“Cleanliness” is such relative concept that hardly anyone thinks of herself as a dirty person. We all believe we’re neat and clean enough, because, well, it’s our B.O., sandwich crumbs, and long strands of hair we’re living with. (At least you think it’s hair!) But an honest assessment may tell a different story. If your mom/mother-in-law/Martha Stewart were popping by for a visit, would you really just swipe the top of the stove with a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe and call it a day? Thought not. That, my dirty friends, is why we have Jolie Kerr.
The author of The Hairpin’s popular Ask A Clean Person column (now on Jezebel and Deadspin under the subhead Squalor), Jolie has parlayed answering gross questions about bathroom mold, scuffed sneakers, and critter elimination into a must-read book. My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha is an extremely funny and very educational book and I know this for a fact because I’ve used her advice to clean the naaasty insides of my disgusting microwave. That chore, like many others in Jolie’s book, is actually a hell of a lot easier than it seems — and she even recommends her favorite cleaning products, too!
Fortunately, Jolie does not get grossed out easy, so she has gamely answered questions from Frisky staff for their most shameful dirty secrets. Below, how to get cum stains out of your bedsheets, a timeline for cleaning your makeup brushes, and whether it’s really okay to pee in the shower:
Peeing in the shower: not a big deal or spraying bacteria all over the place? Please advise.
Urine is bodily waste, and it is not sterile despite the common misconception that it is. So while peeing in the shower isn’t the biggest deal out there, it’s not ideal either. The biggest issue with it is that the combination of the steam from your shower and the smell of your pee is going to make your bathroom STINK. So if you can help it, it’s better to stick with the toilet when you need to go wee.
How gross is it really to never wash your jeans?
It’s not the grossest thing in the world but … jeans are just like any other kind of clothing in that they retain smells and stains and the dead skin and oils that your body is constantly excreting and whatever other kind environmental fallout your daily life brings you into contact with. So with that information in hand, you need to decide for yourself how gross it is to never wash your jeans.
How the heck do you clean bath toys, especially ones like rubber ducks that can pull in water?
Soak them in a disinfecting solution of white vinegar and water, being sure to squeeze the toys while submerged so that the innards get their fair share of the cleaning! Then shake to expel excess water and allow to air dry. There are also commercial toy cleaners that can be found at most major toy stores—Dapple Natural Based Gentle Toy Cleaner is one to look for, BabyGanics Toy and Table Cleaner is another—just be sure not to confuse it with that other kind of toy cleaner!
Is there a quick stain removal trick for quickly getting semen off of sheets (sorry, had to ask)?
If you catch it while it’s still fresh (sorry), a small amount of dish soap and a damp rag will go a long way in getting that stain up. If it’s set in—which, let’s be honest, it will be—use an enzymatic-based laundry product like OxiClean or Zout to pretreat the stain before laundering.
How do I clean a throw pillow when the fabric on them isn’t removable/ doesn’t unzip? They smell vaguely of B.O., but I’m afraid if I throw it in the washing machine the fluff on the inside will never dry and get moldy.
You can machine wash and dry most throw pillows—just be sure to use the low- or no-heat setting on the dryer, and play it safe with a cold water washing. If you’re really concerned about machine drying, you can speed along the air drying process by wrapping the just-washed pillows in a towel and squeezing gently to remove excess moisture, and then placing them in front of a fan to dry completely in less time.
How often should you REALLY clean your makeup brushes, and what’s the best way to do it without ruining them?
The official rule of thumb is once a week, but I think we can all agree that that’s unrealistic and not gonna happen. So maybe aim for once every one to three months, which seems fair and decent, yeah? As for technique, I can’t give away all my secrets for free! But if you buy my book, My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha, you’ll find everything you need to know right there on p.101.