Tips for Helping You Declutter Your Room of Shame

There’s a fun game of cognitive dissonance many of us play when it comes to messes in our apartment. For me, it’s something of an object permanence issue: As a child, I briefly believed that I turned invisible when I closed my eyes, and as an adult, I tend to treat rooms I’m not looking at as a problem for Future Michelle.

Young woman laying in a pile of clothing and shoesYoung woman laying in a pile of clothing and shoes

Take, for example, the spare bedroom in my first apartment. It was going to become an office “once I got around to it,” but in the meantime, I used it as storage – where “storage” translates roughly to “place I put random junk.” This seemed like a sustainable model for maybe a month. I admitted it was a problem at three months, at which point I closed the door and resolved to “dedicate a weekend to it.”

I pretty much ignored the room for the remainder of my lease, thinking of it only when I pushed the door open to toss in some other item for which I had no real use. Each visit back into my spare bedroom filled me with an increasing sense of dread, slightly hampered by a noncommittal promise to myself to declutter it as soon as I could.

Now I live in a much smaller apartment, and every time I agonize over my lack of space, I mentally kick myself for not taking advantage of what I once had. For those who are currently living with a room of shame, there is hope – here’s some advice for getting to the other side of your mess:

Step 1: Admit It

You can’t deal with a problem until you acknowledge it’s there. Maybe you’ve already done this, deep down in your heart, but you’ve been pretending things are fine: They’re not. Things have snuck up on you, and now the room is totally out of control. Admit that it’s time to take back your life.

Step 2: Call in Reinforcements

Even the strongest people can’t take on everything alone. Ask your closest (and least judgmental) friends to help you handle your disaster room. Depending on whether your mess has been in or out of sight, you may need to admit your problem to them as you have to yourself. There’s a good chance they’ll tell you it’s not that bad. They’re probably being polite, but you’ll feel better about it anyway.

If things have gotten completely out of hand, consider hiring a professional organizer. Not only will this person be able to help you declutter the room, but he or she will empower you to avoid clutter in the future.

Step 3: Plan Your Approach

Unless you have a ton of storage space somewhere that you’ve been ignoring in favor of your room of shame, the odds are good you’re going to be throwing a lot of stuff away. Come up with three piles – keep, donate, and toss – and get heartless with your junk. Unless something has serious sentimental value, get rid of it if you haven’t used or looked at it in the last year.

Figure out what you’re going to do with the things you keep. Maybe you already have some designated places for these items that you just haven’t been using. If not, you’ll need to figure out where everything goes – don’t fall into the “I’ll just stick it here” trap that got you into this mess in the first place.

Step 4: Do the Work

It’s easier said than done, I know. Clear a day or two out of your schedule and formally announce that these are the days you’re working. Take pictures of the disaster before you start to clean, and if you’re feeling particularly brave post them online. Adding a caption, “After pic to come,” will give you plenty of motivation to follow through.

You may need to block out additional slots of time after the Big Day to do a finer sorting of your items. For example, you might find a place to put all your random documents and letters when you’re cleaning, but you should also spend some time actually organizing the papers themselves. That said, feel free to post your “after” picture once the room looks great.

Step 5: Bask

Once you’re all done, bask in the glory of your own achievements. Smile at all the comments your friends and family left on your after pic. Invite people over and experience the pure joy of hearing, “Wow, your apartment is so well-organized! I wish mine looked like this.” Sit alone in your apartment and marvel at how much space you suddenly have. This is your time. Enjoy it.




Apartment Cleaning: Free Downloadable Chore Wheel

One of the most difficult situations roommates face is deciding who will take care of what chores. Obviously each roommate is in charge of keeping his or her bedroom and bathroom clean, but what about common areas? Who does the dishes and who vacuums?

Before you and your roommate resort to fisticuffs over who will take out the trash, consider an easier, more peaceful solution: A chore wheel. This simple DIY project will take you less than 10 minutes to create, and when it’s done, you’ll have an easy way to divide up household chores. You and your roommate(s) will trade off tasks so everyone does their part and no one is stuck with the chore they hate for very long.

Ready to ditch the pigsty? Download and assemble our free chore wheel to restore order to your apartment.

