Spring Cleaning: Top 10 Places We Forget to Clean

1. Under the Stove

I have avoided cleaning under my stove for quite a while now, mainly because I know it’s going to be terrifying. And, well, how am I supposed to get anything cleaned with a half-inch opening to do so? However, if you do a lot of cooking on the stove, food, grease, grime, and debris all find a way down in those crevices between your stove and countertops.

Move your stove forward in order to see and access the debris underneath. Another way to clean in those crevices is to take a regular butter knife and wrap a slightly damp cloth around it. Pull the knife through the cracks a few times to remove grease and gunk.

2. Toothbrush Holder

It’s easy to remember to switch out your toothbrush for a new one (most of the time), but cleaning your toothbrush holder? That’s a different story.

Soak your toothbrush holder in three parts water and one part bleach for about an hour. Rinse it with clean water and then let it drip dry upside down on a towel.

3. Ceiling Fan Blades

I didn’t realize how much dust had accumulated on my ceiling fan until I turned it on for the first time in the spring. Dust rained down on me like the first snow of the winter season. Disgusting.

I strongly recommend that you clean your fan blades with a dust cloth before turning it on. Otherwise, you’ll end up vacuuming dust up from all over the room– take it from me.

4. Dishwasher

You regularly use your dishwasher to clean your dinnerware, but when was the last time your dishwasher got a good wipe down? If you’re anything like me, the answer is never.

Run your dishwasher with some dishwashing detergent and vinegar. But make sure there are no dishes inside– letting the appliance go through a cycle without anything inside it can help rinse the interior and rid it of any bacteria.

5. Garbage Can

That disgusting smell in your kitchen? It may not be coming from the garbage— the culprit could be the can itself. Empty it out and use a bit of soap and water to rinse and clean the interior. When it’s fully dry, sprinkle a bit of baking soda in the bottom– this will help absorb odors in the future and keep your kitchen smelling pleasant.

6. Knife Block

If you don’t clean your knife block every once in awhile, you might as well just store your knives in the garbage. You may not realize it, but grease and food particles can easily sneak into the cuts of your knife block, and they’re not coming out.

Take a hand-held vacuum and try to suck any excess particles out. If that method isn’t working, you can stick a 12-inch pipe cleaner inside to get rid of any dust or food that might have gotten stuck in there over time.

7. Under the Bed

I keep my suitcases under my bed for easy access whenever I decide to head home for the weekend. I recently pulled a suitcase out and 10 different and terrifyingly large clumps of dust came with it– not exactly what I wanted to pack.

It’s so easy to forget to clean under our beds because we usually have no reason to look under there. Take a gander under your bed frame– what you see might be scarier than the monsters you thought were hiding there when you were a kid.

Take out anything you might be hiding under your bed, like suitcases or plastic storage containers. Then, if possible, move your bed to make it easy to wipe those floors clean. If you can’t move your bed, you may want to use a mop or a broom with a long handle to get to those hard-to-reach places.

8. Light Switches

You touch your light switches every single day, so think about how much bacteria can accumulate within a very short amount of time. Uhh … a whole lot. Your spring cleaning checklist won’t be complete until you use an antibacterial wipe to go over each light switch in your apartment.

9. Salt and Pepper Shakers

Before you season your food, clean your shakers. There are lots of hands that make contact with these items, which can easily spread germs. Wipe them down with antibacterial wipes to feel better about seasoning your food.

10. Pillows

It’s natural to toss your pillowcases in your load of laundry each week. But how often do your actual pillows get a good cleaning? Read the care label on your pillow for instructions on how to clean it. If you’ve torn that tag off like me, simply toss your pillows in the washer and use warm water on a gentle cycle.


Slumps – we all go through them. Professional athletes go on cold streaks, authors get writer’s block, and musicians can hit a creative wall. For seniors who haven’t taken a break from being students for the past 12 years, burning out is a real problem that many students face at some point in their academic careers. Whether you’re in high school, college, graduate school, or already working, losing focus and motivation can seriously impact your work output and your personal outlook. Here are a few ways to avoid that hollow, distracted feeling before you spiral into the death grip of procrastination.

Have a Plan of Attack

Creating a plan to follow beforehand can help focus and drive immensely. By giving yourself goals to complete, you’re most likely going to increase your motivation to finish. Some people use visual cues, such as to-do lists, study schedules, or a list of materials, to really help mentally prepare them for the study challenges ahead. Sometimes, studying smart is the best way to stave off procrastination.

