Cleaning and housekeeping hacks for students

14 mins read

It’s been a while since I’ve made some articles to do with lifestyle. But upon talking to a few students and other friends, I noticed that they were not aware of some of these awesome cleaning and housekeeping hacks that will for sure make your life a lot easier when getting into those dirty spots.

Let’s face it, nobody really enjoys cleaning. Unless you’re me, someone who isn’t the best at front-facing roles, but find other roles a bit easier.

I think we take a lot of what we have for granted. After all, we are a large consumerist society that is always acquiring more.

Are you someone who has a lot of stuff that they don’t really use? Are you frustrated that your bathroom isn’t looking pristine? Do you put off that horrible oven cleaning job?

Here are some tips that all students will benefit from, starting from easiest to more elbow grease difficult.

Easy mode

Let’s cut to the chase. Mould, grease, grime, limescale, soap scum, and other soils are very annoying. The best tip I can give for this is to prevent it from forming in the first place. To do this, let’s think of a source, pathway, receptor model.

What is the source of your problem? Can we eliminate the pathway that allows the source to reach the receptor?

The source of mould is hot, damp and humid environments. Anywhere with water sources that have not been wiped. This includes showers, baths, sinks, and washing machines.

The key to eliminating the pathway that mould likes is to change its environment. Therefore, try the following:

  1. Leave the washing machine door open when not in use. This allows wet humid air to escape, and will allow outside air to dry the interior of the washing machine, which will prevent mould building up on the seal.
  2. Open a window in the bathroom, or use a ventilation fan when you have had a bath or a shower.
  3. If you have a glass screen in your shower, use a squeegee to wipe the water droplets off. When combined with step 2, you’ve effectively killed any chance of mould forming.

Grease likes to build up in your kitchen, especially in your oven, grill, or extractor fan. The best way to prevent grease from building up is to keep on top of cleaning these appliances regularly. After a while, grease turns into grime, which is a lot harder to remove and takes a lot of ‘elbow grease’.

In your oven, dripping fat turns into grease and can coat the sides, top and bottom of the oven interior. This is especially the case if you are cooking foods like pizza, chips, and burgers, or foods to which you have added oils.

However, we have a degreaser in the home. And it’s not in your cleaning cupboard.

It’s vinegar. And vinegar can be your best friend. In fact, let it be!

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  1. Create a homemade vinegar, water and bicarbonate of soda solution. The vinegar will eat away at the grease, while the bicarbonate of soda will attack the grimier areas that require more work since it works as an abrasive.
  2. Soak metal extractor hoods in very hot water with vinegar, preferably overnight.
  3. If you don’t want to use Oven Pride, use the above solution and apply to the inside of your oven, and leave for 6 hours or overnight. Wipe across the surfaces, and then buff dry.

Limescale likes hard water which contains more calcium carbonate. So, in hard water areas, it is good to clean out your kettle and kitchen sink and tap from time to time. Still do this in soft water areas too, but you don’t need to place too much emphasis on it if you live in Scotland.

Finally, the bathroom enemy we all despise, soap scum. It likes your shower, shower screen, your taps and walls. But soap scum hates dishwashing detergent. Create a solution of water, detergent and vinegar to remove soap scum from these surfaces.

Moderate mode

Now we’ve covered the basics, we have to handle some tougher situations. Let’s say an entire room needs to be cleaned and you have no clue where to start. This is more of a mental barrier than a physical one. Because anyone who has gone into a messy and dirty room has probably released a long sigh.

Trust me, I’ve been there. So let me give you a three step solution to ensure that room is spotless after all the work.

Let’s start with step one, which is your clutter.

  1. First, you should de-clutter everything in that room. Have you had an item for a while which you have not really used? Try to be very honest about whether you should keep it, chuck it, or donate it. This will then allow you to create three piles of stuff you’re keeping, chucking or donating.
  2. Start with what’s on the floor, and then move to shelves, bookcases, dressers, wardrobes and window sills. If you’re de cluttering a bathroom, take everything outside the bathroom. In a living room, or kid’s bedroom, tidy up toys and games.
  3. Rummage through stuff in your loft or cellar. It will have collected dust if not used in a while. Anything that’s not dusty should indicate to you that it is being used regularly.
  4. Chuck out of date food, drinks and other items in your fridge and food cupboards.
  5. Wardrobes can be de-cluttered for the winter season and the summer season. Check to see what fits you and what does not, then consider donating it, or chucking it. Alternatively, can you reuse it for a different purpose?
  6. For electrical items that require WEEE disposal, take these to the appropriate recycling centre. Check what works and what does not. Anything that works can be donated or reused. Take small batteries to a local supermarket recycling bin

After this step is complete, your room or home is going to look and feel tidier, cosier, and spacious. It’s often the most mentally challenging step to go through. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of some items or break habits such as impulsive buying.

