Thursday, October 18, 2012


Ask a Clean Person: Autumnal Cleaning Conundrums

It's that time of year, brrr, and I'm cleaning all our fall coats. I notice that both my boyfriend’s raincoat and mine have big DRY CLEAN ONLY labels, but are both made of polyester/nylon, so the ‘dry clean only’ seems a crock (I always prefer to hand or machine wash when possible, because we have a washing machine at home, and I am both lazy and cheap, and dislike extra chemicals). Given the material, it seems like I should be able to do this at home EXCEPT!: Does the raincoat have some sort of coating which boosts its magical raincoat waterproofness, such that machine washing would ruin it? I am confused. Help! And thank you!

This is a great question, and you're right to worry about the outer fabric having a coating that shouldn't be washed. Since the care tag only mentions nylon and poly, it's safe to assume there is no special coating on the raincoat, which means absolutely you can go on and hand- or machine-wash it.

What you don't want to do is expose it to heat, in the event there is a slight coating or treatment on the material. Use cold water and a mild detergent, and, if you're machine-washing, select the gentle cycle. Any light coating that there is will be fine in cold water (I mean, they're raincoats, they're used to water!), it's just the dryer that might be a problem, so play it safe and let them drip dry. For bigger/bulkier items like coats, I find putting them on a plastic hanger — not metal or wood please! The water from the coat will cause them to stain the inner lining and we don't want that. Also: [NO WIRE HANGERS! joke goes here] — and hanging them to drip dry in the shower.

If you do have a wax-coated raincoat, such as a Barbour, it will need to be specially handled. This is a really neat piece about a professional Barbour restorer that I love love love and have been dying for an opportunity to share with you. And here is that opportunity! Hurrah! 

I got some lovely black Hunter boots for Christmas last year. Given that it was a pretty mild and rain-free winter and spring, I hadn't gotten much use out of them. In fact, I wore them in March when it was a light snow/slush type situation, and put them in my closet, and haven't had the opportunity to wear them since.

Well, I was cleaning the other day, and went to move them and noticed terrible salt stains all over the boots. Awful. I tried cleaning them using the recommended instructions: dish soap, but this did little to remove the stains. What's a girl to do? Is it too late? Did I wait too long to rinse the salt off and ruin my beautiful boots?

I don't think it's too late, no! But before I get into the (super easy, I promise!) details of how to clean salt stains off rubber boots, it's worth mentioning that it's a good idea to wipe down your boots when you take them off after coming in from a storm. One, it will help to keep the storm detritus from getting all over your home, and two, it will extend the life and look of your boots. Just wiping them down with a rag is all you'll need to do!

But back to your salt stains: in general, dish soap and warm water will do the trick to get and/or keep your rubber boots clean. But in the event there's staining — particularly from salt — that the soap doesn't touch, go ahead and add a half- to full-cup of white vinegar to your soap and water. Dip a rag in the solution and wipe the boots down with it. If you don't have white vinegar on hand who are you and what are you doing here you can use Windex or any other kind of glass cleaner as a substitute.

How do I keep my dresses (cotton, linen, silk, pollys and esthers, as my grandmother used to say) from sticking and bunching on my tights when I walk? Is the only solution to wear a front-facing bustle? I presume such a thing exists. I've seen other girls have this problem, so I'm 99% sure its not the shape of my knees.

I love your grandmother and will be quoting her often. Just darling.

Okay but onto the very timely seasonal question at hand! There are a few different options you have in terms of preventing static cling:

1. Use Static Guard, which is a spray you spray on your clothes and/or tights to keep static from occurring. One nice thing about Static Guard is that they make small sized cans that can be tossed into a purse or a desk drawer for easy access.

2. Hairspray (aerosol) (I know, sorry!) has the same effect, but can be a little stickier than Static Guard. It's also another thing you can get in a small size, which is nice.

3. Lotion! It's super weird, but if you put a little bit of lotion on your hands, rub it in a bit, and then run your slightly lotion-y hands down your tights it will make a little coating that prevents static. This also works on your hair, but I bet you already knew that.

4. Dryer sheets rubbed on your tights has the same effect.

5. When you wash your tights and nylons and such, add a little white vinegar (about a half a cup oughta do it), which serves as a natural fabric softener and will help cut down on static in those items. It also has the added benefit of helping to take out smells, which unfortunately sometimes our hosiery develops, particularly in the crotchal area. (Sorry, real talk.)

Help! I stained my bathroom! Okay, here's what happened: I used one of those temporary spray dyes for Halloween to dye my hair red. (Pippi Longstocking. It was a hit!) It got all over my tile shower walls. I was running late so I left the cleanup till the morning; I see now this was a rookie mistake. Anyway, the dye came off the tile, but the grout is still this weird dark pink color.

What do I do?? Scrubbing Bubbles has no effect. Bleach seems like the answer, but it's sliding down the wall too quickly to really change things. Do they make ... stickier bleach? I don't know. I am out of my league here.

Bleach is liquid, so it will drip — that's okay! If you have a spray bottle or a bleach-based product that comes in a spray bottle things will be easier. What you'll do is spray the solution on the walls and then let it marinate for 15-30 minutes. OPEN A WINDOW PLEASE. The stink will be horrible. Also you absolutely must wear rubber gloves, both while spraying and while cleaning, because bleach is very harsh.

