Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Ask a Clean Person: Holiday Disasters 2012

Happy just-about-holidays, everyone! Here we are, facing another holiday season full of potential cleaning disasters. But this year we're getting a jump on things so you can be PREPARED. In the spirit of preparation, a festive reminder for you that topics covered last year included Menorah wax, massive butter spills in the kitchen, frosting on fabric, pine sap on everything, stains on ties, and barf on green corduroy party shorts.

Here's to hoping your green party shorts remain barf-free this holiday season!

1. This is a sort of MacGyver question. The holidays are loaded with unexpected visitors — here’s a scenario: You’re at home. Someone calls and says, “I want to drop off a gift.” You have five minutes before they get there. Which parts of your home do you clean for maximum immediate effect and in what order?

Entryway, bathroom, living room.


Okay okay fine, you caught me, I'll give you a little more than that.

Given that everyone's home is different, you're going to need to take some poetic license with the first and last items on my list. 'Entryway' translates loosely into 'the first thing people will see when they come into your den of iniquity.' The important thing to know here is that nothing you've got littering this space need actually be put in its proper location, it just needs to be put somewhere where your unexpected guest won't see it. So: grab any kind of receptacle — a shopping bag, giant rubber laundry bin, trash bag, WHATEVER — and throw everything in it, mail, mittens, small children, everything that's gotten loose and is making a mess of things. Then put that receptacle in a place your guest won't go. Your bedroom is not a bad place for this.

The same thing goes for the living room, or whatever space in your home is where you do your entertaining. For some people it's the kitchen, for some it's the the front parlor, for others the basement rec room. (To those of you with a basement rec room: I'm seething with jealousy. Does it have a nubbly plaid sectional couch? Can I come over? Will your mom make pizza bagels? Yes? BESTIES 4EVA.) The basic idea is to move as much clutter as you can out of sight. A good speedclean might might include cleaning tabletops of clutter, or at least straightening up piles of magazines, books, remotes, etc., picking up anything off the floors (shoes, socks, legos, sex toys … I don't know, you tell me what's on your floors. Actually, maybe don't do that. It might end better for all of us), fluffing cushions and pillows, straightening throw blankets, turning off the MMA contest that's blaring on your television.

As for the bathroom, it is a truism that every unexpected guest will ask to use the bathroom. Just like with the entryway and the living room, you're aiming for a purely cosmetic clean up. Pull the shower curtain fully shut. Grab a paper towel and some all-purpose cleaner, spray the toilet seat and under the lid, remove everything from the sink area (throw it in the tub! You've shut the shower curtain! They'll never know! Unless you have a clear shower curtain or glass shower doors in which case, sorry?) and spray that down too. Then wipe the all-purpose cleaner up with your paper towels. Give the toilet bowl a quick pass with the toilet brush. Straighten the towels. Curse your unexpected guests.

2. Cookie sheets, muffin tins, roasting pans. Maybe after a few too many eggnogs and spiked hot chocolates, I forget to clean and soak them right away, and that horrible burnt on black stuff remains. Or outlines of cookies past. I've tried the vinegar and baking soda soak, but nothing gets rid of it. Any suggestions other than just tossing them?

Well wait just one second, missy. You can't try one thing and announce that "nothing" works, you goose!

First things first, it's never too late for a restorative soaking. Well. I suppose there probably does come a point at which soaking isn't going to help matters, but I don't think day-after is that point. Hot hot water, a splurt of good dish soap, a trashy magazine … ingredients for a perfect bubble bath. After an hour or so of soaking — during which time you should have some coffee, maybe a shower, indulge in some light flogging for the sins you undoubtedly committed the night before — give the dishes a good scrubbing and see where things stand.

If there's still a lot of cooked-on mess, sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of the befouled item and pour boiling water over it. Not hot water. Boiling water. Let it sit in the sink until the water is cool enough for you to handle (even with dish gloves on the boiling water will be too much, so do let it cool a bit). before washing with hot soapy water. The stuck-on stuff should slide right off.

Some other things to mention, that you might want to add to your holiday grocery shopping list so you have them on hand before you need them, are soap-impregnated steel wool pads, such as Brillo or S.O.S, and Dobie pads, which are sponges covered in netting made of some mysterious 3M substance that won't scratch Teflon and other delicate cookware. You also might want to pick up a tube of a gentle abrasive cleanser like Bon Ami, which will help matters greatly when it comes time to tackle stuck-on foodstuffs.

And finally, a new product has just come to my attention and now I'm sort of mad I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year and therefore will not have pots and pans to clean up because you guys, you guys, you guys!! SCRUBBING BUBBLES HAS A NEW FOAMING KITCHEN CLEANER OUT. And Good Housekeeping gives it the thumbs up for pots and pans and such! This is very exciting news for the Clean Person industry!

