Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Living in and leaving rented apartments in the U.S.
– a collection of tips for impecunious students

  1. Find out at the outset if your apartment policy allows nails to be hammered into the wall, or only poster mounts. Nails and push-pins are far easier to introduce and extract, and apartment complexes that allow them typically do not require that the holes be filled in. If nails are not allowed, or not possible to hammer in (owing to the impenetrable nature of the wall), adhesive strips like poster mounts will need to be used. These strips are the devil to peel off, and the residue will need to be scraped off with a table knife.
  2. Line all shelves with plastic/rubberized/cloth/newspaper liners as appropriate to the contents. It makes them far easier to keep clean, and to clean up after accidental spills.
  3. Cover the refrigerator top with a layer of cling-wrap. The refrigerator top is practically impossible to clean thoroughly. Dust and grime collecting on it over the months will be captured beautifully by the cling-wrap, which, at the end of your stay, can be peeled off and recycled.
  4. Keep baking soda and vinegar handy. The combination is a non-toxic way to clear most slow drains, and to clean a range of surfaces from the refrigerator gasket and shelves to the stove. Baking soda is also an excellent deodorizer and cleansing aid. Vinegar is an almost miraculous residue-remover – use it to clean glass containers and metal fixtures clouded with deposits.
  5. Clean often, preferably every week. If the only reason you clean is to vacate an apartment, God help you! – you are avoiding the pleasure of the fruits of your labour. If you clean only when you invite patently decent persons or delectable girls/boys over, invite said persons over every week. A clean dwelling is no worse than a filthy one; in fact, it is almost universally considered vastly better!
  6. Keep a pair of rubber gloves to use for cleaning tasks. Cleaning supplies and constant washing, esp. in hot water, can torture your skin. Armed (p.i.) with gloves, you can raise the temperature of the water to otherwise unbearable levels and achieve a clean that’s a few notches higher.
  7. Air-fresheners are a scam – air is fresher. Open a window for a while and let air circulate. Indoor air tends to be worse than outdoor, unless your home is in an industrial effluent flume. Use a screen to keep marauders out, and air out the room in your absence if you find it too cold to do so in your presence. If your room actually stinks, get to the bottom of it. Wash your clothes and self. Clean the floors and furniture. Keep your bedroom and closets closed, and your exhaust fan on, when you cook. Stop smoking, unless you want a virtual corpse in an air-‘freshener’ed room. Keep a bowl (not the same bowl) of baking soda in places you want to deodorize, e.g., the bathroom, the refrigerator, the shoe rack.
  8. (Metal, preferably stainless steel, scrubber + moderate effort) > (plastic/cloth scrubber + Herculean effort). Use metal scrubbers to clean sinks – metal and ceramic – and metal pots and pans, esp. those stained with tea/coffee/cooking.
  9. Use a cleaner like Comet, once in a while, to scrub dingy sinks to dazzling cleanliness. Use gloves and the faithful metal scrubber for best results.
  10. Use a mild bleach solution like Chlorox spray bleach to clean abused bathtubs. Two or three runs will do a lot to eliminate mould and accumulated grime. Bleach is by no means benign. Use vinegar for regular cleaning after you get the bathtub to a semblance of cleanliness. Clean bathtubs at least every fortnight. Frequent cleaning ensures that the job itself gets done quickly and without taxing you too much – not much can build up in two weeks. And so, you will not find yourself in a situation where you pass out on the bathroom floor in a haze of cleaner fumes and your own sweat because you had to spray and scrub ad nauseum without making much headway.
  11. Install a shower curtain liner as well as the curtain. Wash the liner every few weeks, in the company of bath mats, cleaning rags and rugs, all of which also, give evidence of doing well for occasional laundering. Use a fistful of baking soda with the detergent to achieve superior cleansing.
  12. Do not use cleaners for surfaces that they are not designed to clean, e.g., a heavy-duty toilet bowl cleaner on a kitchen counter or refrigerator shelf. If you cannot deal with designated cleaners for each surface, get a broad-spectrum cleaner and use it blithely. Better still, use substances like baking soda, vinegar, borax, hot water and rags for your cleaning jobs.
  13. Newspaper, with glass-cleaner, polishes glass to a streak-free sparkle. Vinegar does the same. Tissue, in contrast, tends to disintegrate and leave miniscule crumbs all over its path - yet another reason to steer clear of disposable eco-unfriendly products which promise a pinnacle of hygiene quite superfluous for normal life.
  14. Turmeric, for all its wonderful qualities, leaves persistent stains not appreciated by landlords. This lack of appreciation expresses itself as disappearing chunks of your security deposit. Cover the vicinity of your stove with foil (if allowed by your apartment policy), and counters with shelf-liners or other non-inflammable sheets so that spices and gravies don’t spill or drip onto them and leave permanent marks.
  15. Use a wet rag to wipe down stoves, cabinet sides, and walls above and adjacent to stoves, following tumultuous cooking sessions. Stains and deposits allowed to get comfortable on counters and walls are not as easy to dislodge as those wiped off immediately.
  16. Cooking ranges can be unplugged and rolled out of their crevices to permit wiping down and sweeping every now and then to obviate frenzied chiselling on the eve of apartment-evacuation. So with refrigerators.
  17. If you’re unfortunate enough to live in a carpeted apartment, especially one with a light-coloured carpet, exercise extreme caution about the kinds of substances you use (Actually, this caution is well exercised even if you don’t live in a carpeted apartment!). Don’t make the blunder of playing holi indoors, else you will pay for it with a holey wallet in due course.


Anonymous said...

Urk, i think living in carpeted apartments is the apex of luxury. Why are you disparaging the same?

bored kid said...

lots of experience showing i think.