What you’ll need:

  • Chore wheel templates (download links are below)
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker
  • Hole punch
  • Paper fastener

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 1: Download one of the following chore wheel templates, depending on how many people live in your apartment.

  • Two people: If your household consists of you and just one roommate, download this template. Your wheel will contain either six or eight chores – your choice.
  • Three people: If your household is you and two roommates, download this template. Your wheel will contain six chores.
  • Four people: If your household is you and three roommates, download this template. Your wheel will contain eight chores.

Step 2: Print out the chore wheel template you downloaded. You don’t have to print in color, but doing so will make your chore wheel a lot prettier.

Step 3: Cut out each circle.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 4: Glue each circle to a piece of cardboard.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 5: Cut the cardboard to match the circle. Now you should have two circles with cardboard backing.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 6: On the bigger circle, write your name and the names of your roommate(s) in each section. On the smaller circle, assign each section to a different household chore. You might label it like this:

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

The exact labels are up to you, and they depend on what sorts of cleaning your apartment needs. For example, if your apartment has stairs, you might put “vacuum stairs” in one section, but if not, you might use that section for “dust bookshelves” or something else.

Try to keep big chores on opposite sides of the chore wheel. For example, doing the dishes can be a big task, but taking out the trash only takes a few minutes. Try to make sure each roommate will take on a similar workload each week.

Step 7: When both circles are labeled, punch a hole in the center of each one. You can use a hole punch, or bore a hole in each circle with the pointy end of a sharp knife. (Just remember to place a cutting board underneath, and be careful!)

Step 8: Push the paper fastener through the hole to join the two circles together.

Your chore wheel is complete! To use it, just twist the top wheel so certain sections line up with each roommate’s name. That person will be in charge of those chores for the amount of time you choose together. For example, this week Courtney will be in charge of taking out the trash, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom, while Betty will clean the kitchen, dust and pick up the living room.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

You can switch it up every week, every other week, or as often as you like. Now responsibilities are reversed.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

You could also move the top wheel one wedge at a time instead of flipping it 180 degrees. You and your roommate(s) can decide what works best for your household.




Green Tips for A Naturally Clean Kitchen

Employ these natural cleaning methods on your kitchen cleaning checklist, and you’ll not only cut down on dreaded clean-up time, you’ll keep harsh chemicals out of the kitchen and away from your food.

The sauce-spattered microwave

We all know how easy it is to forget cleaning out the microwave. This addictive kitchen appliance typically gets quite a bit of daily use, so what happens when you forget those stains and splatters in the microwave? The splatters congeal and stick, becoming tough to clean.

Try this: Fill a microwave-safe bowl about 75% full with water and add half a lemon, cut into slices. Place this bowl in the microwave for 4-5 minutes on high. Put on your oven mitts and remove the bowl after a few minutes of “steaming.” The stains will be much easier to wipe away, not to mention the fresh smell that lingers in your microwave.

The food-encrusted cast iron skillet

Cast-iron skillets are kitchen treasures. You can use them for cooking on the stovetop or baking cornbread or a frittata in the oven, so it’s common to find some gunk left behind. You should never use soap or chemicals on your cast iron, and water that’s not completely dried will cause rust.  

Try this: Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into your cast iron skillet, then add about one tablespoon of sea salt. With this mixture and a clean cloth, scrub the skillet clean and wipe out all of the remaining salt for a clean, “seasoned” skillet.

Sticky floors and messy countertops

It doesn’t take much time to end up with a sticky floor or messy countertop from your kitchen adventures.  How to clean kitchen countertops?  Finding a multi-purpose kitchen spray that’s strong enough for counters, stovetops, ovens, and floors can be a lifesaver for various kitchen messes.

Try this: Make your own multi-purpose kitchen spray without chemicals. (This could potentially be used on your floors, but do some experimenting if you have wood or special laminates). This all-natural spray could also double as a bathroom cleaning aid.

  • Start saving all of your citrus peels (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit) in a large glass jar. Depending on how much fruit you consume, this could take a little while.
  • Once you’ve filled your jar at least halfway, pour in enough white vinegar to cover your peels and fill the jar. Place the lid on the jar and store it in a dark area for at least two weeks.  (Even longer is better). 
  • After the infusion period, strain the peels from your citrus mixture using a strainer, colander or strong cheesecloth. Throw away the peels: you no longer need them.
  • Use a funnel to pour your remaining citrus mixture into a spray bottle and there’s the answer to “how to clean kitchen countertops.”  

