How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out

Moving out of your apartment can be bittersweet. You pack up all of your things, begin moving furniture, start taking down wall art– and, find yourself face to face with that golf ball-sized hole in the wall you accidentally made one night, then covered with art.

After living in an apartment for at least a year, there’s bound to be some small damage here and there. While some wear and tear is normal and should be built into your lease, fixing minor damage before moving out will ensure you get your full security deposit back. Plus, you’ll stay on good terms with your landlord, who you may need for references down the road.

To make sure you leave your apartment in good condition before moving out, take a look at these normal damage issues and their fixes:

Small holes

After taking down the photos from your gallery wall, you probably noticed the many small holes left by nails that were used to hang the frames. Patching small holes left by nails, tacks and screws is simple and will leave the walls looking great again.

You’ll need some spackling paste, a putty knife and some sandpaper. Squeeze a small glob of the spackle into each hole, then use the putty knife to spread and blend it over the hole and wall. Once the spackle is dry, use the sandpaper to lightly sand the area, especially around the edges, to leave a smooth, flat wall.

In a real pinch, you can use some materials around the apartment to fill the hole. Plain white toothpaste or baking soda mixed with white glue can also work to fill nail holes, but aren’t recommended unless you absolutely have no time to get the right materials.

Large holes

Now it’s time to tackle that large hole you hid under your favorite painting. Mending large holes in drywall isn’t as easy as some of the other fixes, but it will most likely cost you less than if you were to let your landlord handle it and deduct it from your deposit .

Pick up a mesh repair patch at the hardware store to use with your spackle. Then, cut the patch so that it fits over the hole and the surrounding wall. Cover the patch with spackle, and after it dries, sand down the edges so they blend into the wall completely.

Scuff marks

Though scuff marks likely aren’t going to cost you any of your security deposit, they make the apartment appear dirtier than it is and make more work for whoever has to clean thee apartment.

Since I seem to make an inordinate amount of scuffs on the walls of my apartments, I typically don’t try to tackle them all– just really noticeable and large ones. A magic eraser works wonders to get rid of them, so pick up a couple and your walls will be white again in no time.

Broken blinds

Another common damage issue I’m guilty of is bending or even breaking some of my window blinds. Before moving out, dust your windows and blinds, and make sure none are bent or cracked. If bent, do your best to straighten them out as much as possible. If you can’t straighten them, or if one of the blinds is broken, start by looking at the bottom – there’s often a spare slat in any set of blinds. If not, look for blinds of the same size and color at your hardware store. Replace the broken slat with the new one, and your landlord won’t ever know the difference!

Carpet stains

If you’re a red-wine drinker living in a carpeted apartment, you probably know a thing or two about removing carpet stains. Tackling stains before they get a chance to set will help your carpet look better overall, but before moving out, peruse the carpet for any stains you might have missed.  Try using baking soda or carpet cleaner first. If that’s not strong enough to remove the stains, consider renting a carpet cleaner from your hardware or grocery store. They’re easy to use, and your carpets will be unrecognizably clean when you’re done.

Fix damage to the carpet

Now that you’ve fixed the stains on the carpet, is it still intact? If there are damaged patches, or if it’s started to come loose around the edges, or any other damage, you’ll want to get it fixed. Even if you have to hire someone, it’s likely going to be cheaper than having your landlord take it out of your deposit.

Scratches on hardwood

Renters love apartments with hardwood floors because they’re much easier to clean than carpet, but they do have one common problem: Hardwood is easy to scratch. There are a couple of quick fixes for the shallower scrapes, though. Many people swear by the walnut method, which involves rubbing a raw walnut along the scrape until the scratch blends into the rest of the floor. This method works well, just not on deep scratches and darker woods.

For deeper scratches, look for a wood-colored marker or pencil at the hardware store. These products are specifically made for filling in and disguising the scrapes.

Replace light bulbs

If any light bulbs burned out in places that you can easily access, now is the time to take care of them. If there are some that are difficult to reach, such as in high up or complicated fixtures, you might need help or for your landlord to handle them. Even so, replacing any easily accessible ones that burned out will give your landlord less to repair and take out of your deposit.

