Hello there! Welcome to November! The month of November gets its name from the Latin word “novem,” meaning nine. Back in Olden Roman Times, there were only 10 months in a year, and November was number 9 (I love the number nine, because I love nine-life-having felines, the 9th Ward, and the 9th Ward Marching Band, amongst other things). Romulus, the first king of Rome, came up with the 10-month calendar around the time of 738 BCE. So people have been slinging the word November around ever since. Two more months were eventually added to the year when the Dictator perpetuo of Rome, Julius Caesar—aided by mathematicians and astronomers—realized that this calendar system was majorly out of alignment. So, Julius and his great nephew (and future emperor of Rome) Augustus, added July and August, named after themselves. Yup! So, welcome to November! Let’s talk (cleaning) shop!
I have mildew in my car. How do I get rid of it?
Aw man! Mildew is a bummer. Made up of microscopic fungal hyphae (FEMA refers to it as early-stage mold, but FEMA are a bunch of dumb-ass liars, so who knows if they’re telling the truth?), it flies through the air in the form of spores. When these spores blow into a damp or humid environment (e.g. a car in southern Louisiana), they make themselves right at home. Since mildew (baby mold, according to FEMA) chills on top of surfaces (unlike grown-up mold, which penetrates and holds on for dear life), it is a lot easier to remove and banish. Although easier to remove than mold, it is not great for your body. You’ll need to wear a dust mask (you have plenty of them; you wear them every day), so you don’t, like, snort it up into your proboscis. You’ll also need rubber gloves, baking soda, a vacuum cleaner (as always, I recommend my boo the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional), white vinegar, distilled water, lemon juice, a soft-headed toothbrush, a few rags, and the sun. Start by sprinkling baking soda all over the mildew; baking soda will help to kill all of those little demon spores. Let the baking soda sit for about an hour. After the hour is up, use your vacuum to suck up the excess baking-soda-spore residue. Now fill your spray bottle with 1/3 white vinegar, 1/3 lemon juice, and 1/3 distilled water. Spray a generous amount of this mixture onto all areas of the interior where the mildew has been hanging out. Let this sit for about 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes are up, use your soft-headed toothbrush to lightly rub all of the mildewed areas. Not only does this concoction help with the eradication of mildew, it also helps to remove any stains left by it. Now use your rags to soak up any remaining liquid. After all this cleaning, you’ll want to crank those windows down and let your car sit in the sun all day. The sun will, obviously, complete the drying process, but also its magical UV rays will help to slay any remaining mildew. For extra points, you can place an air purifier in your car to help kill any spore stragglers. Good luck!
Mice invaded my oven after Hurricane Ida and peed all over the inside of it. How do I remove the mouse urine smell from it?
Dang. Why can’t cute mice do magical things like make dresses for us out of the fabric scraps lying around in our closets? Or build their own homes in cinder blocks that are awash in furnishings crafted by their cute little mice paws and spend time with sage owls and magical rats named Nicodemus? Unfortunately, life is not a fairytale; and while cute, these little Mus musculus are often a nuisance that nibble our food and chew on and make nests inside of our homes, where they poop, pee, and reproduce. Your stove, which is dark, warm, and filled with crumbs, is Valhalla to those little rodentia. Anywho, before getting rid of the mouse pee smell, you’ll need to get rid of the mice. I love animals, so in my opinion you should trap and then release them somewhere far from your home (think miles away). Once the mice have been evicted, you can focus on de-stenching your oven. First, you’ll want to clean the oven thoroughly. Pull your oven away from the wall, so you can scrub away the urine and odor-causing bacteria that has been soaking into the floor in that area. Start by vacuuming any mouse poop you can see inside the oven or on the floor. Now remove the glide racks and the broiler drawer. Soak them in a mixture of hot water, Dawn dish soap, and white vinegar. While the racks and drawer are soaking, fill a spray bottle with 1/3 water, 1/3 white vinegar, and 1/3 isopropyl alcohol and use this to saturate the inside of the stove, the area where the broiler drawer resides, and the spot on the floor where the stove usually sits. While this liquid does its Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo to the oven and floor, use Dawn and a sponge to scrub the hell out of the glide racks and broiler drawer, then rinse and dry them. After the hour is up, go back to the stove and dry it off. This next part is ingenious: I found this tidbit while researching how to best answer your question. Numerous people who have dealt with this particular rodent problem swear by it. Fill two pots with ½ vinegar and ½ water and place them in the oven to boil. First, set the oven to the broil setting for one hour. After the hour is up, set the stove to 350 degrees for another hour. The rodent pee smell should be mostly abated by this point, but to add a pile-driver to this equation, add a few sprigs of rosemary to the pots and let them boil for one more hour. This should do the trick. P.S.—Make sure to open as many windows and turn on as many fans as possible; you don’t want to choke yourself out.
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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm