As any forumer who has visited my apartment will hopefully tell you, I am a fairly clean and tidy person.
But, sometimes you are not feeling well and your husband is a lazy git and before you know it it's been several days since you've had a chance to clean and suddenly the apartment is looking like a bomb has hit it. And when it's winter, and it may be too rainy or snowy for you to want to go outside, a dirty, messy apartment can make one feel pretty miserable.
So let's clean! It's amazing what disgusting things you can find even if (like me) you consider yourself to be a clean person. It can also cause you to dig up something you'd considered long lost or had completely forgotten about. (Once, when emptying the vacuum cleaner, I found a necklace I'd thought I'd lost several months previously).
The benefits of cleaning:
1. It burns calories!
2. It makes the apartment smell and look wonderful.
3. It can cheer you up. Even if you think you don't particularly care about a bit of a mess I generally find people are still made happier by a tidier place.
4. It makes things generally more pleasant for your roommates, significant others, parents or guests.
Here is my apartment as it was earlier tonight. I think I last cleaned Monday or Tuesday.
You don't need to spend a fortune on cleaning supplies. Several things will work in every room of the house.
Here are four basic supplies I don't think I could live without:
1. Paper towels. They're perfect for wiping down mirrors and glass without smearing. As they're disposable I prefer to use them on floors and toilets and other places where it seems a little gross to use and rinse a sponge.
2. Magic erasers, or the store-brand equivalent (those shown are Target's). They work exceedingly well on kitchen surfaces, on fridges, stove-tops and bathroom surfaces. They're also great on melamine.
3. Non-scratch pads. Can be safely used on glass, but are also firm enough to tackle pans and grills.
4. A vinegar-based multi-surface cleaner. You don't even have to spend a lot of money; you can easily make your own at home. This is pretty much the only cleaner you'll need, and works on everything from glass to laptops.
Also used, but not shown:
5. Washing-up liquid.
6. A dustpan and broom.
7. A vacuum cleaner.
8. Toilet cleaner.
9. A duster or two. You'll want a finer duster for things like televisions and other smooth and shiny surfaces.
First things first, walk around your apartment and pick up every glass or plate you may have left lying around. Seal and put away any leftover food, pile all the dirty dishes in one corner.
The kitchen's already looking better. Now we can tackle the washing-up:
Don't have a dishwasher? Not a problem! Washing dishes is actually a really quick and easy job. There's definitely a right way to go about it. Some of the following advice may seem like common sense but it's surprising how many people make it more difficult for themselves.
I'm not a fan of dishwashers anyway. Compare the glass on the left, which has only ever been hand-washed, to the glass on the right, which has been through a few cycles in Mori's parents' dishwasher:
Even the best dishwasher leaves small scratches over time.
Steps for hand-washing dishes:
1. If you aren't washing dishes up immediately after dinner, then leave them to soak for a few minutes first in hot water. Soaking makes washing-up a piece of cake.
2. Get the water as hot as you can possibly bear it. If you have sensitive hands, wear marigold gloves.
3. You've probably heard that dishwashers use less water than hand-washing. This doesn't necessarily have to be true. To start with, fill up your washing-up bowl with only a shallow layer of water. Then, as you rinse the dishes, rinse them over the bowl so you catch all the water.
4. Wash glasses first. These are usually the least dirty items in your pile. Next will probably be plates, then knives and forks and finally saucepans and frying pans. This way the water remains relatively clean and clear until the end.
. Rinse! With very hot water. Not only will this prevent soap suds from marking your dishes, it eliminates the need for drying up (I have a hatred of drying up). The hot water evaporates quickly, leaving your dishes clean and shiny in under half an hour.
Washing the dishes for two people for one to two days usually takes 4-5 minutes if I follow the above steps. I'd take longer to load and unload a dishwasher.
The magic erasers? Look how shiny they make the stove-top, and after Mori fried chicken and got grease all over the top, too:
Floors are usually a three-step job.
1. Sweep up any bits of food, hair, or other miscellaneous things that you may have dropped onto the floor. It's surprising how much there can be. I last swept the floor Monday and it's now only Friday, and I've spent maybe five minutes in the kitchen myself:
2. After that, a mop will still pick up a considerable amount of dirt:
3. I still find the best way to clean the edges of a room is to just get on hands and knees and use good old-fashioned elbow grease (and paper towels and windex). Now the floor is looking pretty clean:
Clean out your fridge and cupboards occasionally!
Things I have found in the past:
1. Mouldy Kool-Aid in the fridge. I didn't even know Kool-Aid could get mouldy. I assumed it was too full of chemicals (it certainly tastes too full of chemicals).
2. Dead ants. Hundreds of them! Sometimes, no matter how clean or tidy you are, you get ants.
3. Hostess cakes (eugh, I hasten to add that I do not eat any of the products in this list, which is probably why they went unnoticed by me) all squished together in a bag.
4. Congealed fruit-loops at the bottom of a tupperware container. All the sugar had gone all gloopy.
Easier to clean than bathrooms or kitchens. Dusting and vacuuming is usually all that's required. I detest dust. Having white bookshelves and furniture is both a blessing and a curse. It's all too easy to see the dust, but at least it prompts me into action!
The trick in these rooms is knowing where or how to store things. Some tips:
1. Hang clothes up where possible. Certain things are better stored flat (i.e. woollen/cashmere sweaters), but in general hanging is not only quicker and easier, it makes clothes easier to find, and it saves on ironing. If you hang clothes up while damp, or straight from the dryer, you'll rarely ever have to take out an iron.
2. Things on shelves can start to look messy very quickly. Keep books and DVDs straight by using bookends or DVD box sets and heavier, thicker books as makeshift bookends.
I'm also a huge fan of boxes and bags, of both the store and the zip-lock variety.
The black box in the entertainment centre contains screwdrivers, pencils and pens and things like batteries, all split into zip-lock bags for easier searching.
The red box contains jewellery boxes and make-up.
Loose papers are easily stored in box files.
By Mori's computer I keep a bag full of all the small cables he uses on a regular basis:
Not the best solution, but it'll do in a pinch.
Sometimes you just don't have anywhere for things to go. I'm a big fan of chairs in these cases.
Until I have a bigger apartment with room for hat boxes and rows of hooks for bags, the chair will do. At least they're off the floor and aren't getting crushed in the closet.
Bathrooms sure are pesky things. Is it just me, or are they easily the dustiest, dirtiest room in a house? I hate how often a bathroom needs to be cleaned, and how the dust is three times thicker than on my bedroom shelves.
Many people's least favourite job is cleaning the toilet. I think that's actually my favourite part of cleaning the bathroom, because it's the easiest. The trick is to use the blue soluble tablets in the tank. It keeps the inside of the toilet bowl clean for you, and only a quick scrub is then required. The seat doesn't take long to wipe down, and toilets don't attract mould in the way showers do.
Who doesn't like a bit of blue?
Anyway! Clean! Or don't.