These are just a few ways to clean your kitchen without chemicals. Let us know what your favorites are, in the comments!




Top 5 Apartment DIY Skills Every Renter Should Know

© 2021 RentPath Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. All photos, videos, text and other content are the property of RentPath Holdings, Inc. APARTMENT GUIDE and the APARTMENT GUIDE Trade Dress are registered trademarks of RentPath Holdings, Inc or its affiliates.


Bathroom Cleaning Hacks: The 25 Best Tricks of All Time

We use our bathrooms every single day, so it’s extremely important to keep them clean.

Not only is it nicer to look at, but a clean bathroom is also better for your health as you won’t be inhaling as many dust particles that trigger allergies or dealing with harmful mold. But where to begin? Here are 25 bathroom cleaning hacks to keep your bathroom neat and squeaky-clean.

1. Use vinegar as a natural glass cleaner

This is the easiest of all of our bathroom cleaning hacks. Instead of grabbing a bottle of commercial glass cleaner, use white vinegar. Apply it the same way you would any other glass cleaner — just spray it on, then wipe it down. There are no harmful chemicals or unknown ingredients — just vinegar.

2. Wipe down mirrors with newspapers

Recycle your old newspapers by using them to wipe down your glass and mirrors. Use them in place of paper towels or cleaning rags to get a streak-free shine that won’t leave behind as many dust particles.

A mirror fogged up with condensation from the shower bathroom cleaning hacksA mirror fogged up with condensation from the shower bathroom cleaning hacks

3. Keep mirrors from fogging with shaving foam

If you’re tired of your mirror fogging up from a hot shower, use shaving foam to keep it from happening altogether. Spray some of the foam onto the mirror and use your hand to rub it all over. Use a towel and wipe it away using circular motions until the mirror looks clean. This will stop mirror fog for a couple of weeks. When it stops working again, reapply!

4. DIY a drain cleaning solution

Bathroom drains can slowly become clogged with dirt, hair, and even soap residue. You can do a quick, easy, affordable drain cleaning with baking soda, vinegar and hot water.

Pour a small pot of boiling water down the drain, then one cup of baking soda. Mix together a cup of vinegar and a cup of water and add it, too. Wait about 10 minutes, then dump another pot of boiling water down the drain to rinse everything away.

Even if a drain seems fine, don’t wait until its completely clogged before you clean it. Performing this every few weeks will keep it from ever getting clogged and causing more serious plumbing issues later on.

5. Get rid of toilet stains with soda

Toilets can get some serious stains over time and some of them are difficult to clean. Rid your toilet of stains with coke. You can actually use coke to clean your toilet just by pouring it in, letting it sit for a few minutes and scrubbing it with a toilet brush. No more stains!

Black and white title floor in a white bathroom with plants. Black and white title floor in a white bathroom with plants.

6. Vacuum before and after

Start off your cleaning by vacuuming as many surfaces as possible to remove dust and hair. This will make it much easier when you scrub things down or wipe them off. Once you’ve done all of your cleanings, finish off with the vacuum again to pick up anything that’s been left behind.

7. Unclog faucets and showerheads with a bag of vinegar

If you have hard water, it can build up on your faucets and showerhead and keep water from flowing out of them normally. Tie a plastic bag of vinegar around your faucets and showerhead and let it sit for a few hours to remove hard water buildup, then just rinse them off with water!

8. Use lemon to eliminate watermarks on faucets

Faucets can easily accumulate stubborn watermarks on them, which can look pretty bad. Slice up a lemon and rub it all over your faucets to shine them and eliminate any hard watermarks that have built up.

9. Skewer away gunk in tough to reach places

There are some places that are hard to completely clean and gunk will build gradually over time — think about the base of your toilet where it meets the floor or around the base of the faucet where it meets the counter.

To get into those crevices, use a wooden skewer with a rag over it. Use whatever cleaning product you prefer and wipe or scrub it away with your skewer and rag.

Four different types of soaps in a bath tub or shower. Four different types of soaps in a bath tub or shower.