General dirtiness

Deep cleaning your apartment is recommended to ensure you get your full deposit back, and to give your landlord less of a headache when he or she is trying to ready the unit for the next renter.

Give everything a good wiping, sweeping and dusting, but spend extra time in the kitchen and bathroom. The refrigerator, microwave, oven and stove should all be thoroughly cleaned, along with the toilet, shower, tub and sink.

Take pictures

This isn’t a repair but is crucial to getting more of your deposit back. Take pictures of the current state of everything in the apartment that you couldn’t fix yourself. Having this documentation helps as later defense, in case your landlord takes too much out of the security deposit. Having pictures will work much better than your word against theirs in case things end up in front of small claims court.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Clean Kitchen Appliances

You’ve mopped the floors, wiped the sink and washed the dishes, but your kitchen still doesn’t smell or feel clean. Perhaps your appliances are to blame, as they are used endlessly throughout the year, withstand lots of spilled or spoiled food and receive all-too-few scrub-downs.

Fix the problem by scouring your appliances the right way, and outfit your home with that “Ahh, clean!” scent when guests walk in the door. Break the tasks up between a few days or two weekends if it feels overwhelming, but you’ll be glad you did it in the end.

Refrigerator

  1. Remove everything from the refrigerator, and throw away anything you don’t use or that is expired.
  2. Remove the shelves and drawers from the refrigerator to clean in the grooves that hold the shelves.
  3. Wash the shelves, drawers, walls and floor of the refrigerator with a washcloth soaked in a grease-cutting dishwashing soap and water, and scrub tough-to-clean parts with a paste made of baking soda and water.
  4. Rinse with a damp washcloth, and dry the inside of the fridge with a towel to avoid streaks.
  5. Put everything back in the fridge, grouping like condiments together (such as mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup on one shelf and pickles and relishes on another).
  6. Place an opened box of baking soda on a shelf to absorb future odors.

Microwave

  1. To loosen greasy stains and get rid of smells inside the microwave, cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a microwave-safe container, mixed with about a cup and a half of water. Toss the squeezed lemon halves in as well.
  2. Microwave the mixture, uncovered, for five to 10 minutes, allowing the steam to condense on all areas inside.
  3. Remove the bowl and wipe the inside of the microwave with a soft dishcloth, leaving your microwave clean and smelling great.

Oven

If you have a self-cleaning oven, set the self-cleaning cycle on a very cold day and turn on the vent hood and ceiling fans to reduce fumes and smoke throughout the house. Make sure you don’t need to use the oven first, as it locks for the duration of the cleaning. After the cycle is complete, wipe the ashes from the bottom of the oven with a damp cloth, and use a gentle cleanser to wash the oven door.

If you don’t have a self-cleaning setting on your oven (or if you’re conserving energy, as oven-cleaning uses the highest heat setting for about four hours), try to wipe up spills as soon as they happen so they won’t become stuck to the bottom. For stubborn messes, mix baking soda and water until it forms a paste and scrub the oven with a plastic- or thick-bristled brush, and wipe away the residue with a damp cloth.

Cooktop

  1. For big spills on a ceramic cooktop, carefully pour water from a recently boiled kettle over them and let them soak until the water cools to lukewarm.
  2. Wash them away with soapy water (or a non-abrasive cleaner, such as Soft Scrub) and a sponge.
  3. Dry your range top with paper towels to keep it streak-free.
  4. For stubborn messes, purchase a scraper specifically made for a ceramic cooktop, which you can find from a hardware or kitchen store, then clean as mentioned before.
  5. Shine your stovetop with polish made specifically for glass stove tops.

For non-ceramic range tops, you can use a more abrasive cleaner to remove stubborn stains, and wipe away residue with a damp cloth.

Garbage Disposal

Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie knows how scary cleaning the garbage disposal can be.

  1. Turn off the fuse that powers your garbage disposal so you’ll feel more at ease cleaning it.
  2. Use tongs or pliers to remove debris from the rotating impellers inside.
  3. Turn the power back on, combine two cups of ice and a cup of rock salt, pour it down the garbage disposal, run cold water over it and turn on the garbage disposal for about 10 seconds, which will help remove anything stuck to the grinding elements.
  4. Continue running cold water until the ice and salt have dissolved, sprinkle several lemon peels into the garbage disposal and grind the peels with the water still running, which will deodorize your disposer and kitchen.

