How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

When I was little, my parents used to tell me to not let the bed bugs bite when they would tuck me in at night. Back then, the phrase was almost comforting, and I didn’t think much of it. After all, I didn’t know exactly what they were.

Now that I’m older and know that bed bugs are very real, that statement suddenly comes with a much scarier connotation. The last thing I want to think about before I shut my eyes is sleeping with bed bugs.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

If you don’t already know what a bed bug is, they’re small, brown insects that resemble an apple seed. They feed off of the blood of other animals and humans, so they definitely don’t make for good bunkmates.

Here’s a brief guide on bed bug prevention and how to get rid of them if you have an infestation:

Buy Encasements for Your Bed

Purchasing an encasement for your bed and box spring won’t necessarily prevent bed bugs from getting to your mattress, but it does make them easier to get rid of. The encasement stops the bugs from being able to get inside the mattress, forcing them to crawl on the exterior.

This makes the bugs very easy to spot, and you can then take the proper steps to getting rid of them, which I’ll get to later.

Be Careful About Returning from Vacation

It can be easy to pick up bed bugs when you travel, as they tend to hide in hotel mattresses and box springs. Therefore, it’s best to unpack your suitcase in any other room in your apartment but your bedroom.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Be Careful About Returning from Vacation

Throw all of your clothes directly into the wash, and make sure to vacuum your suitcase before putting it back into storage.

Regularly Wash Sheets and Clothing

While bed sheets can sometimes be a pain to take on and off, you should be washing them once a week. Things like dust, debris and sweat can build up over time, and washing the sheets frequently in hot water kills those germs, and potential bed bugs.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Clean Your BeddingAnything that was ever on your floor should also be washed on a regular basis, like clothes, pillows or blankets. You should also be cleaning your mattress. This only needs to be done every six months. Vacuum the top of your mattress using an upholstery attachment.

If there are any stains or spots, use a damp cloth and some upholstery shampoo to remove them. Make sure to wring out the cloth, as you don’t want to soak the mattress – this will only damage the padding and attract mold and bacteria.

Make Sure You’re Dealing With Bed Bugs

Don’t jump to conclusions if you wake up with a bite. There could be other insects responsible, like mosquitos, spiders, fleas or ticks. It’s important to know how to identify a bed bug. Typically, they’re the size of an apple seed, brown in color and have a flat, oval-shaped body.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Make Sure You're Dealing With Bed Bugs

They may be more reddish brown if they recently ate. You should also look for bed bug eggs, which are pearl white and the size of a pinhead. If you’re still unsure of the type of insect you’re dealing with, you can always call pest control to help you figure it out.

Clean Your Bedding

If you do discover that you have a bed bug infestation, the first step is to clean all of your sheets, pillows, blankets, clothing, etc. Put everything in the washer in hot water, and dry them on the highest dryer setting as well.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs -- Regularly Wash Your Sheets and Clothing

Next, scrub your mattress (especially the seams) to get rid of the bed bugs and any eggs that may be there. After scrubbing, vacuum all surfaces of your room. When you’ve finished, take out the vacuum bag, put it inside a resealable container and set it in a garbage can outside. You don’t want any bed bugs escaping back into your room.

Hire Pest Control

While you can certainly clean up infested areas, getting rid of bed bugs for good typically requires the use of chemical treatments. Using chemicals on your own can be tricky, because not all treatments are safe for your mattress, or you, for that matter. You may want to call a pest control professional to ensure you exterminate your bed bugs properly.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Hire Pest Control

It’s worth it to pay a professional to get it done, as you’ll rest easy knowing those pests won’t be returning to your bed. Make sure to choose the proper professional by going through dependable referral directories.

Any good company will give you a price quote before beginning treatment so you know exactly what you’ll have to pay. These pest experts may also fill you in on how to prevent bed bugs in the future and work with you until your bug problem is completely gone.

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Everything you need to know about preventing bed bugs, and getting rid of them if you discover you have an infestation.

Photo Credit: Macroscopic SolutionsSwirerebdavid.dames, wackystuff

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can?

