The kitchen is a beloved oasis in any home, yet in a shared space, the kitchen has the explosive potential of a minefield to blow relationships asunder. A grimy, funky, kitchen can divide even the closest of roomies, so it’s important to follow a few general rules of thumb when it comes to caring for shared rooms in a home. Check out a few of the suggestions below and it may just save your friendship!
The Dreaded Dirty Dishes
Mother Goose must’ve been inspired by someone like my old roommate because the pots and pans that accrued in our old sink could’ve grown legs and run off with the dish and the spoon. That is to say, unless your roommate is a mycologist, the sink is no place for experimental growth.
To address such a problem with your own housemate, it’s best to talk things out. Try to work out a schedule to share responsibility. If you prefer each roommate wash their own dishes, set a time limit of one or two hours after each meal that dishes can remain in the sink.
If problems with dishes persist, biodegradable, single-use cutlery and plates are available at just about any grocery store.
In most apartments, kitchen counter space is at a premium. For this reason it’s important to respectfully share space. Save space by keeping cookbooks on a separate bookshelf and keep appliance cords tucked out of the way. Lingering grocery bags and food items also take up valuable space, so put items in drawers or cupboards as soon as you get home from the store.
Odor vs. Aroma
Like so many rooms, the kitchen can smell delightful or appalling. A weekly cleaning will keep general scum at bay and will prevent creepy crawlers from foraging for leftovers in your kitchen.
Food odors are a little trickier. Badly burnt food items, for example, have a terrible odor and should be removed from the kitchen immediately after you ensure the item is not on fire. This might sound silly, but often an item can continue smoldering after it hits the trash. This is especially true of grease fires – don’t douse these in water, as it might spread the flames. Instead use baking soda to extinguish the flames.
The odor of burnt food isn’t the only off-putting kitchen smell, however. Some individuals have strong aversions to scents such as grease, popcorn, or curry; if your housemate has a sensitive nose, be considerate of their opinion. Cook the offending item when your roommate isn’t home and turn on kitchen fans to ensure plenty of ventilation.
If one’s home is a castle, the bathroom is surely the all-important throne room. As such, it is only appropriate that this space is outfitted with finery befitting a king! Luckily for modern gentry, the amenities available for one’s bathroom are markedly more posh than medieval. Consider adding a few of the gizmos below to your throne room to add a little royal treatment to your daily routine.
Notes of Genius
The warmth and tranquility of a soothing hot shower are qualities likely to put one’s mind at ease. With the chattering of the day’s activities locked securely outside the door, the bathroom provides a haven for the mind to wander at leisure. As such, you might have a great idea or two, too, while you’re relaxing. But what can you do with an idea you have in the shower?
Two words – waterproof notepad! AquaNotes has designed such a notepad, complete with suction cup backing to secure the pad to a shower wall. There’s even a pencil included with a suction cup holder to mount alongside the pad.
No Soaps Barred
Liquid is the favored state of soap in the modern day, but the Kikkerland company has introduced a gadget for the bathroom that may just change the tide. The Suction Soap Holder Magnet is designed just for bar soaps. This handy gizmo consists of a suction cup, to be attached to a smooth surface, and an arm with a cap type fixture at the end that suspends the bar of soap. Say goodbye to gooey bar soap messes!
Germ- and Hands-Free
The company that brought the Roomba vacuum cleaner to the modern world, iRobot, is now tackling the toughest room in the house with their robot cleaning machines. The Scooba 230, which retails for just under $300, promises to eliminate 97 percent of common household bacteria on surfaces including linoleum and tile. The Scooba 230 does need to be filled with a special iRobot cleaning solution, but like its Roomba brother, the Scooba 230 is designed to scoot under cabinets and around toilets for the utmost in robot-delivered cleanliness.
Spring is finally here and that means change and new beginnings, not only with the weather, but in your own apartment, too. 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 and what your don’t really use anymore that you can pass on 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.
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.
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.
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Many studies have been conducted on the influence of semiochemicals (fragrances, pheromones, even body odor) on mood and behavior. Essentially, how, and why, do smells make us feel?
There is even an entire lab at Rutgers University dedicated to the study of such matters. One such study, conducted by Professor Jeannettte Haviland-Jones’ Human Emotions Lab, concluded that flowers and flower scents promote happiness. Other scents, according to Vanderbilt University’s Health Psychology department, can promote calm, relaxation, or even rejuvenation.
Any modern department store will have a selection of diffusers, essential oils, and scents, as will many bath and body, candle, and home décor stores. Choosing a signature scent for your apartment will individualize your space, infuse a sense of home, and just might spruce up your attitude, too.
Relax with Pithy Citrus and Earthy Aromas
To promote a relaxing environment, choose a musky scent such as sandalwood or citrusy bergamot. If you’d like your signature home scent to invigorate your space, choose a piney rosemary or cool, spicy peppermint aroma. The scent of lemon promotes high energy and positive mood as well.
To encourage alertness, diffuse the scent of eucalyptus. If you need to ease feelings of tension and anxiety, opt instead for a savory sage scent.
Flowers and gardening are certainly “good things” according to media empress Martha Stewart, who enjoys the intoxicating fragrances of freesia, rose, and gardenia.
If you enjoy perfumes or cut flowers, the sky is the limit in terms of scents for your home. If you wish to keep live plants, an apartment renter should choose a sturdy bulb plant such as freesia or tuberose rather than a voluminous, prickly rose bush. Lilies are hearty, fragrant bulb flowers too and they will grow well in a home or on a balcony garden.
