Get a Head Start on Spring Cleaning

It’s early March, which means that spring is less than a month away. Use the next month to get your house in perfect, organized order so you can spend spring enjoying the wonderful weather outside.

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The following plan is designed to clean from high to low places in your home so you won’t have to go back over any areas. Follow the steps in order for a clean home just in time for spring, and feel free to break up the jobs over the next few weekends so the work doesn’t take up one whole weekend. These items should be done in addition to your normal weekly or biweekly housecleaning.

Declutter

Spring is the time to renew, which means it’s also the perfect opportunity to get rid of items in your house that are weighing you down. Separate items into four action-item areas: trash, give away/sell, storage and put away. If the thought of cleaning out all of the closets overwhelms you, focus on one room or area of the house at a time, and start with the most time-consuming part to feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s completely clutter-free. Then, the rest of the rooms, closets and drawers should be a breeze – or at least not as difficult as the first task.

Dust up high and down low

Using a microfiber, static-cling cloth (like a Swiffer duster), remove dust from ceiling fans, light fixtures and on top of furniture and appliances, such as the refrigerator. Use the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner to clean the dust on air conditioner vents, radiators, door frames and windowsills. Remove cobwebs from windows and walls.

Move the big pieces

Once or twice a year, dust behind the sofa, dressers, nightstands and china cabinet and under the beds. Use your vacuum cleaner’s crevice attachment to suck up the dust along the baseboards. While you’re at it, vacuum the baseboards of your closets as well.

Even more cleaning tips from Apartment Guide:

Wash lesser-used linens

You might be surprised at the linens you rarely think about washing, such as dust ruffles, mattress pads, decorative shams, throw pillow covers, curtains, dining room chair covers, sofa cushion covers (check to make sure they’re washable), tablecloths, runners, welcome mats, afghans, decorative towels and extra blankets. If you’re afraid to wash them in the washing machine, check the tags for washing instructions and wash them by hand in cold water, though you’ll probably be fine grouping them by color and washing them on the gentle cycle in cold water with a mild detergent. Hang these linens to dry.

Scrub the forgotten areas

Using a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water (or a store-bought degreasing cleaner) and a washcloth, clean fingerprints off doors, light switch plate covers and electrical outlet covers (carefully!). Clean the inside and outside of windows using a window cleaner or a solution of one part white distilled vinegar to one part water. Wipe away streaks with newspaper.

Clean inside appliances

  • Refrigerator: Take everything out of the refrigerator and scrub the shelves, inside the drawers and the inner doors using a paste made from baking soda and water. Then wipe away residue with a clean, damp washcloth.
  • Oven: Clean inside the oven using your oven’s self-cleaning feature or by spraying your cold oven with a baking soda and water solution (3 teaspoons baking soda to about one liter of water) several times a day, which will loosen the black carbon enough for you to wipe it down with a damp cloth until it is clean.
  • Washing machine: While wearing protective gloves, wipe mold and mildew from the inside of your washing machine using the bleach and water solution mentioned earlier. Then run your empty washing machine on the normal, permanent press or medium cycle using ½ cup of bleach and hot water, set for the largest load. When the cycle is finished, leave the washing machine door open for a day to air out.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / dcwcreations

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Feel at Home in Your New Apartment Quickly

So you’ve done it — found a new apartment, signed the lease and moved in.

Problem is, your new apartment doesn’t quite feel like home yet. You’re in a new place, both in terms of the neighborhood and the apartment itself. There’s going to be some time where you’re not exactly comfortable.

That feeling won’t last forever, and eventually, your new place will feel like home. The question is, how do you get there?

Making your apartment feel like a home

The first thing you need to do is figure out what’s bothering you about your apartment when you move in. Here are a few potential issues:

  • You don’t own it, you’re just renting: Even if you’re “just renting,” you still live in your apartment. While there are limits, you’re able to do a lot of things to make it more like somewhere you want to live, so don’t let this idea take over your mindset.
  • Reflect on what’s making you uncomfortable: It takes a lot of self-awareness, but try to pinpoint the things that are really bothering you. Walk around the rooms, trying to pick out the things that are causing you to feel uncomfortable. It takes a lot of effort, and your first answers probably won’t be the right ones, but you’ll at least have some starting points.
  • Know your limits: Your lease limits the things that you can do — as much as you’d want to knock out a wall you don’t like, you don’t want to deal with the consequences. You also have limited time, money and energy, so make sure to choose things that will have an impact without taking up too much of your time, money or energy.

