How to Organize a Refrigerator: 15 Secret Tips Everyone Should Know

Your refrigerator is arguably one of the most important items in your kitchen. The fridge keeps your food cold, preserving it for future use and maintaining a fresh taste. We use it so often that it’s bound to get a little messy. And while you should always do routine cleaning, it’s still important to keep it as clean and organized as possible between cleanings.

Whether you’ve got a commercial-sized fridge or a mini one, here’s how to organize a refrigerator so it stays clean for longer and you can easily find whatever you need whenever you need it.

1. Separate your fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables in a refrigerator.

There’s a reason your refrigerator has separate drawers for fruits and vegetables. While many of us disregard them and throw whatever we want in the different drawers, using them properly helps to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh for longer.

Fruit does better in low humidity and will last longer when there’s less moisture, so its drawer will keep things dry. On the other hand, vegetables thrive in humidity, so its drawer allows more moisture.

2. Wait to cut your produce

Cutting your fruits and vegetables before storing them makes them go bad faster. And, once they’ve been cut, you need to put them into a separate container, so they’ll take up more room in the refrigerator.

Wait to cut your fruits and vegetables until you’re ready to eat or use them. Doing so will also help save space and keep items good for longer.

3. Fill your fridge

Your fridge runs most efficiently and keeps food the freshest when it’s between 60 percent and 70 percent full. If it’s too full, your refrigerator has to work extra hard to keep things cold and not all of the food will receive proper airflow, so it will go bad faster. And if it’s too empty, it has only air to keep cool, and air doesn’t retain the cold as well as actual food and drink items.

If your refrigerator has too much inside, it’s time to clean it out. And if you need to fill it up, you can add a few jugs of water to help retain the cool temperature.

4. Put non-perishables in the door

The door is the warmest part of your fridge, so it’s best to keep non-perishables on the shelves in the door. Things like condiments, butter and margarine, cheeses and eggs won’t go bad quickly, so they’re perfect for the door.

Avoid putting things like milk and meats in the door, since they’ll rot quickly if it’s too warm.

5. Place perishables near the front

Not sure how to organize a refrigerator best for perishable items? While you don’t want perishables in the door where it’s warmest, you don’t want to tuck them in the back. Keep your meats, fish and milk near the front where you see them frequently — reminding you to use them before they go bad.

6. Store meats and seafood on the bottom

Meats and seafood in a refrigerator.

Items like meat, fish and crustaceans have fluid in them that, when uncooked, can contaminate other foods. To reduce the risk of these liquids dripping down onto other things in the fridge, store your meats and seafood on the bottom shelf. You should also keep them in containers with high edges so fluids won’t spill if the items get bumped on accident.

7. Line your shelves

To make cleaning quick and easy, line your shelves. You can either buy plastic or silicone shelf liners or use plastic wrap. If something spills or your refrigerator simply needs cleaning, you only need to remove the liner and replace it — no scrubbing required!

8. Remove odors with activated carbon

Many people use baking soda to soak up unfavorable scents in the fridge, but activated carbon actually works better for getting rid of odors. Typically used for pet containers, activated carbon is found at pet stores.

You’ll use it in basically the same way as baking soda. Set the container inside the refrigerator where it can absorb the scent.

9. Organize condiments

Condiments in a refrigerator.

Figuring out how to organize a refrigerator condiment shelf can become a mess very quickly. Keeping bottles upright without them falling over makes it hard to keep track of which bottles are full and which are almost empty. To help them stand up and stay in place, place an egg carton in the bottom and put the top ends of condiment bottles in each indentation.

This also makes it nice when you use the condiments because you don’t need to shake the bottles to get to what’s inside — it’s already at the top!

10. Add a Lazy Susan

If you’re constantly reaching over food to get to the back of the shelf in the fridge, try using a Lazy Susan. This will make it easier to reach things and keep food from being forgotten in the back.

11. Leverage magnets

Magnets aren’t limited to the outside of the fridge! Use small magnetic containers for inside the fridge, where you can store small items you want to keep fresh, like pomegranate seeds and other seeds or nuts.

This will allow you to put them on the sides of the refrigerator, leaving shelf space for other food items. There are also magnetic bottle holders that will store your metal-top bottles on the ceiling of the fridge, so you don’t need to reach between things to grab yourself a cold beverage.

12. Hang resealable bags

Storing things in resealable bags is practical, but storing them is a different story. They’re hard to stack and are easily forgotten if other containers are in front of them.

To keep them in easy reach, you can buy a Ziploc bag holder that will hold your bags in an organized fashion or you can use binder clips to keep them together and clip them to the edge of a shelf.

13. Refrigerate only what needs it

There are some food items that we refrigerate, but don’t actually need to keep chilled. Putting only items that need refrigerating in the refrigerator will leave more room for the items that do need it.

If you’ve got potatoes, tomatoes, onions or watermelon (to name a few), you only need to refrigerate them after they’ve been cut open. So keep that whole watermelon off the shelf and store it on the counter!

14. Label with a marker

Labels can help you organize a refrigerator and help you find items more easily. Use a dry erase, wet erase or chalk marker to write labels on shelves or even the walls, then wipe them away when it’s time to change!

15. Wrap cheese in wax paper

Cheese wrapped in wax paper.

Blocks of cheese often come in plastic and it’s tempting to store them in a resealable bag once you’ve opened the original packaging. However, cheese keeps for longer and tastes better when it’s wrapped in wax paper.

Plus, plastic bags can look messy, especially if they’re much larger than the cheese they’re holding, and wrapping it in wax makes it look cleaner in the fridge.

Refrigerator organization helps keep things clean

The key to keeping your refrigerator clean is keeping it organized! Like with an organized pantry, your food will stay fresh for longer, you won’t forget about the items you put in your fridge and you’ll be able to quickly find everything you need.

Use the refrigerator organization tips above to organize your own fridge and keep it clean and tidy!

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When Should I Turn My Heat On in My Apartment?

Put on a sweater. Take off a sweater. One person’s “I’m too hot” is another person’s “Turn up the freaking heat.”

When it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, coming indoors to a 75-degree apartment feels great. But in winter, forget about it — 75 degrees can feel like a sauna. Some of that has to do with relativity (just in comparison to the outdoor temp), some with your own body’s sensitivity and some with humidity (less moisture means the air feels cooler, so 65 degrees feels hotter in summer than it does in winter).

