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Thursday, March 15, 2012

237

Ask a Clean Person: Get Rid of Your Coworkers, Seriously, They Are Revolting

There's a whiteboard at work that's been written on to no end, and even after it gets erased, it's all gray, smudgy, and gross. I want to make it white and easy to erase again without buying a new one — any advice? I've tried the old 'color over it with marker, wait 5 minutes, erase' trick (which works wonders on permanent marker, believe me), but it's just not cutting it for this old grime.

Separate but related note — are you supposed to clean dry erase erasers? How? When mine hit a clean(ish) spot on the board, they make it all smudgy again, which I'm sure is contributing to the problem.

<3 u, Beachie, but you're probably not the answer this time — and I'm afraid to experiment and find out lest I make the whole thing worse.

On the day when we remember the world's worst co-worker, Marcus Junius Brutus, it seems only fitting to tackle the subject of the office and the filth created by those with whom we're forced to share working space.

As payback for fielding months of emails from him asking, "How do I keep this #;%#&@! office clean??" I consulted Noted (Former) Office Manager Tyler Coates for his thoughts on the care and cleaning of whiteboards, and here's what he had to say.

Eventually, after a lot of use, you're going to find yourself with a disgusting whiteboard. At my old office, where I was Office Manager for an excruciating eight months (I don't share Jolie's fondness for teaching adults how to clean up after themselves, but I was also too passive to explain to my officemates that we were not going to leave coffee residue and crumbs on the kitchen counter for the underpaid cleaning lady to pick up for us, either! And, Christ, we HAVE A DISHWASHER, JUST PUT THE PLATES IN THERE), my days consisted of a lot of work like "erasing the white boards," which, unfortunately, went unwiped for days, leaving them stained with nonsense computer code and, on occasion, caricatures of the poor, unappreciated office manager. I should also specify that we had walls painted with "whiteboard" paint. I would like to go on record as being vehemently against whiteboard paint. Not only is it insanely expensive, it also looks terrible. You know how normal whiteboards have that lovely sheen and smooth surface? Well, whiteboard-painted walls are bumpy and have a matte finish, and you also run the risk of writing on an adjacent wall that is not painted with whiteboard paint, which is not something I have done but is definitely something I had to rectify as an office manager.

It was difficult to keep the whiteboard clean, especially if notes are kept on it for days. The best suggestion I can offer is this: clean it off as soon as you use it. Maybe write down those notes instead? I think that one of the first rules of being a clean(er) person (not to usurp your role here, Jolie) is to set up a routine and keep in the practice of being not-disgusting. Wiping down your whiteboard is a pretty easy task, when you think of it! If you must keep your notes up for days, I recommend buying a whiteboard-specific felt eraser and some cleaning spray from your local office supply store. And for those truly difficult stains, you can't go wrong with a Magic Eraser (which is also useful if, hypothetically, someone in your office writes on a wall under the assumption that every wall is painted with whiteboard paint).

Now then, it seems that while there are many, many whiteboard cleaning products out there, Expo is the brand that people swear by.

In terms of getting your erasers clean, there are a couple of options for you to consider:

(1) Wash them with soap and water, and let them air dry. This works best for people who have more than one eraser in their rotation, so that they can use one while the other dries out. Alternately, you can wash them on Fridays and let them dry over the weekend so they're nice and clean come Monday.
(2) Instead of a traditional dry eraser, you can use microfiber cloths or old t-shirts/socks/towels/what-have-you and launder them regularly.
(3) Buy these badass dry erasers with peel-off layers. How fun! Just peel 'em and toss 'em!

I inherited an office chair when I started my new job. Unfortunately, it was victim to a few spills from the last occupant. Is there any way I can clean this? It's your standard gray fabric office chair. I'm contemplating recovering it but wanted to know if there was a cleaning agent I could try first. It's a small company and I don't want to seem needy by asking for a new chair if there's something I can do about it.

The first thing you'll want to do is to give the chair a thorough going-over with a lint roller — or use one of my favorite office supply tricks and take a FedEx pouch to the chair! Once the chair is free of lint and hair and crumbs and God only knows what else, you can use an upholstery cleaner (or even a carpet cleaner like Resolve) to spot treat any stains. Woolite makes a Fabric & Upholstery Cleaner that I like for this use because the canister comes with a brush attachment, which means that you won't have to bring in your own cleaning tools, and also because it will only run you about five dollars. There are plenty of other similar products out there — generally what you want is something with the keywords "foam upholstery cleaner." Follow the manufacturer's instructions on proper use of whichever product you go with and your chair should be cleaned up in no time at all!

I'm sitting at work totally grossed out by my hand rest thingamabob. I've had it for a couple years and since I'm terrible about eating at my desk, it has accumulated all sorts of crumbs and mystery stains. Is there a way to clean it or should I just get a new one? Also, any tips on cleaning my keyboard, cleaning my mouse, and all-around office cleanliness would be greatly appreciated!

Handrests, as well as your mouse and desk surfaces, can all be cleaned up with wipes. Mrs. Meyer's makes lovely smelling ones (I have a package of them stashed in my desk drawer) if you want to get fancy about things, but there are lots of other similar products available. For office use, I also really like the Lysol Dual Action Disinfecting Wipes, which have a smooth side and a sort of scrubbily side that can be used to get at anything that might be stuck on the surface of your desk, like food spills or, I dunno, glue? Are people still using glue products? I like to imagine so. Let's all just play make believe about the glue. Also! It comes in a Fresh Linen scent, which means that you can dream of your perfectly made bed (right? RIGHT??) while you're trapped at your desk.

For the keyboard, you'll need to get your paws on some gas duster, otherwise known as canned air. Canned air! What a delight! Oh and there are more delights to come! Canned air comes with a wee little straw taped to the side that you'll sort of shimmy out of its tape prison and insert into the nozzle. Don't peel off the tape though! You'll need to return the straw to its sticky overlord when you're done. Once the straw is inserted into the nozzle, point it at your keyboard and press down on the lever to expel the air and prepare to be GROSSED OUT over the amount of crumbs and dust and glitter — glitter?? How the heck did glitter get up in that bitch??? — that comes shooting out of it.

Two notes about using canned air: (1) always clean the keyboard before anything else on or around your desk, because duh, you're shooting dirt (and glitter) all over the place. (2) Never get any of your body parts in the line of fire, because canned air is very cold and you could get frostbite. Also be careful when handling the can during and after use, as it too will be almost painfully cold.

Canned air also works wonders on those Tory Burch Reva flats with the medallions that gather dust in the cut-outs. Not that I would have any experience with a thing like that, oh no, not this gal.

I'm pretty sure my workplace is disgusting and my boss is cheap, so our cleaning service mostly just empties the trashcans and maybe vacuums. I'd also note that we're a small office and there's not a good sick day policy, so when one of us gets sick, we pass it around like wildfire for weeks. I don't even use the kitchen, you don't even want to know about our microwave. I keep some Lysol wipes in my desk for wiping down my keyboard, phone, etc. but what else can I do to combat workplace grossness without too much time or investment? We have one of those water cooler things — how often should I take my coffee mug and water bottle home to sanitize in my dishwasher, and what do I do on a day by day basis with them? How and when do I disinfect the elevator and lobby door handles? Can I hand out mandatory face masks to the sick people when the walk in the door in the morning? Just kidding. Kinda.

Well no, unfortunately you can't hand out masks. But there are some things you can do, in addition to using those Lysol wipes, to help stave off germs. First things first — you should wash your mug/drinking glass every day. I assume that if you have a microwave and a water cooler, there's some kind of kitchen situation going on in which there's also a sink? Use that. Buy some dishsoap and gift it to the office. Then at the end of the week, take the items home for a spin through the dishwasher.

In terms of the common areas, like elevator banks and door handles, if you're really serious about keeping them clean, go ahead and pick up a UVC handheld sanitizing wand. I like this one because it's (a) inexpensive and (b) small enough to fit in a purse or tote bag, which makes it convenient for dragging to and fro the office. And if you're Elle Woods it will be nice for you to know that a similar version comes in pink! Just understand that you'll forever be known as the weird lady with the germophobe wand, okay?

Previously: An Indelicate Question — How Are You Doing It Every 28 Days or So?

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! Are you curious to know if she's answered a question you have? Do check out the archives, listed by topic. More importantly: is anything you own dirty?



237 Comments / Post A Comment

Bridget Smith@twitter

WINDEX. For all your whiteboard needs. Seriously, windex and a paper towel will clean that sucker up like magic.

Bridget Smith@twitter

Incidentally, this is the first time I have ever known an answer to a Clean Person question. I chalk (HAH) this up to writing all my to-do lists on whiteboards (on the door at eye-level, because otherwise I forget).

