Clear the clutter, dust first for quick apartment cleanup

By Judy Stringer
on February 24, 2013

You have probably been in a situation where friends call to say that they are in the neighborhood and dropping by. Or maybe the in-laws have decided to stop in tomorrow and see your new apartment on their way to visit family friends in Pittsburgh. Perhaps you have known for weeks or months that company is on the way but just have been too busy to get the apartment in tip-top shape.

With no time for an exhaustive cleaning session before your guests arrive, it is easy to get anxious and overwhelmed. Don't despair. Just follow these quick and easy tips to make your apartment seem cleaner than it really is and welcome visitors into your home.

Gather the clutter

The first five minutes of any quick-cleaning job should be spent gathering clutter, said Allen Rathey, founder of the Housekeeping Channel. He suggested the basket technique for speedy clutter removal. Take a laundry basket or heavy-duty plastic refuse bag into each room. Put everything into the basket/bag that doesn't belong in that room. Move to the next room and take out of the basket things that belong there and can be put away easily. Reload the basket with anything out of place in that room. Once the process is repeated in all main living areas, stow the basket and its remaining contents in a closet for later sorting.

Dirty dishes from the sink or countertop can be stashed in the oven if it is not in use. By merely gathering up the clutter, you can "make your apartment look like you spent a lot of time on it," Rathey said.

Wipe the surfaces

Dust is a telltale sign that housekeeping has not been a top priority. Once the clutter is cleared, grab two microfiber cleaning clothes and banish the dust. Give bookcases, shelves and electronics a quick swipe with a dry microfiber towel, Rathey said. Lightly dampen a second microfiber cloth for shiny surfaces, such as glass and chrome fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom.

"A damp microfiber cloth will actually polish glass and chrome without using any bottled cleaners," he said. Freshen the air A foul-smelling apartment is not inviting. During the warmer seasons, the best way to freshen the indoor air is to open the windows. In the cold winter months, rely on natural air cleansers, such as lemon and cinnamon. Slicing lemons only takes a few minutes, and giving the lemon slices a quick squeeze releases their refreshing essence. Boiling cinnamon sticks in water takes a few more minutes, but it is another sure fire way to sweeten the indoor air naturally.

Rathey said to use chemical air fresheners sparingly. Some air fresheners combine with odors throughout the apartment and make things worse, he said.

Keep the dirt/clutter out

You never really know when guests might decide to drop in or when a work or school deadline could complicate cleaning for company. The best advice is to keep the apartment somewhat presentable at all times, according to professional organizer Patty Clair, owner of Cleveland-based simply put, llc. Luckily, there are a few little things you can do daily that will make a big difference when it comes to your apartment's appearance.

Controlling paper clutter is one of them. Resist the temptation to dump the mail on the kitchen table or countertop without so much as a glance, Clair said. Sort it right away. Typically 10 to 15 percent may be something you actually need. Everything else can be recycled on the spot or shredded if it includes your address or any account numbers. The mail you keep, such as bills, magazine subscription renewals, or letters from Aunt Edna, should be put into a designated spot, preferably a plastic bin that can be moved off of the counter quickly when guests are on the way, she said.

You also should curb the amount of dirt coming from people and pet traffic that's entering your apartment. "Muddy paws, boots, and shoes can track in dust, water and mud," Clair said, "Hence, taking off your shoes before entering your home, having a good mat available at all entrances to wipe off shoes, and wiping your pet's paws will go a long way in diminishing dirt carried into your home."

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