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Hints & Tips

Surviving your first year of independence

Going away to university, or moving out, can be a bumpy ride if you’re not used to sorting yourself out. Although we’re sure you tidied your room and did chores back at home, there are some things that even adults who have lived on their own for a while do not know and discover by chance. This discovery is often followed by turning to one’s partner/friend/colleague and starting a sentence with “did you know…”

Here are some tips on living on your own effectively.


1. Try and get into the routine of doing a clothes wash at least once a week. Although the colour in clothes tends to run less than before, still try to avoid washing reds with creams or whites. Dividing your load into whites and colours is the way forward.

2. It is understandable that, as students, having different sets of bedding, towels and tea towels will be unlikely. However, many experts have spoken out and said that sheets should be changed at least once a fortnight, as should towels – although once a week is better. Similarly, hand towels and tea towels should be changed every two or three days; so just make them part of your weekly load. The reason why we should wash these items is because they are a hot bed for bacteria, dust mites, dead skin and sweat; think that bed sheets and pillows are in contact with you for at least 8 hours every night.

3. Make sure you have a clothes horse that allows air to circulate around the clothes, and try not to cram everything onto the clothes horse as they will take longer to dry and will probably smell a little. Similarly, when your clothes wash has finished, try your best not to leave the wet clothes in there as the longer they stay, the quicker they will start to smell.

4. Don’t wash clothes or towels with your duvet cover. Smaller items will get trapped inside and will not spin properly – this means that they will still be heavy with water instead of just wet.



1. Student accommodation will typically have a hoover. If you’re living on your own, it might be time to invest in one. Aim to do the hoovering once a week.

2. Dusting can vary from home to home. Aim to give surfaces that you don’t use every day a wipe at least every 3 or 4 weeks.

3. Clean the bathroom a minimum of once a month. Toilets should be cleaned more often, and try to avoid “wet dust”, it’s very unattractive. Try and air the bathroom by leaving the window open, and if it’s a window-less bathroom, you’ll need to use the fan; and potentially leave the door open when the room is not used.

4. Kitchen counters should be cleaned often, particularly before and after food preparation and especially if raw meat or eggs are involved.


1. Allocate a realistic amount of money for food, toiletries and socialising every month and distribute it throughout the week.

2. Avoid expensive food brands. Markets are great for fruit and veg. Go for the supermarket’s own brand biscuits. You’re doing to dunk them all the same.

3. Try and plan for some meals during the week. Accept that you will probably get a take away more often than you care to admit, but planning your meals for when you’re staying in will help. Ready meals are usually more expensive; they last for one serving, and probably have a lot of unnecessary nasties.

4. This is the time to do the adult thing and get a loyalty card. Also, look into coupons. We know, we know; but it’s a great feeling when the cashier says “you can pay for your entire shop with the points you have accumulated”, hurrah! Now you can buy yourself that six pack, or that new book; or new mascara. Whatever floats your boat.

What other tips would you give someone who is starting university this year or is living on their own? Leave a comment or tweet us @Preloved!

Zoe Allison

Zoe Allison

Writer and expert