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Updated on Jul 25, 2020. Posted on Jul 21, 2020

I Just Cleaned My Apartment After Months Of Quarantine; Here's What I Learned

It took some time to figure out how to tackle everything — but it was worth it.

If you feel like your home hasn't really felt clean in months, you're not the only one.

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IDK about you, but March felt three months long and I can't tell you a single thing I did in April. That means that as summer rolled around and I gained a little more energy, I also woke up one day to notice the couch was covered in crumbs, the shower curtain had mildew, and every closet felt like low-grade chaos behind a door.

It took some time (and it's still not over), but my partner and I have been slowly tidying up our place, room by room. Naturally, our stress levels went down and it was worth the effort, but it took a little time to figure out how to tackle, well, everything.

Here are 12 tips we learned along the way:

1. Take a tour of your home and track everything that low-key (or high-key) bugs you.

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In Rachel Wilkerson Miller's book The Art of Showing Up, she recommends taking an inventory of each spot in your home and being really honest about how it makes you feel.

This can include clutter or dust bunnies, but it can also just be about the look of things. Is there framed art you used to love but kind of hate now? Is one of your succulents probably dead but you're too stubborn to throw it out? Take note of it all — and use it as a starting point.

2. Separate what feels like an absolute priority for you to be more comfortable in your home — versus something that can wait.

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Another tip in Miller's book is to put your wish-list changes into one of three buckets: Very Important, Somewhat Important, and Someday. If you spotted a few roaches near your kitchen or have mold in your bathroom, that's probably very important to deal with, while wanting to swap out throw pillows on your couch might be more of a 'someday' situation.

3. Make a list of each room or section, breaking down micro-tasks.

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Now that you have your list, it's time to break things down even more. For example, cleaning your kitchen isn't really just one thing. It can mean wiping down countertops, scrubbing out a gross-smelling garbage disposal, and more.

Not sure where to start? Here's a spring cleaning list that can be used anytime of year. Personally, I always use the Notes app on my phone to write all this out and delete each task once I'm done with it because I need a visual reward to do basically anything. You do you though!

Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Cleaning Your Entire Home

4. Be realistic about how much you can do in one day (or week, or month.)

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As wonderful as it would be to get everything done in a day or weekend, it probably won't happen. (Or it will, but it'll be so stressful and tedious that you won't want to clean again for a year.)

Instead, be honest with yourself. Miller suggests sorting tasks by what they require of you — like time, money, or energy. Maybe you don't have time to fully clean the bathroom all in one day, but you have the money and energy to order a new shower curtain. Every step still counts!

5. Use cleaning as healthy procrastination.

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It's a universal joke that writers will suddenly be VERY interested in doing the dishes once they have an impending deadline. Everyone procrastinates, but sometimes, the way we procrastinate can be better for us than, say, just scrolling through Instagram.

For example, maybe you don't feel like applying to that job or doing that assignment right now, but you've also been meaning to wipe down your kitchen counter for a while. Even taking a 10-minute break to do a chore can give your brain a reset (while also giving you a slightly cleaner space.) Or, try the one-minute rule for a day. Or a week!

6. Use money as an incentive.

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Sorting through your old clothes can be intimidating and take a long time. One way to get you a little more motivated? Selling your old stuff via a service like Poshmark or a local thrift store. Not only will those sweaters you never really wear no longer clutter your closet — they might make you a quick buck, too.

Read more: 7 Resale Platforms to Help Clean Out Your Closet

7. If you live with someone, ask for help.

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If you live with a partner, roommate(s), or family, some of the stuff you need to get rid of is probably theirs. And since everyone has different radars for what "clean" looks like, it's good to just ask them to tag-team on the cleaning. You can say something like "Hey, the top shelf of our closet feels really disorganized and kind of stresses me out — can we set an hour aside this weekend to go through everything together?"

8. Keep quick and easy cleaning supplies close by to do regular spot cleans.

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Keep things like a Swiffer, Clorox wipes, and Windex in easy-access places so fast cleaning session are easier to pull off. (Because let's be real, you are NOT going to wipe down your bathroom mirror or de-scale your showerhead if your supplies are buried under 20 other things under your sink.)

Read more: I Tested 9 Popular Cleaning Hacks And Here's What Actually Worked

9. Reward yourself by buying cute new things to add to your home.

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It can be tough to get excited about cleaning and removing stuff from your home when you only think of it as losing things. Instead, see it as an opportunity to revamp your home in small ways. Maybe it's cleaning your room AND adding a reed diffuser, or swapping string lights with a tapestry. Whatever it is, there are always tiny (often inexpensive) touches you can add to give your space a much-needed refresh.

10. But also, consider getting a few things to help stay tidier in the future.

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Personally, I swear by this robot vacuum, but there are tons of ways to minimize cleanup in the future. Could you get an extra shelving unit? A makeup organizer? The more you can confidently know where different objects belong, the easier it will be to keep from having piles of jackets on one chair (you know the one.)

11. Change up your routine so it's easier to keep things clean going forward.

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Similarly, being in quarantine maybe kickstarted some habits you don't love (but that have also brought you comfort during this time.) For instance, up until now, my partner and I always ate dinner on the couch. Now that it's nicer out and we have more energy, we make an effort to actually eat at the table so we don't keep getting crumbs everywhere. It also actually feels more intentional than just spending many hours watching TV.

Maybe you got a little more lax with how often you do laundry or dishes, or started to eat breakfast in bed every morning. If there's something you know got you through some rough months but is no longer serving you, try to reconfigure!

12. Give yourself the time and space to appreciate your new home.

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I'm a big proponent of gratitude journaling, especially when quarantine days can really bleed into each other. One thing that helped me was writing down how much *better* I felt after cleaning up. I actually like looking at my closet now, my bathroom smells great, and I even found a necklace I thought I had lost years ago. Maybe next time, I won't wait this long to feel this good.

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