After you've let it sit, get a scrub brush, something like this (toothbrushes will just make you crazy, a bigger brush makes things go faster), wet it thoroughly and chh-chh-chh all over the walls. Then wipe everything down with a wet sponge or rag, and that should do it! If there's a little red residue don't worry. As the tile and grout dries it will lighten up back to white.

If you're really against the notion of dripping bleach, you could opt for a cream product that contains bleach, like Soft Scrub. Apply it to the scrub brush, chh-chh-chh it all over the grout, let it sit there for 20-30 minutes and then rinse off. The last thing worth mentioning is that sometimes with dye stain situations you need to do more than one pass at it. That's A-OK. Take a first crack at it, let it dry and then assess if it needs another going over.

Also your costume sounds adorable!

How do you clean or maintain wigs? Especially cheap ones. (That is my Halloween question.)

Sure thing, I can help with that! But it's worth mentioning that oftentimes the cheap, Halloween-ish wigs aren't really worth cleaning or maintaining, and actually sometimes they'll just utterly fall apart if you try to make them clean. But! I admire your spirit, and with that here are the basics for maintaining wigs, cheap and otherwise.


  • You can use a soft-bristled hairbrush to style a straight wig; if the wig is curly, use the finger-comb method. And don't pull! We don't need your wig hollering, Ouch ouch you're hurting me, Mom! at you.
  • In addition, you can use any kind of styling product you'd use on real hair — same goes for accessories. But also plain old hand lotion is a great thing for smoothing a wig down. Put a little bit in your palm, rub it in well, and then smoooooooooooooooth. A dryer sheet can also be used for this purpose.
  • The one thing that you cannot do to your wig is use any kind of heat-based styling products. Your wig will melt.
  • Please don't come crying to me when you've got melted wig all over your curling iron. I will laugh and not help you because I am mean and also because I warned you!
  • If your wig has gone kinky while being stored, make a joke about how kinky it is and buy it a whip! And then hang it up in your bathroom while you shower to help loosen the kinks.
  • Also you can trim your wig! As the fibers settle into the wig cap some may turn out to be longer than others — just snip them with haircutting shears the same way your would real hair. Except that I know you're not cutting your own hair because Jane would be upset with you for doing so and we don't want to upset Jane.


If you need or want to wash your wig, you can totally do so — just use cool water and a very small amount of shampoo. Fill up your sink basin with water, add the shampoo and let the wig soak for about five minutes before rinsing well. Shake off excess water and hang or lay flat on a towel to dry. Try not to rub or agitate the fibers too much so it doesn't tangle. Because if it tangles then you'll have to brush it and then it will yell at you for hurting it and why is your wig talking to you? Have you sought help for that?


You know those styrofoam heads? Please get one and store your wig on it, just so people think you're really glamorous and eccentric. Also it's the best way to store a wig, for serious.

But since that's not super practical, two other options, depending on what kind of wig you have:

1.  If it's a straight wig, you can put it back in the bag it came in. (Of course that's provided that you saved the bag so, um, save the bag I guess?)

2. If your wig is curly, store it in a plastic grocery bag, which will give it more space to just be.


Previously: Something Winter This Way Comes, Part 1 and Part 2.

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?

Image via Flickr/jimshooz7

178 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott

Ohhhh Jolie!!! I've MISSED you and your clean ways!!!!

Judith Slutler

@The Lady of Shalott Yessssssss! Clean Person Time!


@The Lady of Shalott ME TOO

Dirty Hands

@JadedStone AGREEEED.

Banana dance

@The Lady of Shalott I was being all wistful today, wishing for a clean person, AND THEN IT HAPPENED!


I never get tired of this@j


I don't have any wigs, but I love the idea of having a wig on a styrofoam head so much that I might have to buy one.


@OhMarie The great thing about foam heads is that you can name them, draw faces on them, and assign them personalities. That's what my best friend and I did in the heyday of our cosplay adventures, and I still have Clarisse...


@frigwiggin Princess Mombi? is that you?



Lexa Lane

a) Oh thank god, A Clean Person has returned. Please don't ever leave us again.

b) For the static problem: slips! I wear tights, boots, and skirts/dresses all fall and winter, and a slip gets rid of most of the static problems, and also just the basic "two non-slippery fabrics are going to stick together, no matter what" problems. (This is why lined skirts play more nicely with stockings and tights and stuff. At least, I think that's why.)

Beatrix Kiddo

@Lexa Lane Where do you even buy slips, though? I look for them sometimes, but then I get frustrated and give up, because it seems like they've been replaced by Spanx everywhere.


@Beatrix Kiddo I got some slips at JC Penny. You can get really nice ones at lingerie stores but I find the cheep-o ones to work just as well.


@Lexa Lane Your less-fancy department stores, like JCPenny or Sears, often have them, and I've also had good luck at lingerie specialty stores (not Victoria's Secret, though). barenecessities.com has a "slips" section, too, though at first glance it appears to contain mostly shapewear. Anyway, classic slips like to hang out at less-trendy shops.


@Beatrix Kiddo I have a couple of half-slips from Target--they have a lace waistband, which I love, because it doesn't dig in like a regular narrow elastic waistband does.


