10 Things to Add to Your Apartment Spring Cleaning List

10 Things to Add to Your Apartment Spring Cleaning List

It’s easy for anyone to feel discontent with his or her home, but maybe you feel more justified in that feeling if your home is a temporary apartment, especially when many of your friends and family are buying or re-decorating (seemingly) perfect houses. After over a year in my current one-bedroom apartment, some of its charm has worn off, and I’ve found myself speaking to others of my little home as though I were ashamed of it, or ashamed of my lifestyle. I was almost immediately convicted when I realized this, because in reality I love my home. We are very comfortable in our amount of space, live in a great neighborhood, and are thankful for what we have, which meets our current needs perfectly well. In addition, it is a debilitating fallacy for me, a newlywed graduate student in my early 20’s, to expect to match my parents’ lifestyle when my parents (and others their age) have been working hard toward what they currently have for almost 30 years.  Still, my home and my belongings felt a bit shabby to me. What could I do about it, in addition to willfully maintaining an attitude of thankfulness? Here is what I came up with.

I have no business being ashamed of my current home and wishing for “more”  if I have not at least taken the time to properly care for what I already have.

As I said, I was feeling pretty convicted about this. So what were my options for caring for what I have, and making the most of it so that I would not need to feel ashamed of it? The Pinterest answer, of course, is to DIY-redecorate! Maybe I could refinish my dresser in mint paint, or buy new bookshelves with chevron print on the inside, or hang a distressed wood window-mirror in my dining room! But all of that costs money and time, which is not something I have to throw into serious re-decorating at the moment.  That’s when I looked over and noticed how filthy my windowsills were.


10 Things to Add to Your Apartment Spring Cleaning List

[And some snapshots of my personal spring cleaning progress so far]

1. Windows

Clean the inside and as much of the outside as you can reach! Have you ever actually cleaned all of your windows? Get your vacuum cleaner attachment and have it slurp up all of the dead bugs, dirt, and cobwebs on the windowsills and corners of the window.


Yikes! I had not realized how dirty my windows were, but now I can see the new green buds on the tree outside much more clearly.

2. Floors

Get down on your hands and knees with a bucket of warm vinegar-water and wash your floors. It seems like such a big ordeal, but with a little place like yours and mine, it seriously takes 20 minutes or less.

3. Carpet

I noticed some gray splotches on my beige carpet, so I got down and cleaned them with some Resolve carpet cleaner and a rag. It worked great! The splotches were gone, but when I stood up to admire my work, I noticed some obvious clean splotches where the dirt had been. Wow, who knew my carpet was actually off-white? I was blessed to find a friend who owns a carpet-shampooer, which I will be borrowing soon! Another friend already shampooed her apartment’s carpet with it, and it looks amazing! I can’t wait to see how my places is brightened up by a good carpet cleaning. If your carpet looks pretty clean or if you can’t find a cheap enough deep cleaning option, make sure to at least give it a good vacuuming.

4. Patio/porch

Grab a broom and sweep off the winter leaves and dirt from the deck. Pull the dead plant matter out of your pots and till up the dirt for something new. Is your fence or siding at your entry or porch full of grime? Don’t wait for the landlord, just go wash it off. Vinegar water worked well on my filthy siding. Check out your outdoor light fixtures. Are they full of dead bugs? Deal with it! Use the sweeper attachment on them or take apart the fixtures and clean the non-electrical parts in your sink. Pull out or clean up your patio furniture and grill and get them ready for summer. Maybe hang some lights or anti-bug candles out there and invite a friend over for an outdoor smoothie at your brand new mini-vacation spot! 


Getting all of my dead plants out of the pots made things look much happier on my patio, plus my mom sent me those cute lights and flower-stakes.


You would not believe how filthy the outside of my front entry was before I cleaned it; I seriously thought the lantern was frosted glass, but it turned out that it was only frosted with dirt! It looks respectable now at least! 

5. Bathtub/shower

Get some Comet or other good bleaching-scrubbing stuff and go at it. Inspect all of the nooks and crannies for mold and scrub it out. Look up, down, and under; the mold will find your shower! If your curtain is all moldy, try to clean it off, too, by holding it taut with your foot while standing in the tub and washing with the Comet and a rag. If it’s really gross, throw it out and go buy a replacement. Finish by shining the metal fixtures.


My metal fixtures are not really so shiny this time; I’m still working on my shining skills.