And of course, if finances are on your mind, you know that putting on the heat means an increase in your utility bill. Your heating system makes up about 29 percent of your bill.

There’s a lot to weigh before you decide when you should turn your heat on.

When to crank up the heat

Once you get out of bed and your feet hit the cold floor and you need an extra layer of clothing just to wander around your place, you know it’s time to turn on the heat. That magic moment is different for everyone.

But you might also want to consider energy and utility costs as you figure out when to turn on the heat and how hot to make it.


What is the best temperature to set your heat?

Basically, you want to be like Goldilocks, not too hot, not too cold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended thermostat settings for us humans are usually between 68.5 and 75 degrees in winter and 75 to 80.5 degrees in summer.

Older folks often like it warmer and need to keep it warmer indoors to remain healthy, according to the National Institute on Aging. Those over 65 can lose body heat faster, and other changes in the body can make it difficult to be aware of getting cold. Just being in a very cold house can lead to hypothermia.

In addition, regardless of age, even if you like it warm during the day, it’s better to cool things down while you’re sleeping. The best temp for a good night’s sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees. Our body temps naturally warm up in the late afternoon and decline at about 5 a.m. As your body’s temperature drops, it signals to the brain that it’s time for sleep. A cool room can encourage that.

While you’re sleeping, you can also save money. Simply turning your thermostat back from its normal setting by 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day means you can save about 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills. says that you can save energy in the winter by “setting the thermostat to 68 degrees while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.”

And clears up this common misconception: Your furnace works harder to warm a space up after it’s been lowered. Not true. “During winter, the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. So, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature.”

What to do before turning on the heat for the first time?

You know how you feel after vacation, rested and a bit logy. If your heating system, which has been idle for months, could talk it would likely say, “I feel you.”

Be kind and set up your system for success by cleaning up around the furnace. Make sure to brush away leaves and other debris that might be around the furnace vents on the outside of the house.

Inside, there are some DIY projects to make sure your furnace is in good condition, such as changing the filter, making sure the exhaust flue is clear, flushing out drain lines and examining the ductwork.

Change the air filters

This will not only make your system run more efficiently it will keep dust, dirt and bacteria from entering your air space. And if you’re likely to forget this step or don’t have the time to do it, you can find an air filter subscription service that automatically delivers filters to your door.

Arrange for an inspection

If DIY isn’t your thing, contact a professional to make sure your furnace is in working condition. Proper maintenance will keep you feeling more comfortable and will extend the life of your system.

Test the thermostat

Make sure it’s on and that the batteries are working and do a practice run before the weather gets too cold.

Seal gaps around doors and windows

Investing in some caulk and weatherstripping and doing a few hours of work are going to help keep out the draft and save you money over time since your heating system can operate more efficiently.

Furnace repair man

What if the heat doesn’t turn on?

You flip the switch to the heat setting and expect to hear a thrumming noise or feel the delicious warmth coming out of the vent at your feet. But it’s not happening! There’s no reason to put up with the teeth-chattering cold. Here are some things to consider:

Check the thermostat’s batteries

Dead batteries mean you won’t be able to see the thermostat’s display. They should be easy to replace. Check the thermostat’s reference guide if you run into trouble.

Clean your thermostat

Dust, bugs and nicotine all can collect inside the thermostat. Pop the cover and blow or gently wipe away the grime.

Check the breaker box

You may have a loss of power. If a breaker is tripped, reset it. Or, there might be a broken fuse that needs replacing.

Make sure the thermostat is set below the current temperature

This will lead to one of those smack the forehead “duh” moments, but no one has to know about it.

Finally, if no one’s been giving the furnace a little TLC over the years, it might be that the system is on its way out. You can do some DIY clean-up, contact a professional or get in touch with your landlord. “It’s really cold and the heat’s not working,” is a sentence you don’t want to have to utter.

The heat is on

Once you’ve decided it’s time to close the windows and crank the heat, you can save money and save energy by investing in a programmable thermostat so you can preset a schedule. This way, your home automatically stays warm while you’re there during the day and cools down when you’re out or at night. If you’re going on vacation this winter, set your thermostat to 55 degrees and you won’t have to worry about pipes freezing.

Of course, there are alternatives to commandeering your thermostat. Think about cozy throws, chunky sweaters, snuggies, hot beverages and, of course, snuggling up with someone.

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5 Ways to Clean Your Stove Grates

Gas stoves are often preferred by culinary enthusiasts, but those grates can get nasty quickly. Over the years, really smart people have figured out easy hacks for cleaning stove grates and stovetops.

Here, we break down some steps and basic materials on how to clean a stovetop to perfection. Just so you can mess it up all over again.

Clean stove grates the easy way

First and foremost, always wait until grates are totally cooled before removing them from the cooktop. There’s no sense in ending up in the ER with major burns.

Clean kitchen.

1. Cleaning stove grates with dish soap

This is probably the easiest and most basic method for cleaning stove grates.

Materials: dish soap, water and a soft cloth.

  1. Fill up the sink with hot, soapy water.
  2. Soak the grates for at least 20 minutes (do not do this for un-coated cast iron grates, see another method).
  3. For really gross grates, make a paste using one part water, three parts baking soda. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Using a soft cloth, wipe down the burners (rinse first if you used baking soda paste)
  5. Dry thoroughly, then replace on the cooktop.

Although this method does require some elbow grease, it’s still a fairly low-key way to clean stove grates until they reach sparkling status.

2. Cleaning stove grates with ammonia

If you’re not a fan of strong chemicals like ammonia, keep on reading. If you hate scrubbing, however, this could be just the grate cleaning method for you!

Before you begin, here are some safety items to note. Never let ammonia get in your eyes. Wear gloves to protect your skin. Never ever mix it with bleach or anything that contains bleach. Doing so turns toxic quick!

Materials: ammonia, Ziploc bags large enough to fit your grates, rubber gloves. If you have large grates substitute kitchen trash bags in place of Ziplocs.