10. Remove soap scum with cooking spray

Have you ever tried to wipe down your shower or bathtub only to find that after your first motion, you’ve got a rag covered in a thick goop? Soap scum is difficult to clean and fully remove if you’re not using the right cleaning methods. One easy way of dealing with soap scum is cooking spray.

Cover your bathtub or shower with cooking spray and let it permeate the soap scum for about 10 minutes. Then, just rinse it off with hot water. No more soap scum and no goopy rags!

11. Brighten grout lines with bleach

No matter how many times you wipe down tile, the grout lines never seem to get any cleaner. Make a concentrated effort by using bleach to brighten the grout. You can either dilute bleach with water in a spray bottle and cover grout lines or grab a bleach pen. Let the bleach product sit for a few minutes, then wipe or mop it away to reveal whiter grout lines.

Essential oils with flowers laid out. Essential oils with flowers laid out.

12. Deodorize with rice and essential oils

For obvious reasons, bathrooms can end up having some weird smells. Deodorize the space by filling a jar halfway with rice and mixing in a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Poke holes in the lid of the jar and place it somewhere in the bathroom (preferably near the toilet) to soak up any unfavorable odors.

13. Use grapefruit and salt to remove bathtub grime

Bathtubs can have some questionable grime accumulate with regular use. Since grapefruit is naturally acidic, it can cut through the buildup and leave you with a squeaky-clean tub. Cut a grapefruit in half and cover the open half in salt. Use it like a sponge and scrub away all the dirt and grime.

14. Remove the vent fan to clean

Your exhaust fan typically sees a lot of use, but rarely gets the cleaning it needs. It’s easy to forget about or not think about it in the first place.

Remove the vent cover and clean it in hot, soapy water and use a can of compressed air to get the dust off of the fan. Then wipe down the fan with disinfectant and replace the cover.

15. Reduce humidity with silica gel packets

The humidity in your bathroom can cause mold, especially in places that don’t get a lot of airflows, like in cabinets. Save those little silica gel packets that come in boxes when you buy certain items (like shoes) and keep them in your bathroom cabinets. They’ll help collect moisture from the air and prevent mold from forming in your cabinets. You can also use a dehumidifier if there’s not a lot of ventilation in your bathroom.

16. Wash mildew from shower liner by using bleach

Your shower curtain liner can get pretty gross after a while and it’s common to see mildew forming on it. But instead of buying a new liner curtain every time it gets bad, you can wash it with some bleach along with your normal laundry detergent.

This should kill off the mildew, but if it doesn’t after one wash, you can scrub the leftover places with a brush and some bleach, then wash it again.

ceiling moldceiling mold

17. Create a bleach solution to get rid of ceiling mold

The corners of your bathroom ceiling can grow mold from all the humidity and condensation, which we all know is not just terrible to look at, but can be hazardous to your health.

To get rid of mold, spray a disinfectant on the area and wipe it down. Then mix 1/2 cup of bleach with a half-gallon of water and wipe down the area with it. If you can still see mold after the area is dry, simply wipe it down again with the bleach solution until it’s gone.

18. Warm up the bathroom before cleaning

Did you know that many bathroom cleaning hacks and products actually work better when it’s warm in the room? Run a hot shower for a few minutes before you start cleaning to make your products work better. You don’t need to fog up the whole bathroom and make it feel like a sauna, but run the shower for long enough that the temperature increases by a few degrees.

19. Wax the shower to prevent grime and soap scum

This might be our favorite of all the bathroom cleaning hacks.

Soap scum and other grime can quickly accumulate on your shower walls, but covering them with some wax can prevent that from happening. Clean your shower as you normally would and make sure that it’s completely dry.

Grab some car wax, put a bit on a cloth, then rub it onto the shower walls. Leave the wax to dry for a few minutes, then buff it with a new cloth. Just don’t do it to the floors or else you might find yourself slipping all over the place!

20. Remove the toilet seat when cleaning

Even when you clean your toilet regularly, there are still small spots that are hard to reach — like where your toilet seat is screwed into the toilet.

Use a screwdriver to completely remove the seat and clean around the screw holes before putting the seat back on.

21. Squeegee daily

Keep a squeegee in your shower and use it on the walls each time you shower. This prevents moisture buildup, which causes mold, and will keep your walls cleaner for longer since it washes away soap scum.