Washing Machine

  1. For oil or gasoline-based stains or smells inside your washing machine, try leaving your washing machine door open for a few days.
  2. If that doesn’t work, liberally spray a grease-dissolving, all-purpose cleaner on the walls and drum of the washing machine and leave the door open for a day.
  3. Wipe the sides out with a damp cloth, and wash a load of towels, using laundry detergent, on the hottest setting.
  4. Leave the washing machine door open for one more day to air out.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

8 Ways to Get Rid of Allergies

Ah, spring: The time of year when flowers bloom, the air warms and … ahh-choo! … your allergies start to drive you crazy.

You might not be able to do much about the pollen and other common sneeze-inducers outside but inside your apartment? That’s another story.

Allergens — substances that provoke the immune system, even though they’re usually harmless — are often found in the home in the forms of dust and mold.

People with allergies are part of an exclusive (sniffly) club. They’re the only people who know how it feels to be constantly at war with allergens everywhere from dust to pollen to pet hair, all in an effort to continue breathing effortlessly. People who don’t have allergies? They just don’t get it.

Get rid of allergies by following these steps

When you’re prone to sniffles and sneezes during allergy season — or at any other time of year — it’s important to keep your apartment as free of allergens as possible. Read on, fellow allergy sufferers, for eight practical tips on how to get rid of allergies.

1. Get rid of dust mites

Dust mites are the ultimate allergens. To keep them out, dust your entire apartment. Use a damp rag or a Dustbuster on every surface, including your blinds and window treatments, and make sure to clean every inch of your floors thoroughly.

Then, take extra steps to keep dust mites at bay. Use dust covers on your pillows and mattresses, get rid of any unused baskets or bins in your closets that gather dust, and wash your sheets regularly.

2. Clean up

In general, the cleaner your apartment, the less likely you’ll have to deal with allergens. Set a cleaning schedule with your roommates to make sure the place is dusted, wiped down, swept and vacuumed at least once a week.

Throw out expired food and wipe out the inside and outside to avoid mold growth. Scrub your bathtub or shower as often as needed to prevent mold and mildew growth. Vacuum couch cushions and throw pillows often.

vacuumvacuum

3. Vacuum your carpet

Many renters love carpet — after all, it’s cushiony, comfortable and it keeps your feet a bit warmer during the winter. However, carpet easily traps allergens in its fibers. Invest in a high-quality vacuum, and clean your carpet from wall to wall regularly.

4. Do the laundry

Your laundry hamper traps everything from dust mites to pet dander. Likewise, your sheets and pillowcases pick up allergens more quickly than you may think. If you’re struggling with sniffles and sneezes, you may want to amp up your laundry schedule.

Wash sheets in hot water once a week. Encase your mattress in a dust mite-proof cover. On top of doing laundry more, you can also put your hamper in the closet to keep any dust or dander better contained.

Don’t forget your favorite childhood stuffed animal we all know you still have. Wash them in the machine, if possible. If not, put the toy in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer for 24 hours. This will kill dust mites hiding in the stuffing.

dogdog

5. Keep Fido or Felix groomed

Pet allergies are some of the most common, so if you own a cat or dog, your furry friend may be to blame for your sniffles. Cut down on Fido’s dander by keeping him groomed and clean. Use a brush or fur-grabbing tool to pick up loose fur, and take it immediately out of your apartment so it doesn’t find its way into your carpet or bedding.

Also, give Fido a bath every once in a while — the more on top of his grooming you are, the less likely his dander and fur will get all over your apartment.

6. Close your windows

When the weather starts to warm up for spring, it feels blissful to open your windows and let in the breeze. However, it’s not just a breeze you’re letting in — it’s pollen, too. Keep your windows closed if you notice yourself getting really stuffed up during the typical spring allergy season. Also, you can buy washable curtains and dust your blinds often.

air filterair filter

7. Replace your vent filters

Dust, dirt, lint and other debris often build up in vents. And you know what that means: Your heat or air conditioning then blows that debris into your apartment, filling the air with potential allergens.