OhMarie

@Bridget Smith@twitter This is what I was scrolling down to say!! I have a 4-month whiteboard calendar, which means that the marker stays on the thing for (wait for it...) 4 months. There's no way that stuff is coming off dry, but Windex gets it all done.

nevernude cutoffs

@Bridget Smith@twitter Also, I spilled nail polish and the answer was Mötsenböcker’s LIFT OFF

But it's meant for whiteboards too! Anyone try it? I still have yet to buy it for my nail polish encrusted rug, sorry.

NellieBly

@Bridget Smith@twitter I used to write my to-do lists on a white board. I loved it. Unfortunately, one day when I came in there were obscene, misspelled messages on it. I erased them and put "please don't write on this if you aren't [Snork Juice]." But it kept happening, so I just started using a notepad :/

Bridget Smith@twitter

@Snork Juice Oh, mine's on the INSIDE of the door, because it literally needs to be in front of my eyes as I leave for it to stick in my brain. No vandalism possible!

carolinaclay

:D that was priceless.@y

killer_queen

Wait, can we talk about the sponge that lives in the communal "kitchen" in my office? My coworkers don't seem to be aware of the fact that, if not wrung within an inch of its spongy little life, the sponge will begin to smell like lukewarm death. Short of a passive-aggressive note, stalking the kitchen so that I can personally wring out the sponge, or resigning myself to my own personal sponge, is there anything I can do? (Related: who doesn't know that you must, SIMPLY MUST wring out a sponge completely after using it? Bunch of savages around here.)

EpWs

@killer_queen Get rid of your sponges, seriously, etc. Get a dish scrubby brush instead! I am a big fan of This one, from Ikea, which is amazing because (a) It has a suction cup on the bottom! and (b) $1 each!

slutberry

@killer_queen My roommates do not understand this about dishrags. EEWWWWWW.

ormaisonogrande

@killer_queen I have never tried this because I just throw them away when they get stanky, but have read that you can put them in the microwave and the moldy stuff all gets killed.

duncatra

@killer_queen Seconding the scrubby brush, Ikea has (or had) some nifty cheap ones with suction cups on the (non-brush) end, so you can stand them up on the sink.

Hellcat

@killer_queen Good god, I never use ours. NEVER EVER! Even though this means that I have to wash my stuff by smearing dish soap around with my hand (sort of like when you were little and you forgot to bring your toothbrush to the sleepover party).

killer_queen

@Hellcat Seriously-- and then your HANDS smell like terrible sponge? Basically a recipe for Worst Day Ever.

slutberry

@killer_queen I used to babysit for this couple who hardly ever cooked (they were both super professionals, so lots of takeout/Trader Joe's frozen stuff) and their sponge was DISGUSTING. My hands would smell like mildew alll night any time I accidentally touched it. I used paper towels to wash the dishes because, ewwwww.

bangs
bangs

@killer_queen I worked in an office without running water that had a SLOP BUCKET in the lunch room because there was no sink... It was impossible to avoid as that was also the meeting room and library. They have since expanded and now have a proper kitchen (with separate meeting room and library).

AniaGosia

@ormaisonogrande Yes, this works! Put the sponge in a bowl with water and vinegar and then nuke it for 5 min. You must add the water/vinegar or the sponge will scorch. It works really well though!

boysplz

@Hellcat That's how I roll too. After giving the nasty old sponge at my office the side eye for about 6 months before it was replaced I've just decided to stop believing that we even have them at my office. I've been a lot happier since.

spoondisaster

@killer_queen Stanky sponges get microwaved! Or replaced. But look up the microwaving procedure on the internerds and go to town!

SarcasticFringehead

@killer_queen Oh god, the sponge smell is so awful. And then every time you go to take a drink of water or a bite of your food or whatever, there it is again!

Wondajules

@killer_queen it's called sponge-itis and it's a thing. They make sponges now that are curved so that when set curved side up(you know what I mean), air can pass through both sides and it minimizes sponge-itis.
also, @bangs, get rid of your SLOP BUCKET, it is seriously, absolutely revolting. Ew. I can't even.

Hellcat

@AniaGosia Can you just, say, leave a sponge in a covered bowl of vinegar for a while, so that you can always have your vinegar cleaning mechanism at the ready? Is that gross? Does leaving the vinegar out in the wild like that defeat the purpose?

Ophelia

@boysplz Also, I think dish cloths don't get enough love. Use them for a couple of days, wringing them out as you go, and then throw them in the washing machine with towels. Although this is probably a better option for home than office, I realize.

AniaGosia

@Hellcat I think you could, but much of the disinfecting/de-smellifying power comes from the fact that you're basically boiling the sponge in the vinegar water. But it would be better than just leaving a wet sponge on its own, I would think!

fondue with cheddar

@Hellcat I use a paper towel (we have those cheap C-fold ones like they use in public restrooms). They're sturdy enough to use as a washrag with a dab of soap, and when I'm done I just throw it away. It's not environmentally-friendly, but at least it's clean.

I work in a print/copy shop. Our kitchen is multi-purpose, so not only is there food mess (and OMG THE COFFEE MESS), but all sorts of icky non-food things get washed in that sink. I don't trust the cleanliness of anything in that room.

boysplz

@Ophelia Oh yeah, when I get home it's all about the dish cloths, it's a behavior that my Mom ingrained into me. I think the psychological factor of knowing that I can wash and reuse them helps me keep them cleaner. With sponges I get this weird thrifty vibe that keeps me using them long after they've gotten gross, just to keep from throwing it away.

gtrachel

@AniaGosia I, uh, heard that not only does the sponge scorch if you put it in by itself, but it actually catches fire and burns from within, emitting a fearsome stench like no other, giving off a steady thin stream of putrid smoke, smoldering with its inner chemical fire until you douse it in running water. It takes two-ish minutes for this to happen; my microwave doesn't have a timer so I can't be sure. I mean, someone else's microwave.

fondue with cheddar

@boysplz ME TOO. I always end up throwing them away because they're falling apart, long after they've become gross. I would love to move to dish cloths but because I don't have a washing machine I don't know that I'd be able to keep up with washing them.

gtrachel

@gtrachel Also! JETSCRUBZ. They are sponges made from some magic hi-tech substance and not only do they last for at least six months each (at least!), but you can put them in the DISHWASHER too! I love mine so much.

PistolPackinMama

@everyone Honestly, I buy a big cheap 12-pack of sponges to keep at work. And I throw the old one out every Friday. And since no-one notices it's dirty, I am expecting no-one notices it's been replaced, too.

Killerpants

@everyone I would have to replace that communal kitchen sponge with a new one every single day, because I can't use that disgusting sickening thing knowing (and usually seeing) that people have left it sopping wet in a pile of gross rotting food in the gross sink that may have been there since yesterday or the day before.

And so, I am the The Weird Woman Who Carries Her Own Personal Sponge to the Kitchen. I decided I was ok with that, because the mere thought of the smell of those horrifying kitchen sponges is enough to make me...well, ok with that.

Verity

@killer_queen Oh god, the sponge in my office kitchen is so awful. I hardly ever have to use it, because I bring my own water bottle and lunchbox and wash them at home, but it is so disgusting.

KeLynn

@Killerpants The office sponge! GROSS! I am not usually squeamish but the idea of smearing a dirty old sponge over my cup that other, specific people might have cleaned their own stuff with has me gagging. At work I just have to give up my love of the Earth and use paper towels because seriously, I do not want to use the 4 month old dirty office sponge. Vinegar bath or not.

Bebe

@killer_queen Sponges. An also go in the dishwasher if you are lucky enough to have one. Put it in the top rack when you run the dishwasher and voila! Clean sponge! You still have to wring it out and place it on one of those sponge holder things to dry, but it will definitely be clean.

AniaGosia

@KeLynn Would it be weird to have your own private sponge? That might be the only solution.

Xanthophyllippa

@AniaGosia I have my own private office sponge. I use it, rinse it, squeeze it, let it dry on a paper towel, and then it goes back in my Utensil Drawer (wherein I keep the forks, spoons, plate, and bowl, but also my M&Ms). Once one of my colleagues showed up at my door and sheepishly and apologetically asked to borrow it; I let her, and when she brought it back she even offered to buy me a new one.

KeLynn

@AniaGosia Unfortunately I think it might be too weird. Our kitchen is connected to our conference room, and people get really weird about it. Like, if someone has the GALL to just fill up a water bottle at the sink while other people are in a meeting (even though you can get to the sink without walking through the conference area, and can slide doors closed to separate the kitchen area from the conference area so you don't disturb people), people make fun of that person behind their backs. It's so weird and makes me so paranoid to do anything. Does everyone think everyone should memorize the conference room schedule and never use the sink during that time? It appears so. Anyway, I think if I actually carried my own sponge in there in addition to using the sink during a meeting, I'd be the laughing stock of whatever meeting was occurring in there.

I hate work sometimes.

