Spring cleaning. Just the thought of it is enough to make the typical college student recoil in horror, fearful of what might linger underneath beds or in the nooks and crannies of rarely-cleaned showers. Yes, it’s the annual household tradition that most college kids decide to skip, but not you. You’re ready to face the dust and dirt with your broom held high, equipped with nothing but a few dollar-store cleaning supplies and impenetrable resolve to get the job done.
But, assuming that you’re not already running a busy household with kids, pets, and semi-annual visitors, you may find that a lot of spring cleaning tips out there don’t quite jive with your collegiate lifestyle. No offense to Martha Stewart, but this year’s cleaning adventures definitely will not entail dry-cleaning curtains or splurging on seasonal bed linens. If anything, she shed light on the fact that they’re called something other than “sheets.”
So, if you’re hoping to make your off-campus apartment look good as new, but you want to do so with little cash and effort, you’re in luck. uCribs has rounded up 6 of our favorite spring cleaning hacks, tailored specifically for the college crowd. No, this blog won’t teach you how to organize your broom closet, but it will tell you how to banish those leftover burrito stains at the bottom of your kitchen sink. And really, what’s more important than that?
Start by investing in natural cleaning agents.
No matter how outdoorsy you consider yourself, we can all agree that it’s never a bad idea to rethink your green footprint, especially when it comes to innocuous-seeming household cleaners loaded with harmful chemicals. Fortunately, it’s easy to introduce environmentally-friendly cleaning agents to your spring cleaning regimen, like lemon, white vinegar, and baking soda. Lemon’s high acidity makes it ideal for bleaching, and its oils also act as a great cleaning agent. Vinegar is an excellent surface cleaner, adding tons of shine to mirrors, floors, and showers. And baking soda? Aside from being a fantastic deodorizer for pantries and refrigerators, baking soda’s abrasive nature helps you scrub down bathrooms and kitchens with ease.
In addition to saving a ton of money on traditional household cleaners, you’ll likely find that with a few homemade cleaning “recipes,” you can easily replicate the effects of chemical-heavy formulas. Try mixing the vinegar and baking soda together for a natural scrubbing formula that will work on just about any surface. Add the lemon to the vinegar for a killer, streak-free window cleaner. Or, combine lemon and baking soda for a cleaning paste that will do wonders for grout, kitchen appliances, and any other tricky areas where your off-campus apartment is collecting grime.
Next, sanitize your household cleaning tools.
Newsflash: household cleaners get dirty over time. Say what? Yep, a lot of us tend to take various cleaning appliances and tools for granted when it comes to our annual spring cleaning, but the truth is that dishwashers, washing machines, and garbage disposals are excellent bacteria harbors, as is your trusty kitchen sponge and other various household cleaning tools. So, while you’re cleaning every nook and cranny of your apartment, don’t overlook the little guys helping you get all of the standard cleaning work done year-round.
Fortunately, it’s easy to provide a little TLC to your cleaning companions. Your dishwasher, washing machine, and garbage disposal can all be cleaned with a baking soda and vinegar mixture. Run a dishwasher and/or washing machine cycle with hot water and vinegar before running an additional cycle with baking soda, then top it off with a final cycle of pure hot water. Use a similar process to clean your disposal. Pour the baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar, and allow the mixture to bubble up. Your sponge can be sanitized quickly by saturating it with water and then popping it into the microwave for one to two minutes. Just about any other cleaning tool can be scrubbed with soap and water or left to soak in a bleach-water mixture before leaving out to dry. Boom – done!
Now that your tools are ready, turn your attention to your fridge and pantry.
While you may be old enough to have your own food supply of anything you want – Pizza Rolls and Snack Packs, anyone? – you’re probably not quite old enough to always remember to clean out your fridge and/or pantry on the regular basis. Hey, you win some, you lose some – and by “lose some,” we mean throwing out those cheese puffs that have been slowly decaying into orange dust since last fall. Now that’s handled, you’ll want to continue this plan of action with everything edible— or otherwise— currently lingering in your kitchen.
