One of the most difficult things about chores and cleaning is that they often feel like never-ending, overwhelming tasks. No sooner do you finish straightening up the mess, and suddenly your home is a disaster once again. (Sigh.) That's why it's important to know how to keep your apartment clean without really trying, so the exhausting cycle can finally come to an end.
Because having your own place is great. (Yay, freedom. Woohoo, adulthood.) But keeping it clean? Not so much. Nobody enjoys spending their Saturday knee-deep in cleaning supplies, and nothing is worse than coming home to total chaos after a long, stressful day at work. So let's talk about some ways to prevent the madness.
The best way to start is by recognizing which areas are the biggest problems. "The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom/dressing area are the most used areas of the home where you're interacting with the most things — cooking a meal, doing your beauty routine, getting dressed — and tend to be the areas that get messy if you're not careful," says professional organizer Laura Cattano in an email to Bustle. Keeping an eye on your habits in these areas can really be a good place to start. Keep those places clean, and your apartment will feel like a much nicer place to be.
Of course you'll want to deep clean every once in a while (Cattano says there is a huge different between neatness, organization, and cleanliness). But until that big cleaning day comes, here are some ways to stay on top of your mess, and keep your apartment clean — minimal effort required.
1. Design Your Place With Cleanliness In Mind
How you set up your apartment can make all the difference when it comes to cleaning. But the biggest thing to keep in mind? Keeping the floors open. "Avoid storing anything on the floor, under beds, and on the floor of the closets when possible," Cattano says. Not only will it look better (and much more Zen-like), but it'll make vacuuming and sweeping way easier.
2. Create A Catch-All By The Front Door
Another good place to start is with a catch-all by the front door. This is where you'll always (read: always) store your bag, keys, shoes, coat, etc. Not only will this habit help keep your most important things organized in one spot, but it will also prevent them from sprawling messily across your apartment.
3. Clean A Little Every Day
To prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed, try to do some housework most days. Spend a few minutes dusting on Monday, do a quick vacuum on Tuesday, etc. "Doing a little at a time makes it more manageable ... and then it can just be part of your routine," Cattano says.
4. Have A Place For Everything
One of the golden rules for tidiness is "a place for everything, and everything in its place." This means finding a logical home for your stuff, according to Cattano. Figure out where you want to keep your phone charger, the remote, your favorite mug — and then always put it back. You'll be amazed how this simple habit can keep your place from getting out of control.
5. Think Before Buying New Things
I've been known to go hog wild in home decor stores, and I'm sure you have, too. (So many cute things for your apartment!) But are you really going to use that floral desk organizer, or that retro-looking stapler? Probably not. As Cattano says, "Stuff doesn't just pile up in our homes... we bring it in. So when buying something new ... ask yourself if this is going to improve your life in some way." If you're just getting it because it's cute or on sale, think twice.
6. Throw Away & Donate Everything
OK, obviously not everything. But you should set aside a day (or weekend, or month) to go through your belongings and edit, edit, edit. Start by making three piles: keep, toss, and donate. Then, get to sorting. If you haven't worn something in the past 18 months, it should go in the donate pile, according to Julie Mihaly on Good Housekeeping. Toss what's broken or worn out, and then put the keepers back in their designated spots. You'll be left with way left stuff to clean, and therefore more free time on your hands. (Yay!)
7. Clean Whilst Cooking
Kitchens get out of control fast. Food scraps, dirty dishes, used pots and pans — you know the deal. That's why it's a good idea to clean as you go, so it never starts to feel like work. "As you're cooking a meal, put things in the sink or dishwasher right after you use it, and wipe the counters thoroughly when finished," Cattano says. "Wash your dishes and take out the trash at least once a day, even if you live by yourself." Then revel in how much better life feels with a clean, empty sink.
8. Do Laundry In The Morning
A sneaky way to feel like you aren't perpetually in chore-mode is to do things in the morning, before you get too tired. This includes any chore, but especially things you can leave going throughout the day, like the dishwasher or laundry machine. "When you get out of bed, put a load of clothes in the wash. Once breakfast is over, put the clothes into the dryer," suggested Angela Berenstein on Lifehack.org. That way it's already done when you get home from work.
9. Keep Certain Areas Perpetually Clear
There's something to be said for keeping most of your surfaces clear. "Horizontal surfaces are magnets for clutter, (kitchen counters, coffee table, dining room table, bathroom counter, dressers, desks). And clutter begets clutter, said blogger Ashley Cadaret on her website OurLittleApartment.com. So keep working on your desire to scatter mail and whatnot across your tables.
10. Always Make Your Bed
It seems like the simplest of things (and it is), but making your bed every day can make all the difference. "Since the bed occupies a lot of space, it will make your room look so much cleaner — even if you don’t completely make your bed," said Berenstein. Simply pull up the covers, fluff the pillows, and the space will feel 100 percent tidier.
11. Keep Junk Out Of Sight
It's kind of cheating to kick things into the closet and call your place "clean." I'm totally not suggesting doing that. You should, however, keep most things out of sight. "I suggest putting the cripity-crap we all have like office supplies, [and] random beauty products (like tweezers, cotton balls, etc.) behind closed doors ... so you can display the things that you want to see," Cattano explains. These things should be the items that tell the story of who you are, Cattano says. Think travel souvenirs, coffee-table books, and photos. Those are the only things that should be occupying your space.
Because you don't have room for dirt, clutter, or junk. And you certainly don't have the time to spend your entire life keeping up with your apartment. So fix your bad habits, get rid of excess, and clean as you go, and your home will stay magically clean — with minimal effort.
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