If the above exercise gave you answers, then you’re already on the right track. If not, don’t panic — there are some simple things you can do that will help get you started to make your apartment feel like home.

1. Unpack one room at a time

boy in boxboy in box

If every room is in a state of disarray, there’s nowhere in your apartment you can go to feel sane. The bedroom is a great place to start. Get your bed set up with your favorite sheets and your pillow in its proper place. If it makes you more comfortable, add your night table, reading lamp and any books or photographs.

It will give you somewhere to retreat when you’re overwhelmed, as well as some help in how to handle the rest of the rooms. You may also want to make sure the bedroom is free of boxes before you go to bed, so you don’t have the obvious reminder of more unpacking to do as you’re drifting off to sleep or waking up the next day.

2. Get boxes, junk out of the way

Tripping over boxes or even just looking at them is going to stress you out. As you get things unpacked, break down the boxes and get them out of the way. This can mean recycling or throwing them away, but depending on how much progress you’ve made, you might be best just throwing them in another room to take care of later. It’s not the best option over the long term but can help out a lot at the beginning.

3. Plan lighting

lightslights

Lighting is a powerful and often under-appreciated element that can make your apartment feel different immediately. The right lighting turns a drab space into a cozy one. Here are some tips for using lighting to make your new apartment feel like home.

Many interior designers agree that every room should have at least three lighting sources to help create zones. Each of the three must be task or decorative lighting, as these types create pools of illumination — the ceiling light that came with the apartment doesn’t count. You can add a lamp to your side table that makes reading at night possible, place a standing lamp in the corner or decorate with string lights.

Look for compact fluorescent light bulbs that produce warm, gentle light, similar to incandescent bulbs, but last longer and use energy more efficiently.

4. Don’t forget the walls

Bright lighting can lose all its impact if it collides with dark or drab walls. If you’re looking to make the room bright, make sure that the walls are painted accordingly.

If you can’t paint the walls because of your lease, viable alternatives can be removable wallpaper or lighter decorations hung on the wall.

5. The nose knows

candlescandles

If you’ve just moved, you may not be quite ready to put pictures or artwork on the walls. A faster way to make yourself comfortable is to introduce a favorite smell into your new apartment.

We tend to remember scents more than the other senses, so you’re going to make sure you have the right scent in the new apartment. Set up some plants that give off good odors, burn some candles (if your lease allows it, of course) or set some air fresheners around the apartment. Like lightning, it’s a small, easily overlooked change that can completely change the feeling of your apartment.

6. Decorate based on your style

Remember that this is your space now, so decorate it with that in mind. What do you want to hang on the walls? Pictures of your friends and family? Artwork you really like? Artwork you’ve made? Any of these things can be a starting point to feeling more like you’re really at home.

Be picky about how you decorate — only use items that match your overall decor scheme and fit your tastes. When you shop for items, don’t just pick something up because you like it. It should be cohesive with the rest of your belongings. If it’s not, it will feel out of place, and you may not get much use out of it.

7. Include sentimental items

family photosfamily photos

Do you have anything that functions as the adult equivalent of a security blanket? This may be photographs of loved ones, your personal bulletin board or a folder full of souvenirs. Whatever it is, don’t put it in a box on the moving truck. Keep it with you, so it can be one of the first things you lovingly feature in your new home.

As you plan your decor scheme, include your personal items that mean a lot to you. A painting that hung in your grandma’s house, the throw blanket your mom knitted and the mirror from your study abroad trip are all examples of decorations that not only look nice but have sentimental value.

Surrounding yourself with both new and old items can help make the place feel more like yours.

8. Clean and organize your space

Most apartments have already been cleaned before a new tenant moves in, but not always. Before you put stuff away, do a deep clean. This gives you a fresh start both literally and figuratively. Plus, you’ll quickly get acquainted with your new space.

