[First, a quick announcement. I am officially moving post days to Thursdays because apparently that is now what works better for my schedule. Ta da, Thursdays!]
We’re all adults here. I’m going to assume you know how to use a vacuum and do your laundry. I’ll be gracious enough to assume you know how to complete most household cleaning. My parents made sure that I did before I left for college, and for the new or more specific things I’ve encountered, Google or a quick call home have served me well.
The thing I really had no way of knowing until I moved into my own apartment, though, was how often each type of cleaning needed to be done. I know how often my mom asked me to do stuff back home, but different living spaces get dirty differently. So, if you’ll forgive the pun, here’s the quick and dirty on how to keep your living space clean.
The “gotta start somewhere” clean
Also known as this is so overwhelming or I am exhausted but must get one responsible adult thing done before digging into the ice cream.
- Make your bed
- Put away any clean laundry, and toss what’s dirty in the hamper
- Clean off tabletops and countertops, or at least put the junk in organized piles
- Do the dishes
- Take out the trash
- Open and window and/or light a candle
The key here is creating a clean visual palette. Even though you didn’t physically clean very much, this dramatically reduces visual (and olfactory!) clutter, and is the fastest way to feel like you’ve got a freshened space.
The “mother-in-law” clean
My actual mother coined this one, but basically it’s how clean your place should be to have guests over.
- All of the above, plus:
- Sweep and/or vacuum all floors. (Pro tip: Move your furniture at least every other time you do this so you’re actually getting all the dust, hair, and other gunk chilling on your floor.)
- Wipe down all tables and countertops. For wood, use a wet cloth and then immediately dry the surface. For tile or laminate, 409 is my favorite because it cleans and disinfects without being too harsh or toxic. For granite, use 409 and then a granite cleaner.
- I’ve tried some different options, but a microfiber or otherwise fuzzy, dry cloth gently wiped over basically any horizontal surface is the most effective method.
- Thoroughly wipe down the stove with 409 or soap and water, until it is sparkling clean and entirely residue-free. (Pro tip: For dark/stainless steel stovetops or other kitchen appliances, finish up with a little glass cleaner to avoid streaks.)
- After you do the dishes, scrub the sink. Your dishes will not be clean if you do not wash the sink fairly often.
- Wipe down cabinets, doorknobs, and other frequently touched surfaces. 409 or Clorox wipes are usually my preference.
- Clean the bathroom properly. Scrub the inside of the toilet (pour in some toilet cleaner, let it soak for 10ish minutes, then scrub) and wipe down the outside — including under the seat, because ew. Scrub and rinse the shower with 409 or Scrubbing Bubbles. Do the countertops if you haven’t already. Clean the mirror with paper towels and a good glass cleaner (this one’s my favorite).
The “how did dirt even get there” clean
Also known as the deep clean, the spring clean, the once in a while but very necessary clean.
- All of the above (yes, both lists), plus:
- Mop. I hate mopping. It might be my least favorite chore. But we scrub everything else, we gotta do the floors too. (And tools like the Swiffer wet jet make it easier.)
- Wash the windows. You don’t have to be intense about this if it doesn’t deeply matter to you, but at least be intentional with some glass cleaner and paper towels.
- Clean under and around your stove. If you can get in between it and the counters, do that. Many electric stovetops actually lift up, so be sure to clean under there as well.
- Polish any wood furniture by rubbing it down with Old English, followed by a soft cloth and plenty of time to dry.
- Scrub the walls. Yes, I am serious. Yes, I do this every few months. You don’t have to get every square inch, but dude they get gross. Especially important in bathrooms, kitchens, and dining areas, take a Clorox wipe or cloth with a little soap and water and wipe down as much as you can in the 2-to-5-foot height zone — lower if you have pets or kids. Get realllllllly close to the walls. See the gunk. Clean the gunk. (This also means wiping down baseboards!)
- Get in around your shower (or any other place in the bathroom that isn’t the same color it used to be), and scrub aggressively with a toothbrush, a little Soft Scrub, and a splash of water. At my old apartment mold built up kind of quickly in the shower, and this took care of it better than anything. Also works great for the kitchen sink!
- If you can, clean any vents or filters (including those under and behind your fridge). This helps increase electricity efficiency as well as heating and cooling effectiveness, plus keeps your air quality from getting gross.
- Clean your trash cans. Bet you forgot about that one. Think of all the stuff that thing touches. It should really get cleaned now and again.
- Wash your comforters, mattress covers, and pillows. Admittedly, I’m not the best about this one, but it is important!
- Purge your stuff. This is not traditional cleaning, but it makes a big difference in giving your space a fresh start.
I love having a clean space, but I do not love cleaning. But if I can see dirt I can’t go very long without doing something about it. You may not notice it, or the place you’re living may hide it well (for example, the tan speckled countertops at my new apartment hide dirt way better than the white tile at my old place). But it is still there, and sadly still needs to be cleaned.
Don’t feel bad if spot cleanings have to get you by until you’re able to do a more thorough cleaning, but also don’t do the gnarly college student thing and just let grossness pile up. This is your home, and you are an adult. Even though it’s a chore, you should get to enjoy that.
What did I miss? What are your favorite cleaning tips? Let me know in a comment below or in Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!
(P.S. Usual disclaimer that I don’t get anything for mentioning or linking to specific products, I just mention them because I’ve used them for years and actually stand by how much I like them.)
(Photo is a free stock photo because taking a picture of me cleaning seems weird?)