Everyone has one chore that they simply can’t stand to do. For my roommate, it’s loading the dishwasher. She would clean the toilet, mop the floors and massage my feet 10 times over before ever willingly loading all of our dirty dishes. For me, it’s taking out the garbage.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can? png

The bag tears when I take it out of the trashcan every single time, it always smells and there never fails to be some unknown juice leaking out, which drips all the way down our building’s hallway.

For years I simply accepted that taking out the garbage was the worst chore in the world, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized having a better trash can could actually alleviate some of the problems. Upon further investigation into better trash cans, I found something shocking: Some people are paying upward of $100 and sometimes much more for their receptacles.

As someone who’s only ever bought $15 bins at Target, I was immediately intrigued. Is that much of a splurge really worth it? And how much is just too expensive for a trash can?

Though the question is absolutely subjective – some people are content with cheap plastic trash cans, and that’s absolutely OK – I found that there are several reasons people will splurge on the more expensive ones. Here are some of the qualities that might make buying an expensive trash can worth it:

Easy Handless Opening

The most common quality of the very expensive trash cans seems to be a handless opening mechanism. While some cheaper garbage bins have foot pedals, they often don’t work well, especially after years of use.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can? Easy Handless Opening

The pricier options include those with motion-activated lids, and ones with more high-tech foot pedals that offer soft opens and closes, which won’t bang up your walls or hands. The motion-activated ones often require batteries to continue working well, which could be an extra expense down the road.

Deodorizing

This isn’t as common a feature, but it’s one that many people will pay extra money for. One iTouchless design in particular, which runs anywhere from $70 to $100 depending on where you purchase it, has what’s called a carbon deodorizer that keeps the receptacle smelling nice no matter what garbage is in it.

Style

For those in small apartments, there often isn’t room for trash cans in the kitchen cabinets or hall closets, which means the garbage will be sitting out in the open.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can - Style

For this reason, people spend a little more on the ones that look much nicer. The most popular trash cans tend to be silver and black with sleek lines.

Quality Material

Going along with style, many people splurge for trash cans made of quality material – most often stainless steel. Some of the most expensive trash cans from simplehuman and iTouchless are made from stainless steel that’s fingerprint-proof so that the can always looks pretty. Plus, stainless steel is sturdier and much more durable in the long run than plastic, and it won’t absorb odors.

Easy Trash Bag Removal

This is a big selling point for those who, like me, find the bag tears every time it’s removed from the trashcan. Many expensive designs keep the trash bag intact with various methods.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can? Easy Trash Bag Removal

One $140 simplehuman trashcan has an inner liner with an area to pull through any excess bag to keep it from getting snagged in the lid’s hinges. Plus the liner itself can be removed and carried to the garbage room, so you don’t have to lug around an awkward bag.

After my research, I made my own personal conclusion: I don’t think I would ever pay more than $50 for a garbage can, but a little bit of a splurge, say one that’s between $30 and $40, might be worth it to make my most detested chore a little bit easier.

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How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can- When is a trash can worth the splurge-

Photo Credit: Mark BultJeff FriendBrian J. MatisJacqs3280

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?

From your cable and Internet bill to utilities like heat and electricity, there are a lot of costs that must be added into your monthly budget (as I discovered upon moving into my first apartment). There are always ways, however, of cutting back on those expenses. You can save water and lower your water heating costs by installing a low-flow showerhead.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?What is a low-flow showerhead, you ask? Here’s everything you need to know about this green home fixture:

What is a Low-Flow Showerhead?

In short, a low-flow showerhead is one that comes with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less. While this still seems like quite a bit of water, these showerheads can actually decrease your shower water usage by about half.

A regular showerhead has a water flow of about 3.8 gallons per minute, so if you took an eight minute shower, you would be using approximately 30 gallons of water. But with a low-flow showerhead, you would only use about 20 gallons.

With this fixture, you’ll also need less energy to heat your shower, reducing your power bills.

How do Low-Flow Showerheads Work?

