How to Organize a Refrigerator: 15 Secret Tips Everyone Should Know

Your refrigerator is arguably one of the most important items in your kitchen. The fridge keeps your food cold, preserving it for future use and maintaining a fresh taste. We use it so often that it’s bound to get a little messy. And while you should always do routine cleaning, it’s still important to keep it as clean and organized as possible between cleanings.

Whether you’ve got a commercial-sized fridge or a mini one, here’s how to organize a refrigerator so it stays clean for longer and you can easily find whatever you need whenever you need it.

1. Separate your fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables in a refrigerator.

Fruits and vegetables in a refrigerator.

There’s a reason your refrigerator has separate drawers for fruits and vegetables. While many of us disregard them and throw whatever we want in the different drawers, using them properly helps to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh for longer.

Fruit does better in low humidity and will last longer when there’s less moisture, so its drawer will keep things dry. On the other hand, vegetables thrive in humidity, so its drawer allows more moisture.

2. Wait to cut your produce

Cutting your fruits and vegetables before storing them makes them go bad faster. And, once they’ve been cut, you need to put them into a separate container, so they’ll take up more room in the refrigerator.

Wait to cut your fruits and vegetables until you’re ready to eat or use them. Doing so will also help save space and keep items good for longer.

3. Fill your fridge

Your fridge runs most efficiently and keeps food the freshest when it’s between 60 percent and 70 percent full. If it’s too full, your refrigerator has to work extra hard to keep things cold and not all of the food will receive proper airflow, so it will go bad faster. And if it’s too empty, it has only air to keep cool, and air doesn’t retain the cold as well as actual food and drink items.

If your refrigerator has too much inside, it’s time to clean it out. And if you need to fill it up, you can add a few jugs of water to help retain the cool temperature.

4. Put non-perishables in the door

The door is the warmest part of your fridge, so it’s best to keep non-perishables on the shelves in the door. Things like condiments, butter and margarine, cheeses and eggs won’t go bad quickly, so they’re perfect for the door.

Avoid putting things like milk and meats in the door, since they’ll rot quickly if it’s too warm.

5. Place perishables near the front

Not sure how to organize a refrigerator best for perishable items? While you don’t want perishables in the door where it’s warmest, you don’t want to tuck them in the back. Keep your meats, fish and milk near the front where you see them frequently — reminding you to use them before they go bad.

6. Store meats and seafood on the bottom

Meats and seafood in a refrigerator.

Meats and seafood in a refrigerator.

Items like meat, fish and crustaceans have fluid in them that, when uncooked, can contaminate other foods. To reduce the risk of these liquids dripping down onto other things in the fridge, store your meats and seafood on the bottom shelf. You should also keep them in containers with high edges so fluids won’t spill if the items get bumped on accident.

7. Line your shelves

To make cleaning quick and easy, line your shelves. You can either buy plastic or silicone shelf liners or use plastic wrap. If something spills or your refrigerator simply needs cleaning, you only need to remove the liner and replace it — no scrubbing required!

8. Remove odors with activated carbon

Many people use baking soda to soak up unfavorable scents in the fridge, but activated carbon actually works better for getting rid of odors. Typically used for pet containers, activated carbon is found at pet stores.

You’ll use it in basically the same way as baking soda. Set the container inside the refrigerator where it can absorb the scent.

9. Organize condiments

Condiments in a refrigerator.

Condiments in a refrigerator.

Figuring out how to organize a refrigerator condiment shelf can become a mess very quickly. Keeping bottles upright without them falling over makes it hard to keep track of which bottles are full and which are almost empty. To help them stand up and stay in place, place an egg carton in the bottom and put the top ends of condiment bottles in each indentation.

This also makes it nice when you use the condiments because you don’t need to shake the bottles to get to what’s inside — it’s already at the top!

10. Add a Lazy Susan

If you’re constantly reaching over food to get to the back of the shelf in the fridge, try using a Lazy Susan. This will make it easier to reach things and keep food from being forgotten in the back.

11. Leverage magnets

Magnets aren’t limited to the outside of the fridge! Use small magnetic containers for inside the fridge, where you can store small items you want to keep fresh, like pomegranate seeds and other seeds or nuts.

This will allow you to put them on the sides of the refrigerator, leaving shelf space for other food items. There are also magnetic bottle holders that will store your metal-top bottles on the ceiling of the fridge, so you don’t need to reach between things to grab yourself a cold beverage.

12. Hang resealable bags

Storing things in resealable bags is practical, but storing them is a different story. They’re hard to stack and are easily forgotten if other containers are in front of them.

To keep them in easy reach, you can buy a Ziploc bag holder that will hold your bags in an organized fashion or you can use binder clips to keep them together and clip them to the edge of a shelf.

13. Refrigerate only what needs it

There are some food items that we refrigerate, but don’t actually need to keep chilled. Putting only items that need refrigerating in the refrigerator will leave more room for the items that do need it.

If you’ve got potatoes, tomatoes, onions or watermelon (to name a few), you only need to refrigerate them after they’ve been cut open. So keep that whole watermelon off the shelf and store it on the counter!

