing is messier looking than clothes littered around the apartment.
  3. Don’t Let the Dishes Stack Up – As miserable as it is to cook dinner and also have to clean up, it’s best to do this dishes immediately after you eat. Otherwise they will sit there and look nasty, stinking up your lovely apartment. If you have a dishwasher, you’ve got it easy. Otherwise, throw those gloves on and scrub. You’ll be glad when you don’t have to look at that mess the next morning.
  4. Lots of Nice Looking Baskets – Easily contain little messes in baskets. Stray cords and cables, mail, pens, doodads, knick knacks, thingamajigs – throw them in a basket.
  5. Clean Up as You Go – Taking care of little things as they happen relieves cleaning stress later. Wiping up coffee rings, throwing away excess paper or packaging from purchases, organizing a little here and there while you think of it. It all helps in the long run! Embrace these good habits!

Dos and Don’ts for Using Vinegar in Your Apartment

Vinegar truly is a miraculous substance. It has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties which make it perfect for cleaning with. In turn, you can use fewer expensive chemical cleaners, benefitting the environment and also your wallet!

Do:

Use vinegar as glass cleaner. Use an equal mixture of white vinegar and hot water to make an excellent glass cleaning solution.

It’s an excellent stain fighter. If you spill red wine on your carpet, use a mixture of vinegar and warm water to remove the stain. It can also remove ink stains from fabrics by soaking overnight in a solution of two parts milk to one part vinegar.

Grout – Use a solution of vinegar and dish soap to make a great dirt fighting compound for grout

Clogged drains – pour equal parts (use a small amount) vinegar and baking soda into a clogged drain and let set. After 30 min., pour boiling water over to flush out.

Don’t:

Hardwood floors – It can eat away the finish on your floors leaving them dull looking. It’s better to use mild soapy water on your hardwood floors.

Knife blades made from carbon steel can be damaged and discolored by vinegar because of its acidity.

Granite countertops – these countertops are very porous and will absorb the vinegar, which is extremely detrimental to this type of material.

Maybe:

Use vinegar in your dishwasher and washing machine. Sources vary on how good of an idea it is to subject your machines to the acidity, but it does help get your clothes and dishes cleaner.