Scandyhoovian

@KeLynn our communal sponge is THE WORST. I'm pretty sure they replaced it for the first time since we moved into this building (three years ago) like... last week. I never touch it.

chickaboom

@KeLynn i don't know where the back-up sponges are stored at your office, but ours were kept under the sink in the kitchen. i just got real sneaky and would open up the cabinet, take out the next sponge in the rotation, use it, wring it out 100% BECAUSE I RESPECT THE LAW OF SPONGES, goddammit people, and then place it back where i found it. this only works though if you aren't cleaning up tomato sauce or other such stain-tastic lunch items.

mjrydsfast

@killer_queen Please... run for president... on the "sponge principle". Limbaugh will hate it as will Hannity and only you, me and anyone else with an independent thought process will see through the irony. And, our kitchens will smell just awesome!

anachronistique

Cleaning tips and Caesar references: why I love this site.

All Mimsy

@anachronistique
I know! I laughed really loudly when I read that bit. So glad I haven't left the house yet.

Dancercise

For white boards, Motsenbocker's Lift Off has a cleaner that I love. I have it in wipes, but I couldn't find that on the website. The small white board on my cubicle erases terribly, so I just always use these instead of a normal eraser and it's lovely. A little stinky, though.

Annika1110

Acetone - ie nail polish remover - does wonders to clean a white board!

Alixana

@Annika1110 Yes, I came down here to say nail polish remover! About the only useful thing I learned from my teaching days. It is also handy for removing pencil marks from desks.

mlle.gateau

@Annika1110 I'm glad I read through these because I was like NAIL POLISH REMOVER, PEOPLE. It's dry-erase board magic.

KeLynn

@Annika1110 Related: nail polish remover is also stellar at getting hair dye off bathroom surfaces and your skin. You'll probably definitely get cancer with the latter, but I do it.

frigwiggin

I love canned air! Although I have to admit, we never had any in my house growing up, and I would spent the occasional joyful afternoon prying all the keys up off our household keyboard and tweezing the hairs out from underneath and whatnot.

I was a weird child. (I say that like I wouldn't do it now, given the chance. Second love: cleaning lint traps. I loved cleaning all the ignored and abused lint traps in the communal laundry room in college.)

olivebee

@figwiggin I always get a small joy out of cleaning lint traps, too. Especially because it shows how much cat hair gets removed from my stuff in the dryer.

liney

@figwiggin Tweezing dust/lint from my hairdryer vent thingy has given me particular joy since childhood. Yay weird cleaning obsessions!

Hellcat

@figwiggin I did this at work one day after asking and asking for a new keyboard and being ignored. On the day I pulled all the keys off, by some miracle, Techie Dan brought me a new one! Unfortunately, he reacted badly upon seeing me sweep the dismantled keys into my top drawer in one dramatic swoop, and informed me that this would be my last new keyboard for a long time... and to put those other ones back on, as the (my!) new keyboard had been destined for the much-less-germophobic owner of the company, who said he'd just trade if it meant that much to me.

Techie Dan also somehow knows when you spill coffee on your keyboard on purpose just because its previous user was a big fan of super-crumby sammiches.

frigwiggin

@Hellcat My boyfriend is a Techie Dan, and I'm sure he could tell all sorts of stories about gross hardware mistreatment; removing keys from a keyboard (which are easy to put back on) seems like a slight crime in comparison.

ReginaSavage

@figwiggin I'm something of a technie. One time when I was the only one in the office I pryed off the , and . keys from they keyboard of my nemesis' computer and switched them.

It took a looooonnnnggggg time for them to figure it out and man was it ever funny!

The Lady of Shalott

@figwiggin I looooooove canned air! It is my FAVOURITE toy. Once you've cleaned out your keyboard, you can clean out your desk phone, and your CELL PHONE (actually I like to clean out all the nooks and crannies in my cell phone with a pin or a needle because you would not BELIEVE all the dirt that gets in there), and your alarm clock and ALL KIND of fun stuff!!!!

I have a problem.

Hellcat

@figwiggin I think Techie Dan should be pleased that someone cares about keyboard messes! He got me one of those rubbery keyboard covers once, but it was only good to use when you were not trying to type. Plus it smelled rubbery. Bleh.

I'm pretty sure I would have eventually put the keys back on, even without Dan's admonishment. I don't know how long I could have gone about my business knowing that there were dozens of tiny things in my desk that were not where they belonged.

Ophelia

@ReginaSavage There is a great (probably apocryphal) story that, when Clinton left the White House, his staffers stole all of the "w" keys from the keyboards, so that the Bush staff wouldn't be able to type "George W. Bush." Heee hee.

anachronistique

@Hellcat Once I had an IT guy coming to install some program or something on my computer and, while he was there, accidentally knocked my entire bottle of soda into the keyboard. He was not best pleased.

Blushingflwr

@ReginaSavage It would take me a long time to figure out, since I'm a touch typer. I don't look at my keyboard, so as long as I kept getting commas when I put my finger where the comma key was supposed to be, I don't know that I'd notice they'd been switched.

Unaccompanied Lady

@figwiggin NO! They aren't! I had a mac book pro -- the kind that a million you tube-videos tell you that the keys are impossible to put back on. I got so excited once about a can of spray air, I started pulling keys off willy nilly, only to be completely unable --ever -- to put them back on. Fortunately the ones I couldn't put back on and lost the small plastic parts were the Z, the command and option -- who uses those, right?-- but the F and D flop around like a toddler's loose tooth.

My lesson to you: don't take keys off until you are 100% sure you can put them back on.

PistolPackinMama

@Ophelia I read about that in the NYT or somewhere. So it might have been a Real Thing. I know that exiting White House staff do get to practical joke the incomers, so it seems plausible to me.

frigwiggin

@Unaccompanied Lady Oh, I know! I can't do it with my MacBook at home either. I meant the addendum as "those particular keyboards for which it is easy to return the keys to their original positions."

Banana dance

@ReginaSavage My coworker did that to me as a joke when i was on vacation. I just swapped her keyboard for mine. We're evil to each other.

Verity

@figwiggin Cleaning out lint traps is fun! I find it soothing, and my sister loves it (also picking hair off carpets/out of plugholes).

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@The Lady of Shalott I hate having a black keyboard and mouse because I can see all the dust. But OMG canned air is amazing for cleaning the dust out of your mouse buttons and trackwheel. (I tend to need my trackwheel, so the less dust, the better it tracks! or whatever.)

Craftastrophies

@Rookie I got a piece of hair or something stuck in the optical part of my optical mouse, and it is now hard to use. I told my boyfriend that I missed trackball mice because I found it soothing to take the ball out and clean the tracks - the communal mice at uni were the BEST, all this gross stuff, so satisfying. He gave me a weird look. As if he isn't the OCD one in our relationship.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Craftastrophies Oh man I used to love cleaning the track ball! I would wait a long time in between cleanings so it was satisfying.

@all LINT TRAPS. It is so fulfilling to pull up a corner and peel back a solid layer of lint. It's not as exciting now that we have laundry in our unit instead of in a communal space. But also I guess I am less worried about dying in a tower of flames. People, the stuff in lint traps works as a great FIRE STARTER. Like we take them on camping trips to make it easier to start our camp fires. CLEAN YOUR LINT TRAPS OR YOUR HOME WILL BURN TO THE GROUND.

Nutmeg

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me AHH when I was little my mom saw an Oprah episode about how your dryer's Jeffrey tubes (or whatever that big silver thing is) are a fire deathtrap, so she pulled out the tube to clean it and started a fire. MOOOOM

aproprose

WHITEBOARD PAINT! I'm the Office Manager at my company and our main conference room dry erase board is made from that crap and it's the WORST. I'm getting a real dry erase board installed over it because this shit is just getting ridic.

Yay! Hairpin Office Talk!

olivebee

I WISH I COULD GET RID OF MY REVOLTING COWORKERS. Oh my god. As the youngest and lowest totem on the pole at my office, I was relegated to being the office cleaning lady. (Literally- my job description said "cleaning duties such as trash, mopping, etc etc etc"). I get so taken advantage of it is unbelievable. I went away for a week after my wedding, and when I got back, the trash cans were flowing out onto the floor, there were stains everywhere, the dishes filled the sink and then some (even though we have two dishwashers), the place was just filthy.

It has always boggled my mind how, even if this wasn't in my job description, I'd help clean up anyway because it's the polite thing to do. How am I the most mature person in a company of 30 people where everyone is 4 to 20 years my senior? I also love how no one ever offers to help me haul the four massive trash bags down 3 flights of stairs to the dumpster, and I am also the smallest person at the company. Man, most of my coworkers are lazy fucking slobs. /rant

Alixana

@olivebee Eww. I will come to your office and help you with the trash!

olivebee

@Alixana Thank you! But your offer to help leads me to believe that you are a nice, mature person, and I wouldn't inflict that on you.