With a low-flow showerhead, it may not feel like you’re using less water, but you are. The showerhead restricts water flow while still maintaining a strong pressure, giving you the experience of a normal shower.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water - How do Low-Flow Showerheads WorkThere are actually two different types of low-flow showerheads: aerating and non-aerating.

Aerating showerheads mix air in with the water stream. This maintains strong water pressure while still using less water than a traditional showerhead. However, because there is air combined with the water, the temperature may not stay as hot for as long as traditional showerheads.

A non-aerating showerhead doesn’t use air; instead, it pulses to keep the pressure strong. The water with a non-aerating showerhead tends to be hotter because there is no introduction of air.

How to Measure Your Current Flow Rate

In order to discover whether you would benefit from a low-flow showerhead, it’s important to figure out the flow rate of your current fixture. Turn on your shower and let the water run into a bucket for 10 seconds, then turn it off.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? How to Measure Your Current Flow RateMeasure the amount of water that’s in your bucket, then multiply that figure by six. The number you end up with will be your water flow per minute, or gallons per minute. If your shower is releasing about 3.8 gallons or more per minute, think about replacing your current showerhead with a low-flow fixture.

Here’s another helpful rule of thumb: If it takes fewer than 20 seconds for your showerhead to fill up a 1-gallon bucket, you could benefit from installing a more environmentally friendly fixture.

Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

If you’ve chosen to get a low-flow showerhead for your bathroom, then you must decide which type you would like. You could opt for the traditional stationary model or a handheld showerhead that’s attached to a flexible hose.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

While handheld models may offer convenience, they’re typically a bit more expensive than the stationary fixtures. However, a handheld showerhead may be slightly more environmentally friendly than the traditional model because there is less distance between the showerhead and your body.

Other Green Bathroom Ideas

Installing a low-flow showerhead isn’t the only way you can go green. Here are a few other bathroom ideas that may lower your overall energy costs:

Use Green Cleaning Products: Some bathroom cleaners contain harsh chemicals, which is why it’s more environmentally friendly (and often cheaper) to just make your own.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? Other Green Bathroom Ideas

For instance, a tub cleaner can be made using 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Mildew can be removed by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup borax.

Rethink Your Towels: Think about swapping your current regular cotton towels for towels made from organic cotton. This material requires the use of fewer pesticides, natural dyes and softeners, making it better for your skin and for the environment.

Bamboo towels are another eco-friendly choice, as bamboo is a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton, not to mention it has antibacterial properties.

Fix Leaks: A simple leak in your tub or sink might not seem like a big deal, but you may actually be losing a lot of water. Talk to your landlord about the problem and get it fixed as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can put a bucket under the leak and use the collected water to hydrate your houseplants.

Replace Your Shower Curtain: Many shower curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC plastic. The material actually releases chemical gases, and it can’t be recycled. Instead, opt for a PVC-free shower curtain. Hemp shower curtains, for instance, are resistant to mold and mildew.

Take Shorter Showers: A low-flow showerhead can only do so much to save water when you’re taking extremely long showers. Do your best to cut back on your bathing time by creating a five-minute playlist of a song or two. This way, you’ll know exactly how long you have before you should turn off the water.

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Should You Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water- -If you do, you can save water, money, and help out the environment!Photo Credit: Andre ChinnPhotoAtelierMo ElnadiJohn RyanSquiggle

DIY Air Freshener Ideas

Your apartment could be as clean and organized as possible, but if the space doesn’t smell great, your guests will only be focused on the unpleasant scent. I always stock up on candles, but those seem to disappear after only a few weeks.

DIY Air Freshener IdeasInstead of buying a variety of candles and diffusers, consider making your own air freshener, which will smell just as good, but hardly cost you anything! Plus, you can customize DIY scents to your exact preferences. Fill your home with heavenly scents with any of these DIY air freshener ideas:

Reed Diffuser

Reed diffusers can cost up to $40, but there’s no need to shell out that kind of cash. With only four items, you can make your own reed diffuser right at home.

