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How to Clean Your Apartment Like a Pro

May 7th, 2020 - 9:22 AM

Make your apartment sparkle

Does the idea of deep cleaning make you feel like Cinderella — scrubbing on your hands and knees, wishing some helpful animals would lend a hand? It doesn’t have to be like that. Whether you’re moving into a new apartment and want to start without the dirt and grime left behind by previous tenants, or you’re already in a place that needs of some serious TLC, a deep cleaning is absolutely doable on your own — without spending money on a cleaning crew. With the right supplies and a plan in place, you can efficiently clean your apartment from top to bottom. Take a look at these easy steps to get a truly deep clean, and don’t forget to whistle while you work!  

A mop and other household cleaning products are seen on a floor of a residence

The supplies you’ll need for a good, deep scrub:

  • Baking soda
  • Disinfectant wipes or spray
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Furniture polish
  • Carpet spot cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Microfiber cloths/old wash rags (get a lot of these for use on multiple surfaces)
  • Lint roller
  • Paper towels
  • Newspaper
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sponges
  • Step stool
  • Toilet bowl brush
  • Trash can/bags
  • Vacuum/steam vacuum 
  • Broom/dustpan
  • Mop/steam mop

Apartment Cleaning Checklist

With a thorough clean, you’ll be covering the entire place from top to bottom, and since you don’t want to make messes in areas you just cleaned, you’ll find it best to follow a specific order (we’ll get into that below).  

*pro tip: If you’re having a hard time finding the motivation to get started, try turning on some upbeat music — it helps almost every time! 

Get everything in order

If it’s a new apartment, take advantage of the empty space and deep clean before everything is unloaded and unpacked. If you’re already in, you’ll find it easier to get everything picked up, put away and organized before you get started.  

Work room to room

This allows you to devote your full attention to each space, getting it totally spotless before moving on to the next area. And, there’s definitely a feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing a finished, sparkling room. Just save the floors for the very end, so you only have to get the mop and vacuum out once.  

Here’s how to tackle each room: 

Start at the top

Since dust will fall as you go, and you don’t want to clean it up twice, it’s best to work each room from top to bottom. Wipe down dusty surfaces with a dry microfiber cloth or a vacuum (and attachment), and for stubborn, greasy dirt, use a dusting spray or a mix of vinegar and water. Surfaces you don’t want to miss are:

  • Door frames
  • Tops of doors
  • Above cabinets
  • Ceiling fans
  • Corners: check for cobwebs
  • Light fixtures
  • Electronics: Use a dry cloth or a wipe specifically for things like TVs and computers.
  • Lamp shades: Wipe them down with a lint roller. 
  • Blinds
  • Windowsills
  • Artwork and knickknacks
  • Surfaces
  • Vent covers: Remove and wash with warm, soapy water in the sink.
  • Baseboards
Living areas and bedroom

Living areas can get cluttered and dusty. Once you’ve picked up and wiped everything down, do these steps to finish cleaning these areas.

  • Wipe down all wood furniture with polish that is appropriate for the finish 
  • Vacuum fabric furniture like sofas and chairs
  • Wash all linens
  • Clean windows (inside and out) with glass cleaner or vinegar and newspaper

Bathroom

This is the place to put your sanitizing cleaner to work. Pay special attention to the nooks and crannies where mold and bacteria can live. 

  • Scrub the bathtub and shower and faucet heads
  • Wipe down countertops, sinks and faucets
  • Wipe down cabinets inside and out. Try cleaning caked-on hairspray with a shampoo and warm water mix
  • Clean mirrors and shower doors with glass cleaner or vinegar with newspaper
  • Disinfect the toilet, and don’t forget to wipe under and around the seat and around the base!
  • Wash shower curtain, towels and rugs according to laundry instructions

Kitchen

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but studies show that kitchens are one of the dirtiest areas in your living space. So, you’ll want to tackle every inch of this room — especially if you’re moving into a new space. It’s important to note that some sanitizers aren’t safe for food surfaces, so make sure to use cleaners designed for the kitchen or natural products like baking soda and vinegar.