  1. Place one dirty grate per bag.
  2. Add one-quarter to one-half of a cup of ammonia to the bag.
  3. Seal the Ziploc bag. Tie the kitchen bag closed. Make sure there’s some air left in the bag because it’s the air that circulates the ammonia and helps it work its magic.
  4. Keep the grates in the bags overnight.
  5. In the morning, open some windows or otherwise make sure you have plenty of ventilation.
  6. Open bags and dump liquid contents into the sink.
  7. Rinse grates under warm, running water.

Now, marvel over how clean they are!

Again, take care to avoid any chemical exposure when cleaning the stove grates this way. Safety first!

Vinegar, water and a sponge.

3. Cleaning stove grates with vinegar

It’s much easier to avoid a huge mess if it’s handled a little bit every day. To prevent unsightly pileups use a daily vinegar spray to keep stove grates clean. It’s cheap and non-toxic.

Materials: spray bottle, white vinegar, gloves and a clean cloth

  1. Put on the gloves.
  2. Fill the spray bottle with white vinegar.
  3. Spray the grates.
  4. After about 15 minutes, wipe the grates with the cloth. Repeat if necessary.

Doesn’t get much easier than that!

4. Cleaning stove grates with baking soda

Much like white vinegar, baking soda is widely beloved for its cleaning capabilities. Try using a simple baking soda paste to get those grates back to good.

Materials: 3 Tbsp baking soda, 3 Tbsp cold water, gloves, paper towels or a clean cloth and a soft-bristled scrub brush

  1. Mix water and baking soda in a bowl to form a paste.
  2. Apply the baking soda paste to the grates.
  3. Let sit for about 20 minutes, then scrub with the brush.
  4. Using the cloth or towels, wipe the grates clean.

The bonus thing about baking soda is that it is a really great scrubber but won’t damage any surfaces.

Degreaser spray for cleaning stove grates

5. Cleaning stove grates with degreaser

It’s not necessary to use homemade cleaners on stove grates. Plenty of commercial products are available that do a bang-up job, as well.

Materials: a non-toxic degreaser

  1. Place the stove grates in the sink.
  2. Spray liberally with a non-toxic degreaser.
  3. Let soak for about 15 or 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse the grates with hot water.
  5. Scrub with a nylon brush and tackle any stubborn stains as needed.

Remember to let the grates dry completely before putting them back on the stove.

how to clean stovetop

How to clean the rest of the stovetop

Clearly, a stove is more than just grates. When they get dirty, the rest of the parts tend to, as well. Here are a few steps to getting a fully clean gas stovetop:

  1. Make sure the stove is totally cooled off. Remove the stove grates and set them aside.
  2. Wipe up crumbs or other food particles from the stovetop.
  3. Pull off burner caps and set them aside.
  4. Spray with your cleaning agent of choice. Use a soap/water combo, liquid degreaser or vinegar/water mixture. Let soak in for a few minutes.
  5. Use a soft scouring pad to scrub. Throughout the process, use a clean paper towel to lift out the grime and remove it. Repeat as needed.
  6. If anything refuses to come off, use a nylon scrub brush or toothbrush for a little more oomph.
  7. Wipe off the stove surface with clean paper towels until dry. Then, use glass cleaner to do another once over to bring back the shine and remove degreaser leftovers.
  8. Clean burner caps in warm, soapy water. Once the cooktop is clean, put burner caps and grates back on.

An electric stove top usually needs only some warm, soapy water and a sponge. Use a baking soda paste or commercial cleaner, if necessary, to get rid of stubborn stains.

The cleaner the stove grates, the cleaner the kitchen

Obviously, this process doesn’t need to happen after every single cooking session. But it is a good idea to keep an eye out for stovetop grate buildup to make it a less laborious process.

Spend less time cleaning stove grates and more time eating and enjoying the fruits of your labors!

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How to Dry Clothes Without a Dryer

We all need to have more than clean clothes — they need to be dry, too! But living in an apartment can mean you have limited space for both a washer and a dryer and you may only want to have one of them. Or, you need to pay to rent an in-unit dryer or to use one at a laundry facility, which can really add up over time. Plus, dryers use a lot of energy.

But whether you don’t have a dryer at home, you’re trying to save money at the laundromat or you want to be a little more eco-friendly, there are plenty of ways to dry your clothes. Here are a few tips for how to dry clothes without a dryer.

1. Spin dry in a washing machine

You can get most of the water out of your clothes by placing them into a washing machine on a high spin setting. This may not get them 100 percent dry, but it will get them pretty darn close. You can also purchase a separate spin dryer that’s made to spin at even higher speeds than a washing machine, so your clothes will end up even drier!

Pro tip: Doing fewer items at a time will get the clothes drier than if you have a large batch to spin.

hanging clothes to dry without a dryer

2. Hang dry your wet clothes

A classic method, hanging clothes to dry has been used for ages. Hang your clothes up wherever you can — a drying rack, a clothesline, the back of a chair or anywhere else you can find.

To make the drying process faster, be strategic about how you do it. That might mean opening the window to allow better airflow in your laundry room, placing a fan near the clothes or hanging them close (but not too close!) to a heat source, like a radiator or heating vent.

And if the weather and your space allow, you can hang clothes to dry outside on a balcony or in a backyard.

Pro tip: Use clothespins to hold your items in place, especially if you’re hanging them outside. You don’t want your clothes to blow away!

3. Roll clothes in a bath towel

A pretty simple method for drying your clothes is using a plain bath towel. Use your hands to wring the water out of a clothing item. Lay down a dry bath towel, then spread the clothing item onto the towel, so both are as flat as possible. Then, roll the towel up to encase the clothing item and twist the opposite ends of the towel. The towel will absorb the moisture from the clothing.

Pro tip: You can also put the rolled towel onto a hard surface, like countertop or floor, and apply pressure with your hands to get even more water out of it.

use a hair dryer to dry clothes without a dryer

4. Try a hairdryer

Hairdryers will dry more than just your hair! Using a hairdryer is a great fix for when you need a single piece of clothing to dry quickly. Just hang the item on a hanger or towel rack and blow-dry it.

Pro tip: Be sure to hold the hairdryer at least six inches away as a safety precaution.

5. Use a towel and iron

You can essentially heat the moisture out of your clothing by laying it flat, placing a dry towel on top of it and ironing on top of the towel. You may need to switch out the towel and run the iron over it a few times to get all of the water out of your clothes.

