Quick Cleaning Hacks for Apartment Dwellers


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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Confessions of a Magazine Hoarder

Hello. My name is Tiffany and I am a magazine hoarder. I have issues.

I fondly recall back in the late ’90s my mother was an avid magazine reader. She subscribed to a few different glossies, but I particularly remember how a freshly bound issue of Essence Magazine would be waiting in our mailbox every month like clockwork.

I hated Essence Magazine. In my mind it was a boring publication for boring old women who needed something to read as supper simmered on the stove.

Fast forward about 15 years. I am admittedly a regular subscriber of Essence Magazine. In fact, I’ve been a faithful subscriber for at least five years. And I’ve kept just about every single issue.

Essence magazine

That’s 60 issues of Essence I currently have in my possession.

But why?

Walk into any retail store with a magazine stand and you may understand exactly why, after 15 years, I identify with this publication so much. Let’s not beat around the bush – there’s little to no diversity on the covers of these magazines. So it’s nice to have a publication that, month after month, features someone who resembles me just a little bit. After all, according to 2010 Census data, minorities now make up more than a third of the total U.S. population. But judging from magazine stands, this change isn’t so evident.

magazine hoarder

Back to the issue at hand: my hoarding tendency.

Coming to the realization that I may be a hoarder hasn’t hit me too hard. I actually don’t really think about it until I get that magazine renewal card in the mail, begging me not to let my subscription expire. Even though I continue to renew, I consistently go three or four months without actually reading a single issue. They pile up and I don’t dive in until I’m incredibly bored – usually when nothing’s on TV and my wifi isn’t cooperating. (I’m looking at you, Comcast.) Then I’m like, “Oh, maybe I should catch up on all these unread magazines I’ve been paying for.”

But then I don’t.

Even though my magazine reading habit has waned, I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them! I’ve used many of the issues to cut out words and pictures for my vision board. And I always think that maybe someday one of the articles will come in handy.

Money-saving tips? Yes, please! Cheap travel ideas? Give me more! Quick five ingredient recipes? Uh, yah!

I honestly feel that by getting rid of these magazines I’m going to be missing out on a vital piece of information that I’ll never find again. As soon as I trash those magazines, one of the articles within them will be exactly what I need. But then it’ll be too late. Sure, I can Google whatever it is I’m looking for. But forget Google. I want my magazines!

And to make matters worse, I somehow signed up for a free subscription to Cosmo. I don’t even like Cosmo and probably won’t read any of them.

magazine hoarder

Unlike most hoarders, I’m not fascinated by collecting things. At least I don’t think I am. It’s more of an irrational fear of letting things go. Just the thought of chucking these magazines makes me cringe. So I hold onto them. And the cycle continues.

There, I said it. Am I cured now?

Oh, and I do find a little comfort in knowing that I’m not alone.

 most commonly hoarded items

Hoarders everywhere unite!

Let Apartment Guide help you get your act together:
7 Obvious Signs That You Are a Hoarder
Tips to Tame Your Cluttered Room of Shame
5 Creative Home Storage Ideas
How to Organize Your Kitchen

Photo credits: Tiffany Maberry, Shutterstock / Miguel Gale, Andresr, Brian A. Jackson, Africa Studio, Mark Hayes, Wonderlane, Marie C. Fields

How to Get Rid of Allergens in Your Apartment

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

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. You can keep your wheezing under control simply by keeping your place clean. 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.

Get rid of allergens by following these simple tips. Not only will they cut down on the amount of tissues you’ll go through; they’ll make your apartment a nice, clean oasis as well.

Stuffed animals: 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.

Rugs: Buy washable area rugs. Vacuum weekly with a HEPA filter and shampoo the rug frequently.

Bed linens: Wash sheets in hot water once a week. Encase your mattress in a dust mite-proof cover.

Bathtub/shower: Scrub as often as needed to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Curtains/blinds: Buy washable curtains and dust blinds often.

Upholstered furniture: Vacuum couch cushions and throw pillows often.

Plants: Spread gravel over dirt to contain mold.

Wood-burning fireplace: Avoid using it: Smoke can worsen respiratory problems.

Refrigerator: Throw out expired food and wipe out the inside and outside to avoid mold growth.

Trash can: Compost food waste or send it down the disposal rather than putting it in the trash can. Take out the trash as soon as the can is full.

How do you keep allergens under control in your apartment?

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5 Clever Ways to Get Your Post-Holiday Purge On

5 Clever Ways to Get Your Post-Holiday Purge OnThe holidays might very well be your favorite time of year. But one fact cannot be denied: your apartment is an absolute mess come December 26th. There’s an old saying that however you bring in the new year is a precursor to how that year will go. So it makes sense to declutter your small space and start with a clean slate once the clock strikes 12 on December 31st.

With that said, we don’t want to bore you with the typical tips: clean out the closet, donate old clothes, blah blah blah. We think you’re smart enough to know these things. So the following tips are action items you probably haven’t pondered yet.

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