Well, well, well, it’s May again, the time of year during which New Orleans weather is mostly glorious, but gives us sadistic little peeks of the sweltering summer heat and humidity that is about to envelope us in hellish hellishness. Some of my best friends (my dad included) just love these sultry May slaps. I feel they are weird masochists who might also get enjoyment from wrapping themselves in a wet comforter and then hanging out in a sauna. It is thought that May got its name from Maia, the goddess of growth. This totes makes sense to me, as plants grow like crazy around here in May. Amongst the plants having a growth rave right now is May’s birth flower, Lily of the valley; it grows quite well in New Orleans’ often balmy conditions. So while the lucky ducks in the southern hemisphere are enjoying fall, let’s bask in the remaining coolish weather that pops up here and there in May, because it’s about to get unrelentingly HOT. Anyway, below I’ve answered some of your cleaning questions. Enjoy!

My favorite coffee mug has coffee stains on the inside. How do I remove them?

I drink a lot of coffee, and I always drink it out of the same mug: my beautiful Sagittarius mug, ta da! Because this mug is filled with at least four cups of coffee each morning, and even though I wash the hell out of it after fueling-up (I am after all, unfortunately, no joke, obsessive compulsive and need things to be perfectly clean at all times), it tends to develop a ring or two from time to time. My go-to remedy to remove the coffee rings that I missed during my ritualistic 55 perfectly symmetrical scrubs (I’m kidding—but kind of not) is to fill my mug with half boiling water and half white vinegar. Let this mixture do its magic for three minutes. After pouring the water out of the mug, sprinkle some baking soda onto a scouring pad and lightly scrub the inside of the mug. This should do the trick!

My fancy spandex Mardi Gras costume smells like B.O. How can I clean it without messing it up?

Skunk in your spandex: P.U. (By the way, that term might derive from the 17th century “peugh,” which, according to Timothy Noah of the Backbencher website, “denotes an utterance of contempt or derision specifically about a foul smell.”) Somebody made it, that’s Mardi Gras shenanigans à la you (I’m a jackass). I know the drill: While you’re livin’ it up on Mardi Gras day in your haute couture déguisement, your apocrine glands are steadily releasing proteins and fats and attracting stinky bacteria. You sniff the underarms of the costume the next day and get a nostril full of fonk. Well, there’s an easy way to snuff the stank. You’ll need some aspirin and cream of tartar. Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which is great for removing sweat stains and B.O. Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is acidic and neutralizes odor. Mix three white, non-coated aspirin pills in a cup of warm water. Now add a tablespoon of cream of tartar. Grab a soft-headed toothbrush and lightly scrub the costume pit area. Add a little bit more of the solution onto this area and let it sit for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes is up, carefully rinse the area. Hang the garment, pits-up, in the sun to dry. If the smell persists, make a thick paste of warm water and baking soda, slather this onto the axillary cavity area of the garment. Let this sit for an hour. Now you’ll use your hand to sweep off the excess baking soda granules, and then rinse the area with warm water. Hang in the sun to dry.

I suddenly have tons of flies in my house. Why are they here and how do I get rid of them?

Oh God. I know, right?! There were four effing flies inside of my house smacking my kitchen window this morning. As a matter of fact, I can hear a fly buzzing around right now in this very room. If you read my column about rotting garbage and flies in the October ‘21 issue (and fly larvae, a.k.a. maggots), you know that the disgust and disdain I have for flies is real real. But flies don’t only come out to nosh on rotting garbage. Oh no—they are attracted to over-ripe fruit, alcohol, and even your breath. You know how flies love to annoyingly zoom around your face? Well, guess what? They are attracted to the carbon dioxide you emit. Carbon dioxide equals blood to them, and they want to feast on that. They also enjoy all of that sexy bacteria in your mouth and on your skin (not to mention that bacteria-laden dead skin that is constantly sloughing off of you). Your body is a veritable buffet for a fly, especially when you are dead. For when you are dead, you become an actual buffet for a fly. This is not a joke. One more disgusting tidbit—flies shit every time they land on something. They have ultra-fast digestive tracts, so they have to go poo-poo constantly. They even poop on the things they eat. So yes, they truly shit where they eat. Disgusting. They are making a major appearance right now because they enjoy warmer seasons. Since insects are ectothermic or “cold-blooded,” their body temperatures depend on their external environment; they depend on warm weather for energy. They spend winter in diapause, a hibernation-like state of reduced metabolic activity. The few flies that I did see during the cooler months this year were exceedingly slow-moving and easy to kill. I even commented to my partner that the flies seemed like they had been smoking the ganja. OK, phew! Sorry for always being so long-winded and daftish. One way to eradicate flies in your home is with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and dish soap. Fill a jar half way with the vinegar and add a few drops of dish soap (I love Dawn for this). Cover the jar with plastic wrap, secure it to the jar with a rubber band, and poke some holes in the plastic wrap. The flies will be attracted to the sweet vinegar, go through the holes and get trapped by the viscous soap; they will then perish. Another idea is to invest in a Venus flytrap. Venus flytrap plants freak me out because they are carnivorous and that seems very wrong, but they eat flies and that’s so, so right. My favorite fly remedy is lemon peels. I place lemon peels around my kitchen to repel ants, weevils, and also flies. All of these insects hate the smell of the acidic peels. However, I love the smell, so it’s a win-win situation. Good luck!

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm