Unfuck Your Habitat

You're better than your mess.

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Challenge 3 just popped up for me and inspired an odd question: does anybody have UfYH-quality cleaning tips for water-restricted areas? Out here in CA, after the third too-dry year in a row, we've just had an official drought declared. While the water use cutbacks are still voluntary, that may not last and "fill the tub and sink with hot water" will be off the list in a hurry.
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

Give everything a good spray with the cleaner of your choice (my homemade favorite is vinegar, hot water, and a squirt of dish soap). Let it sit while you do everything else, then wet your mop (sponge mops work best for this, but whatever you have on hand is fine), then mop the shower walls and the tub, and use a sponge or rag to wipe down the sink. Minimal water usage and still effective.

That most stovetops on electric (and some gas) stoves lift up for cleaning? There’s a whole level underneath the burner pans. There’s usually a lever on the front of the stove, above the oven door, that releases the whole stovetop.

Yeah. You should probably clean that.

So, you’re moving. Fun! No, wait. The opposite of that. Moving sucks, but there are things you can do to make it suck maybe a little less.

  • If you can, start early. Don’t think, “Oh, my move is ages away. There’s nothing I can do this soon.” That is not good thinking. That is the kind of thinking that leaves you crying in the middle of your half-packed kitchen an hour before you have to load up the truck. If you know you’re moving, start now. Yes, right fucking now.
  • Gather supplies. Don’t worry if you can’t acquire ten zillion boxes all at once. For now, make sure you have at least a few boxes, some large garbage bags, a few permanent markers, packing tape, paper for wrapping breakables, more garbage bags, and plenty of water. Seriously. Stay hydrated.
  • Figure out your system. Lots of people will tell you to color code your boxes, or make a master list of box numbers and what’s in each one. However, we live in the real world where that kind of bullshit is just not going to happen. You do want to know what’s in your boxes, though, so my personal system is to write the room the box goes in on the outside of the box, and then a quick inventory of what’s in it, right on the box. So, rather than ten boxes that say “Kitchen,” your boxes will say, “Kitchen: gadgets drawer, plastic containers, wine accessories,” and “Kitchen: wine glasses and sangria pitcher.” Or whatever.
  • Because you’ve so awesomely started as early as you can, you can actually sort through stuff as you pack. DO NOT PACK ANYTHING THAT YOU KNOW YOU WILL NOT WANT OR USE. Do not move what will eventually become garbage. Toss, recycle, or donate those things that will not be coming with you to your new place.
  • Start with the stuff you don’t use often. If you can survive without it until your move, pack it up.
  • You can pack dishes and glasses and such before the last minute. Leave out one set of dishes, silverware, and glasses for each person in your household and pack the rest. In your final packing hours, pack all of that into one box and label it so you know to open it first so you have something to eat off of in your new place.
  • Work methodically. Start in one room, with one surface, shelf, or cabinet, and pack until the box is full and ready to be sealed and labeled. If you jump around a lot, you’re going to get frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Garbage bags work great for soft goods (pillows, clothes, whatnot); HOWEVER, make sure that they are clearly marked so they don’t end up in the trash. If you can get your hands on clear bags, even better.
  • TAKE BREAKS. Let me repeat that. TAKE BREAKS. Moving is overwhelming and shitty, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself throughout the process.
  • Once a box is packed, taped, and labeled, move it to a designated spot that’s near where the boxes will exit your current home. No sense in moving stuff twice.
  • Clean as you go. Once you have an area packed up, clean it, so you don’t have a last minute, total-home cleaning frenzy.
  • Work on packing every single day. Even if your move is far away, make it a goal to pack one box or work for 20 minutes every day. When you start missing days, it’s really hard to get back into the habit.
  • This is pretty common advice, but in case you haven’t heard it yet, pack a box that’s all the stuff you’ll need when you first arrive in your new place. Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, shower curtain liner, sheets, soap, etc. You don’t want to have to be tearing through boxes looking for that stuff after you’ve just moved. Trust me.
  • Once you’ve moved, unpack as thoroughly as possible. Avoid having boxes that stay unpacked for two years after you’ve moved. Just like when you were packing, work every day on unpacking. Aim for a box a day, and that means fully empty it, and break down and recycle or store the box.

