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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!


How to Clean a Refrigerator: 5 All-Natural Fridge Cleaning Hacks

You’ve been there before. Craving a snack or looking for dinner ingredients, you open the fridge, and whew! What is that smell?

Sometimes, even after a thorough cleaning, fridge smells can linger. Read on for 5 all-natural  fridge cleaning hacks for freshening up your refrigerator. (These quick eco-friendly tips go far beyond the tried-and-true box of baking soda).

orange peel air freshener

Fill a hollowed out citrus peel with salt for an all-natural air freshener perfect for the fridge. (Photo courtesy eHow.com)

Eco-friendly Fridge Cleaning Hacks

  1. Coffee Grounds

Spread freshly ground coffee evenly on a plate or shallow dish, and place it in the fridge for 24 hours. The coffee will absorb any rogue odors and also give off an energizing scent. Not a coffee drinker? You can also place several tea bags (or loose leaf tea) on a plate for the same effect.

  1. Citrus

Choose your favorite citrus (we recommend navel oranges or grapefruit for their size, but lemons and limes will work, too) and cut it in half. Scoop out one half completely so you’re left with a bowl-shaped hollow. Fill with sea salt and place in the fridge for a citrusy, neutralizing scent!

  1. Vanilla Extract

This baking staple has a hidden purpose: creating a soft, lovely scent for your fridge. Pour a bit of vanilla extract into a small dish, then place a few cotton balls inside. The cotton will soak up the vanilla extract and slowly release its aroma into the fridge.

  1. Tomato Juice

Perhaps you’ve heard of tomato juice’s deodorizing powers for anyone who encounters a skunk. The same holds true for your fridge. Simply soak a cloth or sponge in undiluted tomato juice and wipe down your fridge’s surfaces. Rinse with soapy water, then wipe dry. You can repeat the process (or try substituting vinegar) for any lingering smells.

  1. Alka-Seltzer

Similar to baking soda, Alka-Seltzer is an oxidizing agent that can neutralize unpleasant scents. Drop a couple of tablets into a glass of water and place in the fridge to help mitigate odor.

Remember, setting your fridge at a proper temperature is an easy, preventive step to avoid odors in the first place. Learn how to ensure your fridge and freezer are at the right temperature here.

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A New Method for De-cluttering

De-cluttering is often at the top of our to-do list at the start of a New Year – it’s the second-most popular New Year’s Resolution. We know the tried-and-true tactics (tackling one room at a time, donating items, etc.), but The New York Times alerted us to a new method we hadn’t considered. Their article “Kissing Your Socks Goodbye” from October of last year focused on a Japanese organization expert and her two simple tips for creating a clutter-free home.

organized closet

Joy may be the key to a clutter-free closet. (Photo courtesy Rubbermaid Products on Flickr)

Rather than getting mired in questions like “Have I worn this item in two years?” or “Do I have a specific upcoming event where I will need this item?” expert Marie Kondo advises her clients to ask themselves a simple question: “Does this item bring me joy?” The other tenant of her de-cluttering technique is that we do not need additional storage – our homes already have adequate storage for everything we need.

Try using the joy method next time you de-clutter. Plan to take a close look at your things and see how they make you feel. Sure, that old sweatshirt might be threadbare, but if it takes you back to a time and place that’s memorable for you, we say keep it! Do you furrow your brow when your eyes land on that dress with the tags still on? If you feel guilty for not wearing it yet, it’s certainly not bringing you joy: donate it instead.

Consider smaller items, too – you may have a picture you love but it’s in a frame that doesn’t spark joy within you. Toss the frame. You can reframe the picture in a frame you love, which will only amplify the feelings of happiness and joy you associate with the photo itself.

If this method feels too unconventional for you, then it’s not bringing you joy! Skip it in favor of more traditional de-cluttering tips: our blog features plenty of posts designed to keep you organized.


Beautify Your Space with Bathroom De-Cluttering Tips

The bathroom is a great place to relax with a soothing bath or steaming hot shower, but it’s also one of the biggest hubs for clutter. Bathrooms often lack ample storage, and with so many bottles (medicine, shampoo, body wash) requiring designated space, it’s easy for clutter to take hold. Read on for pretty, easy bathroom de-cluttering tips you can take to make your bathroom a place of respite, not mess.