3. I throw a holiday party with close friends. We eat a big dinner, drink lots of wine, and exchange gifts. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, and I can’t resist breaking out the nicest linens we own — which means they’re in serious danger. They’re antique white; you know someone always brings red wine to a dinner party. If we’re overcome with the holiday spirit and the red wine spills, is there any way to save the tablecloth?

Oh there sure is! This is one of my favorite little Clean Person tips, and it comes from my mother, which makes it even better. Cascade. Yes, the dishwasher detergent! (This is actually a caterers' trick and my mother actually marched up to a caterer at some event or another and inquired as to how they kept their white jackets and linens so clean. Like mother, like daughter.)

Now then, it must be the powdered kind. And what you'll do is to mix it into a large body of warm to hot water so that it dissolves completely; there's a bit of bleach in Cascade which, once dissolved, is going to get your linens back to bright, bright white. While your detergent is dissolving, spray the blemished area with your favorite stain treatment. OxiClean, Resolve (which is the new name for the old Spray 'n Wash), Shout, Zout, etc. all make good products. Then put your soiled linens into the Cascade solution, let it soak for 30 minutes up to two hours before rinsing well and allowing to dry.

Of course, if you catch the stain right when it happens you can use the old table salt trick, which is to pour a huge heaping pile of salt on the spill and wait for it to suck up all the wine like the salty old alcoholic it is.

4. I love using candles at holidays; it doesn't feel like a celebration without a tall taper, y'know? But how do I get wax drippings, both the wax and the color it leaves behind, out of tablecloths?

Oh I do know! And I think it's absolutely wonderful that you take the time to set your holiday table in a special way; it's a thing that's losing favor, which is understandable but also sort of a shame. It's nice to sit down to dinner at a well set table, I think!

Right so! When you're dealing with melted wax on launderable items, you need to take a two-pronged approach — first get the wax up, then treat the stain.

Given the nature of the item in question, the best way to remove the wax is to use the either the ice trick or the brown paper sack/iron trick we talked about waaaaay back in September 2011. A wee recap of the technique, yes? Yes!

The ice route is probably easiest, given that you likely have ice nearer to the table than do you an iron. So: Grab an ice cube, hold it on the wax, the wax will freeze and you can pop it right off the fabric. If you want to use the bag technique, you'll need an iron and a few brown paper sacks like the ones you get at grocery stores that still offer brown paper sacks and also MISS U SO MUCH WIDESPREAD USE OF BROWN PAPER SACKS. Turn the iron on low and allow it to heat through. Then tear or cut your brown paper bags into individual sheets. Lay a sheet of brown paper over the wax and apply the iron to the paper. Hold the iron there, watching to be sure that the paper doesn't start burning. When one piece of paper is saturated with wax, switch in another and keep doing so until you can no longer pull any wax out of the fabric.

Once the wax is gone, go ahead and launder the tablecloth in the same manner as our friend with the wine stains upcolumn.

5. This might be more of a botany question, but still: dear god, PINE NEEDLES. How do you get your tree to stop shedding and/or how do you avoid getting pine needles all over everything without having to vacuum daily? Is that even possible?

The pine needles are a bitch, aren't they? I don't think there's anything that can be done other than keeping the tree well-watered, which will keep the needles from falling out as fast.

In terms of clean up, this is a place where a handheld vac will really shine. It makes doing regular pine needle picking upping much more manageable. You could even move it into the room where you tree is residing and sort of tuck it away so it's handy. If you don't have a handheld, opt for the hose attachment on your regular vacuum, which will help to keep the needles from accumulating at the base of the machine. If you don't have a vacuum at all you really have no business having a fresh tree can make a DIY lint roller of sorts by wrapping some duct tape around your hand and using it to pick up the stray needles.

That's really all I've got for you, so I'm going to throw this one out to the crowd — any of you have any pine needle-cleaning tips you'd like to share with the class?

Previously: Holiday Disasters 2011.

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?

125 Comments / Post A Comment

fondue with cheddar

1. "nothing you've got littering this space need actually be put in its proper location, it just needs to be put somewhere where your unexpected guest won't see it."

THIS. One time when I had a last-minute date I threw a sinkful of dirty dishes in a plastic bin and put it on top of the dryer. He never knew!

2. Scrubbing Bubbles has a new foaming kitchen cleaner?!


cecil hungry

@fondue with cheddar My problem then becomes, because I am a very, very Dirty Person, I never do anything about the tub o' junk and it just... accumulates. Even when there's dirty dishes. I'm the worst.

Ten Thousand Buckets

@cecil hungry If you cook regularly, try putting them in the oven. That way you get in the habit of checking the oven before preheating, and have to take everything out.


@cecil hungry Yeah, that's my problem with the purely cosmetic de-clutter. Then I just have boxes or tubs full of stuff. It may make the house presentable, but it doesn't actually accomplish any cleaning.


