If you don’t clean all the time, your kitchen sink could start looking this icky. Photo courtesy of alancleaver_2000. Licensed under CC BY-2.0.If you’ve gone more than a week or two without cleaning your room or apartment, you’ll realize very fast that disorganization and messiness can get out of hand right in front of your eyes. Cleaning and organizing may not be your favorite thing to do (unless you’re one of those people), but it is a necessary evil, especially for college students who are living in very small spaces that get messy very easily. On HackCollege, we’ve given you tips on various cleaning methods, but in this two-part article, I’ll explain some tips you can use to turn cleaning into a habit so that your space is consistently clean.

Have a Stock of Cleaning Supplies

Clearly, you can’t clean if you don’t have cleaning supplies. It’s really easy to say, “Ah well, I don’t have any cleaning stuff so I guess I can’t clean.” In order to avoid that excuse, stock up on some good cleaning supplies now. My favorites include Clorox wipes (which can be used for basically anything), a Swiffer, Windex (for mirrors and windows), paper towels, and 409 (a good tile and kitchen surface cleaner). Also, you should also have an ample supply of laundry and dishwasher detergent. To make things even better, keep some smell-good stuff around your place. For non-chemical fragrance options, check out this article, and for additional articles on cleaning supplies, check out these two articles.

Clean As You Go

It’s a lot easier to clean up a mess as soon as it happens. If you spill spaghetti sauce, for instance, on the kitchen counter, it’s super duper easy to just wipe it up with a paper towel. But if you wait even just for an hour or two, it’s dried and now you might need cleaning supplies to get it off the counter. The same goes for things like toothpaste. It’s really easy to wipe extra toothpaste off the sink just after you’ve brushed your teeth, but leave it there for a whole day and now it’s all gross.

Instead of waiting three days to wash your dishes and now having to put away three times the amount of dishes, just clean your few dishes right after you use them. This way, your sink is always clean and clear, and you won’t have nearly as much to do when you finally do decide to clean. When you clean as you go, it turns cleaning into a habit and soon you won’t even have to think about it.

Break Cleaning into Chunks

When your space is really out of control messy and dirty, it can feel entirely overwhelming to even begin to clean it. How the hell are you supposed to get through all of this shit? The easiest way to do this is just to systematically go through it by breaking up what needs to be done into increments or chunks. For instance, spend an hour cleaning one part of your space, whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, or your desk. Keep moving onto different sections of your room or apartment until you’ve done it all.

The chunks you break your cleaning into can be time-based or area-based. I prefer to do area-based. When I moved into my apartment Monday, my stuff was everywhere and needed to be organized desparately. I first started in the kitchen. Yesterday, I did my bedroom and closet, and today, I’ll finish up with the bathroom. By chunking areas, you’ll see a great improvement in one specific area, which will probably make cleaning feel less overwhelming. If you are in a time crunch, try time-based cleaning. Spend 15 minutes in each of the messiest areas to do some damage control.

Make Cleaning Fun

Okay, so maybe that sounds oxymoronic. But it isn’t. Cleaning can actually be fun, if you have the right attitude. Put yourself in the right mood by putting on some awesome dancing-cleaning music. Dance, sing, and clean all at the same time. It’s a great stress booster too. I like putting on a mindless TV show when I clean too (Millionare Matchmaker is my total guilty pleasure right now. Patti, I adore you). Having something else going on in the background will make cleaning go by faster, and you’ll be amazed how much you can get done when you’re on a roll.

Look for Part Two of this article tomorrow!

[via Pick the Brain and Re-Nest]