@Beatrix Kiddo Amazon! I've been buying my slips there, no shipping, for the past few years--and cheaper than JCP or Sears.

Beatrix Kiddo

@ghechr @frigwiggin @ Jinxie @ parallel-lines Thanks!

Queen of Pickles

@Lexa Lane
Yes! I am such a fan of slips. They're cheap at the Salvation Army, feel all nice and silky, and are mandatory in winter for me.

They're also really great if I'm wearing a scratchy wool skirt.


@Beatrix Kiddo oooh, Jolie talked about this in a previous Clean Person post and there are also a TON of suggestions in the comments.


Comments like these make me sad because I think my body is just not made for slips! All the ones I've tried have resulted in my needing to do more adjusting throughout the day than without slips and are ultimately a waste of money for me. But they are always so cute and sound so nice in theory.


@Lexa Lane The fact that a slip seems like a novelty to so many makes me feel very old-fashioned.

Lexa Lane

@Frisky@twitter I know. I went through a phase where I kind of forgot about them, but in the past five years or so I've rediscovered how awesome they are. Kind of cheap dress that's a little transparent? Add a slip! Thin fabric that shows too many bumps and undergarment lines? Add a slip! Skirt sticking to your tights? Add a slip! They solve so many problems.


@Lexa Lane Another benefit to slips is that manfriends (well, my manfriend, at least) seem to find it rather sexay when I take off my dress and there's a silky slip underneath. Even the plain white ones have a Liz-Taylor-in-Cat-On-A-Hot-Tin-Roof sultry/sexy thing going on!


@SarahP - What about just a half slip? It clearly depends on what you're wearing, but if a half slip will do it, there are less fit issues to contend with.

@Lexa Lane - plus, they keep your clothes cleaner longer and nicer longer because they protect your clothes from your gross body with all its oil and sweat and what have you.

Legs McKimbo

@SarahP I don't know if American English really observes the difference between a slip and a half-slip (which I think we Brits would generally call an underskirt), but if you're talking dress-length-thing, have you tried the skirt-length-thing? That can work ok.

I was laughed out of John Lewis, which is positively an institution for old-fashioned old ladies (when I was in my 20s! By a shop assistant in her 50s!), for asking for an underskirt. "Don't you know everyone wears Spanx these days?", she smirked. "That's not the problem I'm trying to solve!", I wept.

Marks and Spencer was the answer, in the end, although they tend to let their stocks dwindle a bit. Hey Americans, do you have these shops over there? Would you like to come over here? And buy our underskirts?


@Legs McKimbo Much to my dismay, we do not have either John Lewis or Marks and Spencer here. [weeps bitter tears, remembering both the cheap yet well-made/stylish clothing and the M&S Food mart]

Lexa Lane

@Jinxie Oh, the M&S food mart... I miss you England. One of my favorite skirts ever is from Marks and Spencer, and every time I wear it I pretend I'm in England. (Incidentally, it's also one that requires a slip! It's faux suede and sticks to *everything*.)

Legs McKimbo

@Jinxie @Lexa Lane come here! It's nice! But don't just come for Marks & Sparks. We have better things than that.

@KeLynn you said 'half-slip'! Thank you for confirming that Wikipedia is correct and you nice people do say that. I know this is not a conversation about British v. US English but you nice people also say 'pants' when you mean trousers, which I should thank you for because for us 'pants' almost always means underpants. Cue many opportunities for childish laughter. Sisterhood of the travelling pants! Gross!

I know you all already know this. But I am still chortling to myself about it. As I say. Childish.


@Legs McKimbo and @KeLynn True, I have only tried full slips! Maybe I'll give half-slips a chance sometime. I'm just afraid of being hurt (ie, lumpier-looking or constantly adjusting) again!

Legs McKimbo

@SarahP Now I think about it, I hate things digging into my waist, so one with a really loose waistband is essential, I guess. Good luck!


@Legs McKimbo I don't know if this is a British thing too, but apparently in Ireland "fanny" (which, in the US, is one's rear end) means vagina, which brings a whole new meaning to the term "fanny pack".


@Beatrix Kiddo I was recently surprised to find some pretty great slips (full and half) at The Gap. They're not too long or full and they don't have lace and the waistband is really nice and flat, so they're great for all my unlined pencil skirts from J. Crew Factory.
Also, it's The Gap so even if they never go on sale they'll have 40% off of all the stuff online soon.

Jolie Kerr

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that this has turned into a meeting of The Slip Appreciation Society. I'm wearing a slip right now, as a matter of fact!

I know someone already linked to the post where we talked about slips — I get mine from the Gap, but Target has them too (both stores carry half- and full-slips) as do many other places; there's a round-up here, about mid-column of places that readers recommended.

Diaphanous Gown

@Jinxie yep, vagina in England too. We'd call a fanny pack a bum bag.

Legs McKimbo

@Jinxie ALL TRUE. It's a slightly adorable term for vagina, I think, one your grandma might use (erm, term your grandma might use, not vagina your grandma might use). Interestingly (?), this is why in the 80s, instead of 'fanny pack', we used the term 'bum bag'.

The venerable author has brought us back to slips and I feel I should follow. Slips!


