The Best Ways to Use Essential Oils in Your Home

Essential oils have become a popular addition to self-care regimens, but they’re also useful for a number of household needs. So, what is an essential oil? According to Wikipedia, they’re “concentrated hydrophobic liquids containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.” Essential oils have been traditionally used for aromatherapy, but more and more people are incorporating them into their day-to-day lives. The great thing about these concentrated liquids is their versatility. They’re also a great natural alternative to chemical cleaners.

Essential Oils To Use

Lavender is one of our favorite essential oils for cleaning our homes and healing our skin!

There are dozens of essential oils you can choose from, but there are a few specific options that are ideal for home use. According to Keeper of the Home, they are:

  • Lavender
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Frankincense
  • Tea Tree
  • Oregano
  • Wild Orange

Lavender is a staple scent, and you can find lavender perfumes and house sprays at almost any home goods store. It’s a soothing scent, but it’s also a great topical agent for fresh cuts. It acts as an antibacterial serum when applied undiluted. Burned yourself cooking? Apply lavender to ease the pain. Heading out to walk down one of our garden paths? Use it to ward off insects as a natural repellant.

If you combine 5 drops of eucalyptus and 5 drops of tea tree oil to a 16-ounce water bottle, you have a mold-fighting bathroom spray that smells great. Lemon oil disinfects quick, which can prolong the life of your dish sponges, and it disintegrates stubborn substances like wax, sticker residue, and gum.  Peppermint can keep bugs away from your home. Use a cotton swab to brush your windows and doors with the crisp, minty oil and those flying pests will stay away.

You can find essential oils in pharmacies and supermarkets across the area. There are also boutiques that create proprietary oils if you prefer an immersive experience.

Tea tree oil has a lot of great topical uses, but it’s also an amazing antifungal and antibacterial cleaning option. Mix it with water and lemon oil to clean your high traffic areas with ease. After you’re done fighting germs, soothing burns, and stopping bugs from invading your space, take your favorite scent and diffuse it for a relaxing end to your essential oil home improvement project. You deserve it!

Apartment Living Tips: Kitchen Organization Space Saving Hacks

One of the most frequently used rooms in any home or apartment is the kitchen, but for many people, it can also be one of the most stressful. Sometimes it feels like there just isn’t enough room to prep and cook dinner or store all of your dishes and pantry items.

Organizing a kitchen properly can not only make the kitchen neater, but more practical. By incorporating a few simple space saving hacks, you can create a much more peaceful and enjoyable kitchen experience.

A sleek, modern kitchen with plenty of cabinet space awaits you at our brand new Artesia apartment community in Covington, LA.

A sleek, modern kitchen with plenty of cabinet space awaits you at our brand new Artesia apartment community in Covington, LA.

Organize Your Pantry

If your kitchen pantry has no rhyme or reason to it, it can quickly get out of control if you’re not careful. When this happens, food items, spices, paper products and anything else you keep in your kitchen pantry can become disorganized, messy and hard to find. There are simple ways to tidy up the kitchen pantry and keep it neat so you never have to worry about kitchen clutter again.

Pantry Organizers

Start by purchasing different sized plastic or metal baskets to sort pantry products. Use these to separate pastas, oils, cereal, rice and grains, pet food, tea and coffee, bread and anything else in different bins with labels.

First, remove all items from your pantry and set them on the kitchen counter or table while you wipe down the surfaces inside of the pantry. Throw away anything that is old, empty or that you’re not going to use. Then start sorting the items into the different baskets or bins, except for canned food. After placing the pantry organizer bins on the kitchen pantry shelf, make a spot for the canned food. It’s useful to not only organize items into bins, but organize the bins together by shelf.

After organizing, sorting, and labeling the goods in your kitchen pantry, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to find food you forgot existed. No more thinking you don’t have any groceries in your kitchen when they’re clearly visible right there in front of you!

Keep Your Counters Clear

Keeping your counters clear is key to maintaining your kitchen sanity. Counter space is useful for all sorts of everyday kitchen tasks, from cutting vegetables to making a sandwich. A well-organized kitchen should include plenty of clean counter space.

Wall Hooks

Hooks are great for freeing up counter space. You can find anything from small hooks for coffee mugs to large hooks for pots and pans. If you have nice copper or stainless steel pots, you can show them off. Hanging your kitchen supplies is a great way to functionally decorate. But remember, these hooks can only be hung in our apartments with finishing nails!