First, throw out anything that’s outlived its expiration date. This goes for the obvious offenders – like dairy products, fruit, and vegetables – as well as any condiments or dressings that might smell fine but actually expired last year. Then, pour a bit of elbow grease into making your fridge, freezer, and pantry clean as a whistle. After all, your food supply has to live there, so you should probably do your part to make sure it’s sanitary, right? Finally, make a shopping list of any outdated necessities you needed, like yesterday, so that you don’t forget to restock the Ranch dressing next time you make a grocery run. See? What did we say? Adulting 101, folks!
After that, show some love to your microwave, oven, and range.
How many times have you reheated late-night leftovers in your microwave or oven? If we had to guess, probably way too many times than you’d care to admit. And you likely don’t even want to think about all the times you spilled mac and cheese sauce on your stovetop and left it there indefinitely. Needless to say, in addition to turning a blind eye to expiration dates, college students tend to pay little mind to maintaining and cleaning their cooking appliances, allowing residue to build up and odors to linger for months on end. Now, it’s time to fix that. There’s nothing your new spring cleaning routine can’t handle when it comes to banishing grime – and that also applies to your kitchen appliances!
As it turns out, your microwave, oven, and range love those natural cleaning products you picked up for this quest and will respond positively to their use. Want in on the easiest way to clean your microwave, ever? Simply put a bowl of vinegar inside of the appliance and heat it for five minutes. The steam released will make it uber-easy to wipe down accumulated food splatter. Your oven and range will benefit from a baking soda and water paste mixture, which can be applied to certain spots or the entire appliance and left overnight. In the morning, simply wipe the paste away. See any remaining grime? No worries – a few spritzes of vinegar will take care of that, leaving only a mirror-like shine in its place. Go ahead and flash yourself a smile – your cleaning efforts are really paying off, after all!
And don’t forget to declutter as you go.
If you ask us, an energizing spring cleaning session doesn’t mean much without a hefty dose of decluttering. There’s something so refreshing about getting rid of unused junk and having more room in your apartment for items that you really love. Surely after months – if not entire semesters! – spent living in the same place, you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff, valuable or otherwise. Don’t you owe it to yourself to take stock of your belongings and say “thank u, next” to those items that no longer feel needed? We think so – and we think Ariana would agree, too. Hey, just because you’re junking it now, doesn’t mean it hasn’t helped you in the past—but like Spring itself, you should use your cleaning regimen to make way for the new.
Admittedly, it can be super intimidating to decisively declutter when you’re staring down an entire closet or surface of untouched clothing, dusty books, and empty to-go cups… well, there’s no need to cause more anxiety than you already have— you get the idea. But rest assured, you got this. Begin by separating your things into three piles: one for items you are keeping, another for items suitable for donating, and a final one for items heading straight to the trash can. You can even sell gently used clothing and books online, or through specialty resale shops and digital apps, turning that mountain of clutter into gift cards or cold hard cash. If that doesn’t motivate you to get a grip on your stuff, we don’t know what will!
Finally, reward yourself with a bit of rearranging and/or redecorating.
Now that you’re nearing the finish line of your spring cleaning sprint, you’ve probably come to understand why most people submit themselves to this only once a year. You’re a bit sore, sweaty, and breathless after tackling those dust bunnies and forgotten queso stains. And while you’re happy to see that your hard work is resulting in a gradually gleaming apartment, you have to admit that spending an entire Saturday cozied up to your kitchen sponge is a bit of a bummer. But, it doesn’t have to end on such a bitter note. In fact, you’ll likely find that a little pick-me-up at the end of your cleaning spree will make the day’s work worth it.
No, we’re not suggesting that you prematurely chuck your broom in exchange for movie tickets. Instead, we think you owe it to yourself – and your sparkly apartment – to freshen up your living space by rearranging and/or redecorating. You may be surprised to find that moving your couch ever-so-slightly opens up your space, and – wow! – that floor lamp looks way better in the opposite corner. You can also try your hand at one of those Pinterest projects you pinned years ago but never got around to completing. A DIY garland here, a set of homemade coasters there… don’t you already feel more inspired to show love to your cute – and clean! – college apartment?
You know that it’s important to keep your assignments in check, but what about your off-campus apartment? If you’ve been neglecting your humble abode in the cleanliness department, now is the perfect time to kickstart an annual – or more frequent! – spring cleaning regimen. With these tips at your disposal, you can steam, shine, and scrub your way to an apartment that not only looks great, but will also function as the perfect escape from your busy collegiate life on-campus. Don’t worry—you can thank us later!