If your landlord didn’t replace the vent filters before you moved in, see if he or she is willing to make that upgrade now. Most landlords will be happy to.

8. Declutter

Clutter is your worst enemy when it comes to ridding your apartment of allergens. That pile of clothes in your closet and the stack of old magazines in the basket in the living room gather tons of dust.

The moral? If you’re not using it, throw it out. Keep your apartment clear of any spots that can easily fill with dust. You’ll be free of allergens in no time — or at least freer.

Take action to get rid of allergies

Figuring out how to get rid of allergies can be hard. But you can increase your chances of eliminating your apartment of allergens by following these simple tips. Not only will they cut down on the number of tissues you’ll go through, but it will make your apartment a nice, clean oasis, as well.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Free Downloadable Chore Wheel: Divide and Conquer Your Apartment Cleaning

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 pitch 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

Making the 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

(Betty is my fictional roommate.)

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!

Using the Chore Wheel

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 I’ll be in charge of taking out the trash, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom, while Fictional Roommate 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 our 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.

More advice on the Apartment Guide Blog:

How is your chore wheel working out in your apartment?

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Source: apartmentguide.com

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.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Too Many Toys! How to Declutter

While having a child can add so much joy to a parent’s life, these little loved ones also bring certain challenges – including the spatial needs for a family. Living in a rental with a child can feel cramped and cluttered. If you have a child who loves playing with toys, but you don’t have a lot of space in your home, there are some simple solutions you can employ to keep your kids’ favorite toys organized and accessible. Want to know more about the best toy storage solutions? We’ve compiled a list of 4 helpful tips to keep your kids’ toys easy to access and out of the way.

1. Bookshelves and Baskets

If you have a child who likes to run around your rental, or have play space that is combined with living space, you’ll want to get the toys off the floor when playtime is over. One of the best solutions for storing toys is a bookshelf with baskets. Use a bookshelf that already holds books or purchase a smaller bookcase that is solely dedicated to toys, storing them on the bottom shelves so your child can easily reach them. Then, purchase some attractive baskets made from wicker, plastic, or wood to store the toys. Toys can be removed when it’s time to play and easily gathered into the baskets, then slipped onto a shelf when it’s time to clean up.

2. Under-Bed Storage

Does your child primarily play in his or her room? Consider investing in long, flat bins that can fit under a bed for toy storage. This is a great way to keep toys out of sight and reduce visible clutter. Long, flat bins also work for storing toys under a couch or futon. Under-bed or couch bins are great for storing toys that don’t need to be accessed everyday, but are easy to get to when needed – like puzzles, board games, or stuffed animals.

3. Behind-the-Door Organizers

You’ve probably seen those hanging over-the-door organizers intended for shoes, but these organizers can also be an excellent tool for keeping toys organized and off the floor. Fill the shoe pouches with art and craft supplies, action figures, or even building blocks. Toys will be accessible to the kids when they want them, but can be hidden away when you have guests.

4. Coat Hooks and Tote Bags

Another attractive way to store kids’ toys in a playroom or bedroom is with a set of wall-mounted coat hooks and labeled tote bags, which you can find at most craft stores. Use a permanent marker to note what kind of toys each tote will hold. You can even make this into an art project with the kids. Have them help decorate canvas tote bags that will hold all of their toys. Then, mount the coat hooks to the wall and hang the bags on the hooks. This is a neat and organized way to store toys, and it still allows your little ones easy access to their favorite belongings. You can also swap out labeled totes with clear, plastic bags or pouches so that children can see the contents inside.

Do you live with children in a rental? If so, how do you keep toys organized? Share your toy storage ideas with us (or send a picture!) on Facebook or tweet @AptGuide.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Clean Your Cleaning Tools

Your cleaning tools help you get your apartment spick-and-span, but they won’t be as effective if they’re dirty. You may not have considered tidying up your tools–they clean, so why clean them?–but doing so is worth your time. Your supplies can harbor bacteria, dirt and debris when not properly cared for (eww!).

Everything from vacuuming to sweeping will be more effective when your cleaning tools are in better condition. With that in mind, you may be wondering how to clean your tools. Here’s a guide for all the supplies you use most:

Broom cleaningBroom cleaning

Broom

With all the dust and dirt your broom picks up, it can get messy. Fortunately, getting it to shine isn’t too challenging.

