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Ask a Clean Person: Spilled Nail Polish and Mysterious Smells

This may be impossible to answer, but here goes: My studio apartment has a mysteriously bad smell. It’s not mold (at least not the kind I’m used to smelling on sponges or towels left damp too long), and it’s not food… It’s sort of a musty smell, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, that seems to get stronger or weaker at random — though it never fully goes away. What might this be? And is there a top-to-bottom cleaning process that might eliminate the mysterious source? Air circulation is not great because the windows are only on one wall, but I do have a window fan…help!

Well, hmm. I’ll level with you and say that it’s tough to accurately identify “mysteriously bad” smells and prescribe a solution via the Internet — but the good news here is that I don’t think you need to do a top-to-bottom cleaning of your home. (Well. Do one anyway? Just for funsies!? You can even lie and say you did. I’ll believe you.) What I think is going on is that you have an abundance of moisture in your home. I had this once too! And there is an easy solution for it!


There’s a product called DampRid that is the most phenomenally weird and fantastic thing. It’s these, like, pellets and you put them in the little plastic bucket they come with and then you stick the li’l bucket in a corner and then, like, after three or so months it will be full with the water it’s been absorbing from your home. It’s so cool and gross. Seriously, you’ll love it. (Also when it’s full you just flush it down the toilet la la la gooood-byeee!)

Anyway, give that a whirl and maybe set out a bowl of white vinegar for a spell to help absorb the smell? Or buy one of DampRid’s fun scented versions? You might also want to consider getting a standing fan to place in the interior of the apartment to help with circulation if space and your decorating choices allow for it.

Help! My boyfriend just kicked a bottle of hot pink nail polish off of the coffee table. The neck broke and nail polish went all over the floor. I mostly was able to wipe it off of the sealed hardwood (there’s still some pink residue, but it isn’t super noticeable), but it splattered onto my nice cream wool rug. I’m scared to use nail polish remover in case it eats through the fibers or something? Can it be salvaged, or does he have to stand on a chair in the corner with a “rug ruiner” sign around his neck? Is there a way to get the hot pink residue off of the hardwood?

Well certainly, put the sign on him! I mean, I’m never going to object to signshaming the menfolk. Please.

While he’s busy in the corner Thinking About What He Did, you can go get yourself some Motsenbocker Lift Off (#3). (They have a whole line of Lift Offs, but #3 is what you want for nail varnish.) That will work on both the rug and the hardwood. The Motsenbocker (and seriously how fun is that to say??) site includes a “where to buy” section, but most hardware-type stores will carry it.

Hey gang, Jolie here! I’m changing things up a bit and asking you, my beloved Dirty People, to answer a question for me: What are your favorite green products/non-toxic cleaning solutions? What delightful shortcuts have you discovered on the way to saving our great green earth? What products do you substitute for those nasty hazardous chemicals like bleach?

Make your voices heard by submitting suggestions or leaving them in the comments. Select answers will be used as part of a very special episode of Ask a Clean Person.

Previously: Toilets, Ovens, and the Importance of Rubber Gloves.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Is anything you own dirty?

Photo via Flickr


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