14. Label with a marker

Labels can help you organize a refrigerator and help you find items more easily. Use a dry erase, wet erase or chalk marker to write labels on shelves or even the walls, then wipe them away when it’s time to change!

15. Wrap cheese in wax paper

Cheese wrapped in wax paper.

Cheese wrapped in wax paper.

Blocks of cheese often come in plastic and it’s tempting to store them in a resealable bag once you’ve opened the original packaging. However, cheese keeps for longer and tastes better when it’s wrapped in wax paper.

Plus, plastic bags can look messy, especially if they’re much larger than the cheese they’re holding, and wrapping it in wax makes it look cleaner in the fridge.

Refrigerator organization helps keep things clean

The key to keeping your refrigerator clean is keeping it organized! Like with an organized pantry, your food will stay fresh for longer, you won’t forget about the items you put in your fridge and you’ll be able to quickly find everything you need.

Use the refrigerator organization tips above to organize your own fridge and keep it clean and tidy!




10 Tips for Washing Your Car at Your Apartment Community

Don’t let random passersby deface your ride with “Wash Me” scrawled in windshield dirt. Instead, avoid the old “drive of shame” and give it a good old-fashioned scrub down with an apartment car wash.

Even if your apartment doesn’t have a car wash station on its list of amenities, that doesn’t mean you can’t still DIY this wet and wild chore. It just takes a few supplies and a little bit of strategy to get the job done.

A dirty car with someone writing

A dirty car with someone writing

How do I wash my car if I live in an apartment?

Sure, you could drive somewhere for a car wash, but where’s the fun in that? Hand-washing a car is a great workout and an even better way to cool down in the summer months. Just follow these easy tips for an apartment car wash and you’ll soon have the ultimate clean car. Bonus points if you detail the inside, too!

1. Use a spigot and hose

The water’s going to have to come from somewhere, right? Even if you know where the spigot is already, it’s probably smart to check with management to make sure you can use it. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even spot you a hose for the job! If not, pick up an expandable hose at the local hardware store. Those are easier to store than the old-school variety.

2. Go waterless

A waterless car wash product is a solid option for cars that aren’t filthy to start off with. So, if you’ve just gone muddin’, skip ahead. These products are not for you. Waterless car wash is available in concentrated form (so you have to dilute it), or ready-to-use. Some even have built-in wax! To use, simply spray the product on and wipe it off with a soft towel. When the towel section gets dirty, use a different part.

3. Use a no-rinse product

Split the difference between waterless and a full wash by using a no-rinse product, like Optimum No Rinse. This three-in-one product functions as a rinseless wash, as well as a detailer and a lubricant. Just add the recommended amount to one or two gallons of water, then apply with a wash mitt or microfiber towel.

Car wheels being washed.

Car wheels being washed.

4. Be wheel wise

The wheels are not the same as the rest of the vehicle, so don’t treat them like they are. Clean them first because they’re the dirtiest parts of the car.

Spray with a good hose to dislodge dirt from crevices. Use a tire-specific cleaner and a towel/mitt to scrub it down. Don’t use that towel on the rest of the car because it’s likely pretty gross.

5. Go with waterless wipes

The waterless car wash product community is booming. There are waterless wipes already primed with cleaners available for purchase. Pick up a pack each for general washing, tire and trim and wax, if you want to go full-out.

Man washing his car.

Man washing his car.

6. Pick up a pump sprayer

Here’s another idea on the waterless front. If you want to avoid the hassle of a spigot and hose (or don’t have access to one), purchase a small pump sprayer. Such a device helps evenly apply a coat of waterless cleaner. Then, you just clean as normal with a mitt or microfiber towel. It can also rinse the car off with plain water (fill it up inside first), but the water pressure isn’t as good as the average hose.

7. Use a duster

If you can’t do a full wash apartment car wash at your complex or just don’t have time, use a California Duster to quickly get rid of dirt and dust and bring back the shine. This tool will buy you more time between washes, and is usable during full washes, as well.

8. Wipe aways bugs with dryer sheets

Sometimes dried up, dead bugs just don’t want to come off. Without the power of a professional car wash it is extra challenging. Before you start washing, use old dryer sheets to wipe bugs off. Then wash as normal.

Toothpaste on car.

Toothpaste on car.

9. Apply toothpaste (no, seriously!)

No need to buy a pricey product to put the finishing touches on your headlights. Squirt some toothpaste on a rag and polish up those headlights until they shine.

10. Create your own all-natural cleaner

For the final, streak-free rinse, opt for a green cleaner. Wash the car as normal. Then rinse the soap residue with a hose. Mix three parts vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle and spray the car. Then wipe down with a newspaper for a shiny, squeaky clean finish.

Hand washing a car.

Hand washing a car.

General apartment car wash tips

Specific techniques aside, there are some general things to consider when doing an apartment car wash. Minding these suggestions make the whole process easier, not to mention more effective and enjoyable.