Every week, bring your broom outside and knock it against a wall or railing to loosen the dust. You can also comb the broom or use a vacuum hose to clean the bristles if there’s too much dust or hair to shake off.

Once a month, soak the broom in a solution that contains warm water and dish soap. Rinse the broom and let it dry before you use it again.

Mop cleaningMop cleaning

Mop

Take a look at the kind of mop you have. If it has a removable cotton head, you may be able to wash it with your laundry–nice, right? Sponge heads should be cleaned like a sponge (see below).

Also, make sure to clean the handle with an antibacterial wipe.

Clean vacuumClean vacuum

Vacuum

Because every vacuum model is different, no single cleaning process will work for them all. As such, you should check your machine’s user manual to see specifically how to clean the vacuum. However, there are a few things that help, no matter your model:

  • Empty the dirt container into your trash. Some vacuums have bags, while others have a plastic cylinder. Either way, clearing the dirt keeps the vacuum from getting clogged and losing suction.
  • Check the bottom of your vacuum and its attachments for hair or strands caught in the spinning pieces. Clip them with scissors and pull them out, as the vacuum won’t be able to suck them up.
  • Run a clean, soft dishwasher through each opening, oftentimes coming out another
  • If vacuum isn’t like that can try canned air
  • Wash outside with mild soap and water and dry
  • Rotate your filters (hand wash if possible with warm soapy water)

brushbrush

Brushes

You probably use scrubbing brushes to clean dishes, your toilet, or shower. No matter what kind of cleaning brush it is, here’s how to clean it:

  • Use a pen to pick out hairs and other debris that’s caught in the bristles.
  • Fill a bucket part way with warm water, then pour a cup of your favorite cleaning solution into the bucket.
  • Stir and dissolve the powder.
  • Add your brushes, face down, to the liquid.
  • Let them soak for 30-60 minutes.
  • Leave them out to air dry.

Do this procedure every month to keep your brushes in clean condition. Also, rinse them in between uses to help the clean last longer.

Sponge cleaningSponge cleaning

Sponges

If you’re used to throwing out dirty sponges, this will be a wonderful change– you won’t have to spend money to replace them all the time.

You have a number of options for cleaning your sponges, so pick from these methods:

Dishwasher

The lucky renters out there who have dishwashers can use the appliance to sanitize cleaning tools. Simply put your sponges inside in the silverware rack and run the machine on the sanitation mode. If you run it on regular, you won’t end up with a clean sponge.

Soak in cleaning solution

Similar to your brushes, you could also let your sponge soak in a mixture of water and cleaning solution or bleach. Make sure to wring it out when you’re done.

Microwave

Not only can your microwave cook, but it can also clean. First rinse the sponge with water to remove food markings. Then, put the sponge in a bowl of water and microwave for three minutes. Remove the sponge with tongs (it’s going to be hot) and run under cold water. Warning: do not use this method if  your sponge has metal or foil parts as they can damage your microwave.

Even with regular cleaning, you still need to replace your sponges after a while. When the scrubby side is worn down or the sponge is falling apart, it’s time for a new one.

Cleaning dirty ragsCleaning dirty rags

Cloths and dishrags

Wash regular cloths in the washing machine with some baking soda to cut through deep stains. Wash them separately from clothing or anything you value, as the dirt and grime from past use can rub off into other fabrics.

If you have rags with grease stains, try washing them with a can of coke. Just pour a full can into your washing machine along with laundry detergent and run your machine on a heavy duty cycle. The phosphoric acid in cola dissolves grease.

Cleaning microfiber clothsCleaning microfiber cloths

Microfiber cloths

If you have a microfiber cloth, you generally use it for easy jobs, like cleaning glass or mirrors, or dusting. Don’t use them for really dirty jobs. Why? Because the way you have to clean them won’t cut through the grime.

These cleaning tools use static charge to draw particles to them, and you want to maintain the charge. To do so, rinse in the sink, scrubbing with your hands, then throw in a delicates bag. Place the bag in the washing machine alone (no other clothing) and add a bit of detergent. Avoid fabric softeners, which reduce static. Once clean, place the bag in your dryer without a sheet– this will help the cloth retain its static charge.