Judith Slutler

@olivebee OMG WHY. I know how you feel though, this is basically me in every university studio / project room ever. How can people be so foul?

olivebee

@Emmanuelle Cunt Right? How on earth were people raised so it got to the point that, as adults, they don't clean up after themselves in public/communal spaces? Plus, it drives me crazy because my actual job title is Junior Project Manager, not Custodian, and yet the amount of time I spend cleaning up after everyone really cuts into my work time.

meganmaria

@olivebee This is my favorite title of anything I have ever read on The Hairpin. My coworkers clip their nails at their desks, blow their noses like they're Canadian Geese and frequently don't wash their hands after going to the lav. Seriously, they are revolting.

spoondisaster

@olivebee You know, whenever I left a mess somewhere my parents would ask "were you raised in a barn?" and that would set me right-- you could try the same thing with your coworkers maybe?

spiraldawn

@meganmaria ACK, the nails! The WORST! I used to sit a row over who would bring out his clipper multiple times a day and clip, clip, clip, clip...it grossed me out to no end. Although now I wonder if he had super fast growing nails. I mean, who needs to clip that often?

meganmaria

@spiraldawn One guy I used to work right next to (barf) did that. I've decided it was a way to avoid work. Since I've stopped biting my nails, I've developed a better understanding of the need to nail clip, especially after a nail break or snag, but for Christ's sake, we have BATHROOMS where we can do that. Every office has a restroom.

My friend who works for my same company, but a different location, had a nail from someone else's finger zip past her head and land on her desk. She (rightfully) lost it on that guy.

spiraldawn

@meganmaria Your poor friend!

I guess, at least these individuals clip finger nails and not toe nails.

datalass

@spiraldawn The men who use electric shavers at their desks are pretty bad too. Of course, they also tend to be nail clipping sort. Maybe I should stop thinking of their desks as desks and start thinking of them as old-timey barbershops. I think I'll feel a lot better about it then.

meganmaria

@spiraldawn I haven't seen it happen, but I've heard of people being caught doing that. Barbarians.

KeLynn

@datalass What! This cannot be true!

datalass

@KeLynn Tis too, too true. I've heard the electric hum early in the morning, then seen the shaver reposing on the coworker's desk.

But this is not nearly as bad as the guy who rinsed out his jockstrap and hung it to dry under his desk.

Craftastrophies

@datalass Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

I sat next to someone who would take off and reapply nailpolish at her desk every day, plus wore WAY too much perfume, all of which gave me migraines. That was pretty bad, but at least not actively unhygenic.

Omg seriously.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@all - OK maybe I am a Grossy Gross Face, but I don't understand people getting grossed out by someone trimming their nails? I mean, yes, if it is in a communal space or right next to you. But if you're trimming a broken nail and then evening out the other ones in your own office/cube, is that really so offensive? Obviously you do this into a trash can and then check for errant clippings.

datalass

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me What you describe is fine. And, honestly, I think that when people do it that way, the rest of us never even know, which is aces all around.

I suspect that what most of us are objecting to is, for instance,hearing the sounds of clipping from a colleague's space then seeing a particularly talon-like clippping just hanging out on his desk when you drop by, like, a day later. Or, say, helping an intern get settled into a vacant cubicle and, in the process, opening a desk drawer to discover months' worth of the previous occupant's clippings.

Over time, hearing the clipping sounds becomes just the precursor to seeing something disgusting.

meganmaria

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me A lot of what I've seen is people clipping them wherever and letting the clippings fall where they may. I moved into a desk once where the previous occupant must have clipped into his or her drawers because they were everywhere. We also have people who just clip on the floor, because they assume we have a cleaning crew that gets paid to vacuum every night (we don’t), so you know, it’s their job to clean up pieces of other human beings off the floor. Around here, it's not the occasional hang nail or broken nail. It's a full-on, trimming and shaping of every. Single. Nail. On. Their. Hands. manicure.
We have people who come in Monday morning and tend to their nails at 6:30 am. I've tried to cope with that by assuming they're homeless, because there is obviously they don't have a home in which they could attend to their hygiene. In an office environment, it's inappropriate and unprofessional to tend to hygiene at your desk. This is what restrooms at the office are for. I don’t brush my teeth or shave my legs at my desk, though I have been tempted to prove a point.

Clare

Go a step further when Walking on Sunshining your keyboard: If it's feasible, unplug it, take it outside and shake the bejeezus out it upside down to get a lot of the crumbs and dust free, THEN go over it with the canned air.

And if it's really heinous, keyboards are cheap--chuck it and start over with a brand new one. The keyboard IT gave me when I started my current job was so disgusting I brought my own from home. #thetempslament

slutberry

DAY 15 OF A MADE BED

That's right. That is right.

whizz_dumb

@teffodee I think I've been converted at this point. Bed-maker 4 Lyfe!

It's WORRKANNG! It's WORRRKANNNGG!! (Elliott from E.T.)

EpWs

@teffodee ME TOO ME TOO! High fives!

slutberry

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher @whizz_dumb HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND

TeresaOtter

@teffodee I forgot to make the bed yesterday morning, fretted about it at work all day, only to get home and find that guy I married made it before he left! I probably squealed.

slutberry

@TeresaOtter Huh. Maybe I should Marry a Guy, just in case.

kiamaria

@teffodee me too! This is real progress for me - so proud of myself!

Ophelia

re: getting stuff off whiteboards so the notes don't stain - have someone take a photo of the whiteboard with a digital camera/phone at the end of the meeting. That way, you can erase, no one has to *actually* take notes, and you've got all of the weird thought arrows, diagrams, whatever else you were doing captured for posterity.

Emily912

Simple green on the dry erase boards. We use them out on the shop and write up our times for a year. I'm the one who wipes them clean at the end of the year to start over and the boards we have a super cheap and get majorly filthy. Simple green is about the only cleaner we have here but it works. If someone sharpie's on a dry erase board, use alcohol.

slutberry

@Emily912 and simple green smells like candy made out of forests.

meganmaria

@teffodee At the risk of being run out of the Hairpin Community, that weird sweetness is exactly why I cannot handle the smell of Simple Green.

angermonkey

@Emily912 Oh thank god, I'm so glad you said that about alcohol on permanent marker. I tell people this and they look at me like I'm using witchcraft. Guys, sharpie is pretty much always alcohol soluble (it's how we TEMPORARILY label lab glassware, for cripes sakes!)

duncatra

Does the residue from the Mrs. Meyer wipes dry fast? The wipes I have currently do not, which means I use them less.

Ophelia

@duncatra I think they do? They're relatively lightly damp, but be careful, because if you leave the package open at all, they dry out (and while you can just add water, that's kind of a pain if you need a wipe RIGHT NOW).

[redacted]

@Ophelia OH. You are a genius.

I have ruined so many packages of Mrs. Meyers wipes and I just throw them out without even thinking of...wait for it...re-hydrating them. Never again!

buttercup empire

oooohhhhh man. I have been working at a large department store. I don't even want to talk about how disgusting the fitting rooms and checkout counters are. ewwwww. workplaces are gross.

Judith Slutler

@buttercup empire Uggghhh, a couple of my friends worked at H&M for a long time, and they would bring home the worst horror stories. THE WORST.

olivebee

@buttercup empire Oh man. This is why I always get reeeeaaally annoyed when dressing rooms don't have either a tiny bench or enough hooks on the wall. When that's the case, it forces you to put your purse/jacket/own clothes on either the floor or draped over whatever surface you can find, which are probably all incredibly filthy.

buttercup empire

@olivebee beware the bench. seriously, those are generally layered with gross-ness as well.

Monday I was working in the kids section and I found a hairball the size of France, a piece of formerly chewed candy, and some mystery substance smeared on the wall/bench/door of the fitting room. It was still there last night when I worked even though I notified various people about it. GROSS!

lora.bee

@buttercup empire Oh man. I (VERY briefly) worked at Urban Outfitters, and someone left a bag of poo in our changerooms. I don't know if it was a practical joke, or they really had to go, or WHAT but my co-worker went in to sweep and said 'Oh look, they forgot their shopping bag from Zara', and grabbed it to put near the front in case they came back. Then we kind of looked at each other, and he looked back at the bag and peered inside. There was a poo. It was the grossest.

olivebee

@lora.bee OHHHHH MYYYYY GODDDDD.

karion

@lora.bee:This is a horrifying, horrible story. Jizzcliner awful.

OHMYGOD, that would scar me for life. LIFE.

Verity

@lora.bee Oh god, that is horrifying.

lue
lue

@lora.bee
whoa!
I worked in a record store in high school, and once someone did a shit on our bathroom floor, then walked around in it, and tracked poop through our (carpeted) store on the way out. Eek! Luckily, it wasn't my turn to clean it, because I had cleaned when someone barfed in there the week before. Wtf, people?

Craftastrophies

@lora.bee Apparently, people poop in changerooms all the time.