Everything should have its place. It doesn’t need to be a perfectly regimented system, but having no idea of where things should go and leaving them the first place you put them will just feel like clutter.

This is doubly the case if you’ve wisely invested in items with multiple purposes. A bookshelf is both decorative and functional, so if you find a place that’s good for both functions, it’ll feel much more like part of a real home — not just where stuff happened to land.

9. Explore the neighborhood

walking in citywalking in city

Did you pick your apartment because you liked the neighborhood? If so, you should probably explore it. Take a walk outside to see what bars, restaurants, coffee shops and stores are nearby.

As you do, you’ll start to see how it can become part of your life. Your home isn’t just a living space you lock up when you leave, but the area that surrounds it. Look for the places that are going to become a regular part of your life very soon. Find community groups to join or just somewhere that neighbors gather to have conversations. Anywhere that you can meet new people will help the new area feel more comfortable.

10. Have a party

One frequent recommendation is to go ahead and decide on the date of your housewarming party before you even move. That way, you won’t be tempted to put off the party — and the unpacking it requires. You’ll feel much more at home after you’ve been able to host a gathering of your favorite people in your new space.

Make your apartment feel like home

Don’t worry, your new apartment will really start to feel like home in no time. With these tips on how to make an apartment feel like home, the unit with plain, empty walls will soon become your home filled with great memories

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Clean Green: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Kermit the Frog got it right. With all the dangerous, corrosive and effective cleaning chemicals on the market, it really isn’t easy being green. But it doesn’t have to be impossible. With just a few modifications, you can create a safer environment for you and your family while saving money and protecting the environment.

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These eco-friendly cleaning products are safe, affordable alternatives to all the dangerous chemicals stored under your sink.

Remove toxic products. The first step to clean, green living is to get rid of all the toxic chemicals stored in your home. Check with your local recycling center for safe, environmentally friendly ways to do this.

Reuse when possible. Instead of using abrasive throwaway scouring pads full of harmful cleaning agents, look for things you can use more than once or twice. Mops, sponges, washcloths and paper towels made from recycled paper will get the job done without filling the landfill.

Look for natural alternatives. There are several great all-natural alternatives to harsh chemical cleaners. Here are a few of the most basic:

  • Baking Soda. This simple substance has many uses around the home. Sprinkled on a damp cloth or sponge, it can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner for kitchen countertops, sinks, bathtubs, showers and ovens. Add a cup per load to your laundry to neutralize perspiration odors and chemical smells in your clothes. It also makes a great air freshener and carpet deodorizer.
  • Washing Soda. Similar to baking soda, washing soda is much more acidic. Wear gloves when you use it, because it is caustic. Washing soda cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, removes wax and lipstick and neutralizes odors just like baking soda. Just don’t use it on aluminum, fiberglass or waxed floors, unless you want to remove the wax.
  • White Vinegar and Lemon Juice. White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic, and useful for combating scale from hard water, dissolving gummy buildup, eating away tarnish and removing dirt from wood surfaces.

Make your own disinfectant. Many essential oils, such as clove, lavender and tea tree oil—a natural fungicide—and grapefruit seed extract, are very good at killing household germs. To make your own disinfectant, add one teaspoon of essential oil to two cups of water in a spray bottle. You can make a spray from grapefruit seed extract by adding 20 drops of extract to a quart of water. Be sure to keep all homemade cleaning products clearly labeled and out of the reach of children.

Liquid Soap or Detergent? Soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, but they are not the same thing. Soaps are made from fats and lye, while detergents are made from chemicals designed to not react with hard water and create soap scum. If you have hard water, buy perfume-free biodegradable detergent. If you have soft water, purchase liquid soap.

Green living doesn’t have to be a chore. By following these tips you can have a cleaner, healthier home in no time.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Geo-grafika

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Learn about Maintenance Services Provided for Your Apartment Home

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If something needs to be fixed in your apartment home, it’s important to know when to call apartment maintenance services. Here is a guide to working with apartment maintenance services to fix problems in your apartment home.

Be aware of typical maintenance assistance
If something breaks due to normal wear and tear that was part of your apartment space before you moved in (plumbing fixtures, major appliances), chances are the repair is covered as part of your lease agreement and should be fixed by your apartment community maintenance team at no charge to you, the resident. This could include something as small as a clogged drain to something as dramatic as a foam-spewing dishwasher.