Duster cleaningDuster cleaning

Dusters

A feather or wool duster mostly needs a good smack. Take it outside and shake it or hit it against a wall or railing (like a broom) to knock the dust loose. Make sure you’re outdoors, or else you’ll fill the room with dust, which you’ll need to clean with the duster, leaving you right back where you started.

If it’s more than a simple shaking can solve, soak it in warm water mixed with a few drops of dish soap. Swirl it around, rinse, and then hang to dry. Once it’s dry, carefully fluff it up, making sure not to rip anything.

Cleaning a washing machineCleaning a washing machine

Washing machine

Your big appliances need to be cleaned, too. Don’t forget them just because they’re stationary and blend in with the furniture.

Run one cycle with the machine full of warm water mixed with a quart of bleach (and no clothes!). If you don’t have or don’t want to use bleach, a quart of white vinegar will work as well.

Dishwasher cleaningDishwasher cleaning

Dishwasher

Your dishwasher needs the occasional clean, just like the washing machine.

You need to clear out the drain first. There’s likely to be food residue in there, but sometimes bones, pieces of plastic or glass, and other debris can get in there and cause some damage. Remove anything you find in there.

Once you’ve cleaned the drain, get a large cup or bowl (dishwasher safe, obviously). Fill it with white vinegar and set it on the top rack. With nothing else in the dishwasher, run it for a cycle on the highest temperature setting.

Taking care of your cleaning supplies will help them last longer and help you do a better job of getting your apartment sparkling clean.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

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.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Living Large in a Small Space

Squeezing your life into a tiny apartment, home, or condo can be a challenge, but you don’t have to sacrifice style or live knee-high in a sea of clutter. No matter how small, a space can be enjoyable and feel spacious with just the right touch. Here are some ways five tips on how to maximize your space, making it feel like home:

Downsize

You don’t have to get rid of everything but going through the process of downsizing can ease the clutter by getting rid of things you don’t really need. You probably did this before moving into your new space, but if you’ve had some time to accumulate more stuff, you may need to revisit it.

Brighten the atmosphere

Choose a crisp, light color scheme for things like curtains, sofa, and throw rugs to make the room feel bigger, brighter and comfy. Avoid darker tones that make a space appear uninviting and small.

Lots of natural light in a space can make it seem larger, too. Changing window treatments, if possible, or simply opening blinds and curtains during the day can make any room more pleasant.

Mirror appeal

Take a page out of restaurant strategy and try hanging up a few mirrors. It gives the illusion of feeling like you’re in a much larger and lighter space, and sometimes the illusion is all you need to feel better.

Style with function

With little space, you can’t give over space to something with just one function. A table with storage underneath or a desk that pulls out from the wall gives you effectively more space to work with. If you’re in a one-bedroom apartment, or even a studio, opting for a sofa bed can be a smart choice if you host guests from out of town. This takes away the need for an extra room and bed, while still being practical for everyday use.

Curtain call

Hang your curtains higher (the higher the better) to give the appearance of higher ceilings. You can also let in more light and make windows look wider by extending a curtain rod by four inches or more on either side of the windows. This will not only give the illusion of more square footage, but allows more light to enter too!

Shelve it

Getting clutter off of the floor can make any space seem bigger. If you’re letting items collect, trying various shelving. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate.

Curtain call

Getting clutter off the floor can make any space seem bigger. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate. If that’s enough, you might need to get more creative.

Be clever about storage

You still need places to stick your stuff, and a little creativity can get you a lot more space. If your bed frame is off the ground, you can put some boxes and other storage containers underneath it – the same goes for any other furniture with space under it. When you run out of that space, look to hooks and racks that go on the back of your doors. These are especially helpful in closets, where you can get shoe hangers to held more than just shoes, or bathrooms, where you can store what doesn’t fit in your drawers or cabinets. Still not enough space? Some cleverly placed peg boards can convert wall space to storage space, as well as keeping commonly used things in easy reach.

With these tips, take a look around your space and see how you can update! Have more tips to share based on your personal experience? Share in the comments below!