WHY. HOW. I mean, it's bad enough when you got to walk into a bathroom stall and someone hasn't flushed and you have to walk out real quick and be like 'that's not mine'. Can you imagine walking out and someone was waiting to go in and see your poop?! Although I guess you're probably beyond caring about it if you're at the point of doing it in the first place.

When I was in China, I once saw a grandma holding out a plastic bag for her grandkid to pee in. In walmart.

ellbeejay@twitter

@buttercup empire Oh Christ on a cracker, do NOT get me started on the rampant grossness that is your average retail customer. After years of working on the make it pretty side of retail (visual merchandising) I lost my cushy traveling job (damn you economy!) and found myself an assistant store manager, AKA salaried custodian. I've cleaned up poop, vomit, jizz, more poop and then, just to make it interesting, even more poop found in one of our handbags. Hanging on the rack.
Sigh.

Alixana

I have a big wooden desk, and on a far corner of it, I once had a plant that I have since thoroughly killed. Under the plant were some napkins to absorb the water, on the rare occasions that I remembered to water the poor thing. Now there are "Corner Bakery" napkin parts embedded in my wooden desk. Short of sanding it down, how can I get rid of them?

Ophelia

@Alixana Is the wooden desk finished in any way (stain, polyurethane, etc)?

Alixana

@Ophelia It is stained but I don't think it is varnished or anything. My tea mugs don't leave rings, if that tells you anything.

Ophelia

@Alixana I'd try using warm water and dish soap first (not tons of water), and see if letting it sit for a few minutes, and scrubbing it lightly with a cloth got the bits up?

ETA - maybe test on an out-of-the-way area first?

Alixana

@Ophelia I will give it a shot!

Judith Slutler

@Alixana Use the poky side of a dish sponge, and if any of the stain comes up with it, you can probably re-stain that bit if you are careful and use a small paintbrush

carbonation

I really want to get on board with the bed-making, but my wife is still in bed when I leave for work in the morning. Maybe I can figure out a way to fold and tuck the sheets perfectly around her adorable self. Wife origami.

Verity

@carbonation My cats jump on my bed first thing in the morning, and trying to remove them in order to make the bed makes them cross. No bed-making for me. :(

Xanthophyllippa

@carbonation Make a swan! Then she can wake up in a lovely swan bed.

carbonation

@Xanthophyllippa Yes!!!

singstrix

@killer_queen It only works so well/for so long (unfortunately I don't have a good ballpark), but you can for real put a sponge in the microwave to kill germs. Also if your office has a dishwasher (mine does not), you can run your grubby sponges through with the dishes! But the microwave is still better for sponges, according to the above WebMD link. Warning, though, that baby will be HOT when it comes out of the microwave! Aaaalso I don't know that it helps much w/ awful sponge mildew stench once the sponge is already bemildewèd.

MsChilePepper

@singstrix I've done all those tricks, as well as soaking them in a bleach & water solution, and I just gave up on using sponges at all. It's dishcloths all the way, and I change them and the dishtowels daily, or more often if they get grodied up during a cooking session. This is why I have a hojillion kitchen towels and dishcloths -- you can never have too many!

singstrix

@MsChilePepper At home, I am a big, big fan of simplehuman's sink caddy, which allows sponges to drain! Buuuut I also have a hojillion dishcloths, and a washer/dryer in a kitchen closet (which means I can switch out and wash as often as need be).

Anna@twitter

Former teacher here, and have I got whiteboard tips for you!

a) DO NOT use Windex or any other all-purpose or glass cleaner on whiteboard. While it works well the first few times, over time it leaves a weird, dullish residue that succeeds only in making the marker stick to the board and just get everything dirtier. Gross. Do not do this. Splash out for some whiteboard-specific cleaner instead - they sell this at Staples right next to the other whiteboard-related supplies. You can also get it in industrial sizes.

b) Experiment with different brands of marker. My fellow teacher and I discovered that certain brands erased more easily on magnetic boards vs. non-magnetic boards, etc. I think we discovered that our magnetic whiteboard had a slightly more porous surface, and therefore required whiteboard cleaner at the end of each day.

c) To the person who recommended acetone - incidentally, acetone and hairspray are also really good for getting Sharpie graffiti off student desks. DON'T ASK ME HOW I KNOW THIS

Hot Doom

@Anna@twitter 2nded by a former kindergarten teacher here.

But in the end, I always return to baby wipes for all my griefs, including whiteboard drama.

Auntie Maim@twitter

@Anna@twitter Rubbing alcohol also removes Sharpie!

Alter Kocker

@Anna@twitter Or, you can use el-cheapo ammonia on your whiteboard. The cheapest stuff you can get you hands on so that it consists of nothing but ammonia and water. That stuff leaves no residue.
And don't forget kids, as much as we all love bleachie (<3 U!), never get it anywhere near the ammonia because together they will make chlorine gas, chloramine, and hydrazine which will kill us all in two different ways and then blow us up for good measure.
Also, going at the white board with acetone/nail polish remover too often can soon enough leave you with no whiteboard. Use sparingly.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Anna@twitter Also, Magic Erasers are just micro-sandpaper. So this is a bad idea for any shiny/lacquer-type surface, which whiteboards are.

Poubelle

The science building on my college campus had a lot of rooms with whiteboard paint, and I blame that paint for the fact that all I can really remember from the single lab science I took is how shocked I was when my prof ran out of space on the whiteboard and started WRITING ON THE WALLS OMG, as opposed to, say, remembering any new information about biology.

So that is yet another reason whiteboard paint is awful. And it never erased right, based on the red smears that freaked me out the first few days of class until my prof pulled her wall-writing trick.

The Lady of Shalott

I have made my bed every single day this month, but I have to confess my secret shame:

I am terrible at not cleaning out my fridge. I am SO bad. My fridge is in another room and I constantly forget about it and then when garbage day comes I forget about it AGAIN and then my fridge is full of horrible decomposing food. So I cleaned some of it out last night. And I found a container of milk in my freezer with an inch of frozen milk left in it and the expiration date on it DECEMBER 7TH.

I have a container of eggs in my fridge that I bought in August.

Get rid of your Lady of Shalott, she is revolting.

Ophelia

@The Lady of Shalott I am the same way. My house is reasonably neat/clean...but I have lasagna in my fridge that I KNOW I made in December. But when I look in there, something in my brain just helps me not SEE it, moldering in its little tupperware.

The Lady of Shalott

@Ophelia Why?? Why do we have this blindness???? I found salad in the back of my fridge that was practically evolving limbs!

redheaded&crazy

@The Lady of Shalott I don't know why but I LOVE cleaning out gross fridges! My famjam is also the worst at this and I take great pleasure in going through their fridges and doing the deed for them. Invite me over!

singstrix

@The Lady of Shalott I find that (GENERALLY) fridge-blindness in males equates to "there is no foooood, I am going to stand here and ignore every tupperware thingy full of leftovers", and with.. ladies? me?, it's all about "as long as that science experiment is CONTAINED, I don't have to deal with it."

boysplz

@Ophelia I do this all the time, I guess I think that taking the damn thing out and throwing it away will be too hard? It's really counterproductive because it always ends in an hour of cleaning and throwing away like a trash bag's worth of old/not used food. Also, why do I constantly buy produce that I'll never use?

fondue with cheddar

@redheaded&crazy I need a friend like you.

@The Lady of Shalott My fridge is in another room, too! I'm bad at remembering about food that's in there, but with the fridge more out-of-sight it's even worse. Plus my boyfriend has a tendency to put groceries in there without taking them out of the plastic bag*, and the bags obscure other things that might be hanging out in the back/underneath. Plus I don't even know what's IN the bag.

*My last boyfriend did this too! Is this a Thing?

The Lady of Shalott

@singstrix My boyfriend comes over, stares into my fridge, and goes "YOU HAVE NOTHING TO EAT HERE." Which is true, because in my fridge there is sour cream, Velveeta, seven different kinds of sauce, milk, and yogurt.

But only because I've thrown out all the decomposing leftovers and sushi from four weeks ago (sadface) and Chinese from three weeks ago (more sadfaces) and the half a bottle of disgusting wine from LAST OCTOBER that tasted like fish guts.

Poubelle

@The Lady of Shalott You can't be worse than my dad, who was baffled as to why I was throwing out a box of Chex mix whose expiration date was in January 2009.

fondue with cheddar

@Poubelle Chex mix won't hurt you if it's old, though; it just gets stale. A "friend" once had a bag of pretzels that got so stale it regained the texture of a fresh pretzel. I didn't think it was possible. I mean...she didn't think it was possible.

mlle.gateau

@The Lady of Shalott Fridge story! I have been FANATICAL about keeping a clean fridge ever since I saw an episode of the show How Clean Is Your House in which a young woman's fridge was so dirty it had formed a biofilm, which meant that it literally could not be cleaned. The chemicals/substances required to clean it were so strong and toxic they would destroy the fridge. So... clean your fridge?

