Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dorm cleaning: cheap and effective

Dorms seem to always be dirty. With so many people living in such small spaces, dirt and grime collect everywhere. In our apartment, the day after we do a serious clean it's hard to tell we even cleaned up at all. Dorms are also a breading ground for all sorts of germs. 

I have collected some cleaning tips that you can use before mom and dad come for a visit, or the cute neighbor stops by to borrow something. Or, if you are like me and you clean when you are procrastinating or stressed, you can use these to scrub your stress away. 


People often think that the dirtier something is, the harsher chemicals you need to clean it, but my apartment is proof that eco-friendly cleaners can get the job done just as well. Although there are many products on the market that claim to be environmentally friendly, and many of them might be, I always opt for the simplest solution possible, which is rarely packaged and shipped to me. I also believe in using items that have multiple purposes, which is why you will see that I only use a few products to clean a house or dorm top to bottom.


Mirrors/glass
What you need:
- Warm water
- Microfiber cloth
- Small towel


Simply wet the microfiber cloth in hot or warm water and wash down the mirror or glass surface. Once you have washed it thoroughly, dry it quickly with the small towel. I recommend using a microfiber cloth because it does not hold too much water, and it doesn't leave lint behind. However, if you are trying to stick to only natural fibers, a cotton cloth would work just fine. I also use an old, small towel to keep it from leaving lint on the surface as well. 


Floors
What you need:
- Microfiber cloth
- All-purpose cleaning spray
- Optional: towel to dry


When my floors are really dirty (which is always in the dorm) I prewash them with a microfiber cloth wet with hot water and wrung out. Once the floors dry a bit I spray them down with my all purpose spray and scrub them with a dry cloth. If I have recently cleaned the floors and only need to get the visible dirt off, I will only use the wet microfiber cloth and let it air dry. I figure none of us will be eating off the floor anyways, so having them germ free doesn't really matter all that much every day. Also, if your floor is incredibly dirty and you have tough spills to get off, create a solution with a little bit of liquid castile soap (such as Dr. Bronners. A little bit goes a long way. I wouldn't use more than a teaspoon full or two for about a gallon of water, otherwise you will have to rinse multiple times to remove all of the bubbles).


Bathroom surfaces (See above for floor)
What you need:
- Microfiber cloth
- Castile soap
- Toilet brush
- Optional: Borax

With four girls sharing a single bathroom, things can get really messy. I can guarantee that these methods will remove makeup from sinks/floors and cut through all of the other grime that builds up with so many people using such a small space. 


For the sink and bathtub/shower use a microfiber cloth and some castile soap. For the tub or shower, wet the surface slightly before squirting some castile soap into the bottom. I usually use as little as possible (about a teaspoon full) and squirt more if I need it. Then scrub the tub with the soap and moist cloth (run the water over the cloth and wring it out a bit). If you haven't cleaned in a while and the castile soap and cloth just can't cut through all of the built up soap scum, you can shake a little Borax on the surface. It will not only physically scrub the surface, but it will help break the built up soap scum down.


For sinks, wet the cloth and squirt a little soap onto it. Scrub until satisfied.

The reason I keep suggesting the microfiber cloth, even though the fabric is man-made and will not break down easily, is that it does most of the work. Even without the soap the cloth takes out the soap scum and other dried on grime. It also removes hard water marks from chrome or shiny surfaces. The reason I chose to invest in some quality microfiber clothes is because they will last me years to come. My family has been using the same clothes for about 10 years and they still look nearly new. If you are really against microfiber feel free to use a cloth towel or any rag, but be prepared to put more muscle into it.


For the toilet simply squirt a little bit of castile soap into the bowl and scrub. If you have some mold (typically a slightly frightening red or pink color) you can add a bit of Tea Tree Oil into the bowl before you start scrubbing. If you haven't cleaned the toilet all year and you are about to move out and you need to get it incredibly clean quickly, there are few products you can buy at the store that might do the trick. I would recommend looking into what Ecover or Seventh Generation offer. 


For counters and over surfaces, use the all-purpose spray.

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