You can do this. It’s a totally shitty process, but everyone goes through it, and if you’re prepared and give yourself time and a system, you’ll survive it. But you have to start now. Right now.

No, seriously.

SO MANY PEOPLE have done serious major unfucking lately, and IT’S AWESOME. I couldn’t be prouder. But once that initial high wears off, you need to focus on maintenance, or you’re going to end up right back where you started. I have a short list of things that, if you can make them habits, will prevent about 75% of the unfuckery that got you to the bad place to begin with. Bonus: most of these take one minute or less, and none are more than five minutes.

  • Put your shoes and clothes away at the end of the day. Clothes in the hamper or hung back up, and shoes back in their boxes or wherever they live.
  • Dishes: don’t let them hit the bottom of the sink. Wash them right away, or if you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, put them right in there. If you do this after using three or four dishes, you won’t get the terrifying pile of cookware and crockery.
  • Wipe down the surfaces in your bathroom every morning.
  • Put stuff back. This sounds so dumb, but when you take something out to use it, put it back when you’re done instead of leaving it on the counter or floor or wherever.
  • TRASH GOES IN THE TRASH CAN. If you don’t have a trash can, hang a bag off a door handle. TRASH DOES NOT BELONG STREWN WILLY-NILLY ABOUT THE ROOM. It goes in the trash can/bag.
  • When you come home, whether from shopping or a trip or work or school, put your bags away right away, before you do anything else.
  • Do laundry at regular intervals. For some people it’s once a week, for others, it’s more. And most importantly, NOTHING STAYS IN THE DRYER OR BASKET. Everything gets put away before you move on.

(via unfuckyourhabitat)


So I drink A LOT of tea—I’m honestly really sad I didn’t take before and after pictures here because I have this plastic Elizabeth Warren travel mug that I use for at least two cups of tea a day at work (and let’s be honest, that’s a conservative estimate), and it was really, really stained. I showed my brother and he was suitably impressed, like, that is years of grime there. And I’m like, no, Niko, see it’s an Elizabeth Warren mug that Ben gave me when he was working on her campaign. In November.

I guess what I am saying is that this mug was really, really stained, and I am mildly ashamed of myself.

Anyway! I’d seen on Unfuck Your Habitat that denture cleaner worked on this, and I was curious! So I bought a bunch of denture cleaners (apparently you cannot just buy one or two, you must buy at least 70) and Niko and I did an experiment.

I was actually really disappointed, because I wanted to pour out the cleaner after the three minutes and there was GLORIOUS SPARKLING WHITENESS like on commercials, but instead there was no change, and we were like, I guess that doesn’t work!

But then I scrubbed it with my finger, and the grime came away! And when I went at it with a sponge, it was all over.

So, thanks, denture cleaner! And I have enough of you it will probably last until I actually need dentures, as a bonus.

You can use the zillion extra tablets for a lot of stuff: water bottles, the toilet bowl, the coffee pot, any container that has an opening too small to fit a sponge into; the possibilities are endless!

Feeling lazy, but your bathtub and shower are gross? Fill the tub up with hot water and some cleaner, let it sit, then use your mop to scrub the walls and tub. So much easier than a sponge or a scrub brush.