Folding towels properly is an easy way to maximize space. (Photo courtesy missmac on Flickr)

Folding towels properly is an easy way to maximize space. (Photo courtesy missmac on Flickr)

  1. Divide and conquer. Bathroom drawers are often as jam-packed as junk drawers, and as messy, too. Insert drawer dividers, available in a variety of sizes, to create instant order. Use them for makeup and accessories, or create an organized drawer for your most-used toiletries like toothpaste, floss, and face wash.
  2. Think vertically. Wall space is a viable yet underused storage option. Placing towel racks and hooks (3M Command hooks are especially good for renters) on the wall creates instant storage for towels and robes. You can even create a DIY caddy to hang for extra storage.
  3. Fold on. Big, fluffy bath towels can take up precious real estate in the bathroom closet. Use this technique to fold them neatly, which will maximize your space. If the bathroom also doubles as a linen closet, try bundling your blankets and sheets together.
  4. Brush up your brush display. With a bit of decorating finesse, you can transform your makeup brushes into a centerpiece for the bathroom counter: like a floral display, but functional! Use a pretty glass container and fill it with clear or colored glass beads to hold your brushes in place. You can even transform a gelato container – the perfect excuse to buy ice cream.

Bathroom Design Ideas

Just like the kitchen, there are many great bathroom décor options to implement in your apartment. There’s always a need for more hooks in the bathroom for towels, robes, etc. and damage-free hooks, like those sold by Command, are perfect for adding more hanging options. Wire mesh organizers are excellent bathroom design solutions for the vanity, as are caddies for the shower to neatly consolidate all of your toiletries.

Bathroom Furniture Essentials

Towels – This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when furnishing the bathroom. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of hand towels and larger shower towels. Before you make your purchase, think about what color or design would complement the look of your bathroom and the other elements, including the shower curtain and bath mat. Find something that matches your personality, whether it’s a funky pattern, solid subdued color or bright multi-toned color scheme.

Bath mats – When shopping for your bathroom suite, make sure to get a bath mat to lay down in front of the shower to absorb excess moisture. Think about the rest of your bathroom design and pick a color or pattern that meshes well for a cohesive bathroom design.

Storage caddies – These toiletry containers come in handy for organizing shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razors, sponges, etc. all in one place so it’s easily found and accessible.

Toothbrush holder – This is an essential vanity item to store your toothbrush in a place where you won’t lose it.

Soap – This is a no-brainer, but hand soap has really reached a new level over the past few years. Brands like Mrs Meyer’s offer incredibly fresh fragrances like basil.

Shower Curtain – Here’s another chance to showcase your own design aesthetic and personality. No matter if you prefer a basic shower curtain or a creative, whimsical design, there are plenty of patterns out there to choose from.

Flair – Don’t be shy with your bathroom design! Add flowers, pictures, art, and anything else to put the finishing touches on this room in your apartment!

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Related posts: Must Know Refrigerator Organization TipsApartment Spring Cleaning ChecklistHow to Clean a Refrigerator: 5 All-Natural Fridge Cleaning Hacks

 


Non-Toxic Cleaning Products Made from Items You Have in Your Kitchen

In our modern world, there are toxins everywhere, and cutting them out of your life is just about impossible, but cutting down on the toxins you consume and encounter is possible. Making your own cleaning products using things you already have in the house not only saves you money, but it is a great way to clean your home the green way. You’d be surprised the cleaning power of some of these items!
Natural-CleanersVegetable Oil — Oil and water don’t mix, but oil and oil work wonders. For cleaning oil-based ink and paint off of surfaces throughout your home, as well as brushes and hands, allow vegetable oil to soak on the ink or paint, then wipe it away with a dry towel or rag.

Soy Sauce – Getting rid of grease can be tough, but a little bit of soy sauce cuts right through it. Try using it on your stove and range hood, as well as baking sheets and more.

Baking Soda, Salt & Lemon – If the smell of garlic, or other foods, linger in the wood of your cutting boards, clean and deodorize them with these three simple ingredients. Sprinkle a little baking soda and salt on your cutting board and scrub it around with lemon juice and a lemon half; let it is for five minutes and rinse it well. Voila!

Baking Soda & Vinegar – Try pouring half a cup of baking soda followed by one or two cups of white vinegar down your drain to clear up clogged/gunky drains. The chemistry of the two helps to clear it up quick. A pot of boiling water helps, too.

Newspaper – When cleaning glass surfaces, a rag will always leave pesky remnants, while wiping with newspaper will get your windows and mirrors streak free and perfect.

Ketchup & Soy Sauce – For polishing copper, you won’t find anything better or easier than ketchup mixed with soy sauce; it works like a charm. For silver, use just the ketchup for great results.