If the damage was caused due to negligence or an accident caused by the resident, apartment maintenance will likely fix the broken item, but may charge the resident for the repair or take the cost of the repair fees out of the renter’s security deposit. A broken window, for instance, might fall in this category of repair.

From time to time, the service team may perform regular maintenance or make upgrades to apartment fixtures or appliances. In these cases, the resident should be notified in advance when the maintenance or upgrade will take place.

More on keeping your apartment safe, secure and in tip top shape:
Locked Out? 8 Things to Do Before and After Losing Your KeyTop 5 DIY Skills for RentersHow to Assess the Security of a New Apartment

Always ask maintenance services first
If something is broken in your apartment, always ask apartment maintenance services before trying to fix the problem yourself. Attempting to fix the issue might only make it worse and could even violate the regulations of your lease agreement. When in doubt, it is better to call maintenance services first to help you take care of apartment issues.

Always call in a timely manner
Because problems rarely go away on their own, do contact apartment building maintenance as soon as an issue arises in your apartment home. If you wait for a problem to get worse, you could be liable for more damage done to your apartment. Be proactive and let a service professional make the right call for the situation.

Do, however, follow the guidelines established by your community for requesting maintenance assistance, and use the proper contact method.  If a problem is truly urgent, a middle-of-the-night call might be warranted. If the issue can reasonably wait, respect your maintenance team by waiting for the appropriate time to get in touch based on the situation.

Never feel embarrassed about calling maintenance services
No matter how large or strange your problem may seem, chances are that maintenance services has seen it before. Never feel embarrassed about asking for help! These professionals are equipped to fix your apartment unit break-downs better than anyone else.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Kurhan

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How Does a Court-Confirmed Probate Sale Work in Real Estate?

Properties sold in probate court can be a good deal, as they’re often priced lower than other homes. But there are risks, and probate sales often take longer than traditional real estate transactions.

If you’re an active real estate buyer, at some point you’ll likely come across a probate sale. Properties sold in probate court can be a good deal, as they’re often priced lower than other homes. But there are risks, and probate sales often take longer than traditional real estate transactions.

As a result, as with short sales, some buyers keep the probate sales at bay and their real estate agents discourage them from getting their hopes up on actually buying a home through probate courts.

Here’s the story on probate sales in real estate.

Why a home is sold through probate court

A home is sold in probate court when someone dies intestate or without bequeathing their property. When that happens, the state takes over and administers the property’s sale.

The court wants to be certain the property is marketed and sold at the best possible price. To ensure this, the court requires certain steps, processes and procedures be followed.

Probate laws can vary from state to state, but any good real estate agent should be sufficiently knowledgeable about the ins and outs of probate sales.

Marketing a probate sale

In a probate sale, the property is marketed just like any other property. The probate attorney or the estate representative will hire a local real estate agent, sign a listing agreement, and show the property, just as they would a traditional listing.

Generally, the list price is based upon the listing agent’s suggestions as well as an independent appraisal ordered and issued by the court.

Making an offer

An interested buyer may make an offer on the property at any time. However, in the case of a probate sale, the offer must be accompanied by a 10 percent deposit. The estate representative will then accept or counter the offer, just like any other sale.

The offer is subject to the court’s confirmation. Even though the seller may have accepted a buyer’s offer, the seller is not committed to that buyer or their offer. The estate representative, through their probate attorney, will then petition the court to confirm the sale. A future date is chosen for the sale to be confirmed in the court.

Playing the waiting game

Once the sale date is determined, the parties now must wait a minimum of 30 to 45 days. During this time, the court requires that the property be properly advertised and marketed with the new accepted price. In California, for example, the court will take that accepted offer and raise it by 5 percent plus $500. The total becomes the new probate price to be marketed.

Going to court

In order for the sale to be confirmed, the court requires that the new buyer, plus any other interested party, come to probate court to confirm the sale. The property is then sold auction style with the opening bid being (in the case of California) the accepted offer price plus the 5 percent, $500 increase.