Pro tip: Don’t let the iron sit for too long in one spot on the towel and make sure you don’t put the iron directly on wet clothing. This could leave burn marks and cause tearing. So, keep that towel in place and keep that iron moving.

hang clothes in the sun to dry clothes without a dryer

6. Tap the power of the sun

If you live somewhere that gets lots of sun, it’s one of the quickest ways to dry clothing. Lay your clothing on a flat surface that’s completely exposed to sunlight — this could be on a table, chair seat or even the floor of your patio (make sure it’s clean!). Or, you can hang it on a clothesline outside.

Pro tip: Don’t leave clothing in the sun for too long, or else the colors might fade. Bring in your clothing once it’s dry and try not to let it sit out any longer.

A dryer isn’t a necessity

While dryers can be nice in many cases, they certainly aren’t necessary. Once you figure out how to dry clothes without a dryer, you might not even miss having one. Save yourself the space and money, while also saving the environment and dry your clothes using an alternative method.

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10 Tips for Washing Your Car at Your Apartment Community

Don’t let random passersby deface your ride with “Wash Me” scrawled in windshield dirt. Instead, avoid the old “drive of shame” and give it a good old-fashioned scrub down with an apartment car wash.

Even if your apartment doesn’t have a car wash station on its list of amenities, that doesn’t mean you can’t still DIY this wet and wild chore. It just takes a few supplies and a little bit of strategy to get the job done.

A dirty car with someone writing

How do I wash my car if I live in an apartment?

Sure, you could drive somewhere for a car wash, but where’s the fun in that? Hand-washing a car is a great workout and an even better way to cool down in the summer months. Just follow these easy tips for an apartment car wash and you’ll soon have the ultimate clean car. Bonus points if you detail the inside, too!

1. Use a spigot and hose

The water’s going to have to come from somewhere, right? Even if you know where the spigot is already, it’s probably smart to check with management to make sure you can use it. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even spot you a hose for the job! If not, pick up an expandable hose at the local hardware store. Those are easier to store than the old-school variety.

2. Go waterless

A waterless car wash product is a solid option for cars that aren’t filthy to start off with. So, if you’ve just gone muddin’, skip ahead. These products are not for you. Waterless car wash is available in concentrated form (so you have to dilute it), or ready-to-use. Some even have built-in wax! To use, simply spray the product on and wipe it off with a soft towel. When the towel section gets dirty, use a different part.

3. Use a no-rinse product

Split the difference between waterless and a full wash by using a no-rinse product, like Optimum No Rinse. This three-in-one product functions as a rinseless wash, as well as a detailer and a lubricant. Just add the recommended amount to one or two gallons of water, then apply with a wash mitt or microfiber towel.

Car wheels being washed.

4. Be wheel wise

The wheels are not the same as the rest of the vehicle, so don’t treat them like they are. Clean them first because they’re the dirtiest parts of the car.

Spray with a good hose to dislodge dirt from crevices. Use a tire-specific cleaner and a towel/mitt to scrub it down. Don’t use that towel on the rest of the car because it’s likely pretty gross.

5. Go with waterless wipes

The waterless car wash product community is booming. There are waterless wipes already primed with cleaners available for purchase. Pick up a pack each for general washing, tire and trim and wax, if you want to go full-out.

Man washing his car.

6. Pick up a pump sprayer

Here’s another idea on the waterless front. If you want to avoid the hassle of a spigot and hose (or don’t have access to one), purchase a small pump sprayer. Such a device helps evenly apply a coat of waterless cleaner. Then, you just clean as normal with a mitt or microfiber towel. It can also rinse the car off with plain water (fill it up inside first), but the water pressure isn’t as good as the average hose.

7. Use a duster

If you can’t do a full wash apartment car wash at your complex or just don’t have time, use a California Duster to quickly get rid of dirt and dust and bring back the shine. This tool will buy you more time between washes, and is usable during full washes, as well.

8. Wipe aways bugs with dryer sheets

Sometimes dried up, dead bugs just don’t want to come off. Without the power of a professional car wash it is extra challenging. Before you start washing, use old dryer sheets to wipe bugs off. Then wash as normal.

Toothpaste on car.

9. Apply toothpaste (no, seriously!)

No need to buy a pricey product to put the finishing touches on your headlights. Squirt some toothpaste on a rag and polish up those headlights until they shine.

10. Create your own all-natural cleaner

For the final, streak-free rinse, opt for a green cleaner. Wash the car as normal. Then rinse the soap residue with a hose. Mix three parts vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle and spray the car. Then wipe down with a newspaper for a shiny, squeaky clean finish.

Hand washing a car.

General apartment car wash tips

Specific techniques aside, there are some general things to consider when doing an apartment car wash. Minding these suggestions make the whole process easier, not to mention more effective and enjoyable.

  • Do a quick once over: Before setting up for the apartment car wash, make sure your car isn’t leaking any fluids or oils. That won’t go over well with management.
  • Steer clear of storm drains. It’s bad for the environment, local wildlife and drinking water if soap from the car wash gets into the storm drain. Do your best to find a spot far away from storm drains to prevent any issues, or use an eco-friendly cleaner that is non-toxic and doesn’t have chlorine, fragrance, phosphates or petroleum-based ingredients.
  • Seek out the shade: It seems counterintuitive, but the sun causes streaks. So for the best finish possible, find a spot in the shade to do your apartment car wash.
  • Get your towels: Grab a few towels or wash mitts to get the job done. Make sure to have one each (at least) for the tires, body wash and for drying.
  • Conserve water: Don’t just leave the hose on indiscriminately. Doing so wastes about 10 gallons per minute! While you’re doing the wash — turn it off whenever you’re not rinsing or filling the bucket. Make it easier on yourself by attaching a nozzle that will automatically shut off the water when not in use.
  • Clean up after the clean-up: Other than waiting for water to dry, no one at your apartment should see any residue from your apartment car wash. Resist the easier, but less responsible urge to dump dirty water in the street. Instead, carry the bucket inside and dispose of it in a sink or toilet.

