EducationSkills

As much as we hate to admit it sometimes, we can’t all be Superman or Superwoman. Finding the time to get daily necessities done, as well as doing things just for pure enjoyment and relaxation, can be difficult. Here are some ways I multitask with my busy college schedule!

1. Work Out Between Loads of Laundry

Believe it or not, having to do your laundry can actually be a useful way to manage your time. Instead of being that one person who leaves their load in the washing machine for hours on end until you’re finally out of class, set a timer for each load that you do. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in a 30-45 minute load. Personally, it’s usually a toss-up between napping and working out, but I usually like to try to get a little exercise into my day which can be difficult when piles of homework are calling your name. Try splitting up your workout to give you plenty of time to get a few sets done and take a breather. I try to split my workout into sections and do legs during one load and abs during another!

2. Brew Your Coffee While You Get Ready

The simplest trick is the book is over-looked way too often! I can’t survive my 8:30 AM class without a hot cup of coffee, but it can be difficult to find time when you’re rushing to get there because you wanted to sleep late. Instead, make your coffee first and go about your daily routine. This will also give your coffee some time to cool off so it isn’t boiling when you go to take a sip!

3. Call Your Family While Walking To Class

That 15 minute walk across campus can really make a difference. It can be difficult to find the time to keep your family up to date on your life while being away at school, but a quick catch up here and there while walking to class can easily make your day and their day and fit into both of your schedules. It also makes the walk there a little less lonely!

4. Your Cell Phone’s Speaker Is Your New Best Friend

Whenever I’m in my dorm room eating takeout, cleaning, or doing homework, I’ll try to call or FaceTime a friend to catch up! It’s the easiest thing to do and is multitasking at its finest. Plus, if you don’t understand something on your homework you can ask away!

5. Review Notes While Catching Up On Your Favorite TV Show

We all dread that night of studying before the next-morning-quiz. To make it a little more bearable, try binge-watching that show you’ve been meaning to catch up on and review your notes at the same time. During breaks you can quiz yourself on what you just went over!

Image: Startup Stock Photos

Health

The feeling that comes with knowing your laundry, kitchen, and bathroom are clean is something like intense joy. We often judge this cleanliness by what we smell: the smell of disinfectant. Bleach. Soap. Strangely tropical flowery fragrances that would never actually be in our apartments naturally.

What these smells actually tell us, though, is that we have replaced dirt and germs with chemicals and artificial substances. Replacing bacteria with these agents is sort of like replacing a stomachache with a headache – the unpleasantness is still there, just in a different form. We clean our little living spaces with chemicals that are unsafe to even inhale. What is up with that?

I’m not dissing our love of freshly cleaned chemical smell. I love it, too. I am saying, though, that there are some natural cleaning agents that actually get the job done better, and much more safely, than the commercial products to which we’ve become so accustomed.

Below are five natural cleaning products to replace commercial cleaners:

Task: laundry
Natural solution: soap nuts

I’m sorry, what? Soap nuts? That’s the reaction I often get to this.

Soap nuts, native to India and Nepal, are these little round berry things that grow on trees and do a fantastic cleaning job by releasing natural saponins to free dirt, oils, and stains from clothing. They are unscented and wonderful for those of us with sensitive skin and allergies. In fact, they’re used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis.

Not only that, but they clean incredibly well. I spilled red curry all over a new white shirt. In a moment of pure stupidity, I didn’t wash the shirt right away, leaving it to bask in all its curry-stained glory for two days. I felt defeated when I finally put it in the wash. To my surprise, it looked good as new after I took it out.

What you do is place around five soapnuts in a reusable muslin bag (which typically comes with the order) and place them in the washing machine. It’s not unsafe to put them in the dryer, but I prefer not to do that. The soap nuts can be reused for about five washes.

The best part? Soap nuts are completely non-toxic and can be composted when done, and they are pretty darn inexpensive. I love them, and order mine here, although Amazon and plenty of great retailers also carry them.

Task: dishes (in the dishwasher)
Natural solution: white vinegar

I know, I know. It sounds strange. But, if you want your dishes to actually be stain free and deep-cleaned, I’m telling you, this is how. Just put white vinegar in the dish soap slot and run the dishwasher. That’s it. They will be sparkling when they’re done, and the vinegar smell isn’t apparent when used in the dishwasher.

Task: quickly remove a stain from clothing or carpet
Natural solution: Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and water

I can’t tell you if it’s ok to use on fabrics that require dry cleaning – I’m going to assume it’s not. I can tell you that last time I spilled hot sauce down my cotton shirt (I’m messy, ok?) I put water and a little dab of Dr. Bronner’s almond castile soap on a tissue and wiped away the stain. It went away completely after wiping for around 20 seconds each with three damp/soapy tissues. It probably would have been quicker had I used a washcloth, but that would have made too much sense.

Castile soap is good to have around the house, too, as it has many uses, including washing dishes in the sink, as an ingredient in natural body washes and shampoos, and to hand wash delicate fabrics.

Task: maintain shower cleanliness
Natural solution: apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle makes a great everyday shower cleaning spray. I also like to add a few drops of lavender oil to remove the vinegar smell. You can use this as a quick toilet bowl cleaner, too, by spraying and letting it sit, or using a toilet brush. Add coconut oil, too, and lemon or lime juice for an extra cleaning kick.

Task: use an all-purpose cleaner in the bathroom and/or kitchen
Natural solution: coconut oil

Coconut oil is magical and life-changing. It has hundreds of fantastic uses, and it’s incredibly gentle and safe on skin. In fact, I use it as a face wash and body moisturizer every day. Aside from its gentleness, its cleansing properties are incredible.

Dampen a rag or sponge with coconut oil – it can be in liquid or soft form – and wipe down any surface that needs cleaning. The dirt will come right off; it’s amazing to watch.

Pretty amazing, and a little strange, that we can safely and naturally wash our faces with the same product we use to clean our showers, floors and countertops.

I hope these cleaning products help you replace the dangerous, nasty chemicals currently under your kitchen and bathroom sinks! I swear by each of them and have found success using them to keep my apartment clean. They’re great for dorms, too, because we all know those little rooms can get dirty. Happy cleaning!

Do you use any natural ingredients in cleaners? Share below!

Image: Umberto Salvignan