@fondue with cheddar Moved in with my significant other...we were making room in his kitchen for my stuff. Found dishes from a Halloweens party several years before in a cupboard by the sink. *shudder*

fondue with cheddar

@Blushingflwr Yeah, I've got boxes full of random things (not dirty dishes, though) all over the house for exactly that reason. Some of them have gone through several moves. They're like time capsules.

@swirrlygrrl You can't put dirty dishes in a cupboard! D:

baked bean

@cecil hungry I'd say cut down on the amount of dishes. If you only own 3 plates you'll have to wash them more often.
That's what I did when I didn't have a dishwasher. Things were so simple then.


@cecil hungry UGH, I am not an extremely Dirty Person, but I just never give a shit about the state of my bedroom (I only sleep there. Alone. ALWAYS. ISSUES.), so when I have friends over, if it was a busier-than-usual day and/or I didn't have time to fold laundry which I haaaaaaaaaate doing, everything gets thrown, literally, into my room. I clean the bathroom properly, and the kitchen, and the living room/dining room, but my room rarely gets and NEVER stays clean, for this exact reason.

fondue with cheddar

@par_parenthese Yeah, my bedroom is always the room that holds all the as-yet-unpacked boxes.


@Ten Thousand Buckets I melted several spoon handles doing that.


Absolutely divine....@y


This is a bit of a topic swerve but... yesterday evening I rashly agreed to my husband's suggestion that we (I) host a Thanksgiving dinner for some American friends on the coming weekend.

SOOOOOOOO.... Although obviously I know of its existence, I've never actually attended, seen, read about, or hosted, a Thanksgiving dinner. My internet researches tell me it's about the turkey, side dishes, pies.

Dear 'pinners, can you fill me in with some other things that will make it good for my guests, who are thousands of miles from home? Do I put a wreath on the door? Any traditional pre-dinner drinks? Nibbles? Films? Music? Table settings?... you are my only hope...

Thanks in advance!


@Heike In my experience with many Thanksgivings in my life, it has always, always revolved around the food and the company -- anything like decorations and music and so on tends to be a nice extra touch, but not the focus at all. Anything fall-themed decorations wise looks perfectly suitable, and Thanksgiving is a perfect time to start breaking out things like mulled wine and hot cider.

As for music, my parents always play big band jazz, but that's because they're awesome. :) I don't know what other people play. I've heard tell of people playing Christmas music to ring in the season, but I feel like Christmas music at Thanksgiving dinner would be a bit of cognitive dissonance. To each their own!

Lily Rowan

@Heike I really think the only generally traditional American Thanksgiving thing is the turkey/stuffing/gravy/mashed potatoes. No decor, no activities except maybe football (playing or watching). That's why it's the best holiday!

It'll be great.


@Lily Rowan Ah, yes. Football. There's always a game on Thanksgiving day for just the people that love that sort of thing.

Yolanda and Steve

@Heike First, you are the nicest ever! Your American friends will love you forever.

Here are a couple of my family traditions to help you out. The biggest part is the tradition part though, so maybe just have fun and start your own!

Drinks: Eggnog is a big favorite in my family, but also hot mulled wine and hot apple cider spiked with rum or brandy are excellent.

A wreath is not necessary, but if you hang holiday decorations usually, doing the easy stuff after dinner is fun.

We usually have a cheese plate out before dinner with some nice crackers, nuts some fruit, but this could be a really fun place to incorporate some of your traditional holiday food!

As far as music and films, this is our family's starting point for Christmas so if you have people celebrating Christmas maybe some Christmas movies and music? Bing Crosby and Miracle on 34th St maybe. Or your favorite jazz is cool too.

My favorite table settings are tall taper candles (so classy right!) and the food!

The entire holiday is about getting together with people who you love and being thankful they are in your life. So take these tips if you like them, but just the fact that you're doing this in the first place is what it's all about.



@Heike I haven't looked at these recipes, so can't vouch for their quality, but the types of dishes are spot on. Cranberry sauce is a must for the turkey, and something with either squash (pumpkin) or sweet potatoes is really great. Bake some rolls if you can (I have the world's BEST recipe if you need it, but it has an overnight step, and i'm not sure what time zone you're in).
If you can make a pumpkin and/or apple pie, they will probably love you forever. Make sure you have whipped cream on hand. Or eggnog. A little brandy or whiskey in the dessert coffee, whipped cream or eggnog never hurt anybody!

oops, sorry, forgot the link!!! ETA: http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/thanksgiving-dinner-side-dishes-00400000055576/


@Heike @Scandyhoovian @Lily Rowan
Thanks for the reality check, I'm overthinking it. Yep, the food and company and a nice get-together are all that's needed.
@Yoland and Steve
Thanks :) Egg nog and apple cider sound great
Cream and cranberries are 2 things I forgot to put on the list, thanks for that. I'll pass on the rolls recipe thanks as I'm going to be pressed for time cleaning the bathroom to a semblance of civilised living...


