Cleaning hacks that will make your life so much easier

17 Nov 2020
By Rob Slade, Writer at Unite Students

You get all sorts of people at university. That’s the beauty of it. But as amazing as that diversity is, you’ll also discover that different people have different standards when it comes to cleaning.

At one end of halls you might find a spotless flat. But at the other end there’ll be a flat where there’s a foul stench that you just can’t put your finger on, the rubbish is overflowing and half of last night’s dinner is all over the hob.

Don’t be this flat.

I get it. Having to do your own washing, cleaning and cooking is a giant leap into adulthood that you might not have felt ready for. I certainly wasn’t. And yet there I was, using polish on the kitchen floor (top tip: keep polish away from the floor unless you want to turn it into an ice rink) and dusting my room with an odd sock.

You don’t have to be as useless as I was. Take heed of my mistakes and listen to the lessons I learned. Here are some of the best cleaning hacks I picked up along the way.

Clean up after yourself as you go

I really don’t want to sound like your mum and dad here, but this little gem of information will save you a whole lot of pain. Wash up your pans and clean the kitchen surfaces after you’ve eaten. It will only take five minutes, but it means the grime doesn’t build up and set in.

Once it’s festered for a few days, it’s tough enough to muster up the enthusiasm to actually start cleaning, let alone scrub away because the grime has set in. Quick wins like wiping down your shower or clearing up any spillages will also save you time and effort in the long run.

Tackle foul smells from the bin

Put some newspaper and a couple of scented tumble dryer sheets into the bottom of your bin (underneath the bag). They’ll soak up any moisture and absorb bad smells. Oh, and emptying the bin regularly will also help...

Unblock your sink

For a cheap and simple way to unblock your sink, simply pour 50g of bicarbonate of soda down the plughole and then follow it up with 100ml of lemon juice. Let it sit for an hour and then pour some boiling water down the drain.

Give your oven a makeover

I’ve wasted whole days scrubbing away at ovens scarred by students trying to cook. But I didn’t have to, because there are easier ways to do it and all you need is bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar and some gloves.

What you’re going to do is mix 100g of bicarbonate of soda in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water until it forms a paste. Add the water slowly so you don’t end up with a watery mess. Then, spread the paste over everything in the oven apart from the heating elements and thermometer.

Leave for 12 hours or overnight and then scrub everything off with a damp cloth. Follow this up with some white vinegar on a cloth (don’t panic if it starts to foam, this is normal) and scrub away until you’re happy. It shouldn’t take too long.

Clean the fridge

Fridges can get seriously smelly. Especially when someone has left a bag of carrots in the drawer for about three months. Having a regular clean out will help stop the fridge from becoming a biological hazard.

Take all of your food out (bin anything out of date) and remove the drawers. Then sprinkle bicarbonate of soda onto the surfaces you want to clean, before using half a lemon to scrub away at the surfaces. Wash it all down with warm water and, voila, you’re done!

Bring a burnt pan back to life

Burning a meal on the hob is a depressing experience. Not only have you ruined your dinner, but you’ve also just created a whole lot of work for yourself because of a burnt pan. Get clever about how you clean, however, and it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

Bring some water to the boil in the pan (make sure the pan has cooled down before adding cold water), add a fabric conditioner sheet (or a tablespoon of the liquid conditioner) and then leave it to soak overnight. In the morning it should wash off easily enough.

Clean the microwave

I never thought I’d be excited about cleaning. Until now. Did you know you can clean a microwave with just a lemon and some water? Amazing, right?

First fill a microwaveable bowl with 150ml of water, then slice a lemon in half and squeeze the juice out into the bowl. Drop the lemon halves into the water, pop it all into the microwave and zap it for a few minutes. Once it’s finished, leave it to stand for another five minutes, open it up and wipe everything down with a damp cloth. Hey presto, you’re done!

Clean your shower head

Shower spraying off in every direction but the one you want it to? Yeah, it’s probably time you cleaned the shower head. There’s no need to invest in expensive cleaning products.

Simply take a small food bag, fill it with an equal mix of water and white vinegar and then wrap it around the shower head using an elastic band, string or hair band to secure it. Take it off after half an hour and wipe it off. Voila!

Use a toothbrush to get rid of mould and damp in the shower

Most showers tend to end up with a mould or damp issue at some point in their lives. You’ll know because you’ll see discolouration or black spots on the grout between tiles and the white sealant at the edges.

Bathroom cleaner and a sponge won’t usually cut it on this type of grime. Instead, scrub at it with an old toothbrush and a whitening toothpaste. If it hasn’t quite done the job, dip your old toothbrush into bleach and scrub away (remember to wear gloves and cover your face). Leave it for a few hours and then rinse off.

So there you have it. These tips would have saved me money and a world of pain, so I hope you benefit from them. At the very least they should save you some time...

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Rob is a writer at Unite Students.