A grayscale illustration of Mr. Clean holding out a small beverage and a third eye open on his forehead. He is bald, has an earring in his left ear, and he’s smiling. The background is psychedelic looking, with a wavy, checkered pattern. The cup he’s holding is small and filled with a gray liquid. Illustration by Ben Claassen III.

Dear reader: I’d like for you to be the first to know that I am expanding my cleaning enterprise to cover mental and soul purification, through the use of ayahuasca. I hope by using this mind expanding, intestinal cleansing plant, I can provide the New Orleans community (and maybe the world one day) not only the gift of a clean home, but also the opportunity for mind-nourishing, cellular rebirth. Sike! April Fools! I’m definitely sticking to home cleaning; I don’t want to involve myself in your soul or intestinal cleansing messes. Anyway, welcome to April. I hope that you continue with your spring cleaning this month and come up with some solid April Fools’ pranks that will shock (then relieve) your family and friends.

I have a shag rug. How do I vacuum it properly?

Vacuuming a shag rug can be a real pain in the neck—and lumbar region of the spine. Because of the longer length of the pile on a shag rug, pushing a vacuum over it can be a grueling task. Also, shag rugs are easily damaged if they’re vacuumed incorrectly. When vacuuming your shag rug, never use the brush roll. Brush rolls are those bristled cylinders on the underside of a vacuum that are made of wood, plastic, or metal and rotate at high speed to extract dirt from rugs and carpet. They are also sometimes called an agitator, roller brush, disturbulator (hilarious name), or beater bar. Shag can get tangled in the brush roll, causing it to be ripped out or shredded. Luckily, most vacuums these days allow you to turn the brush roll off and vacuum using suction only (shout out to my boo the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional). When using the suction-only option to vacuum your rug, move it slowly over a few rows of the shag at a time. Go over these sections a few times; you’ll get more dirt up this way. If possible, buy a vacuum that comes with a carpet brush/rake attachment or buy a rake attachment that fits your vacuum. As shag has that oh-so-pretty thick pile, the hair, dust, dirt, and other gross debris residing in the rug tends to get trapped at the root of the pile. The carpet rake loosens and sucks these vommy particles to the top of the fibers for easy removal by the vacuum. You can also flip the rug over and vacuum the underside of it first. Doing this will knock the dirt away from the pile, for even easier extraction by the vacuum. If you want to be extra thorough (that is, if your rug isn’t enormous), take the rug outside and beat that sucker. Throw the rug over a railing, clothesline, or sawhorse. Then grab a large stick, broom, or even some nunchucks if you want to practice martial arts whilst cleaning, and beat it like this: hit the underside of the rug with soft but rapid strokes. Continue beating the rug this way until you have covered the entire thing and dislodged most of the dust and dirt. Bring the rug back inside and vacuum it one more time. Enjoy your newly clean and fluffy rug.

I work in my garden a lot and get lots of grass stains on my pants. Help!

Yay, gardening! Many people are gonna be kneeling in their gardens now that it’s spring again, so this is a good question. First off, grass is a protein and organic matter, so soaking the stain in cold water is the first step. Swishing the fabric around in the water is also good. After the stain has soaked for about 30 minutes, you can gently rub the fabric together to loosen the proteins up even more. Next, pour a little white vinegar (or isopropyl alcohol for stains that are more set in) onto the fabric; grab a white towel or toothbrush and lightly wipe the stain until it starts to fade. After this, you can wash the garment following the tag instructions. If, when you remove the stained clothing from the wash, the stain is still visible, wash it again before putting it into the dryer. Drying the stained clothing can permanently set the stain.

I was tidying up my bedroom, moved my dresser away from the wall, and noticed some black mold. How do I clean it up?

First off, I HIGHLY recommend hiring a professional to remove black mold. Attempting to remove black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) yourself can be detrimental to your health and can exacerbate the problem, if done incorrectly. This monster mostly cloaks itself in splotchy, black patches, but can also appear gray or dark green. It releases mycotoxins, which are toxic chemicals that are present in its spores and are released into the air. If the spores are chillin’ on your walls, you are bound to inhale these mycotoxins. I recently moved out of an apartment that was chock-full of black mold (I wasn’t aware of this until I moved). I thought that I was just an insane snorer and that my cat was sickly. I thought that the mildewy smell was just mildew. Turns out that my nasal passages don’t naturally saw wood loudly in my sleep and that my kitty cat is quite healthy; we were just being poisoned for eight years! So tackling this in a willy-nilly manner is a recipe for chronic coughing and sneezing, respiratory irritation, skin disorders (including rashes), headaches, chronic fatigue, and even bleeding lungs! BUT, if you don’t have the means to hire someone to eradicate the mold, follow these instructions To. A. T! First, you’ll need to protect your precious bod. Get a respirator rated to protect you against spores that can lead to black mold poisoning and clothing that will cover all of your skin (long-sleeved shirt and long pants are essential). This might sound like overkill, but I recommend buying a cheap hazmat suit from a hardware store. Protect your pretty peepers with safety goggles and your hands with rubber gloves. Discard the gloves and get a new pair each time you take a break or when you finish your work. Once you’re wearing protective clothing, you can begin to prepare the area for cleaning. Here’s what you’ll need to do: Turn off your air conditioner or heater. You don’t want the air flow to move the black mold throughout your home while you’re attempting to remove it. Grab a heavy tarp and painters tape and seal all doorways or other openings that lead from the moldy room to the rest of your house. Borrow or buy an exhaust fan and place it near outdoor openings; the fan will help to move any airborne spores out of your home. Now test the area where the mold is hanging out for moisture; a moisture meter is a good tool for this. Since you can’t touch the mold with an ungloved-hand, this meter is a safer option. If there is no moisture in the area, spray it with water. The water will wrangle black mold spores and prevent them from becoming airborne. Now it’s time to treat the area. Since I prefer going the eco-friendly route, I suggest filling a spray bottle with one part baking soda, five parts white vinegar, and five parts water. Spray the area where the black mold is squatting, and let the solution sit for 30 minutes to an hour. After this time is up, scrub the area with a sponge. Let the area dry, and repeat if you still see mold. Finally (phew!), clean the area where the mold has been eradicated. Throw away any debris that may contain black mold, and thoroughly clean the room: wipe all the walls, wipe any light fixtures or fans in the room, clean all windows, and mop the floors. Now you can unseal your doorways. You’ll want to leave the exhaust fan on for a few hours—or even a full day—so as not to welcome black mold into your home again. To prevent the mold from coming back, you’ll definitely want to control the moisture in the room. Air it out whenever possible. Also, regularly clean and disinfect areas that are prone to wetness. If you have a leak, repair it ASAP. Always dry wet items prior to storing them. As you can see, this process really is a massive bummer.

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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