@liverwortlaura Also, GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. It's a must-have at our own Thanksgivings, and the nice thing is that it's super easy to make. The classic Campbell's recipe is actually the one my mom uses, and there are never leftovers: Green Bean Casserole.


@liverwortlaura Can I see the world's best rolls recipe, please? :O


@Heike Agree with @Yolanda and Steve: mulled wine or apple juice/cider is lovely either before a meal or with deserts. It also makes your house smell nice!

I've had a few orphan Thanksgivings, and my favorite part has always been the going 'round the table, saying what we are thankful for, because ultimately, it is more about the people and togetherness than whether the tapers are the exact shade as the napkins, etc.


@Heike Wreaths are for Christmas, which, in the US, shouldn't properly start until AFTER Thanksgiving. A cornucopia wouldn't go amiss though, if you have one lying around.

Turkey, side dishes, pie, wine. Every family has different traditions about what is served and how it should be prepared, but you can't go wrong with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, gravy, cranberry sauce and bread (it's a carb-heavy holiday). The day is about celebrating one's good fortune, food and friends. So, really, the fact that you're hosting is pretty much the ticket.
My Thanksgiving companions are big fans of board games, so we'll be doing that.


@wallsdonotfall hey, I will e-mail you directly re: rolls


@Heike Seconding the candles suggestion, and I'd also add a few more seasonal table items, like a small pumpkin or a few pretty gourds, orangey/yellowey flowers, that kind of thing. For me, a nice (simple is fine!) centerpiece really ties the event together.

(Also, you are so nice for doing this!)


@Heike The two greatest things about Thanksgiving are 1)It's a secular holiday, which is perfect for us godless heathens, and most importantly 2) It's about eating food and being with family/friends/loved ones. That's it. If you're making turkey, that's awesome. Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes are good. Green beans, maybe? Pumpkin, apple, or pecan pies are the best.

Pre-dinner drinks are whatever adult beverages you have lying around. Wine, beer, hot cider with rum/bourbon in it. No wreath necessary.

It is really so kind of you to do this for your friends, and they are definitely lucky to have you. Best of luck!


@Scandyhoovian Ah I looked at the recipe for green bean casserole but I can't get Campbells or Campbells-type soup here.
@swirrlygrrl, cool, you get to say what you are thankful for? Like it!


@Blushingflwr stuffffffffffing


Hm, maybe it could just be a festive dinner? Because it can be quite difficult to get the necessary ingredients in Germany.
The basics are: a roasted turkey, cranberry sauce (much preferably made from fresh cranberries), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or squash, and pumpkin pie. There are a million recipes on-line.

N.B. a lot of dictionaries will claim to you that North American cranberries are the same thing as Preiselbeeren, but it's not true -- the plants are distinct and the berries taste very different -- beware!

Hope you have fun with your guests, whatever you make! There's a big article in the NY Times about eating spaghetti carbonara for Thanksgiving, so you could even make that as a joke -- it might be nicer than Thanksgiving fare without key ingredients, because people can get oddly sentimental, and it *is* about giving thanks not just for the Indians' help with the crops but also for all the unfamiliar New World food stuffs that you are eating.


@yrouttasight Thanks :) so far I have got turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and am going to attempt to make a pecan pie. It's on the weekend so I have a bit of breathing space.
@KatieBarTheDoor Thanks :) I can do some seasonal stuff for centerpiece, definitely.
@Blushingflwr, I lack cornucopias. I never thought I'd be saying it, but it's true.


@harebell oh, i wouldn't say they taste THAT different... I really enjoyed preiselbeeren with roast meat, so if preiselbeeren is all you can find, it will still be great!


@Heike We generally construct a giant cornucopia centerpiece out of Legos and tinsel, and fill it with delicacies. A nice patê de campagne, at least one live bird (titmice are ideal), smoked eel, and four different kinds of apples. The pies should have Illuminati codes baked into the crust, the candles must be beeswax, and everyone has sacrifice a favoured belonging to the God Gobwobl to ensure another year of enough thankfulness. Hope this helps.


@harebell Well I think I'm covered for the basics but I had NO IDEA that Preiselbeeren aren't the same as US cranberries O_o. I'll just have to go with them. Are US ones sweeter, ours are pretty sour?


@Heike I found one that doesn't require Campbell's soup. I can't vouch for it, as I haven't tried it, but the reviews are good: Green Bean Casserole.

That said, it's not actually a NECESSITY, I suppose, it just happens to be in my family's house. :)


@MollyculeTheory Yes, that's all very well, but do I hire a string quartet?


@Heike :) I don't think most people have them lying around.

