December is the month in which the winter solstice resides. Not only is the winter solstice (which falls on 12/21. 21 in 21!) the astronomical first day of winter in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day of the year, it is also a celebration of the sun! Plenty of cultures hold festivals and ceremonies in honor of the sun’s rebirth. Happy Rebirthday, sun! My family celebrates a different birthday in December. Nope, not Jesus’. They celebrate my birthday, sillies (They do actually celebrate Jesus’ birthday too)! Yep, I tobogganed down the birth canal on December 8, 1977 at 1:06 p.m. with thoughts of cleaning already percolating in my little head. So anyway, Happy Birthday to the sun, Happy Birthday to Jesus, and Happy Birthday to me! Below are some cleaning questions and answers.

How do I clean mini blinds?

First off, don’t buy mini blinds. Cleaning-wise, mini blinds are one of the most annoying inventions for blocking the sun in a room ever. Firstly, a gazillion slats make up one set of blinds, and secondly, they are skinny and tightly packed together, so cleaning each individual slat takes forever. They are so annoying to clean, in fact, that in my business, I charge extra to do more than a cursory dusting of them. If you must use these asshole sun blockers and need to clean them, I highly recommend removing them from the window and placing them in a tub filled with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Let them soak for about an hour to loosen the dirt, and then, while the blinds are still in the tub, wipe the remaining dirt off with a wet rag. Now lay them on a bed sheet in the sun to dry. Phew! Annoying.

My computer screen is dirty. Can I make my own screen cleaner?

I hate it when people willy-nilly touch TV and computer screens and glass (I’m not talking about touch-screens here, obviously). I don’t understand it; It’s so unnecessary. For glass doors, use the handle. Unless you are making some kind of handprint art using the oils of your skin, don’t touch the glass. Please. For screens, try not to touch; but I do understand that this is sometimes impossible. A way to prevent yourself from touching your computer screen or a glass door is to pretend that you’ve committed a crime, and the only way that the fuzz can find and nab you is to lift your fingerprints from your computer screen or door. Since you don’t want to end up in the clink, you will certainly not touch that screen or glass, right? Anyway, you’ve already touched the screen, so I’m going to help you remove your fingerprints. For this recipe, you’ll need distilled water (It’s important to use distilled water because it is mineral-free—regular tap water is chock-full of minerals and can leave residue at best or scratch your screen at worst), 70% isopropyl alcohol (before using the alcohol, check to see if the screen has an oleophobic coating over it; some manufacturers warn against using alcohol in this case. If the screen does have this coating, use white vinegar.), a small misting spray bottle, and a microfiber rag. Add one part distilled water and one part alcohol (or white vinegar) to the bottle and shake. Spray a small amount of your solution onto the rag and lightly wipe your screen. That should do the trick!

I found some antique cloth napkins in an old trunk, and they have rust stains on them. How do I remove these stains?

I inherited some beautiful vintage blouses that belonged to my mom, and they had rust stains on them. I’ve always been curious about how these little oxidized a-holes landed on the blouses. Maybe the shirts were once in an old, rusty trunk? No idea. Anyway, I was able to remove the spots very easily with four simple ingredients: white vinegar (constant champion), lemon, salt, and the sun. Lay the napkins on an old towel on a bare floor. Next, pour a small amount of white vinegar directly onto the stains, saturating them thoroughly. Tamp (I was recently reminded of the word tamp, and I forgot how much I like it. It’s cuter than blot, don’t you think?) the napkin lightly with a clean, white rag to work the vinegar into the fabric a bit more and to absorb any excess. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt into a small bowl and squeeze some lemon juice on top of it. Mix this up to create a paste. Scoop up some of the paste with your clean fingertip and spread it over the stains. Now, lay the napkins outside in the sunshine, until the stain starts to fade. You can periodically apply more of the lemon/salt paste if some of the stains are being stubborn. Rinse the lemon-salt paste off with cool water. Now you can launder the napkins like you normally would. I hope this works!

I recently purchased a used laptop computer. The former owner wrote their name on it with Sharpie. How do I get the name off?

Well, I’m annoyed for you that they didn’t ask me how to remove their name before selling you the computer. Luckily, there is a very, very easy solution to this problem: isopropyl alcohol. Grab a clean rag and pour some isopropyl alcohol on it. Place the rag over your pointer finger and rub the spot. It should disappear pretty readily. You got this.


I recently discovered the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute’s Stain Removal Guide. And man, it is sooo good. It’s really charmingly written and extremely informative. It explains everything that you’d ever want or need to know about all things stains: types, conditions of fabric where the stain resides, stain removal supplies, what stain removal might involve (solvency, detergency, saponification, bleaching reaction, breaking the molecule apart with specific enzymes, what?!?). The dang guide even suggests that you remove stains on a quiet, relaxing morning; I’m not kidding!

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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