Step two is cleaning. Now it’s time to get to work on those surfaces. Where should you start?

  1. Top to botttom is always best. Leave floors and carpets until last.
  2. Start with the top to reach places, which may contain dust, depending on the room. Acquire a duster with an extending handle if you have limited mobility.
  3. Attack the washing up, and don’t forget to clean the drainer.
  4. Spray and wipe down cupboards, tables, appliances, baths, showers, sinks and toilets (exterior) with an all purpose cleaner. For bathroom and kitchen jobs, use different cloths to avoid contamination. Sanitised environments and non sanitised environments will require different cloths.
  5. Wipe back and forth in an S shape pattern from top to bottom on all surfaces.
  6. Polish wooden surfaces and window sills.
  7. Vaccum carpets and upholstery, including sofas and armchairs. Don’t forget your stairs if you have them.
  8. For hard floors, first sweep from top to bottom, or dry mop. In the bathroom, the same applies, except first use a squeegee with a rubber coating to pick up any hairs. Finally, you can use a wet mop to remove stains, and clean the floor.

Now your home is not only tidier but its cleaner as well. But there’s one step left and it’s the easiest. With a clean room or entire home, it’s time to disinfect. Cleaning does not remove germs, bacteria or viruses. So disinfecting is key.

  1. Try to disinfect each surface in the same order as you cleaned them. This will ensure adequate time has passed for each surface to dry.
  2. Include surfaces such as door handles, taps, cupboard and fridge handles, cabinets, televisions and computers. Anywhere in which microbes are prone to building up.
  3. Finally, go back over with a buffing cloth.

Your work is now done. For general clean-ups anyway. We still have one more mode to look at, and it’s probably most important.

‘Elbow grease’ mode

The easy and moderate jobs have been taken care of. But now it’s necessary to look at deep cleaning and more difficult jobs that can easily be put off for months.

Your kitchen is where you cook and prepare food. Therefore you need to address your fridge and your freezer. Why?

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Because freezer burn is like Elsa releasing a long and dark winter on all your food, that can’t be prevented if you provoke her. Another thing about freezers is that space is limited. Piled up food will create the freezer burn curse and only true love of your freezer will thaw a frozen heart.

So, de-ice your freezer if it has built up along the edges or has made door opening and closing difficult.

Next, you’ve got rid of your out of date foods I hope. Well it’s not an ice business if your fridge shelves are filthy. So sing or chant to yourself as you attack the dirt on those surfaces that your food rests on. After all, Sven’s carrots will give him the energy to keep going if they are clean.

Everybody hates dirty wire racks. These need to be soaked in Oven Pride overnight or in the above oven cleaning solution. Ovens should be cleaned every few months.

You need to be incredibly uptight if you have a dog or a cat. They need to be checked for fleas, worms and other nasty surprises. Shedding hair on your sofa is not in your best interests. Take care of your pets and keep track. Wash out any cages, tanks or beds weekly.

Clean mattresses regularly to remove chances of bed bugs.

The worst nightmare possible is an infestation. Anything from an array of spiders, mites, bed bugs, ants, up to the large rodents like mice and rats.

Don’t even sleep in your home in this situation. You need to fumigate the entire place, or hire an exterminator. This is also where you’re allowed to spend some money on a hotel room or visit a friend, so go and treat yourself while your place is taken care of.

Never clean a room or home before fumigating if there is an infestation present. Wait until your place is completely safe before cleaning.

If you’ve done everything here, you’ve just obtained some new skills. Now be kind to yourself and reward your efforts. You just dominated.

Featured image credit: Sonny Bailey

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PhD - Environmental Science. Aspiring research scientist. Like to blog things science, and how it affects us.

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