Apartments have a way of transitioning from freshly cleaned spaces to chaotic pits of dirty laundry and dishes, seemingly overnight. We can blame this on any number of factors: the small size of many apartments, the hectic nature of life, or simply the law of entropy. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that many of our apartments are disaster zones. Keeping a clean apartment isn’t impossible, but it does require a plan of action.
Here are some apartment cleaning tips to help keep your place presentable enough for unexpected guests, last-minute parental visits, or a night in with someone special.
Start with a deep clean. If you aren’t in the habit of cleaning regularly, your apartment has probably accumulated dirt and grime in places you never think about. Unless you take care of that deeply embedded dirt first, subsequent cleanings won’t be as effective. What kinds of dirty places are we talking about? Think ceiling fans, window shades, air vents, and if you have them, those cracks between the stove and countertops. Remove everything from your shelves and cabinets and clean them. Wash and/or dust the items before you replace them. Refrigerator shelves and bins also need to be periodically washed to remove stains, spills, and that weird smell that develops in dirty refrigerators. Does your cleaning expertise only extend as far as washing the dishes and picking up your clothes off the floor? If so, you may have realized that you don’t really know how to clean an apartment. Luckily, lots of other people do.
Hire a cleaning service. If you have some spare cash, you can hire an apartment cleaning service to do the deep clean for you. Chances are, they’ll do a more effective job in a shorter time. Alternately, you can ask friends and neighbors if they use someone special to clean their apartments. Apartment cleaning services may be more willing than housekeepers to come in only once or on an as needed basis. If you decide to use a service, don’t leave the house when they come to clean. Instead, stick around and see if you can learn something. Pay attention to the products they use. After all, these are the people who know best. If you have more domestically inclined friends or family members, you can entice them into helping you (for this one time only!) with promises of dinner or drinks or tickets. Your mother might be more willing to help you start your life of cleanliness if you present her with theatre tickets for later in the week.
Schedule your cleaning time. Whether you live alone, with a partner, or with roommates, setting aside time to clean will help keep the mess from piling up. If you’re splitting the workload with others, you can give each person his or her own workday, specific tasks, or particular rooms to keep clean. Whatever system you choose, make sure the apartment is cleaned once a week. It doesn’t take long for clothes to pile up on the floor, garbage to overflow, or dishes to fill the sink. If you tackle the mess at least once a week, it can only get so far out of control.
Keep on top of bathrooms and carpets. You can leave dirty laundry on the floor for months and nothing bad will ever come of it (unless your laundry is dirty in ways we can’t imagine). But if you never clean your bathroom, you’re in for bigger problems. Shower mold, mildew, toilet stains, and loose bathroom tiles only grow worse if you neglect them. If you’ve ever moved into an apartment that wasn’t fully renovated, you’re probably familiar with the blackened grime that grows in the bathtub and the frosted white film on the shower doors. The longer you go without cleaning these surfaces, the harder the dirt, muck, and bacteria are to remove. Happily, all microscopic things growing in the bathroom can be removed by regularly applying a simple shower spray and toilet bowl cleaner. When tiles feel loose in the bathroom, don’t wait until they crack and dislodge to do something. Make a quick trip to the hardware store or inform your landlord or super of the damage.
The same care should be applied to carpets and upholstered furniture. Don’t let a stain linger on the carpet or couch. Treat the stained area immediately before it sets and becomes a permanent problem. Even if you use a cleaning service, have some basic carpet cleaner on hand or familiarize yourself with household items that work well with stains. That dark patch under the coffee table might not seem like a big deal now, but it will become a problem when you’re trying to get your security deposit back.
Do a little at a time. If you know you’ll have trouble sticking to your new cleanliness resolutions, resolve to clean a little at a time each night. Even if all you do is wash a dish and a plate, you’ve made a small impact. Doing a little bit of housework each day will help you develop a habit and make cleaning something you won’t even need to think about anymore.