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18 Cleaning kit essentials for every renter
Essential cleaning supplies for keeping your apartment sparkling clean and sanitary
Cleaning is sort of like going to the dentist: You dread doing it and put it off as long as possible, but once it’s done, you feel like an accomplished and responsible adult. Unlike going in for a root canal, however, you won’t get hit with a hefty bill afterward — just a tidy, fresh-smelling apartment and a smug sense of satisfaction. To start, you need a collection of essential cleaning supplies.
To simplify the process, every renter should have a handy cleaning kit with all the cleaning supplies and tools you’ll need to take your apartment from dingy and dusty to so fresh and so clean. (And if you’re having trouble getting excited about buying cleaning supplies, perhaps money will motivate you? Keeping your apartment clean and sanitary will help ensure your landlord returns your entire security deposit refund at the end of your lease).
We’ve assembled a list of everything you’ll want to keep on hand to maintain a sparkling clean apartment, along with tips on when and how to use them, and links to our favorite products. Ready, set, CLEAN!
Essential cleaning tools
There are definitely way more exciting things to spend money on than cleaning supplies — but it’s essential to have the right tools for the job. A barebones kit of paper towels and a bottle of Windex simply isn’t going to cut it; you need a variety of tools suitable for every room of your apartment to ensure the job gets done right. Plus, these essential cleaning supplies help you clean quickly. Below, our picks for the six gotta-have-’em cleaning tools every renter should own.
Broom and dustpan
Ah, the old’ broom and dustpan — almost as legendary a duo as mac and cheese or Mary Kate and Ashley. You’ll undoubtedly want to keep this pair on hand at all times for regular maintenance sweeping of your kitchen, your patio and even the hallway outside your apartment. Accidentally shatter a coffee cup on the kitchen floor? Broom and dustpan to the rescue. Patio full of crunchy autumn leaves? Yep, broom and dustpan. There’s a huge selection of brooms and dustpans to choose from out there, but whatever you do, make sure you buy them as a pair. This will ensure the broom’s bristles fit perfectly within the edge of the dustpan to ensure seamless sweeping. We like this broom and dustpan set with an extendable handle for easy storage, or grab this stylish miniature broom and dustpan for cleaning up equally miniature messes.
Well, duh. A vacuum is vital for keeping your floors clean, especially if you have carpet. There’s simply no other way to quickly suck up all the dirt and debris that gets tracked into your apartment daily. Vacuums run the gamut from super-compact cordless handheld vacuums for cleaning small areas to upright versions specially designed for wrangling pet hair.
Unless you’re a school janitor, a Swiffer is probably perfectly suitable to clean the tile, vinyl or hardwood floors in your apartment. The simplest and most affordable option is this Swiffer Sweeper Dry + Wet kit; it can be used dry to sweep up dirt and pet hair, or wet to scrub your kitchen or bathroom floor. If your apartment has hardwood floors (ooh, fancy), try the Swiffer WetJet that squirts cleaning solution on the floor to get it extra clean and shiny.
No one enjoys cleaning the toilet, but it’s also true that no one enjoys using a filthy toilet with all sorts of caked-on grossness. Frankly, we’ve never been able to get behind the toilet brushes that get used and then stored in a little caddy right next to the toilet. Seems like a total germ magnet, right? Thankfully, they now make toilet brushes with disposable heads that you use once and then toss.
Avoid embarrassing toilet overflow situations and keep a plunger on hand for any, uh, delicate plumbing situations. There’s really not a lot of features to consider when choosing a plunger; the classic rubber model will certainly do the job. But if you’re a real germaphobe, consider splurging on a snazzy antibacterial version that also has a built-in toilet brush. Boom, two in one!
Cleaning supply caddy
When your date (or mom) is on their way over to your apartment and you’re furiously cleaning like your life depends on it, you’ll be glad to have all your cleaning must-haves in one easy-to-carry-around kit. No need to get fancy here; a budget-friendly plastic model with a convenient carrying handle will do.
Essential cleaning supplies
Handy for scrubbing dishes, wiping down kitchen countertops after an especially messy cooking project and all sorts of other things. The most basic sponges are really the best option.
Dish scrubbing brush
A dish scrubbing brush is vital for caked-on spaghetti sauce, egg residue stuck to frying pans and things of that nature. We recommend buying two of these basic models so you have a backup when one wears out.
Rags or microfiber cloths
We can’t emphasize this enough: Do not rely on paper towels to do all of your cleaning! It’s terrible for the environment and besides, have you seen how expensive those things are lately? Keep some microfiber cloths on hand, or simply cut up old t-shirts to make rags. (You were never going to wear that commemorative 5K shirt again anyway.)
You know, for… garbage. We really don’t need to explain this one, do we? Don’t cheap out here or the garbage bag will bust on you, and no one wants to pick dirty trash up off the floor. Anything labeled “extra strong” should do the trick.
Because no matter what she says, your mom doesn’t want to do your laundry anymore. If you’re sensitive to fragrances and dyes, grab an allergen-free variety to ensure no itchiness. The little detergent pods are especially handy.
Carpet stain remover
You’ll be extremely glad you have a pair of rubber gloves on hand when your friend’s puppy has a potty training slip-up on the floor, or when you have to pull a bunch of hair out of your sink drain (but that’s another article entirely).
Not to be confused with dishwasher detergent (although you need that too if you have a dishwasher), dish soap is the liquid stuff in a squeeze bottle that you use to clean the pot of old crusty mac and cheese you left sitting on the stove for two days. Oops.
These will come in handy when you spill raw chicken juice all over your kitchen countertop. Disinfecting wipes kill 99.9% of yucky bacteria in a flash.
How do you get so much toothpaste all over your bathroom mirror? Never fear, glass cleaner (and a rag) will restore your mirror to respectability. This stuff also comes in handy for cleaning fingerprints and smudges off glass coffee tables and windows.
Is your next-door neighbor boiling cabbage again? Ugh. Sometimes there’s just some unidentifiable funk in the air you need to mask quickly. A natural air freshener will do the trick.
True to its name, all-purpose cleaner serves, well, many purposes. Use it to clean your kitchen counter, your bathroom sink, the top of your dresser, the nasty-looking corners in the bathroom… you get the idea.
So there you go: Essential cleaning supplies can help you become the next cleaning guru. Having a sparkling clean bathroom may not win you any awards or cash prizes, but it will give you a deep sense of inner zen and pride in your apartment — and bonus, your guests won’t be grossed out by the stains around your toilet.
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