Ten ways you know it’s time to clean your apartment

By Steve Contorno

Students thrown into an apartment, experience the highs and lows of the independence. Undoubtedly, one of the lowest has to be the cleanup involved with living on your own. Even the residence halls had a staff to handle most of the dirty work, and a simple dusting and vaccuuming took care of the rest.

Apartments, on the other hand, are another beast. Listed are 10 ways you know it’s time to clean your apartment, a la David Letterman. Included as well are some tips to solving some of those problems, and why you might not want to put off some of those chores to the last minute. It might actually be quite costly.

1. You ask your neighbor if you can switch places for the night because you don’t want your bar hookup to see all the laundry on your floor.

2. Your bathtub is so dirty you have to wear flip-flops, or make the trek to ARC to use the locker room showers.

When living in an apartment, you take for granted that someone used to clean the showers in the residence halls. As that nasty ring begins to form around the tub, James Hurley, owner of Natural Home Cleaners, offered his secret.

“What I use, it’s kind of like an Oxi Clean, but an all-natural form. I just scoop it out in some hot water with a scrub brush and it gets rid of the ring,” Hurley said.

Though it’s an unpleasant chore, Hurley contends it’s well worth the time.

“Personally I wouldn’t want to take a bath in a really dirty tub. It kind of defeats the purpose of taking a bath.”

3. Your carpet is a perfectly even shade of brown. It used to be white.

If you don’t take care of your carpet, it could cause problems for you when your lease has run out. Many landlords have a clause in their lease that forces tenants to get their carpet cleaned before turning over the keys.

Sometimes, said Ester Patt, director of the tenant union, other problems can arise.

“There are a lot of tenants that feel that landlords should do that and not charge extra. Where we really get the complaints that they automatically charge for shampoo but don’t do the job,” Patt said. “They claim they did it. But there will be condom wrappers on the floor and calculus papers under the bed. They obviously didn’t (clean) it but they still claim they did. There are a few landlords that do that consistently.”

4. You used to have HDTV, but lately, the screen isn’t too clear beacuse of the inch-thick layer of dust.

Your TV screen can accumulate dust or fingerprint marks pretty easily, which isn’t good for allergies or your viewing pleasure. But because it’s delicate, you shouldn’t just grab a paper towel or an ordinary product to clean it.

“If it’s just dust, just use a dry microfiber cloth,” Hurley said. “If they have an expensive TV, I usually ask if they want to use a product. I use a parsley cleaner, which doesn’t affect the screen or scratch it and gets off any grease marks.”

5. Public restrooms are considered a treat compared to your own toilet, which may or may not have a creature inside it.

Undoubtedly the least favorite part of the house to clean, it also shows pretty quickly when you leave it neglected.

“When I clean houses, most of my clients are every two weeks, and in some cases, people need their toilets cleaned every week,” Hurley said.

When it comes to what product to use, Hurley has an environmentally friendly supplier.

“I use a natural toilet bowl cleaner called Earth Friendly, so if students are looking for an alternative to the regular stuff, they can Google that and get their Web site and look at their products,” he said.

Still, it’s not always the most fun place to scrub.

“I use a toothbrush to get into tough spots and small areas.”

6. That spacious balcony that was a selling point when you signed your lease has become storage for all the garbage you’ve accumulated throughout the year.

7. You’ve picked up a second job because you assume you’re not getting your deposit back.

Students often have a hard time getting their security deposit back because they left their apartment in conditions that violate their lease. And, Patt said, most people that left their apartment dirty don’t complain.

Many students take precaution to ensure they clean their apartment before they move out, but they forget one critical step.

“If they don’t have photographs of exactly what the place looked like, then there’s no guarantee you’ll get back some money,” Patt said. “If you have time to clean, you have time to take pictures. If you don’t have photographic evidence, we can’t help you.”

Photos should include more than just what meets the eye.

“You need to make sure you take pictures inside the bathtub, inside the furnace, inside the stove, etc.”

The consequences of not taking photos is costly.

“They can take more than your deposit,” Patt said. “There’s one landlord every year that charges amounts above their deposit and tenants are told pay up in 10 days or they’ll be sued.

“Some don’t charge a damage deposit and they think it’s safer. No, it’s not. They’ll bill you and they’ll turn it over to collection and then it goes on your credit for seven years and it looks really bad.”

At that point, you’ll really be thankful you picked up that second job.

8. The number of beer cans have accumulated to the point where you have built a couch and are working on a matching love seat.

9. You never invite people over because they’ll judge you for the stack of dishes in your sink … and the counter … and the floor.

10. Your friends tend to comment about how your dog makes your apartment stink. You don’t even own a dog.