7 Hacks That’ll Instantly Make Your Messy Apartment Look Super Clean

Say goodbye to clutter.

Originally Published: 
Spring Refresh
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While nobody necessarily wants to live in clutter and filth, your busy schedule and the 47 other things on your to-do list don’t exactly give you a lot of time to think about the state of your home. And if you’re living in a studio or one-bedroom apartment, you don’t exactly have unlimited real-estate you can dedicate to storage. But as easy as it is to procrastinate — listen, we’ve all been there — a clean, organized home has more benefits than simply looking nice. According to Kenika Williams, professional organizer and founder of Tidied By K, it can also work wonders on your mental health.

“When your home is organized, it fosters productivity, reduces stress, and improves focus,” she explains. “An uncluttered environment ultimately mirrors an uncluttered mind, allowing you to concentrate on tasks more efficiently.”

There are so many ways to take care of your messy apartment: You can deep-clean your space on the regular; spend an afternoon donating old books and dishes; or even refold every sweater, T-shirt, and pair of leggings in your closet. But if you’re short on time — or, honestly, aren’t ready to channel Monica Geller — we have you covered. We tapped two cleaning and organizing experts to share seven brilliant messy apartment hacks, plus the products that will have your home looking neat in a snap. No matter what your apartment looks like now, you’re a few clicks away from a tidier home.

Designate A Drop Zone

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been 10 minutes late to dinner because you were turning your entire apartment upside down to find your keys. (Welcome to the club.) But in reality? It doesn’t have to be that way. “Have a designated place for everything,” Williams says. “It will not only make tidying up quicker but also help you to know exactly where things are.”

For a simple place to start that will make a huge difference in your daily routine, Williams encourages you to create a drop zone by your front door. “Set up a quick system by your front door for [things like] keys and Airpods as soon as you walk in the door,” she says. “Having a designated space for things makes maintenance 100 times simpler.”

Shop Your Pantry For Cleaning Supplies

Just because you want to clean your home doesn’t mean you need to fill your e-cart with a bunch of sprays and soaps. According to Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at a cleaning service called Two Maids, pantry essentials like baking soda, salt, and lemon juice are “great, natural cleaners and can be used in combination to tackle almost any chore.” If you’re looking for a quick and effective way to clean your surfaces, reach for the vinegar. “It’s a much safer and natural alternative to other high-grade products and is just as strong and effective,” she says. “Mixing water and vinegar in a spray bottle gives you a natural deodorizer to remove any scents lingering in your pantry.” (Bonus points: DIYing your cleaning supplies means you’ll save money and precious storage space.)

Go Big With Bins

Never — ever — underestimate the power of storage bins. “They can be used in practically any space, come in multiple sizes and colors, and overall help to add much needed order in spaces,” Williams shares. In addition to bringing some much-needed decorum to your cabinets and closets, they can make it easy to store similar items together. (For example, put all of your nonperishables in one bin, your cables and cords in another, and so on. Everything will look orderly without too much legwork.) While there are so many shapes, sizes, and styles to choose from, buy transparent bins so you can see their contents and find what you’re looking for quickly.

Double-Duty Decor

Can we be honest for a sec? Decorating a small space can feel like… well, a lot. When every square inch matters, you might be hesitant to allocate some precious real-estate to a bulky armchair. The good news? It’s possible to have the best of both worlds. “Dual-purpose furniture, such as ottomans with storage inside, can be very beneficial,” Williams notes. Part-bench, part-storage basket, this pick from Yaheetech will make sure your space is working double time. The next time you have guests over, and your apartment really isn’t looking its best, place some clutter in the hidden storage compartment. Trust us, they’ll have no idea they’re sitting on top of your junk mail.

Streamline Your Scrubbing

The kitchen might be the heart (and the stomach) of the home, but it’s also the biggest mess magnet. And, if you’ve ever tried to heat up marinara sauce with a lid, you know that the microwave is one of the biggest culprits. But instead of spending time and muscle scrubbing down the appliance, Cohoon has a simple solution: Microwave a damp sponge. “The moisture from the sponges will release inside the microwave, softening any dried food or spills,” she shares. “You’ll be able to wipe down any remaining crumbs with ease, saving you time scrubbing stuck on stains.” Grab a pack of Scrub Daddy’s signature sponges, which have a special FlexTexture foam that firms up when exposed to cold water and gets softer with warm water. Translation? These sponges can take care of both fresh spills and stubborn patches.

Line Your Fridge

Another problem area in your kitchen? The fridge. “One of the most time-consuming, and bothersome, kitchen tasks is cleaning the fridge shelves,” Cohoon admits. If you want to keep your refrigerator clean — but are booked, busy, and don’t want to wipe ’em down every few weeks — slip a liner underneath your groceries. While Cohoon says a layer of wax paper or plastic wrap can get the job done, reusable liners can keep your waste to a minimum. In fact, these liners from Innolites are nonslip, washable, and pre-cut so you don’t have to worry about measuring your fridge. (Who has the time?)

Spruce It Up With A Scent

We hate to break it to you, but visual clutter isn’t the only sign that your apartment is a little messy: That musty, there-must-be-mothballs aroma isn’t doing your home any favors, either. “A fresh smell can give the illusion of a clean home,” Cohoon shares. For a seemingly tidy home that appeals to all of the senses, ditch the musty vibes by opening your windows and turning on a fan. From there, Cohoon recommends enhancing your space with a candle or incense. With notes of yuzu, Indian jasmine, and cypress, this scent from P.F. Candle Co. hits that sweet spot between “I just cleaned” fresh and “come and stay a while” cozy.


Kathy Cohoon, operations manager at Two Maids

Kenika Williams, professional organizer and founder of Tidied by K

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