DIY Air Freshener Ideas - Reed Diffuser

First, fill a vase of your choosing with approximately 20 to 25 drops of essential oil. The essential oil you decide on is completely up to you, but I like to use scents like peppermint, cinnamon or spruce during the holiday season. Next, pour in 1/4 cup baby oil to fill up the remainder of the vase. Place four to five bamboo skewers or rattan diffuser sticks into the solution.

You can flip the sticks every few days to freshen the scent. Place a different diffuser in each room of your apartment so they all smell wonderful.

Simmer Pot

A few hours before your guests arrive, put together this simple concoction in your kitchen. After smelling how divine this simmer pot is, you may never go back to candles. Fill a stock pot with 2/3 cup water, one sliced lemon, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and a few sprigs of rosemary.

DIY Air Freshener Ideas - Simmer PotYou can let the mixture simmer for an entire day, adding more water as needed. Your apartment will be filled with the scent of warm vanilla and fresh citrus (you may never want to leave).

Spray Air Freshener

If you prefer to use a spray air freshener, this option is easy to make as well. This particular spray is best for the bathroom, as it can rid a space of odors quickly.

DIY Air Freshener Ideas -Spray Air FreshenerFill a spray bottle with 6 ounces of filtered water, 1 ounce rubbing alcohol and 20 to 40 drops of essential oil. Jasmine and lavender are great relaxing scents for the bathroom. Remind yourself to create a new mixture once a month to keep your bathroom smelling fresh.

Deodorizer

This is another air freshener option that typically works best in smaller spaces like a bathroom or a closet. Fill a wide-mouthed mason jar with eight to 12 drops of your favorite essential oil (bigger rooms require more oil) and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Yep, it’s that easy!

DIY Air Freshener Ideas - DeodorizerTo allow the scent to travel throughout the space, cut a piece of cardstock to fit the inside of the mason jar ring and poke tiny holes in the paper using a needle. If you’d like, you can decorate the jar with colorful washi tape or add food coloring to fit the rest of your apartment decor.

Potpourri

Potpourri doesn’t just smell lovely, it adds a touch of color and beauty to your apartment too. If you don’t know how to make potpourri, it’s easy. It requires the use of some dried flowers and essential oil.

DIY Air Freshener Ideas- PotpourriGather your favorite flowers, like lavender and roses, and tie them together at the stems with some twine. Hang them upside down for a few weeks, allowing them to fully dry out. Next, put the heads of the flowers into a jar and add a few drops of essential oil. Close the lid and let the buds absorb the oil for a week or so. Afterward, transfer your potpourri to a decorative bowl or vase. You can even add in a few herbs to boost the aroma.

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DIY- Air Freshener Ideas - Fill your home with heavenly scents witH these DIY air freshener ideas!

Photo Credit: LyzaKat Tomillosoimeldahadi fooladiTricia AdamsSimon Davison

Quick Cleaning Hacks for Apartment Dwellers

cleaninghacks

No matter how much you clean, there’s always something else that needs your attention. Whether it’s mopping floors, vacuuming up the evidence of your last snack, or scraping soap scum, cleaning your apartment can take up all of your time. But there’s no need to succumb to never-ending scrubbing and wiping. Test out these seven cleaning hacks to help speed things along.

1. Steam the Microwave

Some of the best cleaning tips involve microwave ovens – who would’ve thought? Caked on food and greasy splatters are a chore to clean off the walls of a microwave. Instead of committing to extended periods of scrubbing and wiping, fill a microwave-safe bowl with half water and half vinegar, set the timer for 5 minutes, and hit start. As the water heats up, the steam loosens that caked-on mess, so you can go right in after the microwave dings and easily wipe it up – no elbow grease required!

2. Multi-task

Don’t stress about getting it all done at once; it’s okay to clean in bits and spurts. Use the time you spend waiting around to finish up some simple cleans:

  • Clean the kitchen sink and counters while you wait for the microwave to ding or the water to boil.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor while the oven preheats, and load the dishwasher while you wait the last few minutes for your food to bake.
  • In the bathroom, wipe down the mirrors while you swish the mouthwash around in your mouth, or even one handed while you brush your teeth. Expert tip: use newspaper for a streak- and lint-free shine.
  • Don’t just stand around waiting for the bathtub to fill or the shower water to heat up. Use that time to wipe down the sink, clean the fixtures, and quickly run the brush around the toilet bowl during the time you’d usually spend checking your phone.
  • Once you’re in the shower, don’t think the cleaning has to stop. Soap up, rinse off, and then attack those tiles with a squeegee.