Top ten cleaning products:

  1. Vinegar
  2. Baking soda
  3. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  4. Bar Keepers Friend
  5. Comet
  6. A steam mop
  7. Swiffer dry mop (you can replace the disposable cloths with a microfiber cloth)
  8. Scrub brushes
  9. Goo Gone
  10. Rubbing alcohol

Top ten uses for vinegar:

  1. Drain volcano! (Pour baking soda down drain. Pour vinegar over it. Watch magic happen.)
  2. Add a cup to your laundry to get rid of musty odors and fabric softener build-up, especially on towels.
  3. Microwave a bowl of vinegar and water to make cleaning the inside of your microwave a zillion times easier.
  4. Run your dishwasher empty with a cup of vinegar, face up, to get rid of stains, smells, and mildew.
  5. Descale your coffeepot or tea kettle.
  6. Take the sting out of sunburn. No, seriously.
  7. Clean your fridge, especially the cruddy rubber seals.
  8. Boil a pan of vinegar and citrus on the stove to get rid of lingering stink.
  9. Kill weeds. (Will also kill plants that are not weeds, so use carefully.)
  10. Put it in a spray bottle and use it to clean EVERYTHING.

Top ten general tips:

  1. Laundry and dishes have three steps: wash, dry, and PUT IT AWAY, GODDAMMIT.
  2. Direct sunlight will clear up mustiness in almost anything.
  3. Denture tablets are awesome for cleaning water bottles or stained tea cups.
  4. If you have a ridiculous amount of paper to shred, most office supply stores will shred for you (they charge by the pound), and many places have “community shreds,” where you bring your stuff and they shred it in front of you, either for free or a nominal charge. Google “community shred [your area].”
  5. Before you start cooking, fill your sink with hot soapy water. Chuck your prep dishes in as you go (except knives. Leave those off to the side). Once your food is cooking, wash up! Clean as you go.
  6. Ribbons on the duvet cover.
  7. Don’t put it down, put it away.
  8. Take pictures! Your brain doesn’t always “read” everything that’s in a room when you look at it, but a picture will let you notice things you might have otherwise missed.
  9. Do the stuff you’re dreading the most first. You’ll feel like a rockstar.
  10. Bring your empty hangers with you when the dryer’s done. Hang stuff up right from the dryer. Don’t give it the chance to languish in the laundry basket.
  • Doing the dishes is generally not difficult. It’s often tedious, and sometimes overwhelming, but it’s not hard. Suck it up and do them.
  • If you’re facing a mountain of dishes, deal with it the UfYH way: 20 minutes at a time. Wash for 20 minutes, then take a 10-minute break to let things dry a little, come back, start your 20 minutes again by drying and putting away the clean dishes, and keep going.
  • If you have a sink full of dishes, try (if you can reach the drain) stoppering up the sink and filling it with hot soapy water and letting it sit for an hour or so before you get going to loosen up some of the crud.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, do not let your clean dishes languish in it while your dirty dishes pile up in the sink. Run it overnight? Put it away while your morning coffee is being brewed or your toast is toasting. Just like with laundry, “put it away” is a crucial, yet often overlooked, step for dishes.
  • Before you start cooking, fill your sink with hot soapy water. As you go along, toss your prep dishes in there. When there’s some time (boiling time, or after stuff is in the oven), wash what you’ve used so far. Your goal is to have your prep dishes done by the time your food is finished cooking.
  • Once your dish situation is under control, try to make it a goal to never let dirty dishes touch the bottom of the sink (and I don’t mean because there’s so much else in there!). Breakfast dishes, coffee cups, snack dishes, whatever: take the five seconds to wash them or put them in the dishwasher RIGHT THEN rather than using your sink as a waystation.