Yolanda and Steve

@Heike green bean casserole basically breaks down to green beans and crispy fried onions in a mushroom cream sauce. Campbell's soup is really only "traditional" because they printed the recipe on their cans. It's not actually necessary.


@Scandyhoovian That looks very do-able, thanks!

Lily Rowan

@Heike Here's another roundup of Thanksgiving cooking stuff, if you want: http://www.seriouseats.com/thanksgiving/?ref=pop_serious_eats Probably more than you need/want/can take in!


@Heike Right, I am off to sort out my apartment, and make some shopping/cooking lists and generally get my shit together.

Thanks again all of you for the help and advice, much appreciated!


@Yolanda and Steve I think your definition of "necessary" swerves sharply in another direction from mine ;)


Cranberries are quite different from Preiselbeeren -- bigger and starchier and more sour -- definitely more sour. (For English-speakers, Preiselbeeren are more like red currants or lingonberries).

You can still make a sauce from them to accompany the turkey, but I definitely wouldn't follow any of the American cranberry sauce recipes you see on-line. Here's one alternative: http://www.kuechengoetter.de/rezepte/Saucen/Preiselbeer-Sauce-6506.html


@Heike Also, if you want to make your own cranberry sauce, just google Ocean Spray's recipe. Only change is to use 3/4C of sugar instead of a whole cup.

If you're using red currants, probably cut the sugar down to half a cup, and you may need less water?


@Heike I don't know where you are but I just heard that we've got a Gone With the Wind all-day extravaganza on one of the channels here. Is that a Thanksgiving thing? I don't know. But if it is, maybe that would work as a background movie?


@Heike Are your friends from The South?


@Hellcat I'm in North East Germany, close to Poland. So I'll have to stick a DVD of something appropriate on. But an all day GWTW sounds brilliant, enjoy!
@TARDIStime one is from the South and one from the North. So I'm aiming for generic Thanksgiving ;)


@Heike I was incorrect anyway...I think it was actually happening yesterday anyway. By the way, it is very odd to go to sleep with a movie on and then wake up four hours later with it still on in almost the very same spot! I experience this same thing on Christmas Eve with the marathon of A Christmas Story, which, to my BF's dismay, I insist on leaving on all night.

Whatever you do, enjoy--and try not to wear yourself out! Your friends are very luck to have you!

M. Flourish Klink@twitter

@Heike I second Lily Rowan's Serious Eats recommendation. Hooray! As for other things: My family never did Christmas decorating at Thanksgiving, so if you don't want to start that so early, you really don't haaaaaave to. We always just stuck with fall-themed decorating, and then after people left for Thanksgiving would be when you took down the fall colors and put up wreaths/etc. If you really want to get into it you could do some Martha Stewart tablescapy shit with autumn leaves and things, but that's a little insane for throwing a party for a holiday that isn't even yours.

Turkey, stuffing & cranberry sauce is the most important part of Thanksgiving for me. Some people apparently don't eat mashed potatoes (!!) and all my friends who aren't white think that mashed potatoes are a total white person thing (!!!!!!!!) - apparently they all eat sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving instead? Which we do TOO. Maybe it's just that my family is fat and needs more side dishes. Anyway, mash up them sweet potatoes with some maple syrup and orange juice and butter and put almonds on the top and bake them and you will never want to put anything else in your mouth.

Other things my family does at Thanksgiving: watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (except that you are doing it on a weekend and not actual Thanksgiving, so it won't be on). Maybe find a rerun? Watching American football is also basically mandatory, but that is also probably not an option especially since you may or may not know the rules of American football and therefore may or may not be able to enjoy it. Most people eat Thanksgiving dinner as their midday meal (around 2 or 3 PM) so that family that came from a long way away have time to go back home that evening, which means that most people that I know get together in the morning and all pitch in with the cooking. My family drinks mimosas while we all cook which I think is highly civilized. Also, sparkling wine is a pretty common thing to drink with Thanksgiving dinner I think, and it goes with everything. So if you plan it right you can go right from mimosas in the morning to cheap bubbles in the afternoon/with dinner (you are already drunk on mimosas so now you don't mind that the wine for dinner is cheap!) But this may not be a good hosting-other-people strategy.

Going around the table and saying what you're thankful for is very important. Fighting with your relatives about politics is also traditional. You can avoid the second of these but not the first.

You are a saint for doing this!


The only issue with "put the stuff where your unexpected guest can't see it and don't worry about where it actually belongs" is that in a holiday rush I would likely forget that I put all those things in that place-they-can't-see-it and then wonder where the F my mail went.

Also, as I just inherited/aquired a bunch of tablecloths/table runners/placemats/etc. from family and friends, I am really excited to see "how to clean these things after spills and leaks" tips right out of the gate, as I was opening those gifts and simultaneously going OMG YAY and worrying that I'd never use it for fear of not knowing how to clean the inevitable messes.