  • Do a quick once over: Before setting up for the apartment car wash, make sure your car isn’t leaking any fluids or oils. That won’t go over well with management.
  • Steer clear of storm drains. It’s bad for the environment, local wildlife and drinking water if soap from the car wash gets into the storm drain. Do your best to find a spot far away from storm drains to prevent any issues, or use an eco-friendly cleaner that is non-toxic and doesn’t have chlorine, fragrance, phosphates or petroleum-based ingredients.
  • Seek out the shade: It seems counterintuitive, but the sun causes streaks. So for the best finish possible, find a spot in the shade to do your apartment car wash.
  • Get your towels: Grab a few towels or wash mitts to get the job done. Make sure to have one each (at least) for the tires, body wash and for drying.
  • Conserve water: Don’t just leave the hose on indiscriminately. Doing so wastes about 10 gallons per minute! While you’re doing the wash — turn it off whenever you’re not rinsing or filling the bucket. Make it easier on yourself by attaching a nozzle that will automatically shut off the water when not in use.
  • Clean up after the clean-up: Other than waiting for water to dry, no one at your apartment should see any residue from your apartment car wash. Resist the easier, but less responsible urge to dump dirty water in the street. Instead, carry the bucket inside and dispose of it in a sink or toilet.

Other than these tips, use your common sense. If all goes well the first-time management is more likely to let you keep doing car washes from the comfort of your apartment parking lot.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Each and every time you wash your car by hand you’ll come up with ways to make an apartment car wash more efficient and easier. Eventually, you’ll be a well-oiled machine for…well, your well-oiled machine.




How To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in 11 Easy Steps

Getting your kitchen organized in a way that makes sense for your life will make a big difference in how you use the space and how much time you spend in it. Here’s how to organize your kitchen cabinets so you’ll love being in the kitchen!

1. Remove everything from your kitchen cabinets

To organize your kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to start by taking everything out of the drawers and cupboards — absolutely everything must come out.

You want to start with empty, clean places for everything. Don’t try to shuffle things around between them — this usually results in a bigger mess than when you started.

2. Clean the drawers and surfaces

Wipe down and disinfect all of the drawers, cabinets and shelves in your kitchen. Even a few crumbs in the bottom of a drawer can make it look gross and unorganized, so get everything looking as clean as possible.

how to organize kitchen cabinets with pots and panshow to organize kitchen cabinets with pots and pans

3. Take inventory of everything you have

Get a good idea of what you have. Sort items into categories, such as:

  • Pots and pans
  • Food storage containers
  • Bowls and plates
  • Cups
  • Eating utensils
  • Cooking utensils
  • Baking tools
  • Small appliances (electric mixer, waffle maker, toaster, etc.)
  • Spices
  • Dry foods (cereal, pasta, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.)

Everything sorted? Now, you can see what all you have and how much of each item you’ll need to store.

4. Get rid of the items you don’t need

More isn’t always better, especially when you’re working with a finite amount of kitchen storage space. With everything sorted and you know exactly how much of everything you’ve got, decide what you need and what you don’t need.

Over time, you may have collected various kitchen items and you may not realize just how much you actually have. While it’s nice to have lots of pots and pans for cooking dinner for a group, you may find that you have three pots all the same size when, realistically, you only need one. The same thing goes for everything else — you may have accumulated 12 wooden spoons and you only need to have two. And that turkey baster collection? One will do — you get rid of the other two.

Get rid of things you haven’t used or have too many of — so fitting everything in your kitchen cabinets won’t give a game of Tetris a run for its money.

5. Group similar items together

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the extra stuff, you’ve got less stuff to fit into your kitchen. Woohoo!

Start by keeping similar items together and match them up with cabinets and drawers relative to their size and quantity. Pots and pans are bulky, so they’ll probably need a bigger cabinet. Spice jars are small, so they can go in a smaller cabinet.

Keep similar items together in the same place so they’re easy to find and you won’t end up opening every single cabinet and drawer in the kitchen each time you need something.

6. Put open items in bins and containers

When you’re limited on drawer space, using bins to store things can make it much easier to find what you need and keep things from falling out of cabinets when you open them.

Clear bins are best since you can see exactly what’s inside of them. You can store all of your baking ingredients in them — creating one for your sugars (regular sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.) and one for chocolate chips (semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, white chocolate, etc.).

Don’t forget to dedicate a bin or two for your snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.). Make bins for any items that make sense to keep together.

how to organize kitchen cabinets with clear storagehow to organize kitchen cabinets with clear storage

You can also store dry food items in clear, airtight containers. This allows you to see how much of everything you have, plus containers are stackable, resealable and won’t get smashed or lost easily in your pantry. Even Marie Kondo supports putting food into matching containers for organization!

7. Use drawer organizers for utensils

Kitchen drawers. Kitchen drawers.

Putting dividers and organizers in drawers will help keep things sorted out and easy to find. Rather than a jumbled mess where it takes forever to dig up what you need, sort your regular utensils — forks, knives and spoons, as well as bigger cooking utensils like ladles, cooking spoons and spatulas.