22. Make a paste to remove caulk stains

The caulk around your bathtub, shower, toilet and sink can end up looking pretty bad. Even regular cleaning doesn’t always get rid of stains left behind in caulk by dirt and mold. If you do spot some stains, make a paste out of baking soda and water, apply it to the caulk and let it sit for a few hours. Rinse it off and you’ll have cleaner caulk!

bathroom cleaning hacks using a lemonbathroom cleaning hacks using a lemon

23. Use lemon to prevent stinky drains

When there’s every type of waste imaginable going down the drains in your bathroom, it’s understandable that they might begin to stink a little. To get rid of the smell, dump 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, then add 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

Don’t use the drain for an hour or two and let the solution do its job. Then rinse it by running hot water down the drain to leave it smelling fresh!

24. Prevent rust spots with clear nail polish

You might have seen bathrooms with red rings stained on the counters or in the bathtub from rusty metal product cans (shaving foam, hairspray, etc). To prevent these from forming, cover the bottom of metal cans with clear nail polish.

25. Clean the toilet tank with dish soap and vinegar

We often focus on cleaning the toilet bowl, because it’s visible and we have to look at it every day. But the tank is just as important and cleaning it can lead to a cleaner bowl that doesn’t stink. Remove the lid of the tank and add a few drops of liquid dish soap and a cup of vinegar.

Scrub the tank using a brush with a long handle (not the same brush you use to clean your toilet bowl), then let it sit for a couple of hours. Flush the toilet and put the lid back on and you’ll have a cleaner, less stinky toilet.

Consistency is key with bathroom cleaning hacks

Using these bathroom cleaning hacks, you’ll have a sparkling bathroom in no time! Just remember that consistency is key when it comes to cleaning — don’t wait too long between cleanings, or else your bathroom will end up being more difficult to clean. But cleaning every week will make it easy and make your bathroom a place you enjoy.




6 Spring Cleaning Chores You May Have Forgotten

As the days grow longer, the temperature warms up and we set our clocks forward, many people also start spring cleaning. Finally, the chill of winter is falling away, and we eagerly open our windows for fresh air. Because spring brings about new life, clearing out your apartment could help you get into the spirit of the season.

Of course, you may already have a to-do list for your big spring clean, but you should double check it. Many renters overlook these important chores:

1. The Tops of Cabinets and Appliances

When it comes to spring cleaning your kitchen, you probably devote time to mopping the floors, wiping the fridge, and sanitizing your oven. However, you might not be looking high enough. The tops of your fridge and cabinets collect dust and, sometimes, grease– if your fridge is near the stove, splattered oil could collect up there.

Grab a sturdy step stool and bring your cleaning supplies to the tops of your cabinets and fridge. First wipe away the dust, then scrub to remove grease. Even though you won’t see the newly cleaned areas, less dust and grime means better breathing in your kitchen.

While you’re at it, pull the fridge away from the wall and sweep in that space.

2. Reusable Grocery Bags

If you make efforts to go green in your apartment, you likely have reusable grocery bags stashed somewhere in your kitchen. You probably don’t think about cleaning them, but over time, drippings from meat, leaked foods or vegetable peels could stink up the bags– you don’t want to put new groceries in there!

Read the tags on your bags. Unless they say otherwise, wash them in a machine set to use hot water. If your bag says to hand wash, simply clean it in your bathtub using hot, soapy water. Be sure to scrub it well to get rid of stains and food residue.

3. Fans and Lights

Your overhead lights, including ceiling fans, collect dust over time, and like your cabinets and fridge, they’re easy to ignore. However, by dusting fan blades and light fixtures, you’ll improve the air quality in your apartment.

You can use a sturdy ladder to reach those hanging lights. Have your roommate nearby to spot you while you work– no use in spring cleaning if you’re unsafe.

4. Baseboards

You may think of your apartment’s baseboards as just part of the walls (and they are), but these decorative features can collect dust and scuff marks.

Fortunately, cleaning them is a cinch. Just wipe them down with a damp towel or wet dusting solution. If you spot any marks, scrub with a sponge or Magic Eraser.

6. Mattresses

Come spring, you should do two things to your mattress: clean and flip. While the mattress is covered with bedding most of the time, it can still gather some crumbs and dust. Simply remove your sheets and vacuum it using a hose attachment. Should you spot any stains, sprinkle baking soda on them. Then, work in hydrogen peroxide and dish soap using a wash cloth.

