Survival in the Garret

10 Cleaning Tips for Struggling Students

Having a crippling study load and limited resources doesn’t have to mean a life of squalor.  You can keep your crib neat and clean with in limited time and with little money with this set of tried and true tips from the bohemian quarter.

  1. Visit the bucket and plunger laundrette. There will be days when you won’t have coin for the laundromat, so invest in a plunger (label it clearly so it won’t be used in the toilet) and a tallish bucket.  Fill a third of the bucket with dirty clothes and a bit of detergent, then top up with water.  The wash cycle will take 100 plunges, the rinse cycle 50.  Two rinse cycles are recommended.  Wring it all out and suspend it from hangers on the shower curtain rod to drip dry.
  2. You don’t need hot water to wash your dishes. Any food handling expert will tell you that hot water has no real advantage in eliminating bacteria and that the only time you need hot water is to wash away grease.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much this will save you on your electric bill.  If it’s cold outside and you just can’t stand the feeling, add a little hot water.  In the summer washing dishes in cool water is almost a treat.  Of course, this won’t work in a dishwasher, so if you have a dishwasher consider using it less.
  3. Want to use less water while ensuring your dishes are clean? Here’s a method for you: Rinse the food off your dishes using a brush and stack them to the side. Now fill a small container with diluted dishwashing liquid and dip your sponge in it, washing each piece and leaving it in the sink.  (The advantage of leaving the soap on the dishes is that it has more time to kill germs.) Once all the dishes are washed and in the sink, start rinsing them off and stacking them to dry.  No towel drying! (Why waste your time adding germs to your dishes?)
  4. Reducing bacteria is better than trying to wipe it out. Trying to rid your house of every germ will require copious quantities of cleaning products that just aren’t good for you.  Vinegar will reduce bacteria to within safe levels, and if there’s a reason for being extra careful (you’ve been caring for the sick, for example) you can turn to chlorine bleach, still by far the cheapest and most effective means of destroying bacteria, no matter what the commercials say about the new products.
  5. Dusting and floor cleaning are dull, repetitive tasks that we tend to put off in spite of the value of a dust-free habitat. We suggest you just put on some music and git ‘er done.  Use a feather duster, start in one place and go all around your pad dusting every surface quickly until you’re back where you started.  Sweep, then wet mop the ceramic and vinyl and damp mop the wood.  Small carpets can be swept.  Shag carpets should be tossed.
  6. Rubbing alcohol is a great (and nontoxic) way of removing germs and even tiny insects from fabrics like wool and leather that can’t be treated with stronger chemicals. Your cushions, area rugs, uphostery, mattresses, and even musty clothing can benefit from a spritz of alcohol from a spray bottle.  You can add essential oils if you want a nice scent.
  7. Swiffers are extremely useful. They’re expensive if you buy the name brand and obey the command to continue buying the little bits of disposable tissue paper that come with them but not expensive if you buy a knockoff or pick one up at a thrift shop.  For fabrics you can use pieces of old sweatshirts and towels or just buy absorbent cloths and wash them when they’re dirty.  These can be used to quickly damp mop a floor (you can wield a spray bottle in your other hand), and they’re also great for washing walls and ceilings.
  8. Keep it all organised! Keeping everything handy and ready to use will help you to stop procrastinating and ensure that cleaning doesn’t take up more time than it should. Buy a few cheap spray bottles or recycle your used ones so that you can use them for rubbing alcohol, diluted vinegar, or diluted bleach.  Keep everything you need in places where you can grab them quickly.
  9. Clean fast and frequently. You should never have to set aside large blocks of time for cleaning.  For example, if you clean your bathroom quickly after your shower it only takes a few minutes a day to keep it pristine.
  10. Keep it aerated.  As often as possible open windows and both ends of your home to exchange the air.  This will keep it smelling fresh and free of indoor pollutants.