Magnets

There are several magnetic kitchen storage devices that can keep important items out of your way. Magnetic knife strips are a great way to keep knives easily accessible and off the counter tops. Try a custom wooden option like this one. You can also incorporate a DIY magnetic spice rack into your decor. These spice racks are fun, unique, and free up plenty of cupboard space.

Open Storage

If you find yourself needing more cabinet space, look for a cute bookcase or china cabinet to keep near the kitchen. You can use it to store items like pretty glassware, dry food stored in matching jars, cookbooks, and indoor plants. A bookcase can make for beautiful decoration while serving a valuable, space-saving purpose.

Streamline Your Drawer Dilemma

Kitchen drawers often become a place to toss all sorts of things, but with a little planning, your drawers can feel much more orderly.

Drawer Organizers

Everyone has that wretched “everything” drawer filled with scissors, random envelopes, and soy sauce packets. Use utensil trays, small plastic bowls or baskets, and drawer separators to keep everything in its place and easy to find.

With an open floor plan like this one at Artesia apartments, you'll want to keep your kitchen tidy and organized!

With an open floor plan like this one at Artesia apartments, you’ll want to keep your kitchen tidy and organized!

Enjoy Your Kitchen!

After you’re all done organizing your kitchen, get creative and pick a recipe you’ve been wanting to try out. Cooking with a clean canvas is always the best way!

Enjoy ample kitchen pantry space at 1st Lake’s apartment communities, like the Artesia apartment community in Covington. The modern, state of the art kitchens at Artesia feature energy efficient appliances with double stainless steel sinks, multi-tone granite counter tops, and custom cabinetry.

If you’re looking for a more spacious and modern kitchen to cook in and clean, check out the available metro New Orleans apartments from 1st Lake Properties!

Don’t Forget to Spring Clean These Unexpected Spots

Chances are that after Mardi Gras, most people’s apartments could use a good scrubbing. There’s no better feeling than a clean space, but it’s easy to forget to clean certain areas. We’ve collected a list of spring cleaning tips focused on commonly forgotten areas – give these places a good scrubbing, and you’ll notice a difference in your home’s overall appearance and feel while also reducing germs, dirt, and grime.

A sparklingly clean kitchen at Surf Rider apartments in Metairie.

Unexpected Spots to Clean

Crevices between Appliances

Have you noticed crumbs or food stuck in the tiny gap between your oven range and countertop? Use a crevice attachment on your vacuum or a long, thin duster to capture grime between nooks and crannies.

Tops of Appliances

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Dirt and dust can accumulate on top of appliances like microwaves, refrigerators, and stove vents – clean these areas to remove months of buildup in one simple swipe!

Ceiling Fan

Similarly to the tops of appliances, ceiling fans can collect dust and grime on the tops of their blades. Use the pillowcase trick so that dust doesn’t fall onto the floor!

Electronics

Did you know your television remote control could be one of the germ-covered items in your home? Use a disinfectant wipe or spray to clean between the buttons and on the front and back of the remote. Remember to clean other oft-handled small appliances, too, like keyboards and tablets.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Have you ever cleaned your salt and pepper shakers individually? Probably not – but you should! Like the remote or shared tablet, salt and pepper shakers are used by everyone in the household every day.

Soap Dispenser

Similar to salt and pepper shakers, your soap dispenser is an oft-used item that can accumulate germs and grime. Wipe it down each time you clean your kitchen or bathroom countertops.

House Plants

Use a duster on house plants like orchids or ferns. The plants will immediately look brighter and refreshed, plus you’ll be removing surface dirt and grime!

Inside the Fridge

Don’t wait until move-out day to give the fridge a frantic scrub-down. Take your time wiping the insides of all drawers and shelves, and you’re guaranteed to smile every time you open the fridge. You can also refer to these five all-natural methods for cleaning the fridge.

Baseboards

Even if you vacuum and wash the floors, you’ll see a big difference visually if you take the time to wipe down your baseboards with a damp cloth. Dust and small hairs can accumulate easily on baseboards, sullying the overall look of your floors.

Keep It Clean With More Easy Tips

Be sure to read up on more easy cleaning hacks here on our blog, or visit our Pinterest board dedicated to apartment organization and cleaning tips for ideas you can use throughout your apartment!

Must Know Refrigerator Organization Tips

Do you find yourself practically playing a game of Tetris to fit all of your groceries into your refrigerator? Whether you have a smaller fridge or just more refrigerated items than you know what to do with, don’t stress.

