Here we go again! Can you smell the liquor, truck exhaust, churros, urine, vomit, plastic, and sin in the air? It’s Carnival time in New Orleans. Mardi Gras takes place early this year, on Tuesday (duh) February 13, which will allow us proud heathens to indulge in the sumptuous and sublime wickedness and still take full advantage of February, “the month of purification,” to thoroughly scrub the stank off. February gets its name from the Roman festival Februa, during which people ritually washed to ward off evil spirits. The scouring was thought to make way for fertility and creativity in preparation for March, which they considered the beginning of spring and a time of rebirth. To add a little extra purgation to your February cleansing game, trade those nasty beads for an amethyst necklace! The Greeks and Romans of yore believed that February’s birthstone, amethyst—derived from the Greek word amethustos (meaning sober)—helped to ward off drunkenness and improve clarity of thought. Can’t find an amethyst? Grab a bunch of violet or primrose, the flowers that represent February. Violets are a symbol of innocence, often associated with the Virgin Mary, and were used to counter dirt and decay in the 18th century. The primrose, derived from the Latin word primus (meaning first), is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring and symbolizes hope and new beginnings. February is not only a pure month, but it’s the most unique, as it is the only month to have fewer than 30 days. And every four years an extra day jumps on its ass! Lagniappe number 29 is called the leap day. The leap year occurs in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year, and it just so happens that 2024 is a leap year! This February, let’s soak up all of the sweet, sweet sanctification that this shortest of months provides and enter spring cleansed and fertilized with creativity! And wish all the leaplings (people born on February 29) a happy birthday, for they won’t have one again until 2028. Cleaning questions and answers await below.

How do I clean my humidifier?

When people who live in the most humid of humid cities mention using humidifiers, I always say to myself, “huh?” I know, I know, they are beneficial for moistening our sinus cavities, especially during the artificial house-heating months of winter. But if you do use a humidifier, it is very important to clean it often. If not, you’ll be moistening your face caverns and filling them shits with bacteria, mildew, and mold. Not good. First, unplug the humidifier. Water and electricity do not mix. Empty any water that is currently in the tank. Fill the water tank with distilled water (always use distilled water to prevent mineral build-up) and add two tablespoons of white vinegar. Give the tank a little shake to swish the solution around, and then let it sit for 30 minutes. Do the same to the humidifier’s base. Do not submerge the base; the motor lives in there. Now use a damp sponge to wipe out the tank and base. Wash the lid and other removable parts (non-motor-related) with the vinegar mixture and sponge. Rinse everything with distilled water, and let it air dry. Reassemble and let the vapor rip. Remember to change the air filter of your humidifier once every month or two. Not all humidifiers are the same, so be sure to read your owner’s manual before cleaning it. Cheers to pristine, lubricated sinus cavities!

How do I wash my blue jeans and still keep them blue and the same size?

Jeans are the best, right? I’m a huge fan of denim. My preferred iterations of the versatile fabric are jackets and overalls. Jean jackets go with everything, and overalls are cute and perfect for  cleaners, as they have plenty of pockets and prevent accidental ass crack flash, or AACF. I wish I could shake the hands of merchant Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis who, in 1873, patented “Improvements In Fastening Pocket Openings,” and began reinforcing work pants with copper rivets. By doing so, they created a sturdier pant for us workers. According to the CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., there are a few ways to keep your jeans lookin’ and fittin’ good. First of all, don’t wash them all the time. A good rule of thumb is to wash them after every 10th wear. If you’re not doing rodeo or rolling around in germs, it’s best to spot clean your blue jeans vs. throwing them in the washer. Squirt a little mild dish soap onto a wet rag or toothbrush, and lightly rub the yucky spot on your pants. Use another wet rag to remove the suds. When your jeans start to smell undeniably bad, turn them inside out, and throw them into a washing machine filled with similar colors, mild dish soap, and cold water. If they are inside out, the jeans will lose less color. Let them air dry. Washing in cold water and air drying the pants will prevent shrinkage and fabric warping. When I cared what my jeans looked like, I always hand washed them in the bathtub. Fill the tub with enough cold water to cover your inside-out jeans. Add a drop of mild laundry detergent and agitate the water with your hands. If there are stains or particularly smelly parts of the pants, you can rub the fabric with a wet, soapy rag. If you want to be really extra, you can wear your jeans in the shower to wash them. Weird. Some people insist that it’s best to forgo water and soap, swearing that freezing your jeans is the perfect way to kill germs and smell. And those people are wrong! Freezing does not clean your jeans. Many microbes can survive in freezing temps. Even if you kill most of the stink-causing germs, it only takes one outlier to repopulate and pollute your dungarees. Cheers to clean jeans!

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III

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