Sometimes multiple buyers show up to bid on the property in increments of $5K. If nobody shows up to bid on the home, the first buyer gets the property for their original offer price. If the property is sold to one of the bidders, they must immediately hand over a deposit of 10 percent.

The deposit may not be refundable

There are some things for buyers to be aware of when moving forward on a probate sale. Many times, the 10 percent deposit that’s required with the offer is not refundable unless the original buyer isn’t the final court confirmed buyer.

Also, since the seller is deceased, there usually isn’t anyone to disclose a previously leaky window, illegal work done on the property, plans for a major change to the neighborhood, or anything else that may negatively affect the property’s value. That’s why probate sales can be risky.

An early inspection is your best defense

Any serious buyer should have the property inspected from top to bottom before writing an offer. Yes, you’re gambling the price of the home inspection without knowing if your offer will even be accepted, or if you’ll be outbid by someone else in probate court. But would you rather gamble the cost of an inspection — or the cost of a house?

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Source: zillow.com

Setting Up Your New Place

Part of the fun of setting up a new place is that you get to use the space as a blank canvas to work with. And the sooner you put your stamp on that canvas, the quicker you’ll feel like you’re really at home.

With that in mind, here are a few unpacking tips to help you get settled in a flash.

Tackle the comfort zones

When you’re staring at a mountain of boxes, the idea of unpacking can seem really overwhelming. While ripping through every one of those boxes and unpacking all of your stuff at once is one approach, doing so might not be the most realistic or feasible option.

That’s why it’s important to be strategic when you’re settling in. Start by setting up the most important rooms in your new place first: your bedroom and bathroom. 

After a long day of unpacking, you’re going to be tired. Even if the rest of your bedroom looks like a disaster area, setting up your bed frame and making the bed is a must. Your bed symbolizes comfort, and, after all that moving effort, you will need to sleep well!

Read more: Don’t Forget These 5 Essentials in Your Apartment

The same goes for your bathroom. Hook up your shower curtain, dig out your toothbrush holder, throw down your bath mat and hang up a few towels.  Unpacking is dirty business — literally — and when you want to wash all that unpacking effort away, a clean, comfortable bathroom offers respite.

Start with these two rooms first, and let everything else slide until you can get around to it. It’s best to attend to your most intimate spaces first so you can really be comfortable in your new place.

Read more: How to Love the Apartment You’re In

Banish the boxes

Nothing says “I’m in transition” quite like a bunch of big cardboard boxes littering every corner of your apartment. That’s why recycling or tossing boxes is one of the first things you should do to feel settled in. Don’t give yourself the chance to live like a pack rat – get rid of or recycle the boxes as soon as you can.

Decorate your walls

Hanging a bit of artwork can really work wonders in a new place. Blank walls feel cold and impersonal, but walls peppered with well-placed pictures are inviting. You may start your decorating efforts by hanging the art you brought with you from your last home. Then again, you might decide you want to start fresh from a new decorating angle and purchase new art to make your space feel brand-new.

Read more: Apartment Guide’s Top 9 Decor Trends for 2014

These days you can find removable wall decals that also make great art. Decals are affordable and come in many varieties — sports, cartoons, comics, fine art, lettering, etc. With so many options, you’re bound to find a decal that fits your budget and livens up your new place.

If you still prefer to hang some good, old-fashioned artwork, but you’re worried about nail holes, don’t fret. Take a quick trip to the hardware store, and you’ll find that you can purchase adhesive picture-hanging hooks that won’t damage walls.

Read more: 8 Home Decor Mistakes to Avoid

It’s all about the details

When you’re setting up a new place, the quickest way to make a new place really feel like home is to pay attention to the details. Think about which of your possessions really speak of home to you. Would having a fully-functional Wii video game system make you feel at home? How about seeing a fully-stocked bar in your dining room for entertaining? Or gazing at shelves of your favorite figurines or decorative art pieces?

Whatever your prized possessions, put them on display in your new place. The more touchstones of home you see around you, the faster you’ll truly feel at home.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Your Handy Apartment Cleaning Checklist

Using a cleaning checklist like this one can help you keep an apartment tidy. You can post the checklist on a dry-erase board, laminate a paper copy to use over and over again, use a digital list, or print out a new one each week. The important thing is to have an easy reference to walk you step-by-step through what needs to be cleaned, wiped, vacuumed or scrubbed. So prepare to get your apartment cleaning down to a fine science!

