Are you fully housetrained? Are your friends? Shared accommodation is where you’ll find out! Moving into student digs is always going to be a bit of adventure, but the reality of living full time with your best mates can be trickier than you might expect. Friends you thought would be tidy might turn out not to be, and some housemates just never seem to be home! So how can you avoid drama when it comes to keeping communal areas livable? Here are our top cleaning tips, specifically for students.
Fast Cleaning Tips for Students
Everyone knows time is money, and students tend to have neither! But when it comes to cleaning, it’s important to understand the golden rule is to:
- Clean up spills or marks as soon as they happen.
Crusted on food, limescale, mould – or goodness knows what other substances – will take you longer to get off surfaces if they have been left for days. Being quick to mop up messes, and consistent about doing a general once-over clean, will honestly help you save time in the long run.
Here are some other ways to reduce the time and effort involved in cleaning:
- There are some things you can do to help automate certain elements of the cleaning process – like using toilet blocks (that release cleaning agents into the bowl every time the toilet is flushed), aerosols that release fragrance automatically to neutralise nasty odours, or soaking stains before they set.
- Keep cleaning products and equipment in easy-to-access places, rather than hiding them away – this might help you and your flat mates remember to wipe surfaces, or around basins and baths more regularly. Then no one can say they ‘couldn’t find’ anything to clean a spill up with!
Create a Cleaning Rota
The best way to avoid conflict over cleaning duties is to create a rota and stick it up somewhere for everyone to see. You could also share it electronically, using a service like Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Decide that everyone is individually responsible for the upkeep of their own room and any other storage areas that might be individually designated.
- Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done to keep communal areas (the kitchen, bathroom, lounge, and hallways) clean.
- Instead of filling your rota with general tasks like ‘clean the kitchen’; break chores into smaller parts like: ‘wash the kitchen floor’, or ‘clean the fridge’ – that way cleaning doesn’t seem so daunting!
- Forget about designating tasks to specific days – no one wants to be held to account for not vacuuming the hallways on Tuesday, if there was an essay deadline that day! Instead, rotate responsibilities on a weekly basis.
- Remember to find out the days the bins are collected and mark this on the rota. The person responsible for taking out the rubbish will have to do their task on a specific day.
Cleaning Tips for Shared Living Spaces
Here are some specific cleaning tips for the main chores on your rota:
- The bathroom. Keep clutter to a minimum: ask everyone to keep toiletries in their rooms, or find ways (cupboards or hanging baskets and pockets) to keep surfaces free from bottles and jars. This way, there will be fewer places for dirt to build up and surfaces will be easier to clean.
- The toilet. Encourage everyone to use the toilet brush – it’s there for a reason! Use a toilet cleaning product like Domestos Bleach to clean the toilet bowl – and remember to be regimental with cleaning the floor around the toilet, otherwise it’ll rapidly become the most disgusting area in the whole house.
- Kitchen surfaces. Encourage everyone to keep food and crockery in their own cupboards and not out on the surfaces to make cleaning easier.
- Washing up. Don’t let dirty dishes pile up – it’s annoying for others and smelly. Soak dishes in warm water with a dishwashing soap to make cleaning easier, but don’t leave them too long or the water will go slimy.
- The fridge. Make it a rule that whoever is responsible for cleaning out the fridge has an unreserved right to chuck out anything mouldy or rotten for the sake of hygiene.
- The oven. Don’t skip this task, though you only really need to do it once a month. The same goes for the microwave – just be sure to mop up spills as soon as they happen.
- The washing machine. Don’t leave washing in the machine to get mouldy. You’ll annoy your friends and could actually damage the machine. Keep a laundry basket next to the machine and make it a house rule to unload any washed laundry as soon as the cycle has finished.
- Rubbish. If possible, keep bins near the front door, so you’re more likely to empty them when you’re heading out.
- Vacuuming: Think about doing a quick whip round the flat or common areas every time you clean your own room.
Dealing with Conflict When Cleaning
Remember that everyone has different cleaning standards. Generally, over the course of a month the outcome of your efforts should be a relatively clean space that everyone is happy to live in. If it seems as if someone is not pulling their weight – whatever you do – don’t resort to note-leaving! Things usually rapidly escalate into an ugly spat. Communicate directly with your housemate, even if you’re not a fan of confrontation.
And if keeping the house clean continues to be a struggle consider clubbing together to get a cleaner to do the basics once a week. Your time will be better spent studying (and partying) than fighting about the cleaning with people who you consider friends.