Find Your Spot

Location is key when you’re studying. While it’s important to relax, a lot of people fall victim to actually being too relaxed. It’s important not to study in an environment that’s conducive to sleep or distraction (e.g., many students don’t study in their rooms or on their beds, since they’re only used to relaxing and sleeping in that environment). Aside from the library, quiet coffee shops or bookstores can be great places to increase focus and get work done.

Break It Off

Creating a mountain of work can sometimes be too daunting to start. If you know you have an exam coming up, start studying earlier. Breaking up your studying into more manageable pieces can help ease the burden and give you smaller tasks to accomplish. Getting on a roll and gaining momentum by finishing those smaller assignments can help you mentally avoid procrastination. Also, smaller tasks can help you study specific materials at specific times instead of frantically trying to study everything at once

Remove Distractions

Separating your studies from your hobbies can cut down on distractions and time spent working. Websites, TV, video games, and even music can really take your mind off of studying (we’re looking at you, Facebook). Temporarily blocking websites or deactivating accounts, even just for a day, will force you to avoid those distractions. Certain sites will even maintain your account while you temporarily deactivate it, almost like they know you’ll be crawling back after your brief stay away. Studies have shown that classical music can actually “influence the students’ motivation to remain focused” during lectures or study times.

Take Time Off

If time permits, take a day or night off. We often stress ourselves out by worrying about the work we have to accomplish and focusing on the negative aspects. If you can, give yourself time to do the things you love, even just for an afternoon and evening. Take your mind off your studies and give your brain a chance to recuperate, and it can actually help prevent procrastination.

Ultimately, studying can be extremely difficult. Not only is there a lot of material, it’s not always the most intriguing information. Sometimes, though, the little things can help – by studying more efficiently, removing distractions, and planning ahead, you can avoid procrastination and feel more comfortable about your studying.

18 Things We Wish We Knew When We Were Starting College

Freshmen orientation. You can almost smell the nerves in the room, but you’re not worried. Dorm room, check. Class schedule, check. Textbooks, check. Watching your siblings and friends go through their college years has prepared you for the years ahead. Surely there were bumps and bruises, but there’s bound to be people on campus to help you avoid making life changing mistakes and make the most of your time at the school. Right?

Here at the Department of Education, we asked some of our interns for any advice they would extend to incoming freshmen to make their college years un-regrettable…


“Do not restrict yourself to the lectures and textbooks for your education. Most of your education and discovery as a student will occur outside of the classroom; pursuing your passionate interests and engaging in lively conversations with your peers. Your role in academia is not to consume knowledge, but to actively contribute to it.”

Isaiah Kamrar (Southern Oregon University)
Intern at the Office of Educational Technology


“Get off campus! Study abroad, take advantage of opportunities to have these experiences. The funding is out there, just a matter of going out and finding it. I had never been abroad before coming to college, and now I am preparing to go abroad for the third time, this time to South Korea. Languages open doors, make you marketable, and are so much fun. Have a great first year!”

Ruth Sangree (Mount Holyoke College)
Intern at the Office of Postsecondary Education


“Fear is for those who don’t get out muchtry everything and always be willing to say “yes.””

Nathan Baker (Cornell University)
Intern at the Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs


“Get as involved as possible on campus and don’t be afraid to reach out to faculty because they are always more than happy to get to know you and help you out.”

Jasmin Chavez (McDaniel College)
Intern at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics


“Get off campus! Learn about and immerse yourself in the communities and in the world around you. Colleges often have great resources and connections to local volunteer opportunities and global fellowships. Figure out what you’re interested in, do some research, and get out there!”

Jenny Jin (American University)
Intern at the Office of Early Learning


“Try to find a way to get off campus for a weekend every now and then, whether it be taking a trip with a team/club or with a group of friends from your dorm. It’s super refreshing and you’ll appreciate campus even more when you get back.”

Jackson Paul (Middlebury College)
Intern at the Office of Communications and Outreach


“As a freshman, you don’t need to know exactly (or even remotely) what major you want to complete. You DO need to pick a goal, make a plan, and stick to it. That could mean trying at least two new subjects, joining a club or activity, or even just completing general education pre-reqs. When you are working towards a goal that enriches your experience, you’ll learn new things, gain confidence and feel less topsy-turvy. Make college work for youeven if that means moving at your own pace. It’s not a sprint, it’s a long, winding marathon!”

Taylor Myers (University of California, Berkeley)
Intern at the Office of Postsecondary Education


“Look for the offices, resources, and staff that will help you be successful during your time in that school.”