There are certain chores that you’ll want to do daily to keep control of dirt and germs such as:

Kitchen

  • Wash all dishes.
  • Wipe up kitchen surfaces – stove, counters and sinks.
  • Sweep and clean trouble spots on the floor.

Read more: How to Clean Kitchen Appliances

Bathroom

  • Wipe up counters and clean the sink. (Disposable cleaning wipes make this fast!)
  • Use another wipe on the toilet seat and base. Give the bowl a quick scrub with the toilet brush.
  • Use a Swiffer on the floor to collect hair.
  • Squeegee your shower right after use and/or use a shower spray such as Method Shower Spray to keep mildew and soap scum at bay.

Read more: How to Clean: Bathroom Hacks without Chemicals

Bedroom

  • Make your bed.
  • Put away clothes.
  • Keep your nightstand and other dresser surfaces uncluttered.

Living Room

  • Clean the clutter off the sofa, and fluff pillows.
  • Sweep up crumbs and dust bunnies with a hand-held vac.
  • Create order on your coffee table and entertainment center surfaces by putting away books, DVDs, etc.

More help with cleaning your apartment:

Cheap Green Cleaning: The Only 5 Products You Need

Get Your Space Cleaned Up in a Hurry

Declutter Your Apartment: What’s OK to Throw Away

How to Clean Your Apartment Efficiently and Quickly

Green Tips for Natural Kitchen Cleaning

Weekly Chores — Don’t forget to:

Monthly Chores — It’s time to:

  • Wipe down woodwork, baseboards, walls and tiles in kitchen, bathrooms and other high-traffic areas.
  • Clean windows throughout your home.
  • Dust window treatments.
  • Clean inside appliances (don’t forget to empty out the toaster crumbs).
  • Do a deep dusting—behind furniture, in ceiling corners, on ceiling fans and vents. Also vacuum upholstered furniture.
  • Spot clean carpet.

That’s not so hard, right? With your handy cleaning checklist, your household chores will feel more manageable and you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of a systematic approach to cleaning. You can adjust this chore list to your liking, of course, but it offers good guidelines on keeping a spic-and-span apartment. This list is a good starting point for daily, weekly and monthly chores. What does your personalized list look like? Share it below!

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Decluttering Your Things to Prepare for a Move

It’s time to move, but you don’t necessarily want to move every last bit of the clutter you’ve had hanging around your soon-to-be-former residence for years. Decluttering can help make your move easier and your new apartment set-up simpler, as well.

Here are some tips for decluttering in advance of a move.

Start with the bathroom

Why the bathroom? Because if you start with your bedroom or office, you may end up looking at old photographs, souvenirs, or documents and deciding you just can’t afford to part with them right now. Your bathroom is less likely to have treasured photographs and more likely to have expired medicines, seven-eighths-empty bottles of shampoo, and washcloths worn to shreds — in short, stuff you won’t want to spend time moving. (The FDA offers advice on how to toss unwanted medicines, by the way.)

Get some supplies ready

You’ll want a few trash bags, a shredder or scissors for old papers, and a permanent marker for labeling. If you plan on donating, rather than trashing, some of your old clothes or other belongings, have some cardboard boxes handy, as well.

Don’t try to declutter every room at once

If you don’t have a lot of time, getting rid of excess stuff in even one room will make your move a little shorter and less expensive. Try blocking out a short period of time to tackle, say, one closet or bedroom drawer, and work from there. Start small as you get a handle on how long the decluttering task will take.

Take pictures

This can be especially useful for clothes you no longer wear but which still have sentimental value. A photograph of that ragged T-shirt will remind you how you bought it on the boardwalk during that fantastic week at the beach… but the photograph will take up a lot less space in your closet!

Keep the move in mind

If you’re wavering on an item, picture yourself pulling it out of a moving truck at the end of the day and trying to find the right place to put it. Is it worth it?

