So, I was a property manager for two years, and the one thing I noticed across the board with multiple residents from multiple different backgrounds is this: People just generally don’t know how to clean ANYTHING. Their bathroom. Their kitchen. Their bodies. It’s gross. People are gross. You are probably gross. Shame on you.
Apartment living sucks ass, let’s just get that out of the way. Sure, on site maintenance and pest control are fantastic things to have, but the negatives stack up. You are surrounded by strangers that can turn into different strangers right around the time you get to know them. There are noises everywhere, worse if there are many kids in your neighborhood. It’s nice having a pool and gym, but it would be nicer if everyone in the community wouldn’t try to use these amenities at the exact time you wanted to use them. Then of course there is the ever-present horror demon known as the “LandLord,” a fat, conniving piece of garbage who wants nothing more than to come up with reasons to take your money (I’ll cover property manager stigmas in a different post).
I can’t tell you how many people I levied cleaning charges to that came back with a firm “but we cleaned!” Okay, champ… you swept and maybe vacuumed one room. Cleaning goes beyond surface wiping and getting all your stuff out of the cabinets (which typically wasn’t done anyway). Around this time they’d claim they tried to clean the caked black mold from around their tub but it was too haaaaaard or ask if they could have another hour/day to clean the things I listed. Tough titties, sport! Give me my money!
Now, I’m not seeking charges and fees, quite the opposite. In my time as a property manager, I would like nothing more than to inspect a wonderfully clean apartment. It saves me time and money if I only have to send carpet cleaners in or have my team do a quick wipe down. But that was rarely the case. Reason being that dirt builds up, even if you’re only in a place for a year. And most busy, working individuals see regular cleaning as just another thing taking up their precious time (especially true with college kids). What most people don’t realize is sustained cleaning is remarkably easy. Granted there will be things that take time, a la vacuuming and doing the dishes. But there are quite a few simple things you can do to cut down on some of the harder cleanable areas.
LEARN BLEACH WELL. BLEACH IS YOUR FRIEND.
OMG, bleach, you guys. Becoming familiar with bleach and the applications of this magical chemical is one of the easiest way to cut down on bathroom related cleaning issues. Cleaning sprays with bleach in them are honestly a godsend, and whoever first decided to put bleach in a spray bottle deserves a Nobel Prize, a foot rub and a lifetime’s subscription to the Steak of the Month Club. My personal fav is Tilex, though you can easily make your own spray with bleach diluted with water. I prefer the commercial stuff over homemade, though. It has better viscosity and sticking power.
Anyway, there are two main uses for bottled bleach (non-spray) that are just generally wonderful and help to keep things smooth and clean in your bathrooms. First, fill a bath tub or sink with a bit of hot water (about ¼ for tub, about ½ for sink) and pop in some bleach. I don’t have solid volumes, but just a splash works for sinks and probably 2 cups for a tub. Use more if you’re not getting the clean you want. NOTE: HAVE RUBBER GLOVES HANDY (lol, handy). Bleach is fairly dangerous to skin and highly bad for eyes. You may want goggles and even possibly a mask, as the bleach vapors can be rough. Let the bleach soak for a bit and scrub any stained areas as needed. This method cuts down greatly on soap scum and mold around drains. In addition, it only requires at most 10 minutes of your actual attention. The rest is just letting it soak and waiting. Filling the sink/tub and any needed scrubbing are the only parts that actually require you to be there.
Second cool use for bleach doesn’t as much save you from charges as saves you from pest issues and general kitchen grossness. First of all, regularly dropping some bleach down your drains is a handy way to degunk as well as a preventative against roaches and other insects (I’ll probably cover pest control stuff in a future post). If your kitchen is equipped with a garbage disposal, those things can get gross fast. If you allow it to just continue collecting grime, it will eventually break or stop working all together. It can also lead to awkward clogs and a rancid aroma coming from your sink. But how do you clean this device without having to shove your hand down the drain like all those scenes in movies that make everyone go “nononononoNONONO?” Simply acquire ice, cubed preferably and fill that bad boy up. Then, sprinkle some lovely bleach down there and grind away (with water running to soften and lubricate… giggity). Do this maybe once every two months depending on how often your disposal gets used. Should keep things clean and also prevents fruit flies from setting up shop down there.
Finally, my best friend the bleach spray. Oh, this stuff is fantastic. One of the most common reasons for cleaning charges that I’ve seen is the presence of mold around tubs, in toilets, and bordering windows. If you live in a drier area, this might not necessarily be the case, but here in Florida, the battle against mold is an ongoing, bloody war. Most of the time, when residents had mold around their tub, their common complaint was one of two:
“I tried to clean it, but it wouldn’t come off”
“We cleaned it, but it came right back!”
To the second comment, I usually respond with a calm, understanding “ummmmm…. duh!” Your shower area is typically warm and moist. Mold prefers to grow in areas that are moist and warm. See. The. Connection. Maybe?
For the first comment, the reason this mold is so hard for your to clean is two-fold. First, throw out your wussy little scrubby bubbles crap that you are using, go out into the woods, find your spirit animal, and come back with a man’s cleaner, which is usually defined by the phrase all men live by: “with bleach.” Now try that. Second, the mold is so hard to clean because you let it grow for a year and are just now getting at it. That would be like trying to get a divorce after the first year of marriage compared to the 40th. You’re in for a much bumpier ride and at the end of the day that mold is going to leave with half your stuff and start being seen around town with your best friend, Dennis.
What is wonderful about this spray is once a week, which sounds like a lot but bare with me, you can spray it all over your tub walls where the little pink or gray hints of mold have started to form and then…
just, go somewhere else.
Go talk with the delightful seventh graders on the Call of Duty servers.
Go build a canoe and take it down to the river and float there helplessly because you forgot to build oars.
Go to your local community theater’s presentation of Streetcar Named Desire and put pieces of paper on every open seat that say “Reserved for STELLAAAAAA”
When you finish come back and either take a wet sponge or just fill and dump a cup of water to remove the excess bleach that hasn’t yet run down into the tub. The same process works for toilets, sinks and meat lockers (I assume, who knows). Minimal scrubbing may be required, but again you’re looking at maybe 10 minutes of your actual attention. The rest is just a waiting game. If you do this regularly (minimum once a week, maximum once a month) you will significantly cut down on heavy mold build up. If an area needs further attention or is somewhere where the bleach spray just wont stick, soak some cotton balls in bleach and apply them to the area. They will stick and slowly dissolve the applied mold.
One note, this is not the process for mold around windows. For those of us in colder or more moist environments, mold around windows is more a preventative game. If mold does build up, it will take a bit of work and is very important to get rid of, otherwise it could cause damage to the wood and wall around the window. If this happens, best thing to do is go purchase a mildew treatment and spray bottle from your local hardware store. Mix the treatment in the bottle with warm water and spray on the areas and scrub away. If the mold is thick or hard to reach, soak some cotton balls in the treatment and stick them to the area. Remove 5-10 minutes later and the mold should show signs of deterioration. The nice things about these treatments is that they typically prevent future mold buildup in applied areas, so your work will be worth it.
Final note, and I’ve already basically stated this, but just be careful when working with bleach. Bleach is highly corrosive and damaging to skin, eyes, noses, radishes, clothes and surfaces not treated/rated for water or water related activities. Also bleach is generally not a good plan for anything where food or food related things will be kept, stored, set or rubbed. Just keep bleach as much outside of your body as possible, okay?
I’ll keep it to one extensive tip per post, but I have two more coming. Stay tuned.