We’ve posted about this before, but we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to create a stimulating environment for your tiny tiger. Not only does it keep him happy, it keeps your home free of damage from a bored cat! This article hits all the most important points on “catifying” an apartment where space might be tight. We love the idea of creating DIY scratching posts out of chair and table legs!
We came across this article on adopting a second cat quite some time ago, and with some of our residents here at Alvern Gardens going through the pet adoption process, we thought we’d talk about this adventure.
Adopting animals together is probably the least stressful option for creating a multi pet home. In fact, there are plenty of pets in shelters that must be adopted as a pair because they are bonded to each other and can’t be separated. If, however, you already have a pet and would like to adopt a second (with your landlord’s permission, of course), then there are was to do it right.
As the above linked article explains, you need to find a cat with a similar activity level and compatible personality traits to your cat. Once you have found a candidate, it’s a good idea to give it a trial run, which is something that, as the article states, many shelters offer. It’s never a good idea to commit to a pet from the outset, because you just never know how and whether it’ll truly work out. About a week or two is usually what it takes for a cat (or two) to establish a routine, so it should become apparent fairly soon whether the pairing is a good one.
The article points out that you need to have enough space in your home for the cats to get away from each other and enjoy some solitude. A home with multiple floors offers ideal levels of separation, but it can be managed in an apartment as well. Although a one bedroom might be a bit small, a two bedroom has potential as a wide enough territory to have a scattering of multiple litter boxes, water bowls, feeding stations, and hangout areas.
What the article doesn’t specify about having enough space is that the space also needs to be cat friendly. It’s not fair to confine one cat to a dark, windowless basement while the other cat shares the upstairs living space with the family. You also need to have at least one litter box per cat, plus one extra, so for two cats, you should have three litter boxes. These should be spread throughout your home rather than lined up side-by-side, and they should be far away from food stations (cats, like humans, don’t like to do their business in the same spot as where they eat). Speaking of food stations, each of your cats should have their own spots to eat and drink, at least until they get used to each other.
Cats mark their territory in several ways: urine spraying, cheek marking (which is what they’re doing when they rub their faces against things), and scratching. To protect your furniture from the dreaded scratching, place different types of scratching posts throughout your home, ideally one in every room. Feliway pheromone sprays and diffusers can help with scratching as well as urine marking, so stock up before bringing home your second cat.
Finally, multiple cats need multiple hangout spots, and vertical space is one of the best places to expand feline territory. You probably already have one cat tree and/or cat bed, so buy a second set for the second cat. When cats aren’t fighting for the window seat or otherwise eking out a spot to make their own in limited space, they’ll get along much better from the start. And happier cats make for happier cat owners.
We’ve been seeing some nifty ideas online for affordable shelf liners that make for easy clean-up. Of course, we look at these ideas and think they’re perfect for renters who want an easier time cleaning their rental when it comes time to move out. Here are some of our own tips when it comes to shelf liners:
- Not just for cabinets, shelf liners are also an excellent idea for your fridge and freezer. We’ve read plenty of online tips suggesting plastic wrap as an excellent liner for fridge shelves. If something spills, you just peel away the soiled plastic wrap and replace it. Now, we imagine that’s a lot messier in practice than it is on paper, but it’s worth a try.
- Not just for the kitchen: consider lining the shelves of your medicine cabinet and bathroom vanity as well. Do you have shelves in closets or buildt-ins? Line those too!
- Wax paper is good for lots of things, and with a little double-sided tape, you can use it to line your drawers and cabinets on the cheap.
- Aluminum foil would be ideal for completely wrapping up a removable shelf. Slide the shelf out of your fridge or cabinet, wrap it up, securing edges with tape if necessary, then slide it back into place.
- Shelf liners as drip guards. Do you have a fridge with metal grate shelving instead of solid plastic? If you’ve ever spilled something on the top shelf of one of those, you know what a pain it is to empty and clean the whole fridge from top to bottom (though you should do that regularly anyway… not just when your roommate’s flavored coffee creamer takes a tumble and coats everything in a sticky pumpkin spice film). If you wrap the grate shelves, it’ll keep stuff from spilling through to lower levels of the fridge.
You might be wondering how a shelf liner is good for your security deposit. It’s pretty simple, really. When you move out of your apartment, you’ll significantly cut your cleaning time if all you have to do is remove your shelf liners to reveal squeaky clean surfaces beneath.
We’ve posted a lot in the past about natural ways to keep your home clean, and we just came across this article on natural mold treatment and prevention methods. As it warms up (and gets more humid) here in the Pittsburgh area, we’d like to highlight a few of these preventive measures.
The most important thing to remember about mold is that it thrives in moist environments, so keeping your home dry and ventilated is key. Opening windows when it’s nice out, drying the shower with a rag or squeegee after each use, and keeping your shower curtain closed to let it dry are simple steps to make habitual. In basements, crawl spaces, or other areas without proper ventilation, a dehumidifier might be in order. But there are other factors to keep in mind as well.