  • Stovetop: Remove burner caps and soak them in soapy water, then scrub the stovetop with cleaner — don’t forget the knobs and back panel. A baking soda paste is great for stubborn areas. 
  • Oven: Remove the racks and clean them with dish soap. Use oven cleaner or a baking soda and water paste to scrub stubborn stains and burnt-on-food, then rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Microwave: Place a cup of warm water inside, cook it for a minute, then let the steam sit for a few minutes. When it’s finished, wipe it out with a cloth.
  • Fridge: Remove the shelves and drawers and clean the inside with soapy water. Then use a baking soda and warm water mix to clean the shelves and drawers. If possible, turn off the power, move the fridge and clean under it. Then empty the drip pan and wipe down the front and side panels.
  • Dishwasher: Fill a dishwasher-safe container with a cup of vinegar and place it on the top rack. Then run an empty hot-water cycle to remove grease and odors. When the cycle is finished, wipe out the inside with a damp cloth.
  • Sink and disposal: First sprinkle baking soda down the drain, then add vinegar to foam it and fill the disposal. Follow with a rinse of very hot water. Once that’s done, use a paste of baking soda and water to scrub the sink.
  • Countertops and cabinets: Wipe everything down, including inside cabinets and drawers, with warm soapy water or a vinegar and water mixture (check to make sure vinegar is safe on your cabinet finish). 

Laundry Room 

Lint tends to build up here, so wipe down all surfaces well, then move on to the appliances.

  • Washer: Wipe out all seals with a vinegar and water mix, then run an empty cycle on hot with bleach. To finish, wipe out the drum, and leave the door open to dry.  
  • Dryer: clean the lint compartment with a long brush or a vacuum attachment.
    • If you think the dryer vent is clogged, talk with your landlord before doing the work to fix it — unclogging it will require moving the appliance, so they may prefer an appliance repair company do it. 

Tackle the floors

A study from the University of Arizona found that bacteria from shoes transfers to the floors, so you’ll definitely want to give them a heavy, disinfecting scrub. If you’re moving into a new place, and you’re not sure what kind of cleaner is appropriate for the flooring, check with your landlord ahead of time to avoid damage. Here are some tips to get a thorough floor clean:

Cleaning carpets

If you’re moving in, you may want to have the carpets professionally cleaned for sanitation sake.  If you’re doing it yourself, follow these steps: 

  • Spot clean with a spray cleaner
  • Vacuum all carpeted surfaces, going in different directions to get good coverage. Make sure to get under furniture and use attachments for tight spots.
  • Disinfect using a steam mop carpet attachment to blast out germs  

Cleaning hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are pretty durable — just avoid using cleaning products that leave a residue and be careful not to scuff or damage the wood as you’re cleaning. 

  • Get debris up first, using either a broom without frayed bristles or a vacuum.
  • Mop last, using a gentle product that’s recommended for your type of flooring. Avoid steam and products with ammonia, vinegar, wax, polish or oil-based soaps.

Cleaning tile, laminate or vinyl floors

Tile, laminate or vinyl flooring may take a little more elbow grease than the other flooring types.

  • Sweep or vacuum first
  • Mop using either a steam mop or cleaner specifically for tile (note you can’t use steam on some wood laminate floors). 
  • Scrub grout with a scrub brush or an old toothbrush and a baking soda and water paste.

Disinfect everything last

After all rooms are fully cleaned, the last step is to go room-to-room using sanitizing wipes or spray to clean commonly touched surfaces, like light switches, door knobs, remotes and handles. 

Customize a cleaning schedule that fits your timeline

If you’re cleaning before you move into your new place or you’re adding time to your schedule to focus on a deep clean, you may need to get it done quickly, all at once. But for a deep clean all the time (wouldn’t that be nice!), consider breaking the list up into daily or weekly chores and rotating through them on a regular basis. We’d love to hear what works for you! Do you prefer a deep clean all at once or a little at a time? Share with us in the comments!