Prep work

Since Mr. D is off to parts east in four short weeks, we’re starting the process of getting all packed up. (We needed to start doing this anyway, since our landlord is putting our apartment on the market and asked us to “declutter” as much as possible. Never mind that she didn’t offer to pay for a storage unit or anything so we could do that, she just asked us to stage it for her. Huh?) I ran by Home Depot yesterday for moving boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper, and tape.

Anyway, now that we’re getting started, I realize how much we have to do. We’ve been in this apartment for three years and we’ve collected a lot of stuff in that time. I realized a few months ago that I’ve personally lived in this apartment longer than I’ve lived anywhere else since I graduated from college. Actually, since I left home for college. I’ve lived in 8 apartments in the last 11 years, folks — and if I’ve lived here for THREE of those years, that tells you something about how long I lived in the other 7 places. Anyway, given that this place has been my home longer than any other place in my adult life, and given that I inherited my maternal grandfather’s propensity to be a packrat…well, there’s just a lot of accumulated crap around here.

Frankly, it’s a little daunting. But we’re facing a deadline, and deadlines always help me get stuff done. I want to clean out the office closet today and into this week, and then pack up the lion’s share of books, movies, CD and other assorted clutter (knicknacks, pictures, doodads, the like) by the end of next weekend. Along the way, we’ll do a nice deep clean on the place — run the self-cleaning function on the oven, do another round of ammonia cleaning on the burner grates, wipe down the walls, heavy-mop the floors, and deep clean the rugs. Honestly, once it gets clean, it’s easy enough to keep it tidy. It’s just getting it there that seems overwhelming.

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Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up

My landlord is planning on selling our apartment after our lease is up. Well, I suppose she’s hoping to “sell” it—have a contract—before our lease is up so that closing can happen right after she sells it. In any case, she is going to put it on the market some time this summer. She can start showing it (or have her agent show it) starting in July.

I looked around the apartment after learning this and decided that I needed to do some serious cleaning in preparation for this. First on the list was the burner grates and drip pans on the stove. I cook a lot, and they get pretty gross. Every month or so, I scrub them with SOS steel wool pads, but there’s always little bits of cooked-on grime that just doesn’t come off, no matter how much I scrub.

And then I learned about the power of ammonia. Apparently ammonia fumes—just the fumes!—are enough to clean baked-on, caked-on grime! You just dump your item in a sealable bag with a splash of household ammonia, seal everything up for a few hours or overnight, and then wipe clean.

(And aside: did you know you can’t get ammonia at Home Depot? Yeah, I didn’t know that either. But you can, apparently get it at the grocery store or at Walgreens. That’s just weird, people.)

So I gave the ammonia thing a whirl yesterday. I put two drip pans at a time in a Ziploc bag (a big, gallon-sized freezer bag), threw in a quarter cup or so of ammonia, sealed up the bag and let it sit for a couple of hours. And our drip pans look AMAZING. I did use an SOS pad to wipe off some of the grime—the green scrubby sponge I was using didn’t have much scrub left—but there was very little elbow grease involved.

I’m pretty stoked about all of this. It’s going to make getting this place ready for our landlord to put on the market so much easier than I expected.