Other than these tips, use your common sense. If all goes well the first-time management is more likely to let you keep doing car washes from the comfort of your apartment parking lot.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Each and every time you wash your car by hand you’ll come up with ways to make an apartment car wash more efficient and easier. Eventually, you’ll be a well-oiled machine for…well, your well-oiled machine.

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5 Easy Ways to Clean a Litter Box in an Apartment

Cat owners are fiercely devoted to their fur babies. It’s all about the purrs and cuddles, the cute play time and the long naps. Unfortunately, it’s also about the poop. A cat’s toilet, a.k.a. their littler box, is right there, all the time. It’s up to you to deal with it on a regular basis, which can be pretty often if you live in a small space. Knowing how to clean a litter box in an apartment without making more of a mess — or a stink — is essential.

The good news, most cats only use their littler box to go “No. 2” once a day. The bad news, it doesn’t smell like roses. To keep things in check, here are some ideal ways on to easily clean out a litter box regularly without it become inconvenient.

Take the self-cleaning route

self cleaning litterbox

Before you even begin contemplating how to clean a litter box in an apartment, consider not having to do it at all. There are self-cleaning litter boxes for the right price, ready to make your life infinitely easier.

The biggest hiccup to this modern convenience, though, is the price tag. Owning a pet in an apartment is costly enough. You may not want to spend a few hundred dollars for a littler box and the special litter it requires.

Installation is actually also tricky. A basic litter box doesn’t have a lot of requirements as far as where you put it. (It’s a box, it can go anywhere.) A self-cleaning litter box, however needs a plug, a cold-water line and a toilet or washing machine drain. Without all these components, the box can’t wash and clean itself. Not all apartments will have enough space to allow you to give you litter box this type of access.

If you can get beyond the speed bumps of cost and installation, though, this is without a doubt a modern marvel when it comes to litter box cleaning. It’s all automatic. The litter box scoops its own waste and washes itself. Special litter is dust-free and washable, too. No more manual scooping, hunched over your cat’s dirty clumps of waste. It’s an attractive thought.

Make your litter box disposable

cardboard litterbox

For those of us who can’t afford to automate every aspect of our lives, another way to make cleaning your litter box easier is to make it disposable. Either with an actual disposable box or litter liner, you can save yourself a lot of time cleaning the litter box by not having to scoop it every time.

With these options, when you’re ready to do a deep clean, you just throw everything out, or transform the liner into its own garbage bag. Then, you’re ready to start over with a totally clean litter box that you didn’t have to scrub.

Many disposable littler boxes are made from biodegradable materials, so even though there’s an extra cost involved — and more waste — what you’re throwing out regularly isn’t bad for the environment.

If you want a less expensive option that works the same, skip the fancy litter box liners and go with a simple trash bag. Large kitchen bags will fit over a standard box easily. You can double-bag your box to make sure there are no unwanted rips when you remove the litter, as well. Just make sure to put the trash bags on your littler box inside out for proper removal.

Go with a less-is-more approach

metal litterbox

Probably the easiest way to keep your litter box area cleaner, and make it less of a chore to deal with, is to watch your litter levels. Cats don’t like a lot of litter in their box — two to three inches is an ideal amount.

You’ll know when you have too much litter in the litter box from your cat’s behavior. They’ll begin to slip and slide while in the box. It’s because they’re having a hard time getting their footing, so they’ll appear shaky and off balance.

Cats are also more likely to fling litter out of the box when there’s too much there. Sometimes they won’t walk all the way into the box either, which means they could have an accident.

If you notice any of these behaviors, make sure to take some litter out. It will spare you having a bigger mess to clean up than what’s getting deposited into the box itself.

Use flushable litter

cleaning a litterbox

Flushable litter is a great way to avoid having used litter going from box to trash bag to trash. Each step is another opportunity for excess litter to spill all over the floor, after all. Flushable litter is great if you aren’t living in an apartment that’s on septic. Only certain types are septic-safe. It’s also important to remember to flush small amounts at a time to avoid clogs.

Even with these stipulations, there are a variety of flushable litters out there, made from all types of ingredients. You can find flushable litter made from:

  • corn
  • cassava
  • wheat
  • pine or other wood chips
  • nut shells
  • recycled paper
  • green tea

It’s a pretty extensive list for something like cat litter, but it makes cleaning a litter box in an apartment much easier. For this set-up to work, the box should go in the bathroom. Keeping your litter box as close to the toilet as possible means the scoop will travel the shortest distance to dispose of your cat’s waste; all without the need for garbage bags and trails of used litter.

Do a weekly clean

cat in basket

Cleaning a litter box is about more than scooping every day. You also need to include a cleaning of the actual box in your regular routine. Once a week is best to help with lingering pet odors. It also ensures your fur baby has fresh litter on a regular basis.

To clean your litter box:

  • Empty it out completely. Consider all the litter inside used.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  • Wash with regular dish soap and a disposable sponge (you aren’t going to want to use it again after this).
  • Make sure you remove any lingering clumps of litter.
  • Wipe the box dry before putting fresh litter back in.

Making it a priority to keep the entire litter box clean is something your cat will appreciate. Think about how much time they spend bathing themselves.

Making the litter box less of a chore

Bringing a sweet, new kitty home is one of the best things ever and you’re probably not thinking about a litter box in that moment. However, once they’re settled, it becomes something you deal with daily. Take the hassle out of keeping your apartment smelling good and your kitty happy with any of these helpful methods to clean a litter box in an apartment.

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Clutter vs. Hoarding: When to Worry About Your Roommate

Living styles can vary greatly from one person to the next, especially when it comes to cleaning and tidiness. Many times it is beneficial to discuss these traits before moving in with a roommate — if you’re a self-described “neat freak,” you might find it easier if your cohabitant is on the more organized side of things as well. That’s not to say that clean and messy roommates can’t successfully live together.

Maybe your roommate is just messy, a sentimental collector or a little bit of a packrat. If this is the case, there are plenty of ways to work through your differences and find a way to live peacefully together. But when is your roommate’s mess potentially the sign of hoarding?


Messy and disorganized

If you’re noticing more mess than usual or if it seems like your roommate is struggling to keep up with normal housework, it might be a sign that something else is going on in their life that is causing stress or taking all of their attention.

Stress and other bigger issues going on outside your home can often disrupt normal patterns, with cleaning and organization falling to the bottom of the priority list.

