Getting your first apartment can be a heady and exciting time, especially if you are fresh out of college and finally living on your own sans roommates. But your own apartment can quickly become a bit of disorganized nightmare within a few months. Here are ten tips from a professional organizer who works with a Los Angeles based junk removal service.

1. Organization Starts with A Vacant Apartment

When you rent your first apartment you’ve got an awesome opportunity. You’re starting your post-collegiate adult life largely clutter free. Your first apartment is a blank slate (mostly) that you can fill or not fill with stuff. So when you are shopping for furniture for that new apartment, remember less is usually more.  

Also take the time to buy organizing solutions like racks, holders, and drawer organizers. Life is a lot easier if you start off organized.

2. Start Recycling

Most modern apartments have some sort of recycling program, either a separate dumpster for recyclables or individual blue bins for recyclables. Most of the time you don’t have to sort your recyclables, just separate them from your regular trash. If your apartment building doesn’t have a recycling program, talk to your building management about setting one up. 

3. Buy Only What You Need (Or Things You REALLY want)

When I moved into my first apartment I was extremely dedicated to the idea of keeping a fully stocked bar at all times. As part of my effort to keep a bar to rival Don Draper I had every bar glass ever made, including the ones bars don’t use anymore (sour glasses anyone?). And you know how many of those glasses got used? Four. Maybe eight on a big day. This taught me something:

Buy the things you only need, or the drew things you really really want. When you are shopping ask yourself, “Do I need this? Do I want this? Will I use this? What am I willing to throw out to replace this?” If you don’t need something, don’t buy it.

4. Know when to Hold ‘Em

We live in a disposable culture, especially when it comes to clothes. A shirt gets ripped at the seam our first instinct is to throw it out and buy five new shirts to replace it. You can save money in the long run and keep your wardrobe under control by mending and properly cleaning clothes. 

5. Know When to Throw ‘Em

While you can have your clothes mended, fixed, and even rewoven there are certain things in your life that just aren’t worth saving. No, you aren’t going to fix that toaster and know you aren’t going to fix that lamp. Instead the broken stuff you insist your going someday is just going to pile up in a closet. So know when to part ways with your beloved toaster and just buy a new one.

6. Love Your Boyfriend, Not His Toaster

Continuing on with the toaster metaphor … At some point you’re going to meet someone, and fall in love, and they’ll want to move into your apartment because its a lot bigger than theirs. And the day after that special someone moves in you’ll discover your kitchen populated with two of everything. Your toaster, his / her toaster, his/ her dishes and your dishes, his / her silverware and your silverware, etc. 

Your first exercise as a couple should be to pair down those possessions into one of everything. Consider it your first relationship challenge!

7. Establish Cleaning Habits Early

Cleaning is about routine. Don’t clean when things are beyond livable. Instead establish a cleaning schedule. Clean your bathroom(s) on a certain day. Clean your kitchen on another day. Appointment yet another day as a time for cleaning your kitchen and vacuuming your living room. If you live by a schedule your life gets easier, simpler, and cleaner.

8. Get Rid of Bulky Items the Right Way

Sooner or later you will add buying a major appliance, like a refrigerator, to your list of first. And the reason will most likely be that your old refrigerator finally died on you. When this time comes make sure your dispose of bulky items properly. No, hauling a television or refrigerator to the curb isn’t proper disposal. Call your city’s sanitation department or a private hauling service to have your bulky item haul away.

9. Be Careful with Chemicals

Chemicals like paints and certain types of household cleaners are considered hazardous materials. So practice judicious use of these chemicals. Instead of using harsh, chemical cleaners, for instance, use a biodegradable cleaner. If you paint your apartment make sure you dispose of leftover paints appropriately. You can typically dispose of paint at a designated drop off center.

10. Don’t Get Sloppy

It is easy to get sloppy or messy. Six months into your new job and you’re sleep deprived and under-appreciated. You toss your clothes on the floor, you leave your dishes soaking in the sink, you don’t vacuum when you are supposed to vacuum. Don’t get sloppy. Stick to your routine.

These ten tips only scratch the surface of how to organize and keep your apartment (or, in the future, home) clean and junk free. If you want to read some more helpful hints or tips about organizing, cleaning, and hauling away junk and garbage click here.