3. Give the Shower Head the Night Off

Grab a plastic bag large enough to enclose your shower head. Check it for holes, and if it looks sturdy, grab a rubber band and a bottle of vinegar, too. Detach your shower head and place it in the plastic bag, then add enough vinegar to cover it. Finally, use the rubber band to secure the top of the bag. Your shower head will soak overnight, looking clean and fresh just in time for your morning shower!

4. Get Organized

Keep all of your cleaning products in one easily accessible place, so you won’t waste time hunting them down when it’s time to do chores. A hanging shoe organizer makes it easy to keep all those bottles, sprays, sponges, wipes, and brushes handy. Secure it inside a closet or pantry door, or even on the inside of the bathroom door for quick access. As for the trash bags, never hunt for a new one to line your trash can again. Store them in the bottom of your can, so each time you remove one, you can simply grab the next.

5. Banish the Pet Hair

All that pet hair becomes a huge, annoying mess to clean up, but we’ve got a hack you’ve probably never thought of before! Simply whip out your squeegee and run it over your pet’s favorite places, picking up cat and dog hair with very little effort.

6. Blend It Up

Yes, there are times when you need to take your blender apart or run it through the dishwasher, but there’s no need to do so each time you use it. For a quick and easy clean up, fill your blender with soapy water (just a drop of dish liquid will do). Then turn it on just as if you were mixing up your favorite smoothie. This only takes about 30 seconds, just make sure you don’t forget to rinse it thoroughly afterwards - soapy smoothies aren’t known to be the best flavor!

7. Clean up Funky Smells

Vinegar works wonders on many things that make your home smell unpleasant. If lingering cooking smells are the problem, leave a bowl of vinegar out overnight to banish them. Spray it on counter tops and appliances to naturally deodorize them. You can even run it through the dishwasher to get rid of lingering odors.

Apartment Guide is your go-to source, whether you’re looking to relocate or just searching for ways to make apartment living easier. Visit Apartment Guide today to find the apartment of your dreams! And don’t forget to share your cleaning hacks with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Free Downloadable Chore Wheel: Divide and Conquer Your Apartment Cleaning

free downloadable chore wheel

Download and assemble our free chore wheel to keep track of which roommate takes care of which cleaning tasks every week.

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.

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How to Vacuum Refrigerator Coils and Keep Your Cool

how to vacuum refrigerator coils

Vacuum your refrigerator coils twice a year to keep your fridge running efficiently.

Let’s face it: In the summertime, your refrigerator is your best friend. There’s nothing like the first sip of a cold beverage to cool you off when temperatures are sweltering, and you don’t even want to think about where you’d be without the freezer. A summer without ice is not a summer you’ll enjoy.

Since so much is riding on this relationship, this month’s green tip focuses on keeping your favorite appliance running smoothly. Regular refrigerator maintenance involves vacuuming the condenser coils on the back or the bottom to clear out the dust and gunk about twice a year. Removing this debris will ensure the fridge doesn’t have to work too hard to keep the insides cold.

Even better, the less the refrigerator has to work, the less energy it consumes – which translates to lower energy bills for you. Now that’s cool.

So how do you go about vacuuming those coils? We’ve got the process laid out for you, step by step.

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How to DIY a Citrus Vinegar Cleaning Spray

An orange, some vinegar, an empty Mason jar and an empty spray bottle are all you need to make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray.

An orange, some vinegar, an empty Mason jar and an empty spray bottle are all you need to make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray.

If you’ve made the switch to green cleaners, you’ve made a smart, healthy choice for yourself and your household. And if you choose to DIY your own cleaning solutions, even better! Making your own cleaners is cheaper, healthier and better for the environment than buying toxic commercial cleaners.