If you have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, kitchen, or elsewhere in your home, it’s important to clean it regularly. A clean fan is a functional fan. The same goes for air conditioners and heating/cooling ducts. If you rent your home, familiarize yourself with your lease and know who (you or your landlord) is responsible for maintaining whatever heating/cooling system you have.
An air purifier can calm your concerns about airborne mold spores. While some models are pricier than others, a little research will help you find the right unit for your space. They’re great for allergy sufferers and most don’t require much electricity to run. They can even help deodorize your home when it’s too cold out to open a window.
Now, we’ve already told you about how great vinegar can be for cleaning mold, but did you know it can help prevent mold as well? It can! Just spray it onto susceptible areas such as the grout around your bathtub, your bathroom ceiling, particularly moist corners of your basement, wherever, and let it dry. You’ll just have to deal with the smell for a little while, but that will fade. If the smell is too much, try diluted citrus seed extract instead. Whichever method you choose, you’ll need to reapply regularly. Luckily both of these preventive substances are natural and nontoxic.
If you find that you have a persistent problem area resistant to your every attack, it’s time to contact your landlord, or if you’re a homeowner, a mold specialist.
If you scour the internet, you’ll find all sorts of creative natural cleaners that you can DIY with stuff you already have at home.
Not only are natural, homemade cleaners an affordable way to an effective yet safe and environmentally friendly clean, it’s also good for your security deposit. Some heavy duty cleaners out there are so harsh that they damage the very thing you’re trying to get clean, and you might not want to clean as thoroughly or as often if it involves a risk of inhaling dangerous fumes. With a natural, homemade cleaner, you’re unlikely to need protective gear and you don’t have to worry about using it around kids or pets. Plus, mixtures like baking soda and vinegar pack a punch without damaging surfaces.
If you’re looking for smart uses for vinegar, vinegartips.com is our favorite place for pointers on one of the cheapest, most versatile natural cleaners out there.
Keep in mind though that vinegar isn’t the end-all-be-all, and it’s not always the best cleaner for the job. For example, vinegar is ineffective for wiping up raw egg as it will basically poach the egg as you’re trying to clean it up. Before you decide what product to use, consider the task at hand and what you want to accomplish. If you’re not sure what to use, check online for tips.
Most of the time, vinegar is the way to go for deodorizing and wiping away greasy grime. It’s excellent for wet dusting and getting your microwave to sparkle. For a deeper clean, combining it with baking soda for a fizzy paste does the trick. This method works wonderfully on stained coffee mugs. With any vinegar solution, giving it time to sit and do its work is key.
Here are some tips and recommendations we’ve offered in the past:
- Ventilate your bathroom. If you don’t have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, you surely have a window, so use it. As long as it’s warm enough out that your heat is off, and as long as it’s not raining, open your bathroom window. This is most important right after showering. To create a cross breeze, it’s a good idea to also leave your bathroom door open. If you prefer them closed, shut them again once the room is aired out.
- Wipe down your tub/shower after using it. Wiping away excess water with a squeegee or rag keeps mildew out of grout. Bonus: it also prevents soap scum buildup and stains.
- Clean it up right away. If you see mildew starting to form, clean it up as quickly as you can. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. No matter the cleaning method you use, make sure the room is well ventilated and wear rubber gloves while you work. You’ve probably heard of using bleach on mildew, but there are safer cleaners that don’t produce toxic fumes. Vinegar and undiluted hydrogen peroxide are two of the safest cleaning methods, and they work on a wide variety of surfaces. Mixing borax with warm water makes a safe, effective cleaner not only for mildew, but mold as well. The two-step process of baking soda and vinegar also works on both mold and mildew. First, spray a mixture of baking soda and water onto the affected surface, then spray vinegar on top of it. After the fizzing of the chemical reaction slows, wipe everything clean.
Just like keeping your bathtub clean, prevention is key when it comes to fighting mildew. So ventilate and wipe, and clean when you need to.
Moving is a hassle, yes, but if you’re organized and plan ahead, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches. Here are 10 tips for a successful, less stressful move.
- Measure twice, move once. Not only should you know the dimensions of the rooms in your new place, you should know the size of the doorways and hallways that you’ll have to maneuver furniture through. Plus, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your furniture.
- Make check lists and use them. Go through your old place room by room and list all the items you need to pack up and move. Check off items as you move them onto the moving van, and check them off again as you unload them at your new place. This way, nothing will get lost or left behind.
- Label your boxes. This might strike you as a no-brainer, but it’s such a quick, simple step that it might easily slip your mind. Unpacking in your new place really will be much easier if you know what each box contains without having to look inside.
- If it comes apart, take it apart. It might seem easier to move with intact furniture, but it’s actually much simpler to break down everything into manageable pieces. Pull the drawers out of dressers (you could leave items in removed drawers in lieu of boxes) to lighten the load. Take apart your sectional and reassemble it in its new home. Unscrew the legs from you dining room table for flatter transport and an easier time fitting it, piece by piece, into the allotted space.
- Wrap it up. This might sound goofy, but cellophane is your friend when it comes time for moving. If you already have all your silverware inside a drawer organizer, all you have to do is wrap that in cellophane and it’s ready to move. Remember those drawers you pulled out of your dresser? Wrap them in cellophane to secure the items inside, no boxes needed! Buy the cheap stuff and wrap up your whole mattress and box-spring to protect them during the move and make it easy to slide them across carpeted floors.