@Legs McKimbo - It is a thing! You are welcome!

@SarahP - The only time I find myself adjust my half slips is when I try to wear them lower than I should. I'm so used to low-rise everything, that I always put my half slips on like that too. But of course, their waists are elastic, so they creep up to my natural waist pretty quick. Then, the slip I thought was long enough is actually an inch or two too short and now the bottom of my dress is sticking to my tights. Sigh.


@Jolie Kerr @Everyone I found a couple at Loehmann's (is Loehmann's a regional thing? I don't know. But I love it there). I didn't actually need "a couple" but knowing the horrors of trying to find a non-shapewear one, I grabbed what I could and ran. There is a lot of shapewear to weed through but I got me two black ones (with built-in bras that are actually comfortable!) for maybe $40-ish? And now I'm wondering if Marshall's or a place like it might have some too...


@everyone Sliiiips forever and always! I have a bunch (mostly thrifted or inherited from deceased grandmas) and pettipants from Amazon (for when my skirt/dress is too short or form-fitting for my regular slips. Bonus: dress slips are perfect as loungewear, and people who drop by while you're lounging will be impressed by your casual sultriness and elegance.


@Beatrix Kiddo Walmart and target have cheap ones.

one cow.

Yaaaaaaaaaaay, AACP! <3 u.

Derbel McDillet

I just used Nikwax Techwash on our raincoats and it works great! If you find your raincoats have lost their water-repellantness(?) over time, try Nikwax Soft Shell Proof. I sounds like a commercial! Both are inexpensive and easy to do in a regular washing machine. Here's a link (ok, maybe not a link, but the address):


@AconyBelle Yes I've used this too! It only seems to work if they are only slightly less water-repellant and not if your jacket is super worn out.

IF your jacket is really worn out though, you should look and see if the company has a lifetime warranty. Lots of them do, and this fall, North Face has already sent my bf brand new replacement rain pants and jacket, and Marmot is sending me a new rain jacket any day now. I even got to pick a new colour! Our gear wasn't even damaged, just worn out.

Warranties! working for the people!


@AconyBelle I also love the Nikwax, but make sure that you use the right product when reapplying your DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coatings. Use the softshell stuff for softshells and the hardshell for hardshells.


JOLLLLLIEEEEEE. Can I also use your remove dye from grout system to remove what is apparently black mold (or black colored mold) from my grout? Does bleach work on mold? Is the stuff making my grout black mold? (Get rid of myself I am revolting?) I thought mold + bleach = didn't work...or did I make that up so I didn't have to bleach my grout?

Disco Sheets

@Olivia2.0 Jumping in here because I would love to know the answer to this, too! I keep my bathroom clean but it STILL builds up and grosses me out.

up cubed

@Olivia2.0 I would also like to know.


@Olivia2.0 The only things that's ever worked for me is generous amounts of Scrubbin' Bubbles. (And P.S. even though it's black in color, it's most likely not black mold in your tub.)


@Olivia2.0 YES. That stuff just DOES NOT GO AWAY. I have used every system Jolie has ever mentioned on here to get rid of the black mold, and NONE of them work. Soft Scrub, bleach, vinegar and baking soda...nothing. AHHHH my landlady is going to hate us when we move out.


@Olivia2.0 Two words: Bleach Pen! Clorox makes a bleach pen and it is a thick gel, works really well.

saul "the bear" berenson

@Olivia2.0 I found a product at Home Depot called Zep that is the only thing that works, and it is AMAZING. You spray it on, leave it for 5, ch-ch-ch and done. I'm sure it's probably poisonous and awful, but it WORKS. Better than comet, bleach pen, tilex, magic eraser, vinegar, or anything else I've tried. I think this is it:



@Olivia2.0 Tilex mold and mildew! It's bleach-based, with a hint of magic...

Seriously, spray, wait, scrub, rinse. Magic.

up cubed

@Moxie I used Zep to clean my microwave after I made a giant mess with chicken fat. It was my last and best ditch effort, after less toxic stuff failed to do anything.


@Olivia2.0 I have The Grout From Hell, and the only thing that has ever worked is mixing bleach with baking soda to form a paste, applying liberally to the grout, and then covering it with plastic wrap. Leave it up for a day, and then remove and rinse. The baking soda allows for the bleach to stay in place, and the plastic wrap keeps everything all intact. It is extremely fiddly, but when you are so grossed out that you can't stand to be in the bathroom, it's worth it.


On skirts/dresses not sticking to hosiery: WEAR A SLIP! It's what grandmother did, too.

edited to add: oops, I don't know how I thought I'd be the first one to say that. ha ha.

hahahaha, ja.

Sooo I'm going to admit that the only time my fall/winter coats get cleaned are when I wear them to my parents' and my mom takes it upon herself to take them to the dry cleaners. Left to my own devices, I just sort of sniff them to make sure they're not too mildew-y.

Ugh I'll never be a grown up :(


@hahahaha, ja. I don't think I've ever actually cleaned any of my coats. Whoops.

hahahaha, ja.

@mangosara: Let us sit in the corner here in our dusty musty coats and look shifty-eyed.



Disco Sheets

@mangosara Yeaaaaaaaah, unless it's a machine-washable one (I have ONE like this)... I just sort of... Febreeze it and call it good for another two years??