Once you’re rid of stains and dust, place your mattress outside in direct sunlight. The ultraviolet rays and fresh air naturally fight bacteria. However, you may not be able to do this unless you have a yard or balcony attached to your apartment.

When you put your mattress back in your bedroom, be sure you’ve flipped it. Basically, it should rotate 180 degrees from its original position– that way, you won’t get any sagging.

Don’t forget all these items when you do your spring cleaning– tackling everything on this list will give you a fresher apartment.




Cleaning Tools You’ll Need for Your Apartment

Whether you’re in your first apartment or someone else used to buy the stuff to keep your place clean, there’s a number of cleaning tools you’ll need for cleaning your apartment.

Here’s a shopping list of must-haves and tips on how to clean an apartment.

Basic cleaning tools everyone should have

First, let’s tackle the items you’ll need in your closet or under the sink, the “tools” required to clean an apartment. Most of these items are reusable so it may be worthwhile to spend a little more for higher quality products.

  • Scrubby sponges (choose one color for surfaces and another for dishes, don’t mix them up)
  • Dish Scrubber with built-in soap holder (an alternative to the scrubby sponge for dishes)
  • Mop (the self-wringing kind or a Swiffer-type is easy to use, the choice will depend on your flooring)
  • Bucket or small plastic tub (for mopping)
  • Rubber gloves (trust us, you’ll want to wear them for certain tasks)
  • Broom (choose the angled kind)
  • Dustpan (some dustpans come with a small attached hand broom, which is a nice bonus)
  • Dust rag (you could cut up an old T-shirt for this)
  • Large scrub brush (you’ll need this for tubs and floors)
  • Small scrub brush (you’ll need this for corners and around faucets)
  • Toilet brush (some come with a decorative holder which hides the brush, a nice buy)
  • Plunger (one of these might come with your apartment, so store it near the toilet for emergency situations)
  • Trash cans (it’s extra nice to have a foot pedal one in the kitchen)
  • Vacuum cleaner (warning: used vacuums can contain fleas)
  • Optional item: blind/fan cleaner

Cleaning products you’ll need to buy and replace

You’ll find a wide variety of cleaning products at any grocery store, dollar store or drug store. And most of them last a really long time.

Also, note that you can substitute the brands below with other products, including those that might be more environmentally-friendly. (Use the brand name to find the right section of the cleaning aisle!)

  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Spot removal (for laundry)
  • Dishwashing soap (for hand-washing dishes, choose a kind that’s easy on the skin)
  • Dishwasher soap (for the machine)
  • Soft-Scrub (this product has a little grit in it, and cleans stubborn stains from sinks and other surfaces)
  • Endust (for dusting wooden furniture and décor)
  • Tilex mildew root penetrator (for dirty grout in the kitchen and bathroom, or any tiled room)
  • Pine-Sol (which you add to water) or Swiffer products (mop product depends on your flooring)
  • Bleach (you’ll need to use this with caution, but when added to warm water, can erase stains)
  • Glass cleaner (like Windex) for mirrors and windows
  • Febreze or air freshener (it’s nice to keep this in your bathrooms)
  • Stainless polish (for stainless appliances and trash cans)
  • Stove-top cleaner (if you have a glass-top stove)
  • Oven cleaner
  • Hand cleanser (dish-washing soap can be harsh on the skin; some are designed for double-duty)
  • Lint removal roller (if you have pets, use this to pick up fur from fabric-covered furniture, linens)
  • Optional item: Shelf liner
  • Optional item: Poison Ivy Soap by Burt’s Bees is good to have on hand if you love nature

Natural cleaning products

Many cleaning supplies contain dangerous chemicals that can irritate the eyes or throat, or cause headaches and other health problems. According to the American Lung Association, some products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can produce dangerous pollutants indoors and be especially harmful to your health.

You can purchase all-natural soaps and cleaning products or make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray or other non-toxic products. For some other ideas, here are green tips for a naturally clean kitchen.


How often to clean your apartment

How often should you tackle the various tasks to keep your home clean and healthy? The following are some general recommendations. But, for roommate harmony, it would be a good idea to look at these suggestions together, tweak them for your own reality, and make sure your hopes or expectations are in line with each other. Dividing up chores with your roommates is a critical part of learning to live well with others.