If personal items are stacking up on tables and counters, more than a day of dirty dishes are piling up in the sink or you notice some extra loads of unwashed laundry from your roommate, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

The mess (and maybe a slight smell) might be a nuisance, but try to check in with your roommate to see if anything has changed recently that might be causing them to neglect their housework.

If they are apologetic or willing to cooperate with your requests, you’re good to go.

When it becomes hoarding

There are a few red flags that are cause for concern — especially if you notice multiple signs or extreme conditions.

  • Overwhelming smells or visible mold, mildew or pests
  • Rooms or common areas become difficult to navigate
  • Unnecessary items rapidly accumulating in outdoor or garage areas
  • Denying access to certain rooms or areas
  • Vehicle full of personal belongings and other items
  • Unwilling to cooperate with cleanup requests or giving constant justifications for the mess

Noticing any one of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean your roommate is struggling with hoarding, but they are usually good indications that the problem is heading in that direction.

Knowing some of the warning signs can help you come up with an action plan before the situation gets out of control.


How to handle hoarding

If you do suspect your roommate is struggling with hoarding tendencies, it’s important not to make quick judgments.

Someone unorganized, messy or has trouble letting go of extra personal belongings may get overwhelmed or stressed about something going on in their lives, but individuals struggling with hoarding might be dealing with a bigger mental health issue, finding it difficult to make changes or set limits without help.

A little empathy and patience can go a long way in getting cooperation from a messy roommate.

Try to find out the root cause of the problem and see if you can offer your roommate any support. Let them know that the clutter is beginning to affect you. See if you can agree on a cleaning schedule and set other expectations that you can both agree to.

Find a starting point that focuses on immediate items related to your health and safety including issues like addressing any mold or mildew. Focus on common areas since that is a shared space between the two of you. Suggest beginning with less daunting tasks like removing and emptying all garbage or organizing entryways and walkways.

If your roommate is seriously struggling with hoarding, don’t be afraid to ask for outside help. Your landlord is a good place to start. They may have suggestions or even be able to point out cleanliness clauses written into your lease agreement.

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How To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in 11 Easy Steps

Getting your kitchen organized in a way that makes sense for your life will make a big difference in how you use the space and how much time you spend in it. Here’s how to organize your kitchen cabinets so you’ll love being in the kitchen!

1. Remove everything from your kitchen cabinets

To organize your kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to start by taking everything out of the drawers and cupboards — absolutely everything must come out.

You want to start with empty, clean places for everything. Don’t try to shuffle things around between them — this usually results in a bigger mess than when you started.

2. Clean the drawers and surfaces

Wipe down and disinfect all of the drawers, cabinets and shelves in your kitchen. Even a few crumbs in the bottom of a drawer can make it look gross and unorganized, so get everything looking as clean as possible.

how to organize kitchen cabinets with pots and pans

3. Take inventory of everything you have

Get a good idea of what you have. Sort items into categories, such as:

  • Pots and pans
  • Food storage containers
  • Bowls and plates
  • Cups
  • Eating utensils
  • Cooking utensils
  • Baking tools
  • Small appliances (electric mixer, waffle maker, toaster, etc.)
  • Spices
  • Dry foods (cereal, pasta, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.)

Everything sorted? Now, you can see what all you have and how much of each item you’ll need to store.

4. Get rid of the items you don’t need

More isn’t always better, especially when you’re working with a finite amount of kitchen storage space. With everything sorted and you know exactly how much of everything you’ve got, decide what you need and what you don’t need.

Over time, you may have collected various kitchen items and you may not realize just how much you actually have. While it’s nice to have lots of pots and pans for cooking dinner for a group, you may find that you have three pots all the same size when, realistically, you only need one. The same thing goes for everything else — you may have accumulated 12 wooden spoons and you only need to have two. And that turkey baster collection? One will do — you get rid of the other two.

Get rid of things you haven’t used or have too many of — so fitting everything in your kitchen cabinets won’t give a game of Tetris a run for its money.

5. Group similar items together

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the extra stuff, you’ve got less stuff to fit into your kitchen. Woohoo!

Start by keeping similar items together and match them up with cabinets and drawers relative to their size and quantity. Pots and pans are bulky, so they’ll probably need a bigger cabinet. Spice jars are small, so they can go in a smaller cabinet.

Keep similar items together in the same place so they’re easy to find and you won’t end up opening every single cabinet and drawer in the kitchen each time you need something.

6. Put open items in bins and containers

When you’re limited on drawer space, using bins to store things can make it much easier to find what you need and keep things from falling out of cabinets when you open them.

Clear bins are best since you can see exactly what’s inside of them. You can store all of your baking ingredients in them — creating one for your sugars (regular sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.) and one for chocolate chips (semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, white chocolate, etc.).

Don’t forget to dedicate a bin or two for your snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.). Make bins for any items that make sense to keep together.

how to organize kitchen cabinets with clear storage

You can also store dry food items in clear, airtight containers. This allows you to see how much of everything you have, plus containers are stackable, resealable and won’t get smashed or lost easily in your pantry. Even Marie Kondo supports putting food into matching containers for organization!

7. Use drawer organizers for utensils

Kitchen drawers.

Putting dividers and organizers in drawers will help keep things sorted out and easy to find. Rather than a jumbled mess where it takes forever to dig up what you need, sort your regular utensils — forks, knives and spoons, as well as bigger cooking utensils like ladles, cooking spoons and spatulas.

8. Match up your food storage containers

how to organize kitchen cabinets with Food storage containers

It’s easy to throw all of the food storage containers and lids into a cabinet once they’re clean, but tale as old as time — when you need it, you end up having to dig through everything just to find a matching lid.

Put the lids on your food storage containers before putting them in the cabinet so you’re guaranteed to find a container and a matching lid each time you need it. You can nest them to save cabinet space while still keeping matches together.

No more digging through and trying to fit 12 lids on the same container before you find a match!

9. Keep frequently used items within easy reach

Put all of the items you use frequently in the easiest to reach and access places and keep the seldom-used items in harder-to-access places.

It doesn’t make sense to keep the drinking glasses you use every day on a high shelf that’s difficult to reach, nor it makes zero sense to store the electric mixer you use once a month in an eye-level cabinet right by the sink.

