Is that a breeze I feel? You remember breezes—gently moving air. Man, I love October, with its crisp-ish weather and Halloween festivities. Also, I love gourds. One of my favorite parts of Halloween-time is carving pumpkins—the cute faces and roasted pumpkin seeds! Have you ever wondered why we carve faces into these hard fruits? Me too! Let’s delve a little deeper into this fruit-shanking tradition. Way back yonder in the fens of Ireland, legends were told of a dastardly, shadowy figure named Stingy Jack, who loved to trick the Devil. One time, Stingy was having cocktails with the Devil and didn’t want to pay the tab. He convinced gullible Satan to turn himself into a coin to cover the drinks. The rapscallion miser pocketed the evil coin instead and placed the Dark Lord dime piece into his pocket next to a silver crucifix, which prevented Lucifer from re-transmogrifying. When Jack kicked the bucket, God wouldn’t accept him into Heaven. The Devil, pissed about Stingy’s tricks, banished him from Hell and cursed him to walk the Earth for eternity with only a burning coal to light his way. To intensify the coal’s light, Jack made a lantern out of a turnip. The Irish called him Jack of the Lantern, or Jack O’ Lantern for short. Through time the story of Jack spread and changed like a game of telephone, and eventually it was told that carving scary faces and placing them in windows or near the front doors of homes kept Stingy and other wandering spirits away. As Irish and Scottish people immigrated to the U.S. so did this tradition. But instead of using potatoes and turnips, readily available pumpkins became the canvas for disturbing—or cute—faces. So there you have it! Thank you for carving time out of your busy day to check out the cleaning questions and answers below!

How do I get a red wine stain out of my white carpet?

When I was a sloppy drunk, I spilled alcohol all over the place all the time. Because of this, I’ve become a master at red wine stain removal. If your cup spilleth over, you’ll want to sop up the wine with a white rag. Do not rub the spot; you don’t want to force the wine deeper into the carpet fibers. Next, pour enough cold water over the wine spot to dilute it. Make a thick paste of baking soda and water, and coat the stain. This should soak up most of the spill. After the goop has dried, vacuum it up. Spray the remaining blood-of-Christ spot with a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Lightly wipe in a brushing motion. Now squirt a tiny drop of Dawn dish soap (seriously teensy, you don’t want to create a bubble bath) and water, and wipe the spot again. Use some water to wash the soap away. Another remedy which I’ve found to work really well is soda water and salt. Cover the spot with soda water. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over this, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Now pour a little hot water over the stain and lightly blot the area. I hope one of these works!

Is it possible to make my yellowing plastic fridge handles white again?

Ah yes, I know this problem well. The vacs I use (Shark Navigator Lift-Away professional, a.k.a. the best vacuum ever made) are white, and since they last forever, I notice yellowing of the plastic eventually. I hate the way it looks, so I’ve found a way to remedy it. I suggest doing this outside, as you’ll have to douse the thing pretty well, and the sun is one of the cleaning ingredients. If you are able, remove the handles from the fridge and bring them outside. Thoroughly clean the plastic using some dish soap and a rag. Dry. Place the handles in a tub (Tupperware?) of 2/3 white vinegar and 1/3 water. Let this soak all day. Remove the handles from the tub, spray them with the water-vinegar mixture mentioned above, sprinkle them with baking soda, and scrub with a sponge. Rinse. Now lay them in the sun for the day, and let those UV rays do the rest of the work. If you still see yellow, repeat the steps above; you’ll want to use a little more elbow grease during the baking soda scrub this time. Get to it!

How do I remove candle wax from my wooden dresser? 

As the old saying goes, wax happens (that is not an old saying). For this problem, you have two options: freeze it or heat it. For option number one, place an ice-filled freezer bag on top of the wax for about 30 minutes. Once hard, grab your debit card. Use it to carefully lift one side of the wax, then slowly slide it under the wax until the spot pops off the wood. Dip a microfiber rag into a mixture of half water and half vinegar and lightly wipe the wood along the grain. Drop some olive oil onto a dry rag, and lightly buff the spot to renew the luster. For the heating option, you’re going to—you guessed it—heat the wax in order to remove it. Cover the wax spot with an old towel. Place an iron on the lowest heat setting on top of  the towel (make sure the towel is larger than the iron to avoid the iron touching and damaging the wood). Let the iron sit for 20 seconds. The heated wax should be absorbed by the towel. Wipe the wood with the vinegar and water mixture and polish with olive oil, as instructed above. Good luck!

Dedicated to the memory of my beloved niece Kaley “Spackle” Fusilier.

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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