8. Match up your food storage containers

how to organize kitchen cabinets with Food storage containershow to organize kitchen cabinets with Food storage containers

It’s easy to throw all of the food storage containers and lids into a cabinet once they’re clean, but tale as old as time — when you need it, you end up having to dig through everything just to find a matching lid.

Put the lids on your food storage containers before putting them in the cabinet so you’re guaranteed to find a container and a matching lid each time you need it. You can nest them to save cabinet space while still keeping matches together.

No more digging through and trying to fit 12 lids on the same container before you find a match!

9. Keep frequently used items within easy reach

Put all of the items you use frequently in the easiest to reach and access places and keep the seldom-used items in harder-to-access places.

It doesn’t make sense to keep the drinking glasses you use every day on a high shelf that’s difficult to reach, nor it makes zero sense to store the electric mixer you use once a month in an eye-level cabinet right by the sink.

Your kitchen’s organization should make sense for your life and what you use often.

10. Store items in places that make sense

Store things in the most practical of places! Keep your cooking oil and spices near the stovetop, since that’s where you will use them the most. Put your eating utensils near the plates and bowls since they go together like peas in a pod. Put pots and pans near the stove because they’re always used on it.

11. Eliminate a junk drawer

Junk drawer. Junk drawer.

Many people have a drawer for the miscellaneous items in their kitchen, often dubbed the “random” or “junk” drawer. It turns into a black hole where you end up placing small items you’re too lazy to find the correct spot for and once you need that item, you can’t remember where you put it.

This drawer defeats the purpose of organizing your kitchen— you should find everything quickly and easily without having to dig through a bunch of random stuff in a drawer. Don’t leave room for a junk drawer in your kitchen at all!

Other kitchen cabinet organization tips

Here are a few additional tips and ideas for organizing your kitchen cabinets.

  • Use hooks on the inside of cabinet doors to hang things like scrub brushes, pot lids and large spoons
  • Use shelf risers to give yourself extra stacking space in cabinets
  • Most cabinets have movable shelves, change the shelf placement to accommodate the items you’re putting into each cabinet
  • Add a magnetic knife strip to the wall above where you normally chop fruits and vegetables so you can keep your favorite knives at the ready without taking up drawer space
  • Store your cutting boards and baking sheets vertically instead of horizontally —that way, you can simply slide which sheet you want out on its side
  • Label containers and bins, especially if they’re opaque and not clear so that you know what’s stored inside of them without having to check
  • Add a lazy Susan to awkward corner cabinets with a small opening, so you can store things like spices and oils without needing to reach far into the cabinet and you can see everything easily
  • Limit your kitchen gadgets — yes, the banana slicer looks cool and helps you cut a banana in five seconds rather than 30, but do you really need it? Sparingly purchase gadgets to prevent clutter.

These aren’t necessary for keeping your kitchen cabinets organized, but they can certainly help make your kitchen all the more functional.

Staying organized requires discipline

Once you figure out how to organize your kitchen cabinets, your work isn’t completely done — you need to make sure they STAY organized. That means putting everything back into its proper place whenever you’re through using it. It’s easy to slip out of that habit, but once you do, your kitchen cabinets and drawers may end up a mess again.

Put forth a special effort to keep things where they belong!




Give Your Apartment Medicine Cabinet a Check-Up

Colds and the flu usually strike at the end of winter or beginning of spring. Are you and your medicine cabinet prepared to handle another cold, allergy and cough season?

In addition to readying you for spring, cleaning out your medicine cabinet also ensures you get rid of dangerous or outdated medicines. First, know what to get rid of. Throw out expired and old medicines and consolidate nearly empty bottles and duplicates to get rid of clutter. Don’t leave old pills lying out in open trash cans and available to the curious hands and noses of young children and pets; dispose of them securely

Next, inventory what you have and learn what to add, especially if you’re living in cold-prone, windy areas. Make sure you have the following items in your medicine cabinet:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Primarily known as a pain reliever, acetaminophen is also a fever-reducer.

Aloe vera: This soothing, oft-green gel treats burns.

Antihistamine (Benadryl): This over-the-counter medication calms allergy symptoms such as nasal inflammation, sneezing, runny noses and eye irritation. It’s also a lifesaver for allergic reactions and bug bites.

Antiseptics: Hydrogen peroxide and alcohol clean cuts and scrapes to help prevent infection.

Antiseptic creams or ointments (Neosporin): These prevent infection in cuts and scrapes and reduce scarring.

Bandages: Stock up on bandages in various sizes so you can cover and protect any wound.

Cold, cough and flu medicines: So you’re not treating symptoms you don’t have, purchase different over-the-counter cold, cough and flu medications, such as decongestants (for coughs), expectorants and cough suppressants, depending on the symptoms you typically have.

Read more of our health-related posts:

Cortisone cream: This topical ointment reduces inflammation and calms itchy insect bites and rashes.

Gauze bandages and adhesive tape: These two items are crucial for covering larger wounds.

Heating and cooling packs: Ice reduces fevers and swelling, while heat eases cramps and stomach aches.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin): This pain reliever also reduces inflammation and swelling.