When in real doubt, put it aside

If you really can’t bring yourself to throw something away, but don’t know when you’ll next use it, put it in a box, seal the box, and give yourself a future date to open it — any time from two weeks to a year after your move. If the deadline comes and you haven’t opened the box yet, throw out or donate its contents.

Expect your new life to be much like your old one

If you didn’t use that blender in your old apartment, you probably won’t do much blending in your new home!

Allow for a little anguish

Decluttering won’t automatically make you feel free and easy; it can be stressful. Give yourself a little reward after a decluttering session, such as listening to music you enjoy or going out for ice cream.

Read more: Americans hate clutter worse than dirt

Read more: Apartment cleaning checklist

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Find the Best Washer and Dryer for Your Apartment

If you’re tired of hoofing it to the laundromat with a heavy bag of clothes, it may be time to purchase a washer and dryer for your apartment. As with any large appliance purchase, there are a lot of choices to make, and it can quickly get complicated and overwhelming. Here are some of the main things you need to look out for.

Check your lease

Does your lease allow you to install a washer and dryer? Sometimes, it’s spelled out explicitly in the lease, but that’s not always the case. If there’s no mention in your lease, look for mentions about flooding or fire hazards. For the last word, you can always check directly with your landlord.

Assuming you’re good to install a machine, what do you buy?

Connections and dimensions

Before you start trying to find the right machine, you need to know your limits. Which machines are available to you depends heavily on the space in your apartment. Find where you’d put the machines, and note down these:

  • Washer and dryer hookups: You want to use washer and dryer hookups if you have them. There are machines that work hooked up to a sink and draining out to a bathtub, but you want laundry in your apartment for convenience. Using up the bathtub and sink isn’t the most convenient way to do laundry, but might be worth it if it’s the best you can do.
  • Power outlets: Many machines require 240V outlets instead of the standard 120V. If all you have are the smaller outlets, you’re going to be limited in what machines you can buy.
  • Space: Measure the size of the area you’re putting the washer and dryer in. Your desperate desire to do laundry without going to a laundromat won’t give you a larger space, and you don’t want to discover too late that you spent all this money on a machine that doesn’t fit.

Types of machines

Now that you know your limits, it’s time to look at the options you have. There are several types of machines, and it’s easy to get lost, even in broad categories. Here are some types of machines, to help you tell which is for you:

  • Top-loading vs. Front-loading: This is the big argument in washing machines. In general, front-loading washers take longer to wash and take more maintenance but use less water and electricity.
  • Portable vs. Stationary: The difference between stationary and portable is more than you’d guess from the name. Stationary machines are your standard washers/dryers, plugged into a large outlet and hookups. Portable machines are smaller and can be moved around, but also work plugged into a standard outlet and connected to a faucet, not a dedicated washer/dryer hookup.
  • Compacts: Most washers and dryers take up a lot of space, but there are ones made specifically to be smaller. You’re most likely to want a compact, since standard washers and dryers take up space you’re unlikely to have in an apartment.
  • Washer/dryer combo: This is a single machine that does the job of both a washer and dryer. You put in dirty clothes, and when it finishes, they’re all dry. The cost is that they take longer to run and don’t hold nearly as many clothes as a dedicated washer or dryer would.
  • Laundry center: This is a middle-ground between compacts and a combo. The washer and dryer are separate but stacked on top of each other as part of the same machine. They’re about the same width as compacts, so fit easily in an apartment, but require proper ventilation for the dryer, which might be an issue.
  • High-efficiency: If you’re interested in saving water and electricity, you’re going to want to look for machines with the high-efficiency (“HE”) symbol. They have significant savings in utility use, for the cost of longer wash times.

The category of washers and dryers is large, but now you have some context and know some of the trade-offs involved. Good luck with your search!

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Have you ever shopped for a washer and dryer for your apartment? What tips would you offer?

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Clean Your Apartment Efficiently: 11 Quick Tips

Sometimes, cleaning your house seems like it takes all day. However, a few basic tips and tricks can not only save you time but also create a spotless living space.

Whether you have unexpected guests coming, a get together just ended or you just need to create a more organized and tidy space, read on for our tips and shortcuts on how to clean your apartment.