@Scandyhoovian I did put my antique linen tablecloth on the table...and it promptly acquired a dried, set-in tea stain. (I didn't notice the spill until days later.) I've tried a bunch of things so far (hot water, vinegar, baking soda, soaking, cold water) and so far no dice. I don't live in a country where we have Cascade, but I will try to supplement. If anyone else (or Jolie) has any suggestions, I would welcome them. I mourn my beautiful tablecloth!


@scamels would boiling water maybe work? Just thinking it might un-set tea? I'd probably vet that with someone who knows what they're doing, though.


@Ophelia It's a good suggestion, but unfortunately, I already tried boiling water! The stain was just too stubborn. Sigh.

crane your neck

@Scandyhoovian According to The Field Guide to Stains, you're supposed to rinse the back of the fabric with cold water, rub a liquid enzyme detergent, then let it sit soaking with the detergent for 30 minutes. You can repeat this step and soak for 10-15 minutes. If you don't have an enzyme detergent, you could make a paste of borax and water at a ratio of 3 to 1 and spread it onto the stain, let it stand 30 minutes, then scrub it off (repeat as needed). I hope one of these methods works for you!

Judith Slutler

Den of iniquity, Jolie! InIquity!!! A den of inequity would be something completely different.


@Emmanuelle Cunt I came here to say the same thing!

RK Fire

@Emmanuelle Cunt: I'm now imagining a room filled with people who refuse to share things.


@Emmanuelle Cunt I'm so glad I didn't have to be "that person," pointing out hilarious homophone mistakes in the comments. Because I was fully prepared to take the bullet, but am grateful not to have to this time.


@Emmanuelle Cunt I feel like there's a Republican joke to be made here somewhere?

The Lady of Shalott


But I think I still have a ways to go in becoming a true Clean Person, because I didn't even KNOW there were people out there who had clean perfect cookie sheets. Mine look like the drip pans from a 57 Chevy.


@The Lady of Shalott I'm going to err on the side of entropy and say that shiny, like-new sheets are.... not good. I remember the beautiful black pans of my mother, and when I flew the nest I couldn't find them ANYWHERE. I called my mum and asked where I could get sheets like hers and she laughed, because it was a patina built up over years. My sheets are clean - they don't have crumbs and bits of food stuck on them, but I have no pretenses of keeping them like-new, and none of the professional chefs/bakers I know or have worked for seemed to either?

baked bean

@liverwortlaura Yes, the black stuff is good, guys! If your cookie sheets are black, they are seasoned and are non-stick! Much more non-stick than any of those schmancy "non-stick" sheets out there!
I was fortunate enough that my mom gave me her blackened sheets when I moved out. She bought some new ones for herself, and they are on their way to black. I think they're just cheap aluminum ones.

I say, get the bits of food off, but do not make them shiny again. Stupid waste of time.


@baked bean of time AND function!


@The Lady of Shalott I feel like this happens after the first use! And I don't even cook much!

In other news, my baking sheet is too big for any cabinet in my new kitchen. I just keep it inside the oven always. And another thing (and I apologize because this is so dumb)--is what I assume is the broiler ever really just a drawer?


@Hellcat Sometimes it's a drawer! My mom's (newish) oven has the broiler on the inside top and a drawer at the bottom where my oven's broiler is. Which is a better design because my broiler compartment is full of dust and almost impossible to clean.


@Amphora OH! Oh good! The broil part, not that I use it so much, I think is in the regular over part. Now I can put things in the drawer and have more cabinet space?


@Hellcat Yes you can! And it took me a really long time to figure out how to find the broiler ;)


@Amphora WHOOOOOOO! It's a Thanksgiving miracle! But will it get dusty?


For the gross cookie sheet problem: I have old, cheapo, kind-of-rusty cookie sheets, but I invested in a Silpat mat that I toss over the mess and voila! No longer a problem. Plus, no more greasing of pans, which is the worst part of holiday baking.

I realize this doesn't solve the problem for other types of pans, but when you're baking shortbread on a deadline (or lazy), it works!


@falconet Parchment paper also works if anyone is interested in a super cheapo option!

Dirty Hands

@HeyMatilda Parchment paper has changed my life.


@falconet I bought a Silpat, and I know in my head that you can bake on it, but something about it still weirds me out.

Nicole Cliffe

I had a house guest mistake my Silpat for a cutting board (!?!)

It did not survive.


@Nicole Cliffe The NOISE I just made. It was like Yeeeaauuuuuggggnoooooo... only I can't get gutturalness or despair across with just these letters.


@Nicole Cliffe it's the flatness and the squares, and get rid of your houseguests, they are terrible. Silpats 4-Eva, until, I guess, not.


@falconet Also, Barkeep's Friend is really good for when you forget to line the pan. Also for getting rid of that gross ring that forms in pots at the top of the boiling water whenever you boil something starchy.