Ophelia

@boysplz Yes! And seriously, why can I not bring myself to throw away the disgusting $1.50 tupperware? I logically know that I don't HAVE to save gladware, but....

EpWs

@Ophelia Ooh, I am shameless about throwing out tupperware. I would rather waste that plastic/money (sorry, environment!) than have to face down the awful, awful task of opening and cleaning it.

Ophelia

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher That's far better than what I do, which is to avoid both cleaning it AND throwing it away :-/

EpWs

@mlle.gateau OMG JUST WIKIPEDIA'D BIOFILM. Am going to go home and clean my fridge with ALL the vinegar. And bleach. And everything. Ewwwww.

lora.bee

@Ophelia "moldering in its little tupperware" just made me laugh out loud.

redonion

@The Lady of Shalott Augh, this is me! Also, when I do have leftovers, I do not eat the leftovers in the day following the initial meal. Why would I want to eat the same thing two days in a row? Or twice in the same week? Just the other day, as I was considering what I could eat for dinner, I pulled a tupperware out to see what it was and it was a black bean/taco meat concoction I had made from leftover taco fixings a few days before. I decided I was not in the mood for that again and put in back in the fridge, the exact logic running through my head being that it wasn't spouting mold yet, so I could still go back to it and maybe eat it on a future day. Or throw it away if mold is in evidence. Either way, it was to be dealt with at a future date.

Although my new horror of biofilm (!!!) courtesy of @mlle.gateau may make me more responsible.

fondue with cheddar

@redonion I go through the exact same thought process, only I WILL NOT eat leftovers if they've been in there more than 2-3 days. So basically I hardly ever eat leftovers.

Xanthophyllippa

@redheaded&crazy I will fly you out here if you will clean out my fridge. It's not that I have anything rotting in there, but that I can't be bothered to scrub the inside of it, ever.

Craftastrophies

@Xanthophyllippa Omg biofilm! Ack, ack!

I love cleaning other people's fridges. But not my own. WHY?

This is part of the reason I switched to pyrex. I can't bring myself to throw it, so I let it get less gross. But also if it's had something gross I KNOW it will be clean after, since it's not porous plastic.

MsChilePepper

@The Lady of Shalott I try to prevent this by doing two things. Firstly, keep things in the same place on the same shelf all the time. So carton of milk is on the left front, while the ketchup is always in the second door shelf down. Easier to see what's there, and what needs to go on the shopping list. Keep like things together, too, like condiments on one shelf, dairy in one spot, etc. I have certain containers designated for certain foods, too, like the blue Tupperware box I use for chopped onion (if I'm gonna cut up part of it, why not chop the whole thing?), or the containers I use for deli meat & cheese, or the cheese keeper. They stay in their little spots, and only get moved if I need to store something of unusual size.

Second, LABEL EVERYTHING! Keep a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie nearby, and use it to mark your leftovers with the date and whatever food it is. If it helps, mark an eat-by date on that sucker, too. Get in that habit, and you'll never wonder, "How old is this, anyway?"

MsChilePepper

@mlle.gateau YES! I saw that episode, too! Ahh, Kim and Aggie are the BEST! I miss that show.

fondue with cheddar

@MsChilePepper I like to put things in the same place all the time too! It's really hard to keep it up when I live with someone, though. The fridge and cabinets are so disorganized! I never know what's there. :(

Poubelle

@jen325 It won't hurt you, but holyshit does it taste nasty. Though at least the nasty taste led to me checking the date.

angermonkey

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher FEEL YE NOT BAD! Especially if whatever is in there and moldy is made of meat. YOU are ALSO made of meat. Do not risk it, do not pass go, TOSS MOLDY MEAT STUFF*, CONTAINER AND ALL.

*only exception: beef jerky. Beef jerky (especially the pricy all natural stuff) will occasionally develop a halophilic (salt lovin') mold that is harmless. Just wipe it off. Also, do not confuse the cold white fat that "blooms" on the surface if you keep it in the fridge/freezer for mold and trash FORTY DAMN DOLLARS WORTH OF ARTISANAL JERKY THE WEEK AFTER I BUY IT. HUSBAND, LOOKING AT YOU.

New Hoarder

Okay, I haven't even read this post or the comments, but all I know is that when I am in the ladies' room at my office, I hear an awful lot of grunting in neighboring stalls and then straight after the flushes I hear a swinging door.

NO HANDWASHING. I die a little every day.

Alixana

@New Hoarder At least one of my coworkers only rinses her hands quickly and does not use soap. Whyyyyy???

meganmaria

@New Hoarder This happens in my office. I caught one lady I used to work with doing it (she didn't know I knew) and I left her an anonymous note on her desk after everyone had left for the day saying that a lack of handwashing can contribute to illness and blah, blah, blah. I left out my "Whhhhhhhhhhhhat the hell is wrong with you?!" judgement and kept straight to the facts, but if I were her, I would have been mor.ti.fied. to find that on my desk the next day.

New Hoarder

@Alixana What is this? Now the germs are just wet. UGH!

New Hoarder

@meganmaria Our office manager politely puts fresh "Handwashing Saves Lives" or some such posters up twice a year, in a couple of places in the restroom. I guess that some people think that since they're still alive they can skip it for now? URGH

meganmaria

@New Hoarder Also, I knew it was her, because she was loudly talking on the phone to her adult son while she was peeing and flushing.

byrneunit

@New Hoarder My office shares a communal bathroom with all offices on the floor. Let's talk about the BLOODY HANDPRINT that graced that bathroom door for a solid week.

Bloody. Handprint.

Judith Slutler

@byrneunit aaaahhhhhhhhh

Poubelle

@New Hoarder One of the things I miss most about working in foodservice is that this DID NOT HAPPEN.

Seriously, if you're making someone miss working in the service industry, you're doing something wrong.

celacia

@Alixana I often can't use the soap in public restrooms because my allergies can't handle it, and I have to make sure that I am the one who buys the soap at my work so I can be sure it's one that I can use. So I usually rinse with vigorous hand rubbing and then also dry with vigorous hand rubbing. Not as clean as I would like, but also not as gross as you might expect? I can't speak for your co-worker, of course.

Alixana

@celacia THAT is fine and I totally respect allergies, of course. But this is not a vigorous anything, it is more like a ... dampening?

celacia

@Alixana Eewww.

Xanthophyllippa

@New Hoarder Common consensus in my former bacteriology lab was that water is perfectly good for cleaning off thin biofilms and "new" germs. This is part of why we see so many studies that claim toilets are cleaner than our kitchen floors -- the regular flushing washes everything away before it can establish a household and raise a little microbial family.

fondue with cheddar

@New Hoarder EEE! Your profile pic is of my favorite scene in one of my favorite movies! :D

New Hoarder

@jen325 Yay! I am so glad someone recognizes it! Ever since I saw that movie I have made it a (n easily attainable) goal to pout like that almost every day.

fondue with cheddar

@New Hoarder I love when Janeane Garofalo makes the face back at him.

My ex and I used to re-enact that scene anytime we had to do something we didn't want to do.

fondue with cheddar

Also with canned air, make sure to hold the can as upright as possible or liquid may squirt out instead of air, which may damage what you're spraying.

Porn Peddler

Ugh, my workplace has recently taken a turn for the filthier, because apparently our new guy cannot be bothered to do his job (really, night shift, that is like, all you have to do)

Also I had a dream that my awesomest blazer got covered in horrible stains and I was going to cry forever and all I could think about was "I need to write to Jolie!"

MoonBat

@Third Wave Housewife So you finally got relieved of the night shift? Yay!!!

Porn Peddler

@MoonBat Yes! I work from home several days a week (freelancing as an SEO lackey) and at the porn palace two or three days a week. SO HAPPY.

MoonBat

@Third Wave Housewife
SO HAPPY for you, grrrl!!!

automaticdoor

@Third Wave Housewife YAY! That is SO AWESOME!

CleverPseudonym

Short of gasoline and matches, can anyone recommend a way to clean crusty, flaky old makeup (ugh) out of the fabric/foam parts of a telephone headset? I inherited this one from my predecessor, it disgusts me and a new one is apparently $200 and not in the budget.

MoonBat

@CleverPseudonym
I take mine off of the easily damaged electrical parts, hold it in my palm and basically drown it in hand Sanitizer, then go to town on it with paper towels.

MsChilePepper

@CleverPseudonym Get new foam covers for the earpieces! You can find them at places that sell headphones and such, or from the manufacturer. If they pull off, that is, and I know mine did when I used a headset. In a real pinch, you could make your own, either by crocheting or knitting a loosely-woven circle, then doing a little drawstring around the edges. Or! Cut the circle from the panty part of an old pair of pantyhose, and stitch a drawstring around the edge with elastic thread.

camanda

Thankfully, my coworkers are not super disgusting (my customers take care of that for us), but they have a terrible habit of not taking care of the Keurig in the breakroom. WHAT IS EASIER TO USE THAN A KEURIG. They never refill the water chamber and they never throw out their used K-cups. Those are a treat to find when I go to make my morning cider, let me tell you. They also used to put coffee grounds directly into it (REALLY?!) until my manager put a note on it telling them to knock it off.