Even if you’re not crafty, don’t be daunted by the DIY process. In fact, there’s only one ingredient you really need to make most DIY cleaners: Vinegar. It’s a wonder solution for killing germs and removing odors. But let’s be honest: It doesn’t smell great. Fortunately, you can take advantage of vinegar’s cleaning power without that pickled smell. Here’s how to make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray.

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8 Ingenious Storage Ideas for Clothes, Shoes and More

Sometimes living in an apartment is great and can leave you a little short on space. This can lead to a major purge and the first things to go are some of your old clothes. Then you replace the old clothes with new clothes. And you’re back at square one.

But what if there was a way to keep all the clothes you love and still buy new threads? Here are some ingenious ways to make the most of your small space and easily store all those new and vintage fashions.



For such a small part of an outfit, scarves take up a surprising amount of space. For some reason, it is incredibly hard to find the right place to store them. This idea uses clear shoe holders, which allow you to keep your scarves out of the way while still being able to see them all at once. Another alternative is to use a tie rack to hang your scarves.



Shoes are clunky and awkwardly shaped. Throwing them under your bed or at the bottom of the closet is one way to deal with them, but why not add some organization? Use an old wine box to sort them neatly. Cover the wine box with a cool wrapping paper or fabric to make them look a little nicer.

Celebrity Closet Cues: How to Style Your Small Space Like a Rock Star



Sticking with the theme of shoes, here is another cheap and easy solution. When you live in an apartment, you are usually not allowed to make permanent changes to the property. Instead, a pallet propped against the wall is an excellent alternative to adding shelves.

The Lowdown on Shoe Storage: 6 Ways to Stomp Out Closet Messes



Dressers are expensive and difficult to move, especially down flights of stairs. If you want more space for clothes in your apartment, a good, cheap solution could be to make use of shelving units like this one. They fit just as many clothes, but they are easier to put together, cheaper, and much easier to move. You see clothes stored in shops this way all the time, so why not in your apartment?



Jewelry can become a huge mess when you don’t know what to do with it. Try hanging it on the wall using thumbtacks. Better yet, to prevent holes in the wall, use a bulletin board. Cover the board with wallpaper or wrapping paper first to give it a nicer look.



Use every inch of space that you have. For example, you probably have a desk in your apartment, but since everything is digital now, who has a need for desk drawers anymore? There is no reason why you can’t use them to store clothes, undergarments or spare bedding that just won’t fit anywhere else.

Confessions of a Magazine Hoarder



Suitcases themselves can be difficult to store, but if you find some decorative cases and turn them into a nightstand, you kill two birds with one stone. You get a cool nightstand, and more clothing storage space.



One last shoe suggestion (because you should never sacrifice your shoes for a lack of storage space!) is to simply hang your flip flops. You can either use small, child-size hangers, or easily transform cheap wire hangers. If you don’t know how, you can read a tutorial here.

5 Creative Home Storage Ideas

How do you store clothes and shoes in your small apartment?

How to Opt Out of Junk Mail and Cut Down on Clutter

Tired of your mailbox getting stuffed with unwanted catalogs and credit card applications every day? Opt out of junk mail to cut down on this clutter.

Tired of your mailbox getting stuffed with unwanted catalogs and credit card applications every day? Opt out of junk mail to cut down on this clutter.

If there’s one surefire, fail-safe, must-do secret to keeping your apartment clean, it’s this: Cut out the clutter. Unnecessary knick-knacks, piles of magazines, and clothes you don’t wear anymore only add to the general eau de slob around your place, and nobody wants that.

So what can you do to keep the clutter under control? The first step is to minimize the amount of stuff that comes into your place every day. And one of the biggest sources of clutter is the mail.

Chances are, your mailbox is filled daily with unwanted catalogs, credit card applications and all sorts of other junk that might sit around your desk or coffee table for months to come. Even worse, you might lose track of something important – like a bill – with all that other stuff to wade through every day.

So what’s the solution? Nip it in the bud. Opt out of junk mail so you don’t get all that unnecessary paper every day. Your apartment will be cleaner and your life will be a little simpler. Here are four websites that’ll help you do it.

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