36 general household essentials for your first apartment

Setting up a household in a new place is overwhelming. Here's a list of little necessities to get you started.

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  • A few weeks ago I compiled a list of kitchen essentials for first apartments. Now here's another list of general supplies for the rest of your new place.

  • Wastebaskets and trashcan

    One wastebasket for each room and a tall can for the kitchen. Find out if you will need to supply your own outside trashcan or if one is provided for you.

  • Trash bags

    Generally, it's 30-33 gallon for outside can, 13-15 gallon for tall kitchen can, and 4-6 gallon for wastebaskets, although I use grocery bags to line mine.

  • Broom

    Huge variety and price range, but I like the old straw brooms. They seem to hold up better.

  • Dust pan

    I like the ones with the snap on little hand brush for small clean-up jobs.

  • Mop

    Here again, unbelievable variety and price range. If you go for one of the new-fangled ones with the pads, I suggest getting one with washable, rather than disposable. Several times during mopping, I take it off and rinse it well. You can also get one with an empty bottle attached so that you can mix your own cleaner or just use hot water.

  • Cleaning rags

    A bundle of inexpensive rags that you won't mind getting stained is essential. You can purchase pretty ones for show, but always have the old ones on hand. They will take a beating and turn grey in the end anyway. Paper towels are nice, but you can really go through them quickly and that gets expensive.

  • Sponges

    I color code mine to prevent cross-contamination. Blue for bathroom cleaning and I keep it under the sink. Yellow for kitchen counters. Green for dishwashing. I prefer not to use the sponge I use on dishes on the counters.

  • Dusting cloths

    You can use an old rag or buy one of the new static dusters, which I love. The dust sticks to them better.

  • Glass cleaner

    I like good old fashioned vinegar and coffee filters (lint-free). You can also use crumpled up newspaper.

  • All-purpose cleaner

    Generally ammonia based. Choose a scent you like. You'll be smelling a lot of it. This is for floors, countertops, walls and general cleaning. Never mix with bleach.

  • Bleach

    For bleaching your whites, and also for disinfecting countertops and cleaning toilets (use sparingly). Never mix with ammonia.

  • Laundry detergent/softener

    Again, choose a scent you like. Buy small bottles to find your favorite and then stock up.

  • Towels and washcloths

    One for each person residing and then spares for guests or swimming.

  • Coasters

    To protect any wood furniture you may have.

  • Baskets

    I collect baskets at flea markets and thrift shops and use them for everything. Large ones hold magazines in my living room. Small one on the desk in the entryway for keys, sunglasses and things that I will need to grab and run. One on the desk for mail. Another for pens and pencils. Bathroom baskets to hold cotton swabs, hair adornments, soaps and cotton balls. One for my linen napkins in the kitchen. They are great for so many things and help keep you organized. Don't forget a clothes basket or two also.

  • Over the door hanging shoe holders

    Again, I have one in almost every room. They are great for organizing office supplies, craft supplies, kitchen gadgets and spices, bathroom toiletries and jewelry/accessories.

  • Welcome mat and throw rugs

    Something to wipe your feet on outside the door(s) and then one for in front of sink and washer/dryer if you have them. If you have a hallway, consider a runner.

  • Light bulbs

    Variety of watts: 40 for appliances, 60 or 75 for lamps and 100 for overhead.

  • Toilet paper

    This may sound like a no-brainer, but I have had to actually leave my unpacking because it is the one thing I forgot!

  • Smoke alarms

    These may already be in your place, but make sure you have them.

  • Fire extinguisher

    Check to see if your place furnishes one.

  • Houseplants

    Aloe for kitchen burns and spider plants for freshening air.

  • Shower curtain and rings

    Yep, been caught without one after a long hard day of unpacking. Don't advise forgetting this one.

  • Curtains and rods

    To begin with, for your bedroom, if you have a bathroom window, and on doors that may have windows. Then move on to other rooms.

  • Toilet brush

    The standard or they now have disposable heads and stick.

  • Bulletin board

    For bills, important notices, newsletters and funny comics.

  • White board

    At least a small one for things you need to remember.

  • Basic tools

    You don't have to buy a fancy put together kit, but at the very least, a hammer, standard screw driver, Phillips screw driver, small level (for hanging pictures), measuring tape, regular pliers, needle nose pliers, vice grip, wire cutter or utility knife, electrical tape, duct tape and a bucket or case to keep them all in.

  • Picture hanging kit

    These have nice little brass hangers, appropriate nails, and wire for frames.

  • Toiletries

    Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, pain reliever, cotton swabs/balls, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, mouthwash, peroxide, rubbing alcohol.

  • Night lights

    Nice to have in a new place for midnight snacking.

  • Lamps

    Check whether your place has overhead lighting and consider one for the nightstand.

  • Hangers

    It is impossible to overestimate the number of hangers you'll need.

  • Mirrors

    Full-length back of door model and one for the hallway to give yourself the once over before leaving.

  • Bookshelf

    At least a small bookshelf, unless you're like me, then about a dozen tall ones.

  • Basic office supplies

    Stapler, scissor, hole punch, paper clips, thumb tacks, rubber bands, note pads, pens, pencils, highlighter, permanent marker, cellophane tape and a ruler.

    You're welcome. It's nothing that any concerned mother wouldn't do. No, really. Just make sure you call or write once in a while.

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Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.

Website: http://www.beckytheauthor.weebly.com

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