Your Teen’s First College Apartment: Tips, Tricks & Hacks They’ll Need to Know

Make your teen's transition from a dorm to an apartment less stressful and more fun!

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Your Teen’s First College Apartment: Tips, Tricks & Hacks They’ll Need to Know

Written by: Katy M. Clark

My son is moving into his first apartment soon. Yup… he’s transitioning from living in a tiny, cramped dorm room to enjoying more space (ahem… and more responsibility) in his very own apartment.

To prepare, we downloaded a great first apartment checklist to make sure he didn’t forget anything that he might need or want and we collected gently used furniture, kitchenware, and accessories to keep our budget in check (because no one says you have to buy everything brand spanking new.) He’s also been coordinating with his roommates to determine who will be bringing what so they spread the responsibility and buying among everyone.

Except, there’s A LOT more that goes into moving into an apartment than buying a few pots and pans, arranging furniture, and turning on the electricity.

My young adult will be in charge of tasks like buying groceries, cooking meals for himself, cleaning the toilet (yeah… he’s dreading that), getting wrinkles out of his clothes, and figuring out how to silence a squeaky door. That’s where these 40+ apartment-living tips, tricks, and hacks will come in handy!

If you have a teen whose transitioning from dorm life to apartment life, these simple, handy hacks are sure to make your young adult’s transition so much easier and less stressful. (Heck, you might even find a tip or two that makes your life easier!)

Your Teen’s First College Apartment: Tips, Tricks & Hacks They’ll Need to Know


BUT FIRST… Download our FREE “My First Apartment Checklist” Printable!


(Just a heads up, we tried to think of everything your young adult might need OR want. Don’t feel as though you have to buy everything on the list… just pick and choose what’s important to them!)



  1. Put a wooden spoon over a pot of boiling water and it won’t boil over.
  2. Stop tears from flowing when cutting onions by placing a wet paper towel on the cutting board under the onions. 
  3. Get rid of strong odors on your fingers and hands after chopping onions, garlic, etc. by rubbing your hands with a stainless steel object (like a spoon) under cold water.
  4. Always open bags of sugar, flour, or coffee over the sink. Anything stuck in the folds of the bag will spill out into the sink rather than your counter or floor. 
  5. Put sugar in the water when you boil corn on the cob. This brings out the sweetness of the corn.
  6. Frustrated peeling the shell off a hard-boiled egg? Put a splash of white vinegar in the boiling water. 
  7. Use powdered sugar instead of flour when rolling out sugar cookies. 
  8. For a tastier grilled cheese use mayonnaise instead of butter on the bread. 
  9. Peel and freeze any overripe, brown bananas for use later in smoothies and baked goods. 
  10. Cut brownies with a plastic knife, which is naturally non-stick and won’t tear them.
  11. Use rotisserie chicken in recipes as it can be cheaper and easier to use than fresh or frozen chicken. You can also freeze any leftover chicken for use in another meal.
  12. Keep berries fresh longer by storing them in a container lined with paper towels. Leave the container cracked to allow excess moisture to escape. 
  13. Make stale cookies taste fresh again with a piece of bread. Just put a slice in the container with the cookies and they’ll absorb the moisture from the bread and become soft again. 
  14. Avoid brown or burnt bottoms on cookies, rolls, and biscuits by baking them on two baking sheets stacked on top of each other. This allows the bottoms of the baking sheets to absorb the heat at a slower rate.


  1. Place an open box of baking soda inside the fridge to keep it smelling fresh and absorb odors. 
  2. Put a bowl or cup of vinegar on the kitchen counter overnight to remove food smells after cooking. Vinegar’s acetic acid neutralizes alkaline odors.
  3. You can also use vinegar to clean a microwave. Heat a glass or ceramic mug filled with one cup of vinegar for one minute. Then leave it in the microwave for five minutes to steam clean the inside and make it easier to wipe clean. 
  4. Disinfect wet sponges by microwaving them for one minute. 
  5. Or run sponges through a dishwasher cycle on the top rack to clean and disinfect them. 
  6. Pour three capfuls of mouthwash down a drain and the same antibacterial properties that fight bad breath will kill off any stinky germs in the sink.
  7. Clean burnt pans with a dishwasher tab. Rinse the dirty pan with hot water then gently scrub the pan under warm water with the dishwasher tab until the yucky stuff lifts off. 
  8. Wipe away coffee stains in mugs with baking soda. Simply sprinkle baking soda into the mug and scrub with a wet rag.
  9. Make dull flatware sparkle with aluminum foil. Just run cutlery and a ball of foil through a dishwasher cycle. A chemical reaction between the foil and dishwasher detergent will brighten up those knives and forks. 
  10. Prevent red tomato sauce stains on plastic food storage containers by spraying Pam Cooking Spray on the inside before adding leftovers.


  1. Steam wrinkles out of clothes by tossing items in the dryer for ten minutes with a few Ice cubes. 
  2. Or, substitute a wet washcloth for the ice cubes for a similar wrinkle-steaming effect. 
  3. Another wrinkle-reducing tip is to hang clothes in the bathroom while taking a hot shower so the steam relaxes the wrinkles.
  4. Avoid using dryer sheets with towels as they will decrease the towel’s absorbency.
  5. Freshen smelly, musty towels by adding one cup of white vinegar to the load.
  6. Use Dawn dishwashing liquid to get grease stains out of clothes. Dab the Dawn on the stain, rub it in, and let it sit overnight, then wash as usual.
  7. Put shaving cream on a stain ASAP. After letting it sit for 30 minutes, rinse and rub the stain which should vanish like magic.
  8. Add a dry towel to a load in the dryer and it’ll absorb excess moisture and speed the drying time. 
  9. To dry wet sneakers, whether they were washed or got caught in the rain, stuff them from toe to heel with newspaper to draw the moisture out. 
  10. Fold a sheet set’s fitted sheet, flat sheet, and extra pillowcase and tuck inside the other pillowcase. You’ll always have the sheet set together.


  1. Got squeaky doors? Rub a bit of cooking oil on the hinges. 
  2. Stash a bucket of cleaning supplies under every sink, but NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners which produce toxic gasses. 
  3. Get rid of rust stains in the toilet with a can of Coke. Pour it around the rim, let it sit for an hour, then scrub it with a toilet brush. 
  4. Polish chrome toilet handles, fixtures, and showerheads with baby oil.
  5. Remove scuffs on vinyl or hardwood flooring by buffing them out with a tennis ball.
  6. Sharpen the blades of dull scissors with aluminum foil. Just fold the foil about 5-6 times and cut through it.
  7. Finish that candle with an out-of-reach wick at the end of its burn life by lighting the end of an uncooked spaghetti noodle. You can use it like a long match to light the candle.

I hope this go-to list of hacks for your teen’s first apartment will make life a little easier when they make that big leap from dorm life to apartment life and that they use these handy tips not only now but as they move from place to place in the coming years!


About Katy M. Clark:

Katy is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

If you enjoyed reading, “Your Teen’s First Apartment: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks They Need to Know,” here are a few other posts you might enjoy reading!

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