Medicine dropper or medicine cup: You need some accurate medical-use measure for dispensing liquid medications.

Nose spray: Decongestant nasal sprays quickly open up nasal passages by constricting blood vessels in the lining of the nose. Saline sprays help moisturize dry or irritated nostrils.

Thermometer: Purchase a digital or chemical-dot thermometer for checking temperatures, and know which temperatures are too high for all ages.

Tweezers: Find good tweezers with more pointy ends for removing splinters or ticks.




How to Make Your Apartment Greener

In honor of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary April 22, Apartment Guide sat down with Ashley Caderet, author of green and frugal living blog “Our Little Apartment,” to get her thoughts on how everyone can live more environmentally friendly in their apartments or homes. Plus, there’s a bonus: In this down economy, anyone can benefit from Ashley’s money-saving, waste-less, live-simply tips.

Since launching her blog in 2007, Ashley’s green-living methods have ranged from the sensible (purchasing local produce from a farmers market) to the more radical (using cloth toilet paper). A few ideas didn’t work out – composting in the backyard created a mice problem – while some became routine favorites, such as using one car. Mike even built a winter-hearty bicycle that he takes to work, even using it in 10-degree weather.

“It just makes sense to try to be greener,” Ashley said. “It makes me feel better and saves money. Once you become aware of the amount you waste, you feel guilty about the environmental impact. You think about carbon footprints. In my day-to-day life, just thinking about how future children and countries will be impacted inspires me to keep being green.”

Read more about going green in your apartment:

To save the most money, Ashley and her husband rent their home near one of their workplaces and only use one car. Now Ashley drives the car on her 35-minute commute and Mike bikes to work, which is only two miles from their home, a duplex in a neighborhood where 100 percent of the streets have sidewalks. In addition to using one car, here are 10 other ways Ashley suggests apartment residents can be more environmentally friendly:

  1. When you’re deciding where to live, choose an apartment that is walkable, meaning you can walk to nearly anything you need. Use WalkScore to determine a neighborhood’s walkable rating.
  2. Choose an apartment that has good insulation so you’re not wasting energy. If you don’t know if it has good insulation, ask before you rent. If you are already renting, improve your insulation with door draft stoppers or by asking your apartment manager to add insulation to your complex.
  3. Avoid disposable things such as tissues, paper towels, disposable dishes, disposable napkins and plastic ware. Use reusable versions of these instead.
  4. Don’t waste food by planning meals in advance.
  5. Eat less meat. Ashley and Mike are both vegetarians, but even eating one meatless meal a week could save your family hundreds of dollars per year.
  6. Shop for secondhand furniture and clothing.
  7. If your apartment doesn’t recycle, ask them to, or take your recyclable goods to a recycling center. Recycling guidelines for most cities are on the city or county website.
  8. Wash almost all of your clothes on the cold cycle.
  9. Try a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program, which delivers local, seasonal produce to your home or a nearby pickup location. Visit Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.
  10. Don’t buy anything unless you really need or want it. Think hard before you buy.




Saving Money on Utilities

When it comes to monthly expenses, there are some costs you don’t think can get lower, like a utility bill.

But with some awareness, a bit of effort and a few phone calls, you might be surprised at how much you can knock down utility costs that once seemed set in stone.

Shop for the best rate

Though you may not have a choice in who handles your water or electricity, some apartment communities will give you a choice in which gas company you can use. Gas companies are always competing for your business, trying to undercut the other’s per-therm price. Many carriers even offer cash incentives for switching over and/or programs that let you lock in a per-therm rate.

For phone and cable, there are also savings to be had. Take a look at your bill and examine all the features that come with your service. If you have channels you don’t watch or phone features you don’t need, call your service provider and see if you can go with a simpler plan at a cheaper rate. Or investigate other providers to see if changing companies will drive down the price.

Look for bundled deals in which your phone, cable, and DSL are handled by a single company and you could significantly cut your bill. Another option is to do away with your land-line entirely and use your cell phone instead. Don’t forget to shop for the best cell phone plan as well.

Waste not, pay not

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are always ways to use less everything. Energy Star appliances, low-flow toilets, and water-wise showerheads are just a few things you can install to cut water use. Collect water in rain barrels and buckets in the shower and use that to water your plants. Wash larger loads of clothes and use cold water instead of warm, saving you energy and water! Minimize the settings on your dishwasher;  do you really need to use the heated drying, extra rinse, and tough scrub cycles?

We are accustomed to having computers, lights, televisions and stereos on even when we don’t need them. Turn things off when you’re not in front of them and turn out the lights in the rooms you’re not using. You’ll be amazed at the satisfaction, savings and welcome silence these simple efforts provide.

It’s really not hard to cut utility costs, even those you assumed couldn’t budge. With some awareness and effort, your consumption and monthly bills will begin to drop.

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10 Cheap Ways to Keep Cool in Your Apartment

To keep cool this summer, you could blast the air conditioning nonstop, but that will leave you with cooling bills that may give you the chills – and not in a good way.