(via unfuckyourhabitat)

My shower head is covered in a hard substance and is blocking some of the holes. What is it, and more importantly, how do I get it off?
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

It’s mineral deposits, and you can get it off with vinegar or CLR. If your shower head detaches, just soak it for a few hours. If not, saturate a paper towel with whatever cleaner you’re using, put it in a plastic sandwich or storage bag, arrange the bag so the paper towel covers the affected part of the showerhead, and use a rubber band to keep it in place.

dear brilliant Unfuck Your Habit, although my anxiety tends towards order and cleanliness, I have found your blog incredibly helpful for not being overwhelmed by those bigger tasks (oh hai clothes closet, I'm looking at you) and reminding myself to stay on top of those smaller tasks so they don't mount. So first off, thank you! Secondly, I get it, I get it, laundry is wash, fold, put away. Any tips for those nasty fitted sheets? I cannot fold them and they fuck my linen closet and my put away.
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

When folding fitted sheets, you want to end up with all four elastic corners tucked into each other. SO:

  • Fold the sheet in half, either way.
  • Tuck the corners in to each other so that your top two corners are nestled together, as are your bottom two.
  • Fold again in half, the other way. All four corners should be in the same place.
  • Tuck them so that they’re all facing in the same direction.
  • You now have what is roughly a square.
  • Fold the sheet in thirds lengthwise, with the side with the corners being your first fold.
  • Fold in thirds widthwise, so now your corners are hidden in the middle and you have a nice smooth folded sheet.


So this weekend we didn’t have anything planned, besides a standard “recharge by hanging around at home”, and I took this opportunity to finally get som Unfucking done in our house. Now, before I found Unfuck Your Habitat I would have started a marathon cleaning session on Saturday, cleaned until it hurt too bad to continue and then collapsed with less than half of the place done.

No more.

Together me and Husband managed to get the floors vacuumed, windows in living room cleaned (these are the ones we see most often so therefor most important), bathroom wiped down, kitchen tidied and laundry done. All of this over two days with plenty of rest (read: knitting and gaming) in between to keep aggravating our shoulders and backs. 

This is not all of the apartment, not even near, there are still some spaces that are utterly cluttered, but it’s something and it makes me feel better. 

Ending this by sharing my window cleaning tips, best way to get them clean without having to use window cleaner (makes me sneeze) and still get no stripyness:

  • Fill a bucket with warm water, add a touch of ordinary dish washing soap (and when I say a touch I mean a squirt or so in 5 liters of water)
  • Soak a large sponge or rag and lightly squeeze the water out of it. You want it to be wet but not to drip all over the floor.
  • Wipe down the windows, you want them to get really wet to dissolve all the gunk on there, rub on any stubborn spots like bird shit or masses of fingerprints. 
  • Take a dry fabric, micro fibre rag, dish towel or old t-shirt and wipe the windows dry. I like to drape it over my hand and then start at the upper left corner, wipe to the upper right, down a hand width and then to the left again repeating the same pattern until I reach the bottom. This gets rid of the water and with that the possibility of stripes.
  • Do the same for the outside of the window.
  • Extra bonus round of you have double or triple glass windows, separate the different layers and do the same. Usually not very necessary (depending on the air quality where you live).

Easy, fast and environmentally friendly. I thank my very brief stint as a cleaner at a hotel for this technique. 

I’d post a gif to celebrate my unfucking but I’ve already “borrowed” enough time from work so I’ll end here. 

Laundry and dishes have three steps:

  1. Wash
  2. Dry

They can be used to clean:

  • Reusable water bottles
  • Stained coffee or tea cups
  • Stained toilet bowls
  • Flower vases with residue inside
  • Tomato sauce-stained Tupperware

Every time I get an ask involving a stain where my answer is “rubbing alcohol” (ballpoint pen, hair dye, etc.), someone always pipes in that you should use hairspray instead. Here’s the thing: hairspray works on stains because of the alcohol content in it. However, it also has a lot of added ingredients, like the polymers or gums that make it sticky, and fragrance, and sometimes silicone for shine and water-resistance. Those added ingredients can leave behind their own residues, and can interfere with stain lifting.

So, pick up a bottle of rubbing alcohol. It’s a buck or two. Comes in handy.

iamtheeness replied to your post: Any tips for getting those horrible orange pasta sauce stains off of Tupperware?

that’s amazing, the denture tablets. I’d have never thought.

Also helpful for water bottles and coffee- and tea-stained cups.