@hahahaha, ja. Dry cleaning actually isn't great for wool coats, so I use that as an excuse to never clean them. I just brush them with a little boar-bristle brush every once and a while and hope that's enough.


@MilesofMountains a million thanks for your TOTAL VALIDATION of my lack of dry-cleaning motivation.

hahahaha, ja.

@all: I am actually afraid to go to the dry cleaner's because I feel like I'll say something stupid and they'll realize that I am a gross person who never takes my coats to get cleaned. Better that I stew in my own filth in silence.

Judith Slutler

@hahahaha, ja. I really want to get my down comforters washed this year but I feel the same way! and they are SO FILTHY :(

Disco Sheets

@Emmanuelle Cunt But... but... that's what duvet covers are for, right? Keeping the filth away from the down comforter? That's what I tell myself, anyway.

hahahaha, ja.

@Disco Sheets: Yeah, that's the solution I went with. It means I have to spend some time wrestling with getting edges and corners to line up (I swear there's some weird non-Euclidean geometry going on inside my duvet covers) but I try to make it more enjoyable by pretending I am going spelunking in a very soft and very suffocating cave.


re: Hunter boots...it's not salt stains! It's actually a bloom that natural rubber gets. the best thing to clean it with is armor-all (yes, really, the stuff you use on you car). Hunter also makes a product for that purpose but armor-all is a fraction of the price. Just spray it on the boots and wipe with a sponge and it'll come right off!

Miss Kitty Fantastico

@doublewindsor yes to this! i used to work at nordstrom and we had to take a "class" on hunter boot care. ugh. olive oil works well, too! they just need to be moisturized...

also as a side note, hunter wellies are the BEST for winter if you're not someplace that gets massive amounts of snow!


@doublewindsor Yes! I came here to say the same thing. However, I use Goo Gone.


@orangeyorange How often do I need to moisterize them? I've had mine for four years and don't wear them that often, but I don't want to break them either (they're so expensive now!)


@doublewindsor Yup... My black Hunter wellies have a white patina too. In Seattle, where I live, this is an extremely popular shoe. :) I like the way the patina looks, but when I see a person with shiny clean Hunters, I assume they must have used one of the above methods.


I like the way the patina looks, but when I see a person with shiny clean Hunters, I assume they must have used one of the above methods....Flat Fee Real Estate Broker


I cleaned the shit out of my grout with an Oxi Clean solution and a scrub brush. Miraculous.

El Grande Fluffio

Pippi Longstocking! A kindred spirit. (I dressed up like her once too). I too have had hair dye problems in the bathroom -- not red, dark brown. (I don't know, it just gets everywhere). What has worked for me is the Magic Eraser. No bleach, no nasties, just elbow grease and Magic Eraser. It took the dye off the tile floor, off the grout, and off the door.(Took some of the shine off the door too, so test a small area first.


Re: static and tights, if you ever find yourself stranded without Static Guard, sprinkle a bit of water onto your tights. It'll stop the worst of the clinging and alleviate some of the madness.


@VolcanoMouse Maybe that's why I rarely get static: When I wear tights, I wet my hands a bit and drag them up my legs because it works really well to hike them up evenly without tugging and accidental pincing of self. So grippy!


I am the last person to call myself a Clean Person. But living in a cold climate, by god, let me spread the word: coat cleaning! in the spring! it works wonders.
Not only do you get the pleasure of a clean coat when cold weather returns (for "winter is coming!"), but your coat won't have been eaten by moths in the meanwhile. The moths love the smell of human... lived-in-ness? (Dry)cleaning your coat & sweaters in the spring is more effective against moths than all the cedar & grapefruit peels & nasty mothballs you could buy.


@harebell Doesn't it lose the clean-ness feeling over the ensuing months of sitting in a closet or a box, though? I rarely bother laundering stuff when I pack it up at the end of a season because I figure I'm just going to want to wash it again anyway when the time comes to pull it out...


@frigwiggin I have had so many sweaters ruined by not washing them at the end of season... Just wash and fold and put in a bag or plastic box. Throw in cedar blocks, bags of cedar chips, or lavender soap bars. They come out beautifully 6 months later and smell so great.


@DrFeelGood Ruined! Ruined how? I haven't had any problems so far with my lazy cram-it-into-a-suitcase method, but maybe putting in more effort would make me feel more grown up.


@frigwiggin By stains that set over the summer or moths that were attracted to said stains... maybe I'm just a messy eater :)

Faintly Macabre

@harebell Seconding this! Also, even though my wool coat is black and very nice, it gets kind of dingy, pilly, and probably full of various subway/food filth over months of constant wearing. I spend about $15 to get it dry-cleaned at a non-perc cleaner once a year. When I get it back, they've shaved all the pills, pulled out the nasty dirt, and unwrinkled the lining, and it looks almost new. Plus yeah, moths loooove human dirt and I'd rather not feed those nasty beasts.

Cat named Virtute

Jolieeeee! Just thought you should know that "chh-chh-chh" is now immediately followed by "frottage action" in my brain, forever.


Magic Erasers work wonders on grout - get a big box of them, but they work far more quickly and effectively than anything else.