Your kitchen’s organization should make sense for your life and what you use often.

10. Store items in places that make sense

Store things in the most practical of places! Keep your cooking oil and spices near the stovetop, since that’s where you will use them the most. Put your eating utensils near the plates and bowls since they go together like peas in a pod. Put pots and pans near the stove because they’re always used on it.

11. Eliminate a junk drawer

Junk drawer.

Many people have a drawer for the miscellaneous items in their kitchen, often dubbed the “random” or “junk” drawer. It turns into a black hole where you end up placing small items you’re too lazy to find the correct spot for and once you need that item, you can’t remember where you put it.

This drawer defeats the purpose of organizing your kitchen— you should find everything quickly and easily without having to dig through a bunch of random stuff in a drawer. Don’t leave room for a junk drawer in your kitchen at all!

Other kitchen cabinet organization tips

Here are a few additional tips and ideas for organizing your kitchen cabinets.

  • Use hooks on the inside of cabinet doors to hang things like scrub brushes, pot lids and large spoons
  • Use shelf risers to give yourself extra stacking space in cabinets
  • Most cabinets have movable shelves, change the shelf placement to accommodate the items you’re putting into each cabinet
  • Add a magnetic knife strip to the wall above where you normally chop fruits and vegetables so you can keep your favorite knives at the ready without taking up drawer space
  • Store your cutting boards and baking sheets vertically instead of horizontally —that way, you can simply slide which sheet you want out on its side
  • Label containers and bins, especially if they’re opaque and not clear so that you know what’s stored inside of them without having to check
  • Add a lazy Susan to awkward corner cabinets with a small opening, so you can store things like spices and oils without needing to reach far into the cabinet and you can see everything easily
  • Limit your kitchen gadgets — yes, the banana slicer looks cool and helps you cut a banana in five seconds rather than 30, but do you really need it? Sparingly purchase gadgets to prevent clutter.

These aren’t necessary for keeping your kitchen cabinets organized, but they can certainly help make your kitchen all the more functional.

Staying organized requires discipline

Once you figure out how to organize your kitchen cabinets, your work isn’t completely done — you need to make sure they STAY organized. That means putting everything back into its proper place whenever you’re through using it. It’s easy to slip out of that habit, but once you do, your kitchen cabinets and drawers may end up a mess again.

Put forth a special effort to keep things where they belong!

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What Are Cobwebs and Why Are They in My Apartment?

With Halloween around the corner, it’s hard to avoid creepy images of dusty old cobwebs. But cobwebs are not just relegated to haunted houses. Look around your apartment — in the space between the bulb and a lampshade, under your desk, beneath the sofa. They’re everywhere. How did they get there and how can you get rid of them? First, let’s break cobwebs down.

What are cobwebs?

Yes, spider webs and cobwebs are related. But not all spider webs are cobwebs. To add further confusion, the word “cobweb” comes from the Middle English, coppeweb, with coppe being the word for spider.

Over time, people have come to refer to the elegant, neat and tidy web occupied by a spider as a spider web and to refer to any abandoned, dusty web as a cobweb.

So, what are cobwebs, exactly? In science lingo, the word “cobweb” is specifically used to describe the messy, tangled three-dimensional web produced by spiders in the families Theridiidae (for example, cobweb spiders, tangled web spiders, comb-footed spiders) and Linyphiidae (aka money spiders or sheet weavers).

spider on cobweb

What’s the difference between a cobweb and a spider web?

According to the World Spider Catalogue (you just knew there’d be such a thing), there are 49,657 species of spiders in the world. That number changes as new spiders are discovered.

Different spiders create different webs from silk spun in different shapes. Cobwebs are tangle webs, which are asymmetrical and look like a bunch of jumbled threads supported by a base. They consist of major ampullate silk and are “gum-footed” or sticky. They often collect dust and dirt and trap prey.

Spider webs are more sophisticated structures that appear two-dimensional. Their web designs vary from sheet, spiral orb, funnel or tubular to tent. Depending on the spider’s species, they may up to three of four types of silk to make the webs.

How do cobwebs form?

Spiders hang out and eat insects, which is a good thing. When the food source stops, the spider is likely to pick up and leave. But the web remains.

And they can last a long time. If you took the ratio of strength-to-density, spider silk is stronger than steel, and it can stretch a lot before it snaps.

If the web is in a hidden spot in your apartment, all that sticky silk will attract dust and dirt. And then you’ve got a cobweb of the sort you see sprouting from skulls conveniently sitting on desktops in horror films.

vacuuming up cobwebs

How do I get rid of cobwebs?

Not to judge, but cobwebs make your space look and feel unkempt. The easiest way to get rid of them is to vacuum them up. For high webs, try using a long-handled duster or a broom handle covered in a sock – but then vacuum them up.

If they’re attached to curtains, you should throw them in the wash or use a lint roller to pick up the cobweb.

Sometimes there are cobwebs outside your windows. Vacuum those if you can or run water over them to wash them away.

How do I prevent cobwebs from coming back?

Spiders like to set up shop where they are left alone, where they can spin their webs and grab their food. Unused rooms with lots of clutter make ideal spots. Keep rooms as neat, clean and decluttered as you can.

Get to know your duster and use it often. Dust light bulbs, lampshades, plant leaves and other spots that might not get your regular attention.

You might also try spraying peppermint essential oil or vinegar mixed with water in the corners. The overpowering scent might make spiders set up shop elsewhere.

Spiders get into your house or apartment through vents, windows and doors. If it’s possible, seal the areas around your windows to keep any unwanted pests from entering. The added bonus is that you’ll be warmer this winter.

If you think you have too many cobwebs or too many spiders, you might have an infestation and you should call an exterminator.

A win-win on cobwebs

Even if you don’t want to live with spiders or walk into a cobweb in the middle of the night, it’s good to keep in mind that spiders are beneficial. They eat insects (one spider can eat up to 2,000 insects a year), which keeps those pesky creatures out of our homes and away from our food crops.

If you don’t want too many spiders hanging around, making your place unpleasant for them — keeping it clean, sealed from the outside and free of insects — makes it more pleasant for you.