Jessica Andino (Georgetown University)
Intern at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics



“Get your hands dirty with projects and initiatives!  You don’t have to get paid for it, but experience goes a long way. It’s important to never let people’s negativity be the reason you defer from your dreams. If you stay true to yourself, you’ve already succeeded.”

Michaelle Andre (Bowie State University)
Intern at Federal Student Aid


“Don’t stress the little things. College is an amazing time, so have as much fun as you can!”

Michael Martin (Le Moyne College)
Intern at Federal Student Aid

11 – 17:

11. Focus on what is within your control. Focusing on what is not within your control will hinder your ability to positively influence what is within your control.

12. Do not compare yourself to others.

13. Quickly familiarize yourself with all the resources your campus has to offer.

14. Reach out to those sources as soon as you feel you need someone to hear you out or help you understand a difficult concept covered in class.

15. Really try not to fall behind in class; catching up might be more difficult than you imagine.

16. Early on, get in the habit of staying active, making time for a good night’s rest, and eating well. This will help you deal with the stress and stay healthy (beware of the freshman 15!)

17. Maintain and build strong relationships. You might be tempted to focus all your energy on your new friends but don’t forget those that have helped you get to where you are.”

Sarah Torres (University of Pennsylvania)
Intern at Federal Student Aid


“Be open-minded and flexible. No matter how tedious some of your tasks may be, treat everything with high priority and of equal importance.”

Kaileine Najacque (George Mason)
Intern at Federal Student Aid

Cheap (Or free) ways to get the most out of summer break!

1) Get into the great outdoors

Whether it be a local park, lake or hiking trail: get out there and make the most of the sunshine!

2) Stop by local flea markets/garage sales

You never know what kind of treasures you can find, and it’s a cheap way to furnish your home for the following year!

3) Attend summer fairs and festivals

Check your local listings on free events or concerts coming to your town. It’s a great way to try some new eats while taking in some live music!

4) Take a road trip with your friend

Now is the perfect time to jump in that car and do a little exploring! Visit an old friend, head to a museum, go camping, the options are endless!

5) Check for student discount events

Many movie theaters, sports teams, and businesses have “College nights” where you can get great discounts for showing your student id.

6) Beef up your resume

Summer is a great time to add some bullet points to that resume whether it be through interning, job shadowing, or volunteering for a cause that is important to you.

7) Get active

Use your free time to take care of your body and get in some exercise! Try something new like spinning or Pilates, join a local sports team, go golfing or bike riding. Set goals that motivate you like signing up for 5K! For extra motivation, have a friend join you!


Spring is right around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to do some spring cleaning! Here are a few of our top spring cleaning tips:

1. Get rid of old paperwork, notes and textbooks
No one needs clutter from last semester. Go through your space and remove all the unnecessary documents from last semester. Also, check with your local campus bookstore to see if they have a book buyback program or sell them online!

2. Go through your kitchen
There are enough dates to worry about in college and usually expiration dates are not high on the priority list. Go through your cupboards and fridge and throw away all expired food! Trust us, it’s worth the time.

3. Clean out your closest
Are some of your clothes looking a little worn out or maybe getting a little too snug? Now is the perfect time to get rid of unused items and free up more closet space. Try selling your clothes at a local consignment shop like Plato’s Closet for a little extra money in your pocket!

4. Do some light cleaning in your apartment
Turn on some tunes, bust out the broom and get to work! A little dusting, vacuuming and rearranging can make a huge difference in your space! If you’re really looking to brighten up your space, a couple of new throw pillows or a bright flower arrangement will do the trick!


The holiday season is upon us and we can see the festive décor popping up all over the place. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous for our tenants. Here are a couple of tips for staying safe this holiday season:

1. Avoid fire hazards
The U.S Fire Administration states that more home fires occur during the winter than in any other season. Space heaters, fireplaces (real or fake) and decorations are usually to blame. Be sure to only plug one heating source into an outlet at a time and never leave candles burning or lights plugged in for extended periods of time!

2. Be careful outside
We all know what it’s like to have an ice filled walkways during the winter season. Keep your walkways clear of snow as much as possible and coat stubborn iced spots with inexpensive outdoor salt.

3. Theft prevention
Sadly, the holidays are a prime time for burglars to break into apartments and homes. Keep your doors and windows locked at all times and whenever possible leave your travel plans off social media. Also, make sure to break down any boxes you receive as gifts (game consoles, TVs, laptops, etc.) and dispose of all extra packaging into the trash or recycling.

4. Renters insurance
If you haven’t already invested in renters insurance, now is a great time to start. It’s relatively cheap per month and SO worth it. Renters insurance covers your personal property and may have some additional liability or living expense coverage.