How To Organize Your Fridge

There are ways to create more space to make room for everything that needs to be refrigerated. Start with these fridge organization hacks, and read on for the best places to store everything inside your refrigerator:

There are ways to create more space to make room for everything that needs to be refrigerated. Start with these fridge organization hacks, and read on for the best places to store everything inside your refrigerator.

There are ways to create more space to make room for everything that needs to be refrigerated. Start with these fridge organization hacks, and read on for the best places to store everything inside your refrigerator.

Remove packaging

This is a quick and easy fix for products that are taking up more room than necessary. Many products like rice or prepared food come sealed in a bag inside a large, bulky box. By eliminating the packaging, less space will be needed to store the item in the refrigerator.

Cleanse your fridge

Chances are, you have a lot of products that have been sitting in your refrigerator, neglected for a long period of time. Most likely these items include salad dressing and condiments, wilting produce, half-empty bottles of flat soda, frozen popsicles or prepared meals, just to name a few. Make a habit of routinely cleaning out your fridge to throw out the items that have expired or spoiled.

To keep the surfaces of your refrigerator clean, lay down some easily removable cling film on each shelf of your refrigerator to catch spills and crumbs, and remove them and replace as needed.

Organize your groceries

Smartly utilize your refrigerator space by separating different types of food in designated baskets, like condiments, greens, dairy, fruit and meat. Label the containers to keep to a consistent system going and for quick and easy access.

Best Places To Put Everything In Your Fridge:

Did you know that there is a correct method for organizing your fridge and making the most out of your groceries? Follow these tips to maximize your food’s freshness and save money in the process!

On Top of the Fridge

Store things like cookbooks, paper towels and appliances on top of your fridge. NEVER store bread, wine or produce on top of your refrigerator.

Refrigerator Doors

The door is the warmest part of your fridge, so use it to store products that aren’t as sensitive to temperature, such as confinements and sauces, juice, pickles, sodas and bottled water.

Refrigerator’s Upper Shelves

The upper shelves of your fridge have a consistent cold temperature perfect for storing leftovers, drinks, ready-to-eat prepared foods and herbs.

Refrigerator’s Lower Shelves

The lower shelves of your refrigerator are the coldest part of your fridge, which makes them ideal for keeping your milk, eggs, dairy products and raw meat safe.

Crisper Drawers

Your refrigerator has two crisper drawers for a reason. These are made for storing fruits and vegetables separately.

Other Fridge Storage Tips

There are certain things you NEVER want to refrigerate, including tomatoes, onions, squash and potatoes.

Many items in your kitchen pantry can be stored in your fridge if you prefer, like nuts, peanut butter and almond butter, flour and natural oils. Some medications and beauty products are also best when refrigerated.

How does your fridge stack up?

1st Lake Properties offers spacious kitchens with modern appliances at our many convenient New Orleans area apartments that will make refrigerator organization a breeze.

Apartment Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring is finally here and that means change and new beginnings, not only with the weather, but in your own apartment, too.

Whether or not you’re on the messy or neat-freak side of the spectrum, the spring cleaning tradition is always a good annual practice. Spring is all about fresh starts and rebirth, so your apartment should mirror that.

Besides regular chores like putting clothes or dishes away, sweeping, and cleaning the bathroom, this is your chance to pay attention to detail and store, sort, or get rid of extraneous clutter.

Use this guide as a checklist for spring cleaning the areas of your apartment that aren’t usually on the cleaning to-do list:

Get a leg up on spring cleaning with these tips. (Photo via Reader's Digest)

Get a leg up on spring cleaning with these tips. (Photo via Reader’s Digest)

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Around the Apartment

  • Wax wooden furniture with paste wax after cleaning surface with a damp cloth and dish washing liquid.
  • Ensure clean window treatments by machine washing draperies or curtains and wiping down wooden blinds.
  • Change all burned-out lightbulbs.
  • Wipe off dust on ceiling fans with a damp cloth or paper towel.
  • Vacuum and shampoo rugs with an industrial shampoo machine.
  • Use a duster on house plants like orchids or ferns. The plants will immediately look brighter and refreshed, plus you’ll be removing surface dirt and grime!

