So, you’ve probably been enjoying the student life for a while now — but how well have you taken to the domestic side of the experience? After all, this is probably the first time you’ve been away from home, and thee first time you’ve had to take full responsibility for cleaning and cleanliness.
Don’t worry too much, however, as we’re here to help you with the most basic and important household cleaning chores.
Whether you’re in halls or a house, use this student’s guide to basic household cleaning to keep your home conducive to study.
Bacteria and student digs often go hand in hand — but they don’t have to. Similarly, you shouldn’t expect to make your student accommodation bacteria-free. It’s impossible. But what you can do is keep bacteria in your kitchen and bathroom to a minimum.
In your bathroom, clean the toilet, sinks, tub, shower and all the fixtures and fittings at least once a week — with dedicated cleaning materials. As the objective is to kill the majority of bacteria, you can probably save money in the long run by purchasing a steam mop with fellow students. Steam alone kills up to 99.9% of harmful bacteria.
In the kitchen, it’s a good idea to have a spray bottle filled with an antibacterial agent available at all times. You can buy one, or you can make one with white vinegar and lemon juice. Here are a few kitchen hygiene rules you and your flatmates should follow:
- Sanitise surfaces after cooking
- Use separate utensils and surfaces for each food type
- Don’t wash chickens — the heat kills bacteria on them
- Change dishcloths and brushes once a day
- Leave dishes to air dry wherever possible
- Store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge, in a sealed container
- Wash hands before and after preparing meals — and after cleaning
Let’s be honest, student life involves a lot of greasy takeaways, so the average student home tends to have more than its fair share of greasy stains. When greasy disaster strikes after a late-night pub-crawl, try to focus on cleaning it up quickly.
Start by removing as much of the greasy mess as possible with a spoon or knife. For example, if you drop a pizza, pick it up, and scrape up as much cheese as you can. Then blot up as much of the excess grease with paper towels. Don’t scrub, as this could make the problem worse.
Sprinkle the greasy stain with cornflour or baking powder, which will soak up more of the grease. At this point, you can turn in for the evening.
To remove the remainder of the stain, you’ll need some methylated spirit — or white vinegar sometimes works. Spray a little, and blot dry. Continue this process until the stain is removed. If you need to machine wash a greasy stain, pretreat it with dishwashing detergent or white vinegar first.
If you’re a student, there’s a good chance that beer is never too far away. And where there’s beer, there are stains. Attack beer spillages with microfibre cloths or paper towels — while they’re still wet. However, the worst thing you can do in a drunken stupor is scrub or rub. Blot and dab until most of the moisture has gone.
Sprinkle the stain with baking powder, and leave it for a few hours. This will give the powder time to soak up what remains of the moisture — and that boozy smell. You can then blot and dab white vinegar, dishwashing liquid or white spirit into the stain in order to remove it. Repeat these steps until the stain is no longer visible. However, certain beers can leave permanent stains on carpet unless they’re spotted straight away.
If you’re studying, you’ll be using pens. And where there are pens and students, there are usually ink stains. White vinegar and white spirit can remove certain types of ink from fabrics. However, there’s a chance that a specialist upholstery or carpet cleaner will be needed.
The first thing to do is tackle the excess. Remember the cleaning steps: blot gently with paper towels or absorbent cloths first. Rubbing or scrubbing will spread the stain, and make it more difficult to remove.
Mould and mildew are very common in student homes, as the properties used tend to be older. If you have a serious problem, try to open windows to create through-draughts wherever possible. It might also be a good idea to ask your landlord for a dehumidifier. Hang your washing outside when the weather permits, and keep your kitchen and bathroom doors open after washing or cooking.
When mould strikes, you should remove it as quickly as possible — otherwise mould spores can get into the air and cause respiratory issues. A solution of three parts water and one part bleach should do the trick, but there are ready-made bleach cleaners on the market. Whatever you use, make sure you wear eye protection, rubber gloves and a mask before using this caustic cleaning solution.
While the last thing you’ll probably want to be doing as a student is cleaning, keeping your home clean will help you to focus on your studies. It’ll also mean you’re ready to entertain your friends at a moment’s notice.