Lily Rowan

Wait, what about colored tablecloths? You don't want the bleach on them, right?


@Lily Rowan This is where I pop in to say that hydrogen peroxide is VERY good at getting fresh red wine stains out of almost anything. Test for colorfastness, though.

ayo nicole

For #2, the baker: parchment paper! Line everything with it! You can even cut it into shapes to fit specialty pans! I swear by it - just bought a new roll for my holiday baking.

Yolanda and Steve

For Christmas Trees: If you put about a tablespoon of bleach in the water when you first get it home it kills all the slimy bacteria and fungus that end up killing your tree, which makes it lose it's needles. Also, making sure you have a fresh tree to start with helps. This tip also works with cut flowers, just use much less bleach

Lush Life

@Yolanda and Steve Ooooh. Thank you!


@Yolanda and Steve I would be so worried about ruining my tree skirt! Does it not ruin your tree skirt? Or do you just have to install an electric fence around it so cats/children/visitors don't jostle your bleach-water (IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN)?


I finally found a solution for trees dropping pine needles: get an expensive tree from a reputable tree vendor. It violates every ounce of my Scottish nature, but... due to discounts at my husband's workplace, we get to shop at [redacted], a very fancy garden shop, where we get a normally 90 dollar tree for significantly less. I was completely flabbergasted at how few needles my tree dropped last year. It was insane.

(and we used this tree life extender stuff - but i've used it before without it making much of a difference, so i definitely think it was the tree, with a fresh cut before bringing it home)


@noodge Or go somewhere you cut it yourself! There's nothing fresher than a tree you hacked down minutes before.

isabelle bleu

@noodge Yesss! If only people knew how far their tree usually travels, and in what remedial care they are so often left!!! I live up here in Canada, that great far north, and have a stocking stuffed full of anecdotes from acquaintances who, while in their twenties, got paid handfuls of cash to drive across the border and live out of a camper for a month while selling fir trees on the street corners of Brooklyn, Boston and Philadelphia.


Some of us have tiny apartments with wood floors and no storage space but still want a real tree! Thanks for the tape tip because my roommate and I are getting a tree this year. (My first one as an adult!!) This is especially important since my parents abandoned the real tree a few years ago and invested in a fake one.


I don't have a tip for cleaning up pine needles but I do have a pine needles mess horror story. A few years ago I was living in an apartment with four girls--two of whom were pretty messy. Around Christmas the two who were messy decided they were going to get a Christmas tree. Knowing exactly where this was headed I said I wanted no part of it.

Well of course I was right and come APRIL the Christmas tree was completely dead and still in our living room. Finally I put my foot down after many hintings and suggestions and said that it had to be taken care of.

One morning a few days later I woke up and, yes, the tree was gone. But there were pine needles and branches EVERYWHERE. Covering all the carpets and the entire entryway. Apparently one of the girl's friends had drunkenly decided to take the tree to the curb but of course did not also drunkenly vacuum up the mess.

Those pine needles stayed on the carpet for another six months until I moved out. Mainly because I refused to vacuum them up since I had previously declared that I was not having anything to do with the tree. (I am really stubborn.) They may even still be there today!


@megdujour tiny screams of horror


@Scandyhoovian Right? and to think I get horrified when it's January 15th and the tree's not down yet.


@megdujour It might be completely mean and intolerant of me to say, but I think I hate those roommates.


UGH, you guys? My "entryway" is also my KITCHEN. Curse you, Brooklyn. There is no way I can clean that in 5 minutes unless I've been unusually good at doing the dishes/wiping everything all week already. Sigh.


@Ophelia Dishes in the bathtub?


@gobblegirl I am not above that suggestion in theory, but I have glass shower doors.


The second one sounds like my mum. Her tip is to soak it, keep soaking it for days, then wait until no one's looking at throw it away.


oh! valencia

@shadowkitty I legitimately LOLed at that!


My working theory is that people will forgive some dust and clutter but ONLY if your bathroom is spotless.


@TheLetterL (And I don't mean that comment to sound like anything other than what it is: my own justification for not dusting)


@TheLetterL Truthtalk. Thanks to my procrastination, I now have to prioritize what elements of my apartment will be perfect/spotless for my friend coming to visit tomorrow. That I will forgo dusting in order to scrub the bathroom squeaky-clean is a given.


@TheLetterL Yesyesyes. The bathroom and kitchen are where the transition from messy (Which is perfectly fine! You're busy!) to dirty (and living in your own filth) comes in.


Trader Joe's dripless candles! Not expensive, they don't smell like anything weird, and they really won't drip until the very end.
I will also take this opportunity to encourage everyone to pick up a few things from the freezer aisle. Deliciousness abounds and this is the time of year when having a back-up dessert or side comes in handy. Maybe also pick up some of the frozen mac n' cheese, because you're beautiful and deserve to be happy.