Kitchen

  • Wipe down walls, ceilings, fronts of cabinets to scrub off any old residue.
  • Clean the tops and sides of appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, and stove vents.
  • Clean the freezer by turning off the power to defrost it, clear out all contents and wipe interior with a solution of two tablespoons baking soda per one quart hot water.
  • Clean crevices between appliances. Use a crevice attachment on your vacuum or a long, thin duster to capture grime between nooks and crannies.
  • Clean salt & pepper shakers and reusable condiment dispensers. Wipe and disinfect the outside of bottles and empty, clean and refill the containers.
  • Clean the inside of the microwave. Heat up water and lemon in a glass container for a few minute prior to cleaning to make removing food particles a breeze.
  • Clean the inside of the fridge.

Living Room

  • Clean and disinfect remote controls and game controllers.
  • Remove any artwork from the walls, dust it, and replace.
  • Take couch cushions and pillows outside, fluff them up, and leave in the sun to air out for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, use a vacuum to clean out the crevices of sofas and armchairs.
  • Clean any curtains (follow their individual instructions) and wipe down windows both inside and out using glass spray.

Bathroom

  • Discard old cosmetic or hygienic products.
  • Deep-clean the toilet using a bleach-based cleaning product.
  • Wipe down all baseboards to instantly brighten the bathroom and give it that “clean” feeling.
  • Wash your shower curtain and replace shower curtain liner.
  • Disinfect and rinse all surfaces including the tub, sink, and faucets. If needed, clean the grout as well.
  • Polish surfaces like sinks, vanity, mirror, and even the toilet paper holder!

Bedroom

  • Clean washable pillows to get rid of any lingering odors or bacteria.
  • Wash all bed linens, including mattress covers.
  • Flip your mattress before replacing clean linens.
  • De-clutter any surfaces like nightstands or desks.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.
  • Remove and clean any artwork or mirrors.

Home Office

  • Clean monitor screens and keyboards of computers.
  • Get rid of any old papers, taking care to recycle when possible.
  • Rearrange daily-use items so that they’re within easy reach.
  • Store items you use less often, like a stapler or envelopes, inside your desk to keep your working surface clean.
  • Clean out your computer, carefully reviewing and deleting any old documents, emails, or photos to free up valuable storage space.
  • De-clutter bookshelves and drawers.

Closets

  • Separate out unwanted clothing and accessories (see below for how to donate these items).
  • Repurpose shower hooks to hang items like belts and handbags.
  • Enlist a friend. Sometimes a second opinion can help you decide what suits you best and what you no longer need.
  • Invest in smart organization pieces like slim hangers and shoe organizers.

Utilities

  • Change batteries in smoke detectors and make sure all units are thoroughly dusted.
  • Replace air filters.

Outdoor Areas

  • Wash windows.
  • Wipe down outdoor furniture.
  • Take care of any outdoor plants, perhaps repotting them or freshening up the soil.

Eliminate Extra Possessions

Part of making room for the new is getting rid of the old, and one of the best ways to do that is to take inventory of your possessions and evaluate what you want to keep.

We love the method outlined in Marie Kondo’s best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The gist is this: starting with your clothing, go through all of your possessions, category by category, and keep only those items that spark joy when you hold them.

Once you’ve decided what to keep, you can pass on the remaining items to others in need. After you’ve gone through your drawers and closets and sorted your discarded items in a donation section, decide where and how to give them away. Use these places below for ideas:

Where to Donate Clothes and Household Items

Shelters – Community shelters in your area are a great option to donate your clothes and household items. Shelters can always use donations and there will always be people who are in need of clothing and other items. Bridge House and Hagar’s House provide services to those in need in the southeast Louisiana region.

Online – We live in a digital era where most things are done online. Freecycle, Craigslist and EBay are free and easy online tools to use to give away your old clothes or appliances. You can manage the entire process by listing the items you want to give away for free or sell, and coordinate your own shipping or delivery.

Clothing Swaps – Another great way to pass on your unwanted items to someone who might be happy to take them, plus discover some new treasure of your own, is to participate a clothing swap. A clothing swap is a gathering of people who all contribute clothing that doesn’t fit or that they don’t need anymore, and anyone can take someone else’s clothing if they choose. If you don’t know of anyone having one, host your own and invite family and friends!

Salvation Army – The Salvation Army is always a great option that accepts all types of donations to sell for a discounted price to underprivileged people, or anyone looking for a bargain. Check your area for Salvation Army drop-off locations.

The Green Project also provides a recycling guide for the greater New Orleans area, with details about local organizations that accept donations of various materials.

If you accomplish all these tasks, you’ll be well on your way to being completely spring cleansed! Other than looking shiny and new, your living space will be rid of dirt and dust that you may have not even been aware of that can make you and your guests sick. So tie your hair back, put on those yellow gloves and spring into action!

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