Question: I thrifted this awesome sweater that has a leather-ish patch with a zipper on the right shoulder. There's no tag indicating the materials in the garment or how to wash it--do I just have to give in and assume I have to dry-clean it?


@frigwiggin Did I mention that it's all black and I may or may not refer to it as my spy sweater?

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@frigwiggin But now we all know and you can be never incognito. :(


@frigwiggin I can't help you with cleaning it, but you're clearly making the right choices with your life if you have a spy sweater.

Judith Slutler

@frigwiggin There are so many sweaters with leatherette patches and pockets and stuff on them right now, I'd honestly just head to the nearest H&M and check out the washing instructions on their (obviously inferior and overpriced) versions of your spy sweater.


@frigwiggin If you avoid soaking it, the patch (if it's real leather) should be okay for a hand wash. If it's not leather, then hand-washing won't hurt it. There really are very few things that legit *need* to be dry-cleaned (mostly silks or things with heavy beading), though hand-washing may be more of a pain than it's worth for some things.


@squishycat Oh, good to know! I figured any water at all would upset the leather (if that IS its real name), but I'll just swish it around in the handwash bucket tonight. (Also, I'm laughing at what you said because I totally handwash my silks, although I probably shouldn't recommend it to anybody because I have ruined something that way.)


@frigwiggin Some silks are fine with water, some aren't. I usually make my decision to risk hand-washing based on price of item + how much I actually like it.


@frigwiggin - I would kind of think dry clean only, if it's real leather? All my leather care knowledge is basically "avoid getting caught in a rainstorm, but if you do, wipe all the water off of your leather things and leave them to dry and pray" which doesn't sound conducive to hand washing.

Cat named Virtute

@frigwiggin I sure hope that sweater is making a blog appearance soon!


@KeLynn What I really need to do is inspect it when I get home to determine if it's leather or some unholy facsimile. I don't own too many leather items so my tests will probably be amateurish, but it will help me decide!

@Cat named Virtute Oh man, as soon as the weather gets cold enough. I would have worn it over the summer if it wouldn't have caused me to spontaneously combust. It makes me want to run around doing Kronk theme music.


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So two weeks ago my sister came to visit me, and locked her keys in the car. She asked if I had wedges (???) and a wire hanger to try and open the car.

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I don't mind taking my coat to get dry cleaned, but I'm not looking forward to emptying out the pockets.

This is my new username

@meetapossum This one time was cleaning the gross year-old used kleenex (get rid of me I'm disgusting) out of my dirty winter coat and I totally found a $20 in one of the pockets! It was the best!


I have heard the dryer sheets for static thing before, and so I tried it. And it left white residue all over my navy blue top. So. I will never use dryer sheets again. But Static Guard is awesome.

Julia duMais

@olivebee When I was a tiny Julia, my mother used to rub our hair with dryer sheets in the winter! I don't remember this happening, but that said, I insisted on her putting so many ponytails in it that I couldn't get a good look at them to see.


I want to be wearing Hunter boot and a Barbour RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

And yet Barbours are pretty pricey.

Sorry to yell. It's just...waxed jackets. Sigh.

Julia duMais

Honestly, I kind of like the smell of bleach? IDK, maybe it's because swimming was the only sport I was never completely terrible at, so between that and the sense of satisfaction that cleaning gives me, I smell chlorine and it just makes me feel really happy and productive and capable.

I mean, my bathroom has a window and I totally open that shit when I clean, because I don't want to suffocate, but if I ever DO, Hairpin, I hope you will take comfort in knowing that I went happy.


@Julia duMais I am so with you--I love it! Why can't that damn Yankee Candle make a bleach-scented one? I will buy them all!


AAAH to the lady who is complaining about her tights/skirt problem: wear a slip! wear a slip! your grandmother was right about this, they are the greatest things on the planet and will totally eliminate this bunching problem AND they are super cute!!!


So I'm not sure the skirt question is actually about static? It seems like more the problem of skirts getting caught in between your legs as you walk, which happens regardless of static, and would be more of a "how to be a girl" question. I know slips can help with this for unlined skirts; are there other secrets? On the other hand I could just be misinterpreting the question.


I have never even approached the thought of washing my tights and stockings. Okay, so yeah, I wash the super thick cotton tights I have, but the thin stuff!? I suppose one does it by hand? I bought expensive retro seamed stockings (to me anyway) to wear at my wedding and I'm afraid even looking at them will cause them to run!

Disco Sheets

@rallisaurus I'm lazy, and I wear tights every day once the temp drops below 55, so they go in the machine for me. But JUST tights (so there's nothing for them to snag on), on delicate cycle in cold water, with Woolite or something equally gentle. I love the vinegar tip though, bc the feet of my tights tend to get smelly.

Disco Sheets

@rallisaurus Ohhhh but expensive retro seamed ones... yeah, I'd handwash those.

Lexa Lane

@rallisaurus I don't have expensive retro seamed stockings, but I throw all my tights and regular old stockings in delicates bags and run them through on the delicates cycle, which at least prevents stretching. Handwashing would be the safest, though.


@rallisaurus I mostly wear Hue tights and I toss those in the washing machine no problem. They are practically indestructible. I find handwashing just doesn't get out the foot stink.