Air conditioning is expensive, and not every apartment has it. Whether it’s by choice or forced on you, there are a number of ways to keep heat at bay during the summer. You’re probably already doing some of them, like running the ceiling fans, but there’s more that you can do to keep cool without abusing your air conditioner.

1.  Focus on cooling yourself, not the apartment: All these tips are built on this idea, but it deserves to be pointed out. Air conditioning cools the whole apartment, but your comfort depends on how you feel. It’s okay if the temperature is high, so long as you feel cool.

2.  Use ice packs (or other cold items): Freeze an ice pack and place it underneath you on the couch or bed. Keep it in a pocket while you’re walking or lounging around the apartment. Keeping it close to you will cool you down considerably. In a pinch, you can use frozen food, such as a bag of peas or popsicles, just be cautious of the mess they can make.

Read more: How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

3. Freeze your sheets and clothes: Place your sheets and pillowcases in the freezer a few hours before bedtime, and make your bed with them right before you get in.  The same trick will work for clothes, so while you can’t open the freezer to cool the room, you can use it to cool your clothes.

4. Take a cold bath or shower: If the thought of getting into a cold bath makes you sweat, fill it first with lukewarm or room temperature water, and get in. Gradually let the lukewarm water out and refill it with cold water until you’re in a mostly cold bath. You’ll feel cool for a long time afterwards.

5. Eat cool foods: Running the stove or oven just warms up the room. Instead, try to eat cold foods that don’t need to be cooked. Not only do you avoid creating more heat, but they also help cool you off.  Popsicles and other ice cream are really helpful for this, and who doesn’t want an excuse to eat more ice cream?

6. Wear cooler clothes: If you’re home alone, go without clothes or walk around in your underwear or a bathing suit. Otherwise, wear natural fabrics such as linen, cotton and silk. These breathe better than man-made materials, such as rayon, polyester and other artificial fibers. Athletic wear is an exception and can wick moisture away from your body. Looser clothes also tend to breathe better than tighter clothes.

Read more: Tips for Airing Out Your Apartment

7.  Close and cover windows and doors: Leaving windows open lets in warm air, and just leaving the blinds open lets in sunlight, which also warms up the room. At least close the blinds, if not putting up lined drapes or aluminum foil to reflect sunlight out of the room. Also, focus on just the part of the apartment you’re going to be in. Closing off parts of the apartment cuts down on air circulation, but that’s a benefit if most of the air that can circulate is warm air.

8. Set up fans cleverly: If you have multiple fans, set them up so that they intersect on you, the air hitting you from multiple directions. Make sure that your ceiling fan is set to counterclockwise, drawing the warm air upwards. Fill and freeze jugs of water, placing them behind fans (with a towel under the jug to absorb the water) to blow cool air at you. It’s helpful to have a fan blowing air at you, but setting it up properly can make a really big difference.

9. Drink ice water: Cooling down starts on the inside, so downing several glasses of ice-cold water will really put the chill on. Drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of your body weight. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75 ounces, or a little more than nine eight-ounce glasses, of water per day.

10. Use mint or menthol products: Smear cooling topical ointments with medicated vapors (such as Vicks VapoRub) or peppermint lotion on your skin. Bathe with peppermint soap, use lip balm with peppermint oil and brush your teeth with something minty. Mint refreshes the skin and leaves a nice cooling sensation.

11. Go somewhere with air conditioning: Just because you don’t want to run the air conditioner doesn’t mean that no one is. If a day is particularly unbearable, that could be the time to find somewhere else to go. Grocery stores, especially in the dairy aisle, are somewhere you probably need to go anyway, so why not now? You can also go to a grocery store, a friend’s house, or make it an outing to a movie theater. Wherever it is, someone else is paying for the air conditioning, and you get to really relax and embrace the cold.

Read more: Top Tips for Staying Cool This Summer




Organizing Your Kitchen

Your kitchen can often be viewed as the heart of your home, as it’s one of the most used rooms in your house. Your family gathers here while a roast is in the oven, and your kids raid the pantry for snacks after school. It’s easy to see why it can get become unorganized quickly, which then causes a lot of stress to clean it. It’s not always easy to keep your kitchen tidy and organized, but with a few simple tasks and organizational pieces, you’ll have this popular room neat and tidy in no time.

Empty out cabinets. Starting with a clean slate is the best way to organize your kitchen cabinets. Put all of the items on the counters and kitchen table. You may want to clean the inside of your cabinets while they’re empty.

Read more: How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets

Divide your kitchen into activity zones. Kitchen zones could be defined by activity. For example, you can divide your kitchen into the food preparation zone, baking zone, serving zone, food storage zone and cleaning zone. If it’s easier, try drawing your kitchen layout on a sheet of paper with labels for each of these zones.

Think about your space and plan accordingly. You will want to keep your pots and pans in a cabinet by your stove, and keep the food storage by the fridge and pantry. The cleaning products and dishwashing supplies should be kept near the sink.