How To Clean Stainless Steel: 10 Affordable Methods For A Sleek Finish

Stainless steel is best known for its ability to resist rust and other corrosion, making it a prime choice for kitchens and bathrooms. However, it’s hardly ever free from fingerprints and other marks, so you can’t forget to clean it routinely. The good news is, there are plenty of easy and cheap ways to make your stainless steel look brand new again.

Stainless steel material

Before we dive in on ways to clean your stainless steel you must first understand the material. Just like wood and certain fabrics, stainless steel has a grain to it. These are faint striations you can see on its surface. As you wipe the material, make sure you go in the direction of the grain for optimal cleansing and shine.

Now that we’ve got that covered, check out these top 10 tips on how to clean stainless steel to gain back its sleek and flawless finish.

1. Dish soap and baby oil

The dish soap and baby oil duo is almost unbeatable when it comes to cleaning and polishing. The dish soap will clear the stainless steel of any oils, fingerprints and dust on your surface while the oil polishes and makes it shine. Simply moisten a cotton rag and put a little bit of dish soap on it and wipe along the grain of your stainless steel. Once you’re rid of any marks, dry the surface with a clean towel.

Next, dab a small amount (a couple of drops) of baby oil onto another rag. Wipe along the grain as you did in the cleansing process with the dish soap. This gives your stainless steel a properly polished finish as if it was brand new!

Best for: Stainless steel appliances, countertops, sink, pots and pans

2. Windex and microfiber cloth

personal cleaning stainless steel ovenpersonal cleaning stainless steel oven

People often complain about fingerprints left on stainless steel. However, using a glass cleaner like Windex will do the trick! Spray the cleaner on a dry cloth (preferably microfiber) and evenly apply in circular motions. It’s not recommended to spray directly onto your appliance, as this could result in more drip marks and residue. Repeat the process until there are no more fingerprints and then rinse thoroughly and dry with a towel.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances and countertops

3. White vinegar and olive oil

White vinegar and olive oil are also great for cleaning any grime while polishing your stainless steel appliances. Apply white vinegar to a microfiber cloth or spray it directly onto your surface and let it sit for a moment before wiping it away (with the grain). Repeat this process until there is no more grime left to remove. Finally, dab a clean towel in some olive oil and polish in the direction of the grain. If any olive oil remains, wipe away with a fresh cloth.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances and countertops

Does vinegar damage stainless steel?

If left on for too long, vinegar can cause damage to your stainless steel. It’s important to not let any stainless steel material soak in a vinegar solution, but it’s harmless if you make sure to wipe it away in a timely manner.

4. Club soda

Girl cleaning stainless steel ovenGirl cleaning stainless steel oven

Club soda surprisingly is a great cleaner as it cleanses away any fingerprints and food residue while simultaneously leaving a nice shine. Spray club soda directly onto your stainless steel surface and then wipe in the direction of the grain. Repeat as necessary.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances, countertops, sinks, pots, pans and jewelry

5. Warm water

Plain water seems so simple, but you’d be surprised how much cleaning some warm water and elbow grease can accomplish. It’s also the least risky option for cleaning stainless steel. Simply dampen a microfiber or special polishing cloth with some warm water and wipe your surface in the direction of the polish lines. Once you’ve ridden any unwanted smudges and residue, dry the material with a clean towel or cloth to prevent water spots.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances, countertops, sinks, pots and pans

6. WD-40

Have a leftover can of WD-40 from your squeaky door? Well lucky for you, WD-40 also cleans and protects surfaces including stainless steel. Spray some directly onto your appliance or into a clean rag and then wipe in the direction of the grain. For an added bonus, WD-40 provides a layer of protection to help prevent future smudges and pesky fingerprints. Keep in mind that this is a petroleum-based product, so it should be used with care around surfaces where you’ll be handling food. So make sure you clean thoroughly before proceeding as normal.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances

7. Lemon oil furniture polish

Someone using lemon oil furniture polish to clean stainless steelSomeone using lemon oil furniture polish to clean stainless steel

If you have some furniture polish laying around, that’ll also do the trick for cleaning your stainless steel. Apply the polish to a clean cloth and rub it evenly on your appliance. Don’t apply the polish directly onto your stainless steel surface, as it may leave you with too much uneven excess. Once it’s evenly applied, wipe it clean with a fresh cloth in the direction of the grain.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances

8. Flour

Not only is flour great for baking delicious cakes, but also for buffing and polishing your stainless steel. Flour isn’t great for cleansing away grime or grease, but is a great final touch that will make your surfaces shine! Simply sprinkle flour onto your dry stainless steel surface until it’s fully covered. Then use a soft cloth to buff in circular motions until your surface starts to shine like it’s brand new!

Best for: Stainless steel countertops, sinks, pot and pans

9. Baking soda

someone using baking soda to clean stainless steel pansomeone using baking soda to clean stainless steel pan

Baking soda is a magic worker when it comes to cleaning. You can use it for just about anything and it’s extremely easy and cheap to come by. Make a paste with baking soda and water and let it sit on a problem area for a few minutes. Wipe away using a rag dampened with white vinegar followed by a cloth dampened with water. Dry using a microfiber cloth. This process is best for more stubborn stains and heavy-duty messes.

Best for: Stainless steel countertops, sinks, pots and pans

10. Store-bought stainless steel cleaner

Of course, there are cleaners that are specifically designed to clean and polish stainless steel, but they are rather expensive. If your appliance or surface has major staining, scratching or just needs a thorough polishing, this is an excellent option that may just be worth the extra penny. Make sure you read the directions on the cleaner and do a test on a small spot on your stainless steel before fully diving in.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances and countertops

What should you not use on stainless steel?

Now that you know what can be used on stainless steel, it’s important to cover the major “don’ts” when it comes to proper cleaning of the material.

Do not use:

  • Chlorine-based products
  • Oven cleaners
  • Steel wool or harsh scratchers or sponges
  • Harsh tap water that could leave water spots and stains (best to use distilled or filtered water)

What is the best cleaner for stainless steel?

If you are looking for the absolute best solution to your stainless steel cleaning routine, a store-bought cleaner may be your best option. However, DIY cleaners come in a close second and are much cheaper and convenient so give those a try before opting for a commercial cleaner.