Clean your toilet (don’t forget to lift the seat) twice a week or more often, if needed. Clean your tub and shower walls, sink areas and the floor weekly.


Clean surfaces after each meal prep. Sweep the floor daily. Clean sink at least once a week. Mop floors weekly. Deep-clean refrigerator surfaces twice a year, or immediately after a spill. Clean stainless surfaces, as needed.


How often you should clean your oven depends on how often you use it. For avid cooks and bakers, you should scrub it once every three months. If you rarely use it, cleaning it about once or twice a year should suffice. If you use a microwave oven regularly, you should clean it at least once a week.


Dust twice a month, or more often, if you have dust allergies.


Vacuum any carpeting weekly or more often if you have pets. Mop floors at least twice a month. Having an entrance rug to scrape shoes on will cut down on the dirt.


Use a lint roller often if you have pets on the furniture, otherwise, as needed.


Wash windows as needed or every month or two. Use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to wipe away dust or grime on the window panes. Vinyl or metal blinds collect dust and should be dusted with a damp cloth. Curtains should be vacuumed at least once a month.

Make cleaning a priority

To stay organized, keep a list of needed cleaning supplies on your refrigerator or an app on your cell phone. Clean a little each day to keep from being overwhelmed. Relax, make a game of it, turn on some music and have fun!




Energy Saving Bulbs: How Much Can You Save?

© 2021 RentPath Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. All photos, videos, text and other content are the property of RentPath Holdings, Inc. APARTMENT GUIDE and the APARTMENT GUIDE Trade Dress are registered trademarks of RentPath Holdings, Inc or its affiliates.


How to Downsize: 13 Tips to Help You Declutter

Downsizing can be both freeing and stressful. It’s never easy to pare down a lifetime of memories, and most of us tend to associate our belongings with events and the people we love.

To help you make the transition easier, we have a guide on how to downsize. Read through our downsizing tips to help make sure you don’t make any mistakes while paring down enough to happily move to a smaller home or apartment.

1. Browse beautiful rooms

Begin by getting inspired.

You can thumb through magazines and books, or peruse the beautiful images of Pay attention to how little clutter you see. Pay attention to the positive feelings you have about those simplified rooms.

Hot Tip: Tape a photo of a beautiful, simplified room into each room of your home. They can inspire you during your purge.

2. Contemplate simplicity

Get yourself mentally prepared — if not excited — that you have the opportunity to live in a simpler space, a space filled with only the things you love.

Think, too, about how many things you own that you haven’t actually used, touched or even seen in over a year. Focus on the joy you will feel by donating, selling or giving those items away. No matter which option you choose, you win.

3. Find a new home for some of your belongings

Ask family members and close friends if they would be interested in any of your belongings before you start to sort. Ask them to list what type of items they might be interested in, or to make any specific requests (in case someone loves a particular painting, memento or piece of furniture). If you don’t get a reply — especially from those under the age of about 30 — make a mental note to save a few things for them anyway. They might be too young to know the value of sentiment.

4. Invest in rubber tubs for items you’ll be gifting

These are your gift tubs, and we recommend rubber tubs with lids that seal tight. Think of them as a lovely gift, because they are. With each piece of jewelry, photo, letter, memento, homemade quilt or old letter jacket, you are filling this box with treasures that are sure to elicit a smile.

Picture future generations of your family enjoying or telling stories about these items. Label your tubs with the name of who they are intended for and put them in one room of the house.

photo of family photos on the wallphoto of family photos on the wall

If you have lots of family pics, consider one gallery wall of favorites. Ask your children to take or digitize the remaining images.

5. Identify items you absolutely love or cherish

Picture having to quickly evacuate your home. What few items would utterly devastate you if they were lost? (We’re not talking about collectibles with value, we’ll get to those in a minute). These are likely photos, letters, artwork, handmade gifts or things you made, jewelry, a small family heirloom, perhaps an item or two from your travels. What sentimental items would you save from a burning house? Gather or identify these items first. Try using sticky notes to mark these items or pack them all in a box.

Keep this selection deliberately small. It’s meant to be a special and meaningful group of items. There’s another level of belongings you can keep which are non-critical. But a personal treasure pile should fit in your backseat.