1. Round up your cleaning supplies

First, you’ll need cleaning supplies. Just because you’re cleaning different surfaces in various rooms doesn’t mean you need a different cleaning product for each room. Get the basics and organize them in a bathroom caddy. This way you can carry them from room to room.

Here are some apartment cleaning essentials:

  • All-purpose, multi-surface cleaning spray
  • Glass cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Sponge
  • Garbage bag
  • Duster
  • Vacuum
  • Swiffer or mop

These general cleaning supplies will leave your home spotless. If you want to avoid chemicals, consider using green cleaning products. Many eco-friendly cleaners are easy to make yourself with just a few ingredients.

photo of cleaning suppliesphoto of cleaning supplies

2. Clean your apartment room by room

The quickest way to clean your space is to take it one room at a time. By focusing on one room at a time, you can quickly start seeing your progress. This will make you feel more accomplished and encourage you to keep cleaning.

If items in this space belong in different rooms, place them in a container. This will save you time from running between rooms to place items in their proper spot.

3. Make your couch presentable

Start cleaning your living room by focusing on the couch. Brush the pet hair, food crumbs and dust off the cushions. Check behind the cushions for any items that have fallen out of sight. Replace the cushions and fluff the pillows.

photo of clean living room with presentable couchphoto of clean living room with presentable couch

4. Dust off the coffee table

Take on the coffee table next. This is the focus of any living room, so cleaning it will make the whole room feel more organized. Dust off the table and neatly stack any items you have on display. Toss old magazines and neatly arrange up-to-date magazines and books.

Finally, run a vacuum through the space. Remember, this is for a quick clean. Save moving the furniture for when you have more time.

5. Organize the clothes in your bedroom

Gather all your dirty clothes and place them in a hamper. Worry about sorting later when you do the laundry. If you have clean clothes that aren’t put away, go ahead and rehang or refold the items and put the items away.

6. Remove any trash from your bedroom

Place all trash, including old magazines, papers, etc. in a trashcan. Sort through your closet later when you have more time.

Straighten surfaces, including your nightstand, desk and shelves. You don’t have time to sort through everything or to rearrange your bedroom furniture, but if you have items that don’t seem to belong, place them in a bin to go through later. Similar to the living room, run a vacuum through the space.

7. Make your bed

Making the bed is a simple step that will make a big difference. If you have clean sheets available, change the sheets as well. This will take just a few minutes but will refresh the room, making it feel more organized.

photo of bed with messy sheetsphoto of bed with messy sheets

8. Don’t avoid the bathroom

Many people avoid the bathroom because it’s the least pleasant place to clean. However, this is the place where you and your guests go to get clean so it’s important to invest some of your time into making it sparkle.

Place dirty clothing and used towels in a hamper. Next, throw all trash away in the trash can. Then wipe down the counters, sink and tub using the disinfectant cleaning spray. For the toilet, use a toilet brush and bathroom cleaner. Scrub the inside of the toilet. Use the cleaning spray for the outside of the toilet. Next, use a glass cleaner to wipe down the mirror. Return items to where they belong.

Again, you’ll want to sort through your items at a later date when you have more time. For now, make sure your bathroom is presentable to guests. Then sweep the floor.

photo showing clean bathroomphoto showing clean bathroom

9. Wash your dishes and dry them too

Wash dirty dishes by hand or load the dishwasher. If the plates have residue that has dried and is difficult to remove, fill the sink with warm, soapy water and allow the plates to soak for a few minutes while completing your other kitchen chores.

If you wash the dishes by hand, hand dry them as well. Leaving them out to dry will make the space feel cluttered.

10. Wipe down counters and floors

Once the dishes are taken care of, wipe down your sink, countertops and appliances with a natural kitchen cleaning method. Your floor probably has some crumbs or sticky spots. Sweep the space and then do a quick mop of the floor. To finish, take out the trash while the floor is drying.

photo that shows clean kitchenphoto that shows clean kitchen

11. Step back and enjoy

Just like that, your apartment will be clean and ready for company. Now that you know how to clean your apartment quickly, be sure to do this speed clean weekly. This will reduce clutter and make your deep cleaning days much easier.

If you are moving to a new apartment, be sure you do a more thorough clean before moving out of your old one so that you get your deposit back.

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Source: apartmentguide.com