Read more: Single Serving: Tips on Cooking Smart for One

Sort and purge. Go through the items on your counters and kitchen table. If there are items that you no longer need, feel free to throw away or put in a box to give away. For example, if your kids are grown, you no longer need sippy cups. Throw away items that are broken, chipped or are missing parts. Now, sort your items into categories that make sense to you. If you have glasses and cups that are used every day, put those together. The glasses that are for guests can go in a separate area.

Souvenir items can pile up quickly and take up crucial kitchen space. If these items aren’t being used, put them in a box and save them or use them in a different room. Display only a few of your favorites.

Sort through the pantry and fridge as well. Use this guide to clean out your fridge. Throw away old items.

Clear the counters. Having too many items on your kitchen counters will make it seem cluttered and unorganized. Items that are not used often should be stored under the counters in your cabinets. These items could include your popcorn maker, stand mixer and/or food processor.

Buy clear storage. Using clear, plastic storage bins in your kitchen is an easy way to keep like items together while being able to do a quick inventory before heading out to the grocery store. For your pantry, have bins for snacks, bread and produce. Use over-the-door organizers for canned goods, spices, dry pastas and sauces. For your freezer, use multi-purpose file bins to organize frozen foods. Place frozen fruits and veggies in one and potato sides (tater tots, french fries, etc.) in another, and use another bin for breakfast items like waffles and pancakes. Label shelves in your fridge (condiments, dressings, dairy, etc.) to keep it organized.

Read more: How to Clean Your Kitchen Appliances

Tupperware. Finding the matching lid for your Tupperware can be tricky. The solution shouldn’t be a complicated one. When you’re through cleaning your Tupperware, place them in the cabinet. Keep the lids in a plastic storage bin to make it easier to find the next time.

Things that work together should be stored together. Pots, pans and cooking utensils should be kept near the stove. This gives you easy access to the tools you’ll need while cooking. Keep bowls, mixers, measuring cups, spoons and other baking items in the baking zone. Plates, dishes, cups and eating utensils should be stored close together. Items that are seldom used should go on top shelves. Mugs, coffee creamers and coffee supplies should be stored near the coffee maker for easy access.

Miscellaneous tips. Keep a clipboard with a sheet of paper hung in your pantry. When you run out of an item, you can quickly add it to the shopping list.

Lining your drawers with pretty paper and using clear dividers will remind you to keep the contents of the drawers to a minimum. Your goal is to see the pretty paper.

Use an organizer for your bakeware and cutting boards. This way, you won’t have to dig and pull items out to find the loaf pan that is stuck in the back of the cabinet.

Purchase magnetic hooks to attach to your refrigerator to hang aprons and towels.

After you have organized your kitchen and cleaned it, walk your family through the kitchen and give them the tour. Remind them that it’s their kitchen, too, and encourage them to keep it organized.

See also: How to Organize Your Bathroom




Cleaning Essentials for Your Apartment

No one likes to clean, especially if you’ve just moved into your new apartment and want to explore your neighborhood. But you can make it easier by arming yourself with the right cleaning supplies and tools, which will have your apartment looking spic and span in no time. Then, when you make friends with people in your neighborhood, you’ll have no qualms about inviting them over to check out your new space and have a drink. Here is a list of the 17 essential cleaning supplies you’ll need for your new home.


  • All-purpose grease cleaner: One of the most stubborn messes is grease, so having a cleaner made for the task will save you a lot of headaches.
  • Wood cleaner: This helps polish wood furniture and keep dust away from ceiling fans, vents and more
  • Mild abrasive bathroom cleaner with bleach: You need something strong for cleaning the shower, tub, toilet, sink and grout
  • Glass cleaner: There’s only so much you can handle streaks on your windows, and it can be hard to find cleaners that leave the windows completely clear. You can make your own by mixing 2 to 3 tablespoons of white vinegar with 3 cups water
  • Dishwashing liquid: A drop of this and a cup of water creates an instant spot cleaner for carpets and upholstered furniture – along with the obvious use for cleaning dishes.
  • Baking soda: Mix it with lemon juice for a scrub or sprinkle it on carpets before you vacuum to absorb odors, among many other tricks you can learn.
  • White vinegar: You can make a lot of good cleaning solutions by mixing vinegar with something else. Having some around is almost always useful.
  • Isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide: Similar to vinegar, these are often mixed with other things to make good cleaning solutions.

Read more: Tips to Tame Your Cluttered Room of Shame and Cheap Green Cleaning

  • A caddy: Having this will make it much easier to carry your cleaning supplies around the house. It also helps you avoid having to run back and forth to get what you forgot.
  • Broom, dustpan, and mop: These are crucial for cleaning up anything on hardwood or tile floors.
  • Microfiber sweeper: If you have pets, this will do wonders for getting pet hair off of your floors.
  • Vacuum cleaner: These are crucial if you have carpets, but even hardwood and tile floors can use a good vacuuming from time to time.
  • Rubber gloves: You really don’t want to get the mess all over your hands and forearms. This is especially useful when using bleach or other chemicals that can harm your skin.