6. Closet

This one might be a bigger chore than the other items, but it is well worth it. DO NOT go drop $500 on the beautiful closet perfection of The Container Store until AFTER you have gone through your stuff and tried your best to organize it with the tools you already have (and determined a new installed solution to be necessary). Also, don’t buy too much shelving from one of those glitzy-fun organizing stores without checking to see if the hardware store carries the same thing; it will probably be a lot cheaper. Put on your tunes or favorite radio show and hop to it. Don’t do everything at once, just start with one category, like “clothes,” “shoes,” “purses,” “craft supplies,” or “everything that is currently on the floor.” Get a few trash or grocery bags: one for trash, one for items to donate or sell, and maybe one for deep storage (storage unit or parent’s attic is what I’m thinking). Invite a friend to offer some tough love if you know you will not be able to toss out enough old things on your own. If you have a big mess of a closet to start with, don’t plan to fix it all in one day; just do one category at a time and finish that category completely that day. Use boxes and shelves and chests of drawers that you have to organize as best you can, and consider looking for a simple new shelving unit, shoe rack, or second closet rod to add if that would make a big difference in your space. Being able to use vertical space well is pretty important in an apartment, so these options can be very helpful.

closet hallCloset

I know my closets don’t look like a Container Store ad, but they are neat and clean and functional, and that is enough for real life! We bought those two simple shelving units (at either Lowes or Home Depot, I can’t remember which) and they have been well worth it. We are blessed with an apartment that has two good sized closets but they are all the storage we have so we have to make the most of them!

7. Procrastinated projects

That pile of mending that has been sitting by your bed for six months, the still-empty shadowbox frame you got to display your wedding invitation, the giant wall map you found for free but never framed or hung–just get it done! It will be so much easier than you thought,  and afterward you’ll feel like you just got something brand new!


There’s that wedding invitation display I’d been putting off assembling. It makes me happy now that it is up.

8. Dust

I dug out one of those microfiber mitts that somebody had given me once and did a quick run-through over all of my furniture surfaces. If you don’t have a special little lint-grabbing mitt, just use a paper towel and Pledge on wood or Windex on glass. This takes hardly any time in a small place and will make everything look and smell nicer. It might even help you with your allergies.

9. Fridge/freezer

This is another dreaded chore that doesn’t have to be a big deal. This is an apartment, so you probably only have one refrigerator and one small (too-small!) freezer. Open the fridge, pull everything out, and wipe down the inside with your vinegar water or a Clorox wipe or whatever your usual kitchen-cleaner is. Pull out the drawer(s) and any small shelf-pieces and wash them in your sink. Wipe out under the drawers (I can’t believe what is down there! Eeew!) before replacing them. Then, start putting food back in one item at a time. Don’t put anything back in there that you don’t want to eat (or can’t feed to your husband or grandpa or cat right away), and if something is iffy, put it right in front so that you will remember to eat it or toss it soon. Clean up your freezer with a similar strategy, and try to put older things on top/in front so you will eat them up first.

10. Desk/office

Grab a trash can and go through those piles of papers. For the papers that can’t be tossed yet, find or buy an accordion folder or file cabinet to organize them, and make sure to label the categories clearly. Pull down the Christmas and birthday cards still lying around and give each one more smiling look before saying goodbye and tossing them. For those few cards that are just too funny or special to toss, make a special file or box for them, and save them for a scrapbook. Toss or donate older magazines, put books back on the shelf where they belong, test the pens from the pen pile and throw out the ones that don’t work. Make quick labels (index cards or post it notes work well) for your boxes or baskets full of office supplies so you can find things more easily next time. After you are done, get your Pledge or a damp rag and wipe down your whole desk.


This desk is both my home office and my “craft room” (see the pink crate full of scrapbook paper and the Cricut Mini hiding under there?), so I have to keep after the paper piles in order for it to remain usable. It is well worth it. 


Result: True Homemaking

After I started cleaning, I realized again how easy it is and how silly I’m being when I put it off. Somehow, having a clean outside entryway, cheery patio, mold-free tub, neatened closet, and finally-hung artwork felt about the same as if I’d just bought a spanking-new buffet table.  I’m not all the way through my list yet for this year, but I already feel a lot better about the state of my home because of the spring cleaning I have done. Even if I did splurge and replace my bookshelves, update my kitchen cabinets, and buy that new lamp, it would not have done anything to help my dirty carpet and bug-filled patio light fixtures. That is,  all the renovating, crafting, furniture shopping, and house-hunting in the world will never make up for a lack of routine cleaning, organizing, and maintenance, which comprises the bulk of true homemaking. Let’s keep in mind that no matter what kind of home we have now or in the future, it will only be as welcoming as we make it.



Recent Comments

  1. Hi Danielle,
    I recently found a new and simple way to clean your bathtub…vinegar and dish soap in a squirt bottle…you apply the mixture to your tub…let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then wash it down..Do this once a week and your tub will shine…So easy and only about 10 minutes of actual time..

  2. Nice job! You nailed it!

  3. I’m so impressed Danielle. You have a beautiful home, a great website, and a corn hole on the way. I’m done procrastinating on it. You got me moving and thinking “take time to properly care for what I have…..” thank you. Love you