Amanda Webber@facebook

On the grout/bleach issue — I've heard it also works if you soak paper towels in bleach and then slap them onto the walls.


@Amanda Webber@facebook Ah! I was just about to say this. The bleach in the US isn't as thick as what I'm used to in the UK, so I have to use a bunch of paper towels to stick bleach to things.

In general I also find toilet cleaners with bleach to be thicker bleach for tiles etc.


Oh! Thank you Baby Jesus for bring A Clean Person back in my life! My Thursdays have not been the same!




@SuperGogo I'm pretty sure we can achieve cold fusion with vinegar, but nobody has yet conducted the experiment.

Disco Sheets

Oh I have a question! I thrifted an awesome scarf recently--I know it's an old style from Anthro bc I remember lusting after it when it first came out, so I'm sure the materials are... nicer? probably wool and silk?? But I'm not positive what they are. It got all grody after a night at a douchetastic bar and I DO NOT know how to get the beer/smoke/douche smell out of it and Febreeze is not working. What to dooooooooo?


@Disco Sheets - Have you tried spraying with white vinegar? It's deodorizing. Or hang it outside for a couple days.

Disco Sheets

@KeLynn Haha, is there NOTHING white vinegar can do? Spritzing it is such a good idea though--I was only thinking to soak it and that terrified me.

Lexa Lane

@Disco Sheets Put it in a plastic bag in the freezer for a couple of days. Supposedly this kills odors...I've heard that some people do it with expensive jeans to preserve the dark wash.


@Disco Sheets Nooooo don't use Febreeze! It just adds Febreeze smells on top of the other smells! White vinegar and/or airing outside might work but I will also suggest getting a wee bottle of either Eucalan or Soak wash. They're both made for delicates and hand knits and what's really great is that they're no-rinse. So you take a bowl (or a clean sink), add in a spoonfull or so of wash and then fill with cold water, add your scarf and swish around a bit and then just let it sit for 20 minutes. Then drain out the water, GENTLY squeeze the excess from the scarf and lay the scarf out on a towel (if it's still super wet, you can then roll up the towel & scarf like a swiss roll, and then squish the roll a bit to get the towel to absorb the water) to dry.


@Jinxie Also, both brands come in lots of lovely, though delicate, scents. Also also, I'm advocating cleaning as opposed to just odor removal because you've thrifted this scarf and you're going to wear it around your neck and near your hair, but you don't know what sort of life it had before you got it. (Though you've already worn it so I'm sure it's FINE and I'm just channeling paranoid clean freak, Ma Jinx.)


@Disco Sheets Seconding the Soak/Eucalan wool wash method. I do this with my handknits that fibers like wool and silk. Another tip I read once for defunkifying is to spray diluted alcohol on it. The alcohol dries up the smells and then evaporates. I read that costumers do this with costumes and wigs and such and I tried it with my nice wool coat and it worked pretty good. Febreeze is the worst.


@Jinxie Febreze gives me some kind of breathing issue! It's not the smell exactly; it's like in my throat and it makes my chest feel all congested or something. It's terrible. But also, it just smells too strong (or "loud," as my friend once said).


@Disco Sheets if you don't want to get it wet, you can try putting it in a big bag (that you can seal) with some clean, unscented cat litter for a few days. Cat litter sucks the smells out of the fabric! It worked for me when I broke a bottle of perfume in a leather bag, I would assume it would work for other smells/fabrics.


Wahhh, tights and boots! We're still getting high 70s/low 80s temperatures here. Stupid razzin frazzin south.


Former upscale outdoor equipment employee here, and I can say that your recommendation about the raincoat is *almost* spot on. If you have a high-tech type rain coat (Patagonia, North Face, etc.) it will almost certainly have a waterproof coating on it. This coating is actually reinvigorated when you wash (we recommend powder detergent so that you don't clog the pores of the fabric and compromise the garment's breatheability) and then, yes, tumble dry. Set the dryer on LOW for sure, but the slight heat can actually reactivate the waterproof coating. If this doesn't work and water still isn't beading on the jacket, then you can use a product like nikwax to re-coat, but you'd be surprised what a short time in a cool dryer can do!


@MALLROY Oh Mr/Mz former upscale outdoor equipment employee with the awesome icon photo, I have a question for you too!: Is there anything I can do to increase the rainproofness around the bottom of my tent? I went camping last weekend during some heavy downpours and I had neither a tarp nor footprint below my tent, and the floor got wet. Like, puddles in the corners. Would this be fixed if I had a footprint or is there some product I can put on the seams around the base? Or is my tent just a POS and I should never camp in rain again?


@SuperGogo Oh, yikes! My store specialized in apparel (should have made that more clear) so I don't know too much about tents. Hopefully someone else can help! Sorry!


@SuperGogo Is it possible it was just condensation? Or definitely leaks? We use a tarp under our tent but it's more to protect the bottom from being punctured by something sharp on the ground than to keep it from leaking. It's more likely that your tent was getting water in under the rainfly or something and then dripping down the walls than coming up through the bottom.


Timely! I recently dripped reddish purple hair dye on my toilet seat, and by the time I noticed, an impenetrable little purple stain had developed. I threw everything I had at it, but I didn't have any bleach. Guess I'll try that.