- Clean your trash cans and use them for storage. You can even nest a small bathroom can inside your bigger kitchen can and then store stuff inside. Suddenly, you have a box or two fewer to lug from place to place.
- Use your Tetris skills and leave no space unused inside boxes or inside the moving van.
- Know where you can park. If you have a large moving truck, make sure you know the neighborhood’s rules and the borough’s ordinances about where you’re allowed to park it and for how long. The last thing you want is your truck full of all your possessions getting towed. Your present and future landlords are likely in the know about this stuff, so ask them where you can pull up as you vacate and later as you move in.
- Take pictures. After you’ve vacated your old place, take pictures of everything as evidence that you cleaned up and took everything with you. It’s a good way to go through one last time and make sure you didn’t forget anything. Before you start moving into your new place, take pictures of everything exactly how you find it. The pictures of your old and new places will be important when it comes time to get your security deposit back. Once you’re done moving in, take pictures of everything in its place to keep on record in case you need it for insurance purposes. If you decide to feng shui later, take more pictures. While you’re at it, take some pictures for your scrapbook to preserve the memories.
- Remember how you handled the move. There’s a fair chance that you’ll be moving again in the future, so after the move is complete, sit down and think about what went well and what could have gone better. It’s probably a good idea to write this reflection down for future reference. At the very least, you should recall the size moving van you rented, how you got everything into the apartment, and how you got it all to fit in said moving van. You’ve already solved the puzzle once, so save your future self the headache of having to do it all over again.
Do you have your own moving tips? Share them in the comments below.
We’ve posted in the past about security deposits, spring cleaning, and other tips for renters. This week, we’re going hyper focused: how to maintain an acrylic bathtub. Why? Because a lot of tubs are acrylic now, and keeping acrylic clean requires slightly different methods from porcelain or enamel. Plus, the return of a renter’s full security deposit depends largely on how clean the rental is after they vacate it, and the bathroom (along with the kitchen) is one of the places renters tend to lose most of their security deposit.
Our main point is prevention: the cleaner you keep your tub for the duration of your lease, the easier it will be to get it downright squeaky upon move-out. This is especially important if your tub is acrylic, a porous material that stains more easily than others but also requires gentler cleaning methods.
Deposits from hard water and soap scum are the main culprits of tub stains. To prevent these from building up, rinse your tub with warm water after each use and have a squeegee or rag handy for wiping it dry. Bonus: this keeps grout clean and mold free, too.
Weekly cleanings are paramount to protecting your acrylic tub, but you don’t need heavy duty products. You could use dish soap, a mixture of vinegar and water, or even shampoo. Don’t use abrasive scrubbing pads, as this will scratch the acrylic. A plain old sponge will do just fine for regular cleanings. The final step of your weekly clean should always be a rinse with warm water followed by a wipe down with a rag or squeegee.
Be sure to include your tub surround—be it tile or acrylic—with all of the above maintenance measures.
For the Tough Stains
Comet, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, OxyClean, Scrubbing Bubbles, Lime-A-Way, CLR Cleaner, and the list of products goes on. Sure, these work great. But you know what else works? Vinegar, baking soda, borax, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar. Whether you’re making a paste from Comet powder or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, consistency and duration are key. Paste should be thick enough to stay put on a stain for an hour or more. Another method is to soak a clean white cloth in vinegar and lay it on top of the stain. You could also fill the tub with a mixture of hot water and vinegar until the stain is submerged, let it sit for several hours, then drain and scrub the tub.
A quick Google search will bring up all sorts of odd methods: dissolve laundry detergent powder, dishwasher detergent, or even denture cleaner in your tub filled with hot water. Scrub rust stains with toilet bowl cleaner. The lesson: think outside the box.
When it comes to soaking away stains, be patient. Find something else to do for the hour or more that the cleaner needs to soak. If the stain is still there, repeat the process. Make sure to follow the directions to the letter and soak for the maximum length suggested. If you have to re-soak, soak it longer the second time.
Once your stain has soaked and you’re ready to apply elbow grease, use a soft sponge, nothing abrasive.
When You Move Out
So you’ve been maintaining your tub meticulously for the duration of your lease, and now you’re moving. You take the time to clean everything thoroughly, including your tub. How do you make sure you’ve done everything right? How do you protect yourself? First, consult any pictures you may (should) have taken of the vacant apartment when you first signed the lease. Compare the picture of the tub before you started using it to the picture of how it is now. Do they look the same? Perfect! You’re all set to turn in your keys. If your tub has stains that weren’t there when you moved in, take a little more time to get rid of them. If you notice them, you can bet your landlord will too and take the cost of cleaning out of your security deposit.
Once you’re confident that everything is how it was when you first moved in, take pictures of everything all over again. These will serve as evidence in the event that you have a dispute over the return of your deposit. If, however, you’ve followed all your landlord’s instructions and left everything as clean as how you found it, you shouldn’t have any problems.