  • Scrub brush: One of many tools to help get stubborn grease and other substances off your dishes. This can also handle a lot of cleaning and brushing tasks in other areas as well.
  • Dish cloth: Even if you use a dishwasher to dry your dishes, you’ll want something to dry dishes in a pinch.
  • Scrubbing pads and steel wool: These are needed when you have particularly strong grease that a standard brush or sponge won’t do anything to.
  • Cloth and paper towels: You have to clean up spills with something.
  • Plastic scraper: One of many tools made for getting really stubborn grease off of your pots and pans.
  • Sponges: These are essential for doing dishes. Just make sure to have a lot of them – they quickly become infested with a lot of bacteria, so replacing them consistently is vital.
  • Antibacterial wipes: There’s a lot of bacteria in raw food. After you cook or do the dishes, wipe down the countertops to keep the bacteria from building up.

Read more: Green Tips for Natural Kitchen Cleaning


  • Toilet brush: It should be obvious that toilets are a mess, so get a brush made specifically for cleaning them.
  • Toothbrush: No, not yours. Get one with hard, rigid bristles to make it easier to scrub stains out of grout.
  • Grout brush: Sometimes, the toothbrush just won’t cut it and you need something made just for the task.

 Read more: Bathroom Hacks without Chemicals

Living room

  • Lint roller: These aren’t just for your clothes. Running them over your couch and other fabric surfaces will get a lot of hard to deal with lint out of the way.
  • Duster: Something with a long handle will let you get the top of furniture that you’d otherwise miss most of the time. Either feather or microfiber will work well for most situations.

There’s always more that you can buy, but these essentials will cover the most common situations, and even some of the more uncommon ones.

Related: How to Clean Your Cleaning Tools




Prioritize Your Apartment Cleaning Efforts

If the interior of your apartment looks like an episode of “Hoarders,” then it’s time to get serious about your cleaning chores.


Sure, nobody likes to clean, but if you create a plan and chip away at it during the week, you can keep cleaning under control. How good would it feel to never again have to waste a perfectly good Saturday afternoon on an intense, four-hour cleaning spree?

With that in mind, here are a few tips for developing an organized cleaning strategy you can live with.

Set priorities
When you’re in the mood to clean, you may be tempted to tackle every chore on your list: dusting, vacuuming, mopping, spit-shining, re-arranging, organizing your spice rack — the list can go on. Trying to tackle all of these chores at once can lead to an overload and subsequent meltdown. That’s why it’s important to set apartment cleaning priorities and work these tasks in reasonable chunks of time throughout the week.

The key to keeping your apartment clean is to decide which chores are the most important. First consider which chores are so important that you should be doing them every day — things like washing the dishes, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, and straightening up countertops should be on your short-list of daily chores. Next, think about weekly chores — the things you need to do at least once a week so that your apartment cleaning situation doesn’t get out of control. Weekly chores include things like vacuuming, dusting, and doing laundry.

Read more: 7 Obvious Signs That You Are a Hoarder

Once you’ve got these daily and weekly chore lists established, set the tasks in order. Create a daily chore pyramid and a weekly chore pyramid that shows how important each task is. Glance at your pyramid every day, and remind yourself that you at least need to take care of the most important task on that list. When you’ve completed that task — and if you have the time that day — you can tackle other chores in their order of importance.

Apartment cleaning checklists
Creating your own apartment cleaning checklist can help you manage your time. For each chore on your pyramid, create a micro-list that details the steps to finish the task. If “clean bathroom” is on your weekly chore list, for example, your cleaning checklist for the bathroom might look like this:

  • Switch out dirty towels for clean ones
  • Scrub shower
  • Clean toilet
  • Wipe off mirror
  • Scrub sink
  • Vacuum and mop floor

If you’ve got a chore checklist like this for every task in your cleaning pyramid, you can help yourself be as efficient as possible during your designated cleaning time. You can even keep your checklists in plastic page protectors and use dry erase markers to check off the tasks as you complete them. (All right — that might be asking too much.)

Red more: In-Laws Visiting? 15 Ways to Tidy Up in No Time

Use a chore chart
If you need a little extra motivation to stay on top of your apartment cleaning, a chore chart could give you a bit of visual encouragement. If you’ve got roommates or a big family, a chore chart can be an especially effective tool for apartment cleaning.  Write everyone’s name on the chart with associated chores and deadlines, and then hang the chore chart in a central location. If each person’s duties are all written down on paper, no one can say they forgot about doing their part.

Not only do chore charts foster better communication between roommates, they can also turn a boring round of apartment cleaning into a game. Assign points to the various cleaning chores and then have a weekly competition to see who can get the most points. The winner gets a prize (maybe a week off of chores?) and the friendly competition makes things a little more interesting. (Singing the Mary Poppins song while you clean is optional, of course.)

Develop good habits to stay clean
Maintaining a clean apartment boils down to keeping good habits. If your current apartment cleaning habits leave a lot to be desired, you can teach yourself to take a more organized approach — follow through and you’ll find yourself living in a cleaner space!

Read more: 17 Cleaning Essentials for Your Apartment

Photo credit: Shutterstock / LukaTDB