Hey y’all. I’m back again to bestow a little bit of my cleaning knowledge upon you. In this edition, I want to again take a moment to sing the praises of white vinegar, which I sometimes call White Witch Vinegar because—just as the white witch (think Glinda from Wizard of Oz) is a beneficent witch who practices magic for altruistic purposes—white vinegar has many amazing, magical powers that can be wielded for the betterment of most of your dirty things. If you have one cleaning product in your home, make it white (witch) vinegar. Another great thing about white vinegar is that it’s cheap—very, very cheap (usually around $1.99 a gallon). Anyway, BEHOLD—my answers to some cleaning questions!

I was given a rug a while ago. I just moved it into a smaller room, and I can smell a urine-like scent. How do I get the urine smell off of the rug without steaming it?

For this, you’ll need white vinegar, baking soda, and a clean sponge or cloth. Fill a spray bottle with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water; you can add a few drops of essential oil to lessen the vinegar smell. Spray the mixture onto the urine stain, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Dab the moisture with a clean cloth or sponge. Once the spot is mostly dry, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes to deodorize the area. Then, vacuum up the baking soda. Your rug should now smell not like urine.

Your advice on funky pillow head grease [June 2020 issue] worked so great, I figured you’d be able to help with this. How in the hell do I clean all the gunk off of the grates on my gas stove?

I clean burner grates all the time, so this method is tried and true for me. You’ll need a spray bottle filled with 3/4 isopropyl alcohol and 1/4 white vinegar*, with a few drops of the essential oil of your choice for smell, scouring powder such as Bon Ami (or a homemade version if you’re sassy), dish soap, and a scouring pad. Fill the sink with a mixture of hot water and vinegar and soak the grates in this solution for about 15 minutes. Next, drain the sink and spray the grates with the vinegar and alcohol solution that you’ve made. Let this sit for about 30 minutes. After this, sprinkle the grates with scouring powder and squirt some dish soap on your scouring pad. Now you’ll scrub, scrub, scrub; rinse with warm water; re-up the grates with scouring powder, alcohol-vinegar spray, and dish soap every so often; and scrub, scrub, scrub some more. Now your grimy grates are gleaming!

What’s the best way to clean a coffee pot?

I find this trick very satisfying. You should really clean the coffee maker first—disgusting bacteria grows in the water chamber, since it’s rarely washed and is slowly poisoning you. Fill the water chamber with equal parts water and white vinegar. Turn on the brew cycle, and then turn it off halfway through. Let the vinegar and water sit for an hour inside of the chamber. Next, turn on the brew cycle and allow the vinegar and water to continue to go through the drip cycle. Then let this mixture sit in the pot for about 15 minutes. Now run three cycles of water through the coffee maker (dumping the water out after each cycle). After the three cycles, fill the coffee pot with warm water and a teaspoon of baking soda; let this sit for a few minutes and rinse. Next, wash the inside and outside of the pot with dish soap. Finally, use a clean rag to wipe the remaining coffee residue off of the pot. Let that sucker air dry.

How do I get rid of stains on my marble countertops?

I’ll say this first: while marble is pretty, it is very porous and therefore stains easily. It perplexes me as to why people use this stone for countertops. Cleaning light- vs. dark-colored marble can also be tricky, as the processes are different. Also, different types of stains require different processes. With all of that said, the best thing to do is to try really hard to avoid staining it; re-sealing it often is a good idea. WARNING: marble is one place that our bff white vinegar is not allowed. Our bud is very acidic and will etch the marble. On that note, you should really try as hard as possible to keep acidic food or drink off marble (coffee, citrus, etc). If you do spill acidic stuff, wipe it up immediately. When light-colored marble is stained by an acidic substance, 12% hydrogen peroxide works well. Dip a clean cloth into a bowl of peroxide and dab at the stain. The stain should start to fade pretty quickly. For oily stains (olive oil, peanut butter, etc.), first try wiping a mixture of dish soap and water over the stain. If the stain is more set, you can apply a layer of poultice made of baking soda and water (mix these two ingredients together until creamy). First, wet the stained area with clean water. Next, spread a thin layer of the poultice with a spatula. Cover the poultice with plastic wrap and tape it into place. Leave this on for about 24 to 48 hours, so that it can dry out completely. The poultice should draw out the stain during the drying process. When the paste is fully dry, use a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water to wipe away the paste (do not scrape the poultice off, as you risk scratching the marble surface). Wipe the area with a rag dipped in clean water and buff dry with a microfiber cloth. If the stain is still visible, repeat the entire process. You might have to do this a few times, depending on the type of stain and the time it has had to set in.

*You can also use a mixture sans alcohol: 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water, but I’ve been using alcohol since the beginning of the pandemic as it’s recommended by the CDC; also, I find it adds a little oomph to this cleaning recipe.

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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