6. Declutter room by room: Gift, sell, donate or trash

Now you’re ready for the nitty-gritty part of how to downsize. Declutter room by room and learn the extraordinary feeling of lightness that a purge can bring. There are four categories that matter most to you now: Gift, sell, donate, trash. The more items you can identify for each category, the happier you will be (and the lighter your load at moving time). Tackle your home room by room — you’ll have a larger feeling of accomplishment that way.

photo of a donation boxphoto of a donation box

If you have the space to do so, move items you plan to sell or donate into dedicated spaces, like the garage or a spare room. Fill your rubber gift tubs as you go. In addition, think about how you’d like to sell other items. There are selling apps, consignment stores and garage sales you could use to sell your unwanted items. Or, if you amass enough items, an estate sale or auction could be more productive. It won’t be long before you get a rush from filling your trash cans. You can do it!

Hot Tip: Many cities have thrift stores and organizations which will pick up items if scheduled on the day the truck goes to your neighborhood.

7. Consider your new floorplan

It also helps to have a floorplan of your new home, with the dimensions on it.  Measure your favorite furnishings and figure out which pieces will comfortably fit into new spaces, and which should find a new home. There’s fun in acquiring a few pieces for a smaller home, and selling, auctioning or consigning older furnishings and collectibles might well cover those expenses.

8. Consult with others about their belongings

If you aren’t familiar with how to downsize there are a few mistakes you can make. One is getting rid of your children’s items without telling them. Give adult children a deadline by which to claim their left-behind items. Send them pics from your phone if they’re far away. Offer to ship them a box but don’t consider moving their items to your smaller home. The time has come. You are no longer obligated to store their old school yearbooks or letter jackets, cheerleading uniforms or trophies.

photo of a high school letter jacketphoto of a high school letter jacket

9. Be aware of emotions

If you’re downsizing after a tragedy, don’t go overboard. You might consider putting some things in storage for a year or having a friend help you decide what to keep. Emotions run high after unexpected events, and if you’re depressed, you may get rid of things you’ll want later. Don’t, however, use this as an excuse to keep everything.

10. Analyze your collectibles

The last warning: Don’t be sloppy when it comes to collectibles. Set them aside until you can get them evaluated by an expert or at least a friend or relative with a computer. These might include baseball cards, signed memorabilia, vintage toys or artisan-crafted pieces.

photo of collectiblesphoto of collectibles

11. Consolidate the items you only need one of

Here’s a quick list to help you pare down some things of which we all accumulate extras. These are items you likely only need one of:

  • Set of dishes
  • Set of glassware
  • Set of Tupperware
  • Set of mixing bowls
  • Large serving platter
  • Household tools (hammer, screwdriver, tape measure)
  • Extra blankets (keep one heavy and one light, per guest bed)
  • Large winter and summer purse
  • Coat for each type of weather (extra-warm, lighter-weight, rain jacket, windbreaker)
  • Umbrella (one travel size, one oversized)
  • Cooler (you might keep a small one for car trips or picnics with grandkids)
  • Set of small tools, measuring tape

Hot Tip: Remember that donations will be a tax write-off. Always get a receipt.

12. Purge items you won’t need in an apartment or smaller home

Small homes don’t require as many tools or decorations you may have stored in your garage or shed. To help you identify which items you can get rid of, here is a list of items you won’t need in your new home:

  • Ladders larger than a stepstool
  • Garden tools
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Large power tools
  • Excessive outdoor Christmas decorations

Hot Tip: If an item’s been in a box for more than a year, it’s very likely time to let it go.

13. Ask a friend or professional to help

If you have trouble with decision-making, ask someone impartial to help you. Be sure to choose someone who embraces your goal of downsizing and decluttering. A friend won’t have the same emotional attachment to your items and can help you narrow down your belongings, while also helping make sure you keep what you love. If your friends aren’t available, a professional or aspiring home organizer could be a great investment. They will be efficient while also being kind.

Embrace this new chapter

Downsizing to a new apartment may seem daunting, but with these downsizing tips, you’ll be ready to move in no time. By going into this process with an open mind, you will be able to create a home filled with your most important items to start this new chapter of your life.

Are you downsizing after retirement? Be sure to check out senior apartments in your area.