Also, my long blonde sorceress/Luna Lovegood/Lady Gaga/Khaleesi wig is looking a bit worse for wear. Braiding wigs is sort of hard, it turns out!


@Inconceivable! As someone who has dripped a LOT of hair dye on her toilet seat (and walls and floor because I apparently fling that stuff around like MAD), bleach won't really do anything.... my 409 with bleach/Softscrub only ended up eating the coating of the toilet seat off. I ended up just buying a new toilet seat at Target- the ReStyle brand ones were on sale for $6. And now I drape everything with towels and move very slowly when I dye my hair.


Bleach pen!! It exists! It's like a giant Sharpie full of thick bleach solution and it's amazing for grout stains.


@totallyunoriginal I've used the bleach pen too! I think it's more effective than soft scrub, but I also more expensive.


Could you also use one of those bleach pens for the grout? I used to use those to draw on clothes when I was in highschool so that I would look EdGy AnD cOoL.

(That took me three tries to type out like that)


@thatgirl Clorox Bleach Foamer is where it's at for getting bleach to stick to things. It is super hard to find but I know that Target carries it most of the time and I think I've gotten it at Lowe's too. Do not confuse this with the Clorox blah blah with bleach. That shit is nothing compared to the foamer.


I'm a cosplayer with more wigs than could possibly be stored on heads in a NYC apartment. The long wigs I just sort do a really loose twist and tuck it up under the cap, put it in the netting to prevent frizzing and then i usually wrap it in plastic (bc i live in nyc and i fear vermin) and put them loosely in plastic bins under the bed. the curly ones.. i just let those "be" but i put each wig in some sort of plastic barrier. (i dont have real hair wigs bc theyre expensive and washing them scares me.)

as far as washing my synthetic wigs, i buy wig shampoo and follow the directions. unless im using hot water for styling purposes. depending on what theyre made of you can also use curling irons and sutff on loooww heat.


Jolie! Thank you for your timely discussion of raincoats. I haven't used mine since the spring, and I have to go to to a conference in the N. Midwest next weekend, and I pulled it out and the lining was stinky, and there were spots all over the outside. It's now hanging up to dry in the bathroom after going through the gentle cycle (as per the washing label). Thanks!


"This also works on your hair, but I bet you already knew that."

WHAT?! No I did NOT. Thank you. Magic information.


Can I throw a random Clean Person question out there? Garbage disposals: does anyone have one? Are they awesome... or troublesome? Is it easy to get one?

In my new place, I can only fit a smallish, no-lid trashcan under my sink. Because I am a mutant, I can smell anything at all times and thus have to take the trash out more than once a day. This is a pain and, also, where I live, there very well could be a bear out there at night! I figured that if I had a garbage disposal, smells from old cat food and fruit remains would cease to haunt me.


If you don't want to go the garbage disposal route, have you tried just getting a coffee can or something - like one of those Folgers containers with the screw-on lids - that you can use as a separate trash can for smelly organic stuff?


Regarding the bleaching of tile grout, Clorox pens are where its at. Depending on the area you need to cover you made need a couple, but they are absolute life savers for precisely this purpose.


I was just thinking about aacp yesterday and feeling all nostalgic. Hooray for the blog fairy!


"When you wash your tights and nylons and such, add a little white vinegar (about a half a cup oughta do it), which serves as a natural fabric softener and will help cut down on static in those items. It also has the added benefit of helping to take out smells, which unfortunately sometimes our hosiery develops, particularly in the crotchal area. (Sorry, real talk.)"

So would this work when hand-washing tights, too? I usually use just a Woolite or something, but I am liking this idea...

miss buenos aires

I have six wigs (and am about to buy another for Halloween) and it has honestly never occurred to me to clean them. NOT a Clean Person...


You have to dry-clean lined garments not because of what the outer fabric is made of, but because of what the lining/interfacing/interlining is made of! There's no way to tell if those will shrink or warp when exposed to water. If they do, there's no way to fix that.


I dyed part of my hair purple last week and I made a mess all over my counter. I found that nail polish remover (I use the pure acetone formulas because they work way faster) removed the dye.


Lady with the raincoat, you should wash using something like Nikwax Tech Wash (or Granger's or whatever your local outdoor shop has) and then use a retreatment from the same brand to put the DWR back in.

Also, heat is fine for waterproof/breathable rain jackets because they are laminated at temperatures much higher than your dryer can achieve.

I am wondering what brand your rain jackets are because most "outdoor" brands do not recommend dry cleaning because the chemicals used can plug up the membrane and inhibit breathability. So maybe dry cleaning is best? But whatever you do, don't use a detergent because it's very likely that your jacket does have a magical coating that makes it a better rain jacket (DWR) and detergents strip this away. This is why something like Nikwax is recommended. Plus, they also have products to put the magic back into your jacket to make it more magic forever.

Alyssa Bernstein@facebook

FYI Goretex-brand things (I think) and definitely patagonia, etc. "water-resistant" rainjackets/windbreakers benefit from a spin in the dryer - it re-forms the rubber seal that makes the outer coating resistant. I wash and dry mine once or twice a year.

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Because if it tangles then you'll have to brush it and then it will yell at you for hurting it and why is your wig talking to you? Have you sought help for that? carpet cleaning coulsdon


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