be less filthy

Ask a (Terrifyingly) Clean Person: Oozing Gourds, Glue Mishaps and Food Coloring Woes

At Halloween, I bought a bunch of decorative gourds and tiny little pumpkins. These things are practically indestructible so I have had them strewn about my kitchen and dining room ever since. One of them started looking a tiny bit suspicious, so I checked them all.

One on my wooden dining room table that looked perfect from the top was totally stuck on with gross pumpkin mold and goo and stuff. So far I've thrown away the rest of the pumpkins and gently scraped off of the worst of the gunk, but there's still some gross stuff on there and a dark stain underneath. It is solid wood [...]


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 [...]


Ask a Clean Person: There's No Laundry Care Tag. EVERYBODY PANIC.

My dear boyfriend just got back from Afghanistan (hooray!) and brought with him many fun presents. Among which was a burqa for me. It's half-ly a keepsake gift, but is also very beautifully embroidered and I think it is wonderful and would like to keep it nearer to me than in the back of a drawer. However, it smells very strongly of sandalwood maybe? I really have no idea. Being that it was made for domestic consumption, it also lacks a laundering tag, and I have no idea what material it's made out of. Definitely not cotton or silk. Maybe polyester? Again, no idea.

So, short question after a long [...]


Ask an Indelicate Question: How Do You Go, Girl?

I was recently confronted with A Clean Person Mystery (I'm just like Father Dowling! Except … not at all!) that I was desperate to solve. So I turned to the internet, because the internet is magic. Here was the question as I posed it:

Last night I helped a friend unpack and organize her new apartment; while we were working on getting her bathroom sorted I came across a mystery bottle and asked what it was. (I asked so I would know what category to put it in, which would then determine where in the bathroom it was stored, because when I organize someone’s bathroom for them I DO NOT [...]


Celebrate National Clean Off Your Desk Day With Jolie

Are we doing Year of the Clean Person? Surely I can start with Day of the Clean Desk? I cleaned mine off really well on Saturday, but it's already wearing a light layer of cups and pens and headphones and Kleenex and keys and lighters and sandwich crumbs. Jolie Kerr, perpetual light in the filthy, filthy darkness, suggests an office-cleaning toolkit:

  • A tube of pre-moistened wipes
  • Canned air
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • A chamois or other soft cloth for cleaning electronics
  • A small bottle of dish soap and a quick-dry sponge for cleaning up spills on clothing, upholstery or carpet

Yes. I can do that. Canned [...]


Ask a Clean Person: Still With the Armpits

Apparently it's still summer, and apparently I'm still banging on about your armpits. How's about that?!

Last week we talked a whole bunch about armpits and yellow stained shirts and sweat and I feel like it was therapeutic for everyone involved. Which is so great! The other great thing that happened was that you all did indeed share your secrets, as I expected you would. And because your secrets were so delightful, and so helpful, I wanted to be sure to give them their proper place in the sun, so to speak (your secrets are probably sweating). Which is what we're going to do today! Once I get done [...]


Ask a Clean Person: Dusty Air-Conditioners and Dirty Fans

What is the proper way to clean an air conditioning screen? I kind of just pull it out and rub it lightly so some of the dust pills off, but then now I ran it under some water? It didn't work all that great, either, but it was mostly clean, and I patted it dry with a paper towel and then put it back in, dampish. Was that horrible?

This is a great question and oh so very timely for those of us sweating and cursing our way through yet another summer of heatwaves.

Okay so! You're not that far off … the way to clean an AC screen [...]


Ask the Non-Squalid

If you've been missing the lovely Jolie Kerr's "Ask a Clean Person" un-filthying column on this site, it's now running on Jezebel and Deadspin, on alternating weeks, as "Squalor."

Sadly we couldn't keep her here forever, much as it would have been nice to (in an immaculate steel cage for all eternity), but the first installment deals with problematic outerwear, among other things, and everyone remains reassuringly disgusting.


Jolie Kerr is also on Tumblr and Twitter.

Wait, Jolie, how do you get [chickadees?] out of an air-conditioner?


Ask a Clean Person: 'Pits, Revisited

It's almost August, which means I've been sweating like my Slavic farmer forebears for months now. All the t-shirts (cotton!) that I bought at the beginning of the summer have gross pit stains! And not just a little discoloration on the lighter ones, but whitish, hardened patches as if the deodorant isn't washing out all the way! I've always used Tide detergent, and usually wash my shirts on cool with jeans and stuff. I've tried some Arm & Hammer "wash boost" and washing them on hot, but that didn't work. Can the damage be undone? If not, what can I do with my next round of shirts so they don't [...]


Ask a Clean Person: Here We Go Again With the Roaches

HELP. After a ridiculous month of a roommate ditching me with a lease I couldn't afford and me subsequently living with my boyfriend for a month in his apartment that's barely big enough for him, I finally moved into a room of my own on June 1. It's close to public transportation, it's pretty, and I have hung things on the walls, and I was oh-so very happy.

Until this morning, when I swung my legs around to get out of bed and I saw a big black thing scurry across the floor under my bed. To make it worse, my college roommate was visiting and she was sleeping on [...]