Wait 'til we start carrying the Vue and people buy those packs and start trying to stick them in our Keurig. A whole new dimension of FAIL.

tortietabbie

@camanda I'm "in charge" of the coffee machines/vending in my office and the extent to which people will go to fuck up their EASY AS PIE Keurig brewing astounds me. And the messes they make, JESUS.

Craftastrophies

@tortietabbie We have a tefal quick cup in lieu of a kettle. Admittedly, it's a little disorienting. But we have stickers on it saying 'press red button once' and a thing on the wall saying 'press red button once, it will dispense one cup-full of hot water'. And people cannot work it out. Ever.

Once, at the last place I worked, the keypad for the secure part of the building broke, and you had to use your key instead of the code. We suck a note OVER to pad, saying 'broken, use key'. Five minutes after I had done this, someone walked up, pulled to note off, plugged in their code, and was perplexed and angry when the door didn't respond.

ARGH.

tortietabbie

I just got a new comforter set (with DECORATIVE PILLOWS! I feel like my bed just grew the fuck up) and I've been making my bed and it's so...fulfilling! That sounds sarcastic but I am 100% serious! I love it. My apartment is clean, my bed is made, the dishes are done. If someone dropped by right now I wouldn't waste a second apologizing for the state of my living space. I wouldn't need to! (Also, I'm at work, so they'd be waiting outside for a few hours.)

But, you guys. I share living space with my dude and he was been really, really resistant to this whole cleaner living initiative. Like he "doesn't understand what the big deal is" about making the bed every day, and I have to ask him over and over and over to clean up his messes. We had a conversation about how I feel like the bulk of the cleaning is falling to me and he promised to be better - and he has, a bit - but he's still fighting me on EVERYTHING. I feel like I'm dealing with a stubborn two-year-old.

I don't want to be a nagasaurus but I also refuse to be his mommy and I am NOT doing all the cleaning by myself. What do I dooooooo???

Ophelia

@tortietabbie I'm not sure if this works so well with personal clutter-type messes, but my husband and I divvied up the chores based on what we like to do. So, he vacuums, I dust, we trade off on cleaning the bathroom, we do dishes together since we both hate it, etc.

redheaded&crazy

@Ophelia I agree! There must be some chores he "likes," or is willing to do, or at least hates less. For me, I wouldn't mind picking up after my partner because I like things organized a certain neurotic way anyway. But he's gonna have to cook and do my laundry. Or whatever.

Maybe lay out all the chores and then you check off the ones you mind the least, and he checks off the ones he minds the least, and then you go from there to figure out the overlap/underlap. underlap? yeah underlap.

meganmaria

@tortietabbie I feel you on this one, girl.

Blushingflwr

@tortietabbie I think you have to explain to him why it matters to you and how it feels to have him ignore it. He probably feels like you're acting like his mom and trying to change him, which may explain some of the resistance. Some people are actually uncomfortable in uber-clean spaces, they feel like they have to behave differently, so that may be a factor (which he may not be able to articulate)

MilesofMountains

@tortietabbie With an ex-boyfriend, I found it helped to give him a space to be messy in. Like, part of the problem is that he would feel like he was too busy to properly put things away so he'd just dump piles of papers or whatever anywhere. We ended up agreeing that the area around his desk was his to make into his own personal pig sty if he chose so if he had a bunch of crap he wanted to just drop on the floor, I wouldn't complain if he did it there. I know this sounds like that horrible "man cave" thing, but it did help.

Ophelia

@MilesofMountains Actually, that's a good point. We each have a "crap basket" which is where we put the stuff we just can't be bothered to deal with, and we clean them out...sometimes.

Stevie

@Blushing Flower@twitter I have this same problem, and yes, he'll say "Get off of my back!" when I do things like ask him to put away his dirty socks in the hamper. I mean, only sometimes, but why does it have to be seen as an attempt to change him or nag him, when in fact it's how adults should live? And how do I make this less of a tense subject since we're only newly co-habitating? Ugh it makes me so mad. And I am not skilled at "picking my battles" when it has to do with picking up clutter or other apartment rules.

tortietabbie

@Ophelia Ah! This is genius. It appeals to both my need to get him on board and my love of list-making. Crap basket, also...

tortietabbie

Thanks, everyone, for the ideas and support and also for the space to vent a bit. <3

@Blushing Flower, I think you're right that this needs to be a deeper conversation than just, "pick up your shit, manimal." Dude is a big fan of open communication and I am a "complain on the internet and not bring it up in real life" kind of communicator, so this is good on all fronts.

bowtiesarecool

@MilesofMountains We did the same thing! It was actually a condition of us moving in together. And on the whole I think it's worked out well - the door stays shut, I don't feel ashamed of/disgusted by our home, the mess has a Place to Go (when I don't feel like dealing with his piles, I dump them just inside the door). I honestly have no idea what would happen if we had to downgrade to a one-bedroom or a studio (other than a lower rent).

But @tortietabbie, I absolutely, absolutely sympathize. Dude is a SLOB. And doesn't really see the point of cleaning, and claims mess-blindness. After I completely snapped, we sat down and had a conversation and actually made a no-joke chore chart for the fridge that details which tasks belong to each of us and when they must be done. And then we put them on his Google Calendar. And I STILL have to get after him sometimes to a) do the things he promised to do, and b) quit making more messes everywhere. And I hate that I have to play manager and keep track of what needs to be done, and when, and by whom.

So, uh, no matter what you do, it might still be problem to some degree? I know a lot of people feel this is DTMFA territory, but I've noticed this to be a problem for a remarkably large percentage of dudes, and I think this is a bigger problem than any one relationship. I think a lot of women feel social pressure to maintain households to a basic standard, and a lot of guys...don't. And it feels like a huge betrayal of my principles to react to my disgust over something by just cleaning it rather than fighting over it for the millionth time.

Your comment apparently made me feel ALL the things. Sorry for the essay. But seriously, start talking and see how it goes.

Craftastrophies

@bowtiesarecool I think it's people, not just dudes - people are messy, and living with other people means your mess threshold may be higher/lower/out of sync with theirs. I've found it to be more extreme with dudes, certainly, because of the social pressure thing. But the worst person ever was my sister.

We made a chore list and we also individually made lists of all the things we thought needed to be done to keep a house running. I got this tip from 'why men won't ask for directions and women can't read maps' (I KNOW BUT) it talked about how partners often rate jobs differently - like, the working partner thinks that working is a job that counts for one portion of effort a day, the non-worker thinks it's one portion of effort a week, vice versa with dishes, etc. So my sister and I made a list and hers was basically 'dishes, clean bathroom, take out bin, vacuum' and mine was that plus mop, tidy each room as an individual list item, every-day sorting of crap, etc etc. It was about three times as long. It helped her see all the stuff I did every day that she had never noticed because it just happened. I was annoyingly specific. I mean, I listed dishes as:
- getting dirty dishes from other rooms/taking the to kitchen after I'm done eating
- rinsing dishes or emptying leftovers
- putting dirty dishes in appropriate place on sink
- doing dishes
- putting dishes away

So, it was hard not to be passive aggressive, but like, if she's leaving random half-eaten foodbowls around the house, obviously she doesn't see those things as things that need to happen. So it helped her see that the reason we didn't have rotting food all over the house was because SOMEONE ELSE MOVED THEM.

Not that I'm bitter.

Alter Kocker

@redheaded&crazy underlap FTW!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@MilesofMountains @bowtiesarecool Dude and I live in a one-bedroom. His side of the bed faces the windows and my side faces the door/closets. So basically my side of the floor HAS to be walk-through-able, but if I walk around the bed and see his side... I basically cannot see floor because of all the clothes. See also: his desk/computer area (except papers/old plates/empty RX bottles instead of clothes). And yet his closet is mostly empty? I don't know.

bowtiesarecool

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Ha! Oh, the empty closet trick. Yeah, my dude's closet is vacant aside from a hanging piece of a Renn fair costume (...I don't know either), most of his stuff is still in plastic boxes from the last move, but I don't think I've seen the floor since then, either. I believe in kipple, and I believe it breeds at night.

(When did this become Get Rid of Your Men, Seriously, They Are Revolting part 2?)

redheaded&crazy

@bowtiesarecool more like Get Rid of Your Men, Seriously, They Are Revolting part infinity amirite ladies imsorite

faustbanana

While canned air is indeed awesome, if your co-workers are anything like mine, watch out for them sneaking up and scaring the piss out of you by blowing it on the back of your head while you have headphones on.