@withatwist Apropos of almost nothing: frozen Amy's Rice Macaroni & Cheese! Oh, man--it's good. (And gluten free, if that interests anyone.)

Kim Weisberg@twitter

My pine needle trick - using one of those fake-snow tree skirts. It catches about 90% of the needles, which I leave there for that "fresh pine needles in the snow" look, and is easy to scoop up and throw away afterwards. Anything else (and of course there is always more, especially after the tree leaves the house, with a trail of needles behind it) gets swept up with my lil dustpan and lil broomie.


@Kim Weisberg@twitter What happened to tree skirts? A couple years ago I went looking for a new one and none of the stores in town carried them so we had to rig up a trash bag and some rectangles of fake snow stuff.


I have to lay down some hard truths: Metal cookie pans(and to a lesser extent roasting pans) are never going to stay gleaming if you don't use parchment paper.
Anytime you have bare food on the metal, and kind of grease - drippings from the turkey, or butter or PAM on the tray - there is going to be discolouration. I think it's because the grease burns on the areas where it isn't being absorbed by the cookie.
Cookie sheets are not an investment item. A nice roasting pan (nonstick! You'll thank yourself), good muffin tins, etc, should last forever. But a cookie sheet is going to look like shit, so just get all the food off it and relax.


A surefire way to mitigate needle dropping and prolong the life of your tree: get rid of your cats, they are revolting.


Regarding trees and needles: White pines (you know, with the long, soft needles?) don't drop hardly any at all and they smell nice. Downside: they're usually so dense and soft they're a pain to decorate. My favorite are the blue spruces, but, alas... someone sneezes in a six block radius the day after you put it up? BAM. Bald tree.

Valley Girl

Resolve sounds like a type of carpet cleaner. Why would they squander the glorious branding of Spray 'n Wash??? Who is responsible for this travesty???


[...] throw it in the tub! You've shut the shower curtain! They'll never know!

Not unless they peer behind shower curtains to check for murderers. Um, not that I do that.


@Verity (I'm starting to become creepy but ssh this is important) MEET ME IN THE OPEN THREAD CAUSE I HAVE AN IMPORTANT AND BIZARRE THING TO ASK YOU


@Verity But you see, even if they do check for murderers and find your dirty dishes, they probably won't mention it to you because then they'd have to admit to checking for murderers in your tub...
Not that anyone does that...


Is this some sort of East Coast thing? Why are you using pines instead of firs for your Christmas tree?

Also, a tree skirt will protect your carpet from sneaky fir needles.


Be careful about temporarily storing stuff in your bathtub - I have it on good authority that lots of people (especially ladies) have to peek behind a closed shower curtain to make sure a serial killer isn't hiding there. Yes, it makes me feel crazy every time I do it...


Another great option for keeping pine needles on the ground to a minimum is renting a living potted christmas tree. Whaaaaa?! That's right, I said "rent a living potted christmas tree." It's eco-friendly and decreases your chances of dried pine needles. Check with your local nurseries or search online for your local area for places like this: http://stores.intuitwebsites.com/Rentalivingchristmastree/StoreFront.bok


I have plaid couches and I make bacon popcorn. Please come watch Roadhouse and tell me how to clean my crazy 1920's dust magnet bathroom.


I used to think tree skirts were fussy and old-fashioned, but after trying to sweep (yes, sweep) pine needles out of wall-to-wall carpeting one year, I decided that maybe my ancestors were on to something and gave it a shot. It significantly decreases the amount of post-tree clean-up required, and is totally worth the money (which is not all that much, since it's pretty much a square of fabric).


Am I really the only person who read the answer to #1 and thought there was a glaringly obvious missed step to the bathroom? Every time we have guests coming over, the very first thing I have to do is make sure there's toilet paper on the roller. With 2 kids in the house, I'm perpetually walking in there to find that someone can't figure out how to restock the roller.


Migrating to Australia on the basis of your skills is one of the dreams that most of the Indian professionals see and Skillselect paves way to this dream. You just need to place an Australian Visa Consultant along with all the information on your education, ability and experience; depending on the points granted you will be placed on the merit list.


I like the efforts you have put in this vigrx scam


Would love to perpetually get updated outstanding web blog! vigrx plus scam


Twitter is not just impactful in personal existence, but it is also very powerful in regards to business. How umpteen individuals are following you proper now, retributory waiting for you to upraise them back.
cheap 5k instagram followers


I'm really happy to find this site and did enjoy reading useful articles posted here. The ideas of the author was awesome, thanks for the share. bulk sms in nigeria


Let me start by saying nice post. Im not sure if it has been talked about, but when using Chrome I can never get the entire site to load without refreshing many times. Could just be my computer. Thanks. bulk sms in nigeria

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account