The lily family is extensive, including a total of roughly 1,300 species. The selection of bulbs at your local home and garden store won’t be that extensive, but you should be able to find a bevy of ubiquitous varieties including white Easter Lilies, magenta speckled Stargazer Lilies, and orange Tiger Lilies.
If you choose to showcase cut lilies instead, snip and discard the anthers (the pollen-coated bits) from the centers of the lilies to avoid messy pollen dispersion. Garden gurus claim this little trick will extend the shelf life of your flowers, too.
If your clothes have been unfortunate enough to bear the brunt of a spill or stain do not fret! The solution could be as close as your kitchen cabinets and cheaper than the harsh chemicals you would regularly purchase.
For starters, you can create a handy soap jelly which can be a great pre-treatment for stained laundry. You can keep a jar handy in the laundry room:
- To make your soap jelly, all you’ll need are a glass jar, a laundry soap bar (or non-perfume soap bar), and hot water!
- Take your bar of soap and shave it down until the shavings fill half of the jar.
- Fill the rest of the jar with hot water (boiling if the jar can handle that much heat without shattering), then cover with the lid.
- Allow the water to soak into the soap a bit to soften it up, then shake it hard or stir it thoroughly until the soap is dissolved.
- Once the soap is dissolved, allow it to cool completely.
- The soap and water mixture will form a soap jelly that is ideal for using on laundry stains.
- Just apply to any of those stubborn clothing stains using a soft brush.
- Make sure to scrub gently to avoid damaging the cloth.
All stains are not created equal. Here are a few tips on getting out the most difficult stains without ruining your clothing, upholstery, or other fabric and surfaces.
As with any chemical, spot testing in an inconspicuous area beforehand for color fastness is advised.
- Rub hydrogen peroxide gently on clothing and furniture to remove blood.
- Rub moistened corn starch into blood stains on clothing rinsed in cold water. Place clothing in the sun to dry and then run through a normal wash cycle.
- Cover fresh or dry stains with meat tenderizer and sprinkle on cool water. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes and then sponge off with cool water.
- Stains on leather can be treated with hydrogen peroxide, wipe off when the bubbling stops.
- Rub denatured alcohol into the stain and then rinse with water.
- Beat an egg yolk, with a white cloth rub the yolk into the stain and then wipe off.
- Apply a solution of half vinegar and half water and then wash.
Motor Grease/Motor Oil Stains
- Scrape off as much of the grease as possible, on clothing, rub lard or Vaseline into the stain then launder as usual. The lard or Vaseline may ruin some fabrics, for more delicate items; try a spot stain remover instead.
- Red or purple juice can be removed from fabrics by sprinkling salt on the stain as soon as possible. The salt will absorb the liquid forming a paste that can be easily scraped up.
- Use an ice cube to harden the gum and then a dull knife to chip it carefully away.
- Cooking spray will also help remove gum from clothing and from hair.
- FUN FACT: Gum on your face? Use more gum to blot it off!
Red Wine Stains
- If you’re at a wine gathering and get red wine spilled on your shirt or blouse, someone else’s white wine may help to save the day! Grab a napkin to dab the wine and neutralize it from dripping elsewhere on your clothing. Then, if you have a bottle or glass of white wine handy, pour it over the red wine stain and thoroughly dab it.
- As crazy as it may sound, white wine will neutralize the red wine and make the stain vanish! With the stain neutralized, you can throw the item of clothing in with your next load of laundry. But, beware! Make sure the stain is completely gone before you toss your item in with the other laundry! The heat of the dryer will cause the stain to set if it’s still present, making it a permanent part of the garment. The same rule applies to an iron, so never iron a stained piece of clothing!
- You can also use a dab of shaving cream (the kind in the can) to remove red wine stains from upholstery. To remove a wine stain from clothing, soak the fabric in boiling milk.
- Toothpaste or an ammonia soaked cloth will remove crayon marks from painted walls.
PREVENTION: Crayola now produces crayons which are washable!
- Use a pencil eraser to remove black heel marks from flooring. Before washing the floor, rubbing toothpaste on the mark will also help in removal.
Ink, Ballpoint Pen
- Saturate fabric with an alcohol based hair spray then blot the stain with a rag (not a paper towel), and then wash as usual. This method may ruin some sensitive fabrics like silk, always spot test this method to make sure you don’t make a bigger mess than what you started with.
Magic Marker Stains
- Hairspray will remove marker from hard surfaces and some fabrics. Some permanent markers are just that permanent. Some may fade with repeated washings.
Nail Polish Stains
- Acetone will remove this from most fabrics but synthetic fibers (ex. Polyester, carpet) will dissolve with acetone use. Check the label of your clothing before using acetone.
- If you spill nail polish on a wood surface, do NOT wipe it up while it is still wet, doing so will remove the color from the wood. Wait until the polish is dry and then scrape it off gently with a credit card.
- Cover oil stains on fabric with talcum powder, then cover with a paper towel and hot iron the fabric. Launder as usual.
- Believe it or not, fresh rye bread can remove pencil marks from non-washable wallpaper.
Candle Wax Residue
- Place a piece of facial tissue over the stain and hot iron on top. The wax will melt into the tissue and away from your fabric.
- Candle wax can be removed from hard floors by using a hair dryer and paper towels to absorb the wax once it melts.
Bookmark this page to remember how to deal with stains and spots!