Ever gotten period blood on your mattress and not known how to get it out? Or wondered how often you should wash your sheets? Barnard alum and professional Clean Person Jolie Kerr answered questions about college cleaning problems in the Milstein Center yesterday during a live taping of her podcast, and Sports Editor Abby Rubel was there to listen and learn.
Jolie Kerr, BC ’98, is the host of the Ask a Clean Person podcast, the New York Times cleaning columnist, and author of a book about how to clean. In short, she knows a lot about cleaning. But, she said, “I have suffered many moments of being a disgusting person.” Some of her grossest moments happened while she was at Barnard, and she kicked off the evening by regaling the audience with the tale of a disgustingly clogged tub in 600. She and her suitemates let the situation alone until the water was shin-level, at which point one of them (not Kerr) finally bought some Drano.
After that anecdote, Kerr answered questions live from the audience and some that had been submitted online in advance. The first, a question about keeping things civil with a messy roommate who doesn’t do dishes, she described as a “very typical college question.” Kerr suggested being neutral in tone when you raise the problem, even if you have to practice in front of a mirror. She pointed out that the roommate may not think of it as a big deal, or may not even know how to do dishes. To illustrate the former point, she told the audience about another experience in the Barnard dorms (616 this time), when one of her suitemates put dirty dishes on someone’s pillow because they hadn’t been washed in a certain amount of time.
The next question was how to stop stinky trash. Kerr said that Lysol works and that the trash can itself probably needs to be cleaned. She also recommended a product called Ozium as “The Thing” for general odor elimination, which she said she found on a marijuana enthusiasts forum.
Then an audience member asked how often she should change her sheets. Unsurprisingly, there is an answer for actual humans and a different answer for college students. For humans, Kerr recommended once a week or every other week and changing them between sexual partners. For college students, she said that once a month was fine, and to make sure you wash them after you’re sick. Other audience members asked about how often they should wash bath towels (humans: once every three to four uses, college students: once a week) and winter coats (once a year, wool should get dry cleaned but everything else is probably machine washable).
Next, Kerr fielded a question about how to be an eco-friendly clean person. She recommended against using disposable wipes because they’re not biodegradable. Instead, she suggested reusable paper towels or cleaning rags.
A question about how to get period blood out of a mattress sent her on a tangent about protein stains and how to remove them. Most things that come out of the body are a protein stain, she said, including blood and vomit. To remove them, you need an enzymatic cleanser or hydrogen peroxide. She recommended Zout and Krudkutter Sports Stain Remover (yes, spelled with K’s). For those of us with low-budgets or who like to be adventurous, you can use saliva (for small stains) or unseasoned meat tenderizer. Just make sure to use as little water as possible, especially on a mattress, whichever method you chose.
Other tips include using rubbing alcohol to remove ink, food stains, or clean phone and computer screens; loofahs are machine washable but shouldn’t go in the dryer; and, when there’s a mess that really just has to be cleaned up, JFDI (just fucking do it).
Throughout the event, Kerr offered practical advice in an engaging and relatable way. At no time did I feel like she was some cleaning goddess, sent from the heavens to help me be less messy. It felt like she was a normal, funny person who just happened to be really interested in cleaning. Adding to the entertainment value were Kerr’s parents, especially her repartee with her father. At one point, he piped up to offer advice, but Kerr told him to “go across the street to Columbia.” In a pretend huff, he left the room for a few minutes, and Kerr said, “he went to Cornell so we have to be nice about that.”
A Complimentary Copy via Bwog Staff