NellieBly

I use glue products, Jolie :) I buy those cheapo glue sticks (the small ones) to seal envelopes instead of licking them or using a sponge.

Also, if you don't angle the can of air at all while you're using (hold the keyboard vertically instead), it shouldn't get as cold.

meganmaria

@Snork Juice When I was a lifeguard, we dared a guy we worked with to let us hold it upside down, shake it, then spray it on his nipple. He never let us talk him into anything again. Worth it.

klemay

In my place of work we have one of those water cooler thingies and the part that catches water when it drips is starting to get super moldy and gross. This is what happens when I go away for a week. Disgusting.

PotatoPotato

Ok, ok, ok, I gotta share this office sponge-related story. Small company, no cleaning service. The office manager would just stay late once a week to vacuum, collect the trash, clean the bathrooms, simple stuff. (Boss paid her extra to do it.) One afternoon she goes into the bathroom connected to the break room and sees the toilet is looking gross. She goes at it with the sponge on the sink.
Manager dude, who is eating his lunch, protests. "What are you doing?! That's the sponge I used to clean my mug!"
"What?! No, it's the sponge I use to clean the toilets!"
"But...BUT THAT'S THE SPONGE IS USE TO CLEAN MY MUG!"
Aaaaand scene.

Auntie Maim@twitter

@PotatoPotato Once in a communal living situation, I was putting away dishes from the drainer next to the sink, when a roommate came by and said, "Oh, that's for clean dishes? I thought that's where they went to be loaded in the dishwasher." We had been re-eating off of his dirty (albeit quite well-rinsed) dishes for months.

tortietabbie

@PotatoPotato, @Auntie Maim@twitter OHHHHH GODDDDDD.

meganmaria

@PotatoPotato Why would office manager ever even think of putting toilet sponge anywhere near kitchen anything ever?!

PotatoPotato

@meganmaria: Bathroom, not kitchen. We didn't have a kitchen. Any dishes had to be washed in the bathroom sink.

meganmaria

@PotatoPotato Oh, I follow you now. I misread your statement above.

Megasus

I don't work in an office (yet) but I will not show you my home desk Clean Person. I won't do you like that.
Also, sometimes the wipes do not matter. I used to work at a call center, where I got bug WHERE I LOST MY VOICE, and that thing went around like wildfire, and then I didn't get paid for like three weeks because when I was better, there was no work. Fun times.

karion

Really. Not one person mentioned that gal on Intervention who huffed keyboard cleaner.

FINE.

Cricket

RUBBING ALCOHOL! for white boards. SO good/cheap

Does Axl have a jack?

Can we talk about coworkers whose misguided attempts to be excessively clean make them disgusting? Hence the Highly Immature but Hilarious Lysol War of 2011. A woman on my floor was obsessed with spraying every possible surface with nasty floral-scented Lysol that she brought from home every time she used the bathroom; this gave me as well as other ladies headaches and asthma issues, on top of just smelling straight-up gross. We asked that she stop, but she didn't, so we threw away her can of Lysol (which she left in the bathroom). Twice. The highly indignant note she left on the mirror indicated that she was not able to make the connection between the events, but rather thought that someone was stealing her precious Lysol for their own selfish use. So more obvious measures were necessary. I flushed the nozzle of the third can, but she continued using it without. So, finally came the nuclear option: super glue down the spray tube. Victory.

The moral here is that scented Lysol doesn't make the bathroom smell like flowers rather than poo, it just makes it smell like poo AND flowers. And sound like wheezing and spiteful office pranks.

On a more positive note, we have a weekly dishcloth-laundering rotation and a wee bin to put them in when they get too dirty to use.

PotatoPotato

@armyofskanks: Ha! Yep. My boss tends to spray the ever-living fuck out of the bathroom using the kind of Lysol that's meant to actually just, ya know, clean surfaces, and doesn't have a perfume added? I think he does it for the sake of the person in the adjacent office, but it really doesn't help. We're all just gagging on two smells instead of one.

angelinha

@armyofskanks Ewwww. I used to work in an office with two maintenance men who did everything to every mess except clean it. This usually meant spraying scented Lysol all over anything germy/stinky but occasionally translated into them painting over dirt. Like the walls would be dirty and they would get white paint and PAINT OVER THEM.

One of the guys would also empty the bathroom trash by reaching in with his hands and putting the garbage in a larger garbage bag rather than take out the little bag and re-line it every time. This would have been gross enough on its own, but he also did it with BARE HANDS. Finally I worked up the courage to ask him to wear gloves and he got very angry with me.

Maristic

There's some good advice on cleaning whiteboards at http://www.usmarkerboard.com/Help-Center/FAQ/howToCleanWhiteboard — one of the key things is that different whiteboards are made of different materials. If yours is magnetic, it's probably some kind enameled steel, otherwise it may be a HPL (high pressure laminate), Vinyl or Melamine.

When I got my whiteboard (which is an enameled steel kind), it came with some eye opening instructions. In particular, it said NEVER USE ANY EXPO BRAND cleaners, and also to NEVER USE EXPO BRAND ERASERS. I think that the Expo brand cleaners erode the surface over time, creating a vicious cycle where you need more cleanings and thus use more cleaner. For erasers, it said to use a good quality felt eraser just like you'd find for a chalkboard.

The full instructions are at work, but the gist was that you don't need massive amounts of solvent to clean a(n enamel) whiteboard. I'll try transcribe them tomorrow.

urbaneowl

Hours of group work last semester for my grad program meant a lot of disgusting whiteboards. I discovered that hand sanitizer (the foaming kind or not) works great for cleaning the boards and doesn't seem to cause any ill effects.

isitisabel

@urbaneowl I also recommend hand sanitizer. It works really well (probably due to the alcohol content) and is probably really easy to find sitting around the office.

KiwiTheBirdNotTheFruit

This just inspired me to whip out the wipes I keep in my drawer and give my entire desk/computer/phone a good going over (it had been a while; there was...quite a bit of dust and general crud). I don't want to be someone else's revolting co-worker!

mcLurk

Maniacal Office Manager magic for keyboards: KeyKleen swabs. They're like little eyeshadow applicator/q-tip type things pre-soaked in alcohol and will pull all sorts of amazingly nasty stuff out of keyboards and laptop cracks and so on. Seconding hand sanitizer, which I use like 18 times a day right after I....put everyone else's dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Blech.

Hellcat

You guys, I just had to barrel in here to say that I had a very trying day and left work early because the idea of busting out the bleach and vinegar and baking soda, and scrubbing my bathroom was far superior than being at that desk! That kind of day. And I just made a little V & BS volcano in my toothbrush cup just for fun. Also, I hate living in a hard-water place!

Sorry. Had to let that all out. Carry on.

Judith Slutler

@Hellcat I have a question in to Jolie about living with hardcore hard water, I hope she gets to it soonish!

Hellcat

@Emmanuelle Cunt Oh, YAY! I mean, I know the answer is probably specified cleaners and vinegar and keep up with it like a champ. But I am so hoping for a quick-and-easy miracle! It's a discouraging thing to live with when you try to be A Clean Person!

Also, all my nails are ragged and my polish that I just did a couple days ago... ruined. But the bathroom is pretty awesome now (until that infernal hard-water toilet ring shows up again).

KeLynn

In my office bathroom, in addition to soap, there is hand sanitizer. And I HATE THIS. I am absolutely positive that there are people I work with who just use hand sanitizer instead of actually washing their hands with real soap, and they need to cut it out. That shit is gross. Use soap like a clean person.

Karen McCowan@facebook

All protector/waterproofing spray, the stuff you use on your shoes, works WONDERS on whiteboards! Not only does it clean off all the marker, it also makes it easier to erase the next time! I work in a shoe store, and I can attest that the all protector works way better than windex on our whiteboard. It's also amazing to get rid of any type of sticky residue. Seriously, it is amazing.

Xanthophyllippa

@Karen McCowan@facebook Just out of curiosity, how did you discover that?

Karen McCowan@facebook

@Xanthophyllippa We always used it to clean stickers off of the tile floor and get scuff marks off of white sneaker soles, and just gradually discovered that it's pretty bomb at cleaning just about anything.

LolaLooksFrench

OH. MY. GOD. What was the first thing I discovered in the work fridge upon starting my job in January? Half and half that had expired IN JULY. I bitched until someone got rid of it, but the fridge still smells like death and anything that goes in there starts smelling like it too. Halp?

automaticdoor

@LolaLooksFrench Bowl of vinegar in the fridge after a vinegar scrubdown?

EDIT: also, maybe get one of these sponges mentioned in the comment? http://thehairpin.com/2011/05/ask-a-clean-person-the-smokers-dilemma#comment-32796

Ivona Poyntz@facebook

Hmmm, I draw the line at wiping down the elevators at work.

Ivona Poyntz@facebook

Hmmm, I draw the line at wiping down the elevators at work.

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