Boo! Welcome to October, the month that Halloween lives in. Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year: dressing up, candy, tricks and treats—the good things in life! In the spirit of this spooky holiday, I’m gonna give you some tricks for cleaning conundrums that are useful on Halloween (or any other day of the year). Let’s do it. Muahahahaha!

I was painting my kid’s face and I got oil-based makeup on her clothes. Can I get the makeup off, or should I just toss the clothes? Help!

I looooooove to costume. Conceiving of and executing a costume is my jam. But, as we all know, it can be messy. Some face paint here, some fake blood there, glitter everywhere—it’s the price we pay when creating our little masterpieces. Have no fear, dear reader, the clothes are not ruined. To remove the makeup, you’ll need a soft, thin cloth, cold water, dish soap, your finger, and a soft-headed toothbrush. If the stain isn’t dry yet, remove any excess makeup with a light cloth. DO NOT RUB THE STAIN! Next, use the spoon to apply cold water to the stain. Now you’ll apply a little liquid dish soap; look for a soap that says “grease cutting,” because, as we’ve established, you are trying to murder grease. Using your finger of choice, lightly distribute the soap all over the stain. Rub the soap lighty into the fabric with an old toothbrush, and let it sit for a few minutes until it dries. Finally, you’ll wash the garment in cold water in the washing machine. You may have to repeat this process a few times.

Period blood?

Ah, yes… menstruating. It’s fun for so many reasons, not the least of which is dealing with blood stains on your clothes. It’s especially annoying when this blood gets on your beautiful costume. It’s time to stand up and fight against these stains! First off, treat the stain as soon as possible. Rinse under cold water while gently rubbing the fabric together. Cold water can get a lot of the stain out. Don’t use hot water, though, as it will “cook” the stain into the fabric. As you know, these blood “events” often happen at the worst times. With that said, you can use any soap that you have on hand at the time, depending on the fabric, to wash the garment. I often wash my stuff while I’m in the bathtub with bath soap. If the blood is dried into light fabric, try soaking it in hydrogen peroxide first. For darker fabrics, you can crush up aspirin and mix it with water to make a paste. Smooth the paste over the stain and let it sit overnight before rinsing the garment with water in the morning.

What’s the best way to get rid of the smell of stinky shoes, without getting rid of the shoes?

Let’s face it: shoes get stinky—especially your favorite shoes that you wear all the time. Yes, we are all sometimes haunted by the pee-yew ghost! Don’t throw your shoes out yet, though. First, sprinkle enough baking soda into the shoe to cover the insole. Let the baking soda absorb overnight. In the morning, shake out the excess. Another great trick is putting some citrus peels in the shoes overnight. Yum!

What is the best way to clean my fruit?

Since it’s Halloween and you might be bobbing for apples with your friends, this is an especially good time to discuss cleaning fruit. (If you’re actually going to bob for apples, you might as well forgo washing the fruit, as you are essentially dipping your face into a vat of germs, since you will be grabbing for things with your mouth in water that other people have just done the same thing in. Gross.) To clean most fruits and vegetables, mix a solution of 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups water inside of a spray bottle, then add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Shake well to combine. Spray your produce. Finally, place the fruit in a colander in the sink and rinse the fruit with cold water.

There are fruit flies all over my kitchen! Please help!

In my opinion, fruit flies aren’t as repugnant as regular flies; they have those cute, little circular wings and aren’t attracted to rotting flesh, like regular flies are. They are, however, annoying as hell. The best way to deal with fruit flies is to avoid getting them in the first place. I highly recommend not leaving fruit out for too long. I put fruit in my fridge as soon as it begins to ripen. It’s also very important to keep your kitchen sink drain clean; fruit flies really love to hang out in a dirty sink drain. Anyway, if flies do make a home in your kitchen, there is hope. Grab a cup or jar, fill it halfway with apple cider vinegar or red wine and attach a piece of plastic wrap to the top of it with a rubber band. Next, poke holes in the plastic wrap. Voilà! The flies will be able to get into the jar but won’t be able to get out!

Got cleaning questions? Email

illustrations by Ben Claassen III

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