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans

Back in the days when you first moved out, you probably had cheap pots and pans that you gave little thought. After all, they were just part of some kitchen set, and taking care of them wouldn’t have helped them last much longer. But now that you’ve been on your own for a while and have built a collection of high-quality cookware, you want to make sure you protect your investment– some of this stuff could serve you the rest of your cooking days!

With that in mind, here’s how to take care of your quality pots and pans:

The material your pots and pans are made of affects how you clean and maintain them. For this reason, you should not only know and follow the materials used in your cookware’s construction, but also the ideal conditions for those materials. Here’s a look at common materials used to build high-end cookware:

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel cookware is often built with several metals. If your pots and pans are tri-ply, that means they have three layers. Often, the outermost layers are made of stainless steel and sandwich another metal, usually aluminum.

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Consider Material Stainless SteelHow to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Consider Material Stainless Steel

Multi-ply pots are considered high-quality because they have the features of several metals all wrapped into one tool. For instance, stainless steel reaches high temperatures and is great for searing and browning food. Aluminum distributes heat evenly to prevent hot spots and burning.

Coated

Enamel, ceramic– or porcelain-coated stainless steel pans are the Rolls Royce of nonstick cookware. Teflon pans can be dangerous when used at high heat, but ceramic-coated stainless steel is safe to use at high heat.

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Consider Material CoatedHow to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Consider Material Coated

In fact, you can use the pans at high temperatures and they’ll be totally safe for your food. More importantly, the construction is effective at preventing food from sticking.

Cast Iron

Naturally stick-resistant, cast iron has a heavy-duty construction that lasts a lifetime. Cast iron can also impart extra flavor on your food.

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Consider Material Cast IronHow to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Consider Material Cast Iron

Cleaning

High-quality pots and pans, no matter their construction and material, are fairly safe to use in whatever normal way you intend. You can saute on low to high heat without worrying about melting the coating. Where you really need to pay attention to your cookware is when cleaning. Using the wrong cleaning method for the material can do some real damage.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is prone to discoloration and burn marks, which is a shame given they’re so shiny when you first buy them. However, if after repeated use, your pans have marks, you can get them to look like new. Of course, preventing marks in the first place is best.

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Cleaning Stainless SteelHow to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Cleaning Stainless Steel

Avoid soaking if possible, as the iron in some tap water can cause rust. Use a scrubbing pad and regular dish soap after using your pot.

You can stick stainless steel in the dishwasher. But if you want to get rid of stains, you’ll have to do so by hand. Remove marks by cleaning your pots and pans with a stainless steel cleaning product, like Bar Keepers Friend.

Coated

You have to be gentler with ceramic-coated pots and pans, as their coating can scratch and chip. Avoid using steel wool to clean them– soaking them in soapy water to help release food is better than scrubbing with a harsh pad.

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Cleaning CoatedHow to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Cleaning Coated

Also, clean your pans right away. The coating can soak up some flavor, and if the food is left too long, everything else you cook on it will taste like that one potent spice.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a unique product, which means cleaning will be a little different. Clean it immediately after using and do not let it soak, as cast iron can rust. Also, do not use soap. The metal is porous, meaning it will absorb the flavor of the soap, making all your food taste like a Dove bar.

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Cleaning Cast IronHow to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Cleaning Cast Iron

Instead, scrub off food and rinse. Then, dry it completely and rub oil inside the pan, a step called “seasoning.”

Maintenance Tips

In addition to employing proper cleaning techniques, you should use best practices when cooking with your high-quality pots and pans.

How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Maintenance TipsHow to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans - Maintenance Tips

Here are some tips that will help your cookware last longer and maintain its look:

  • Avoid using metal kitchen tools, as they can scratch cookware. Instead, use wood or silicone.
  • Don’t cook acidic foods (like tomato) in cast-iron cookware. The acid can eat through the metal.
  • Be gentle with coated cookware to avoid chipping the porcelain.
  • Don’t stack coated pots and pans on top of each other. Storing them in another way (hanging on hooks, laid on their sides) can prevent scratching and chipping

High-quality pots and pans are an investment, and taking good care of them can ensure they last you a long time.

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Source: apartmentguide.com