A grayscale illustration of a light-skinned person dancing with and singing to a mop. They have short, dark hair and are wearing a long-sleeved button down and pants. They’re dipping the mop as if it’s a dance partner, and they’re looking down at it, smiling, with their eyes closed. The arm that isn’t holding the mop is extended into the air with a glove on, and there are musical notes nearby and hearts near their head. There’s a mop bucket on the floor and wet spots around it. Illustration by Ben Claassen III.

Roses are red, violets are blue. Valentine’s Day was created by Hallmark to make lots of money, and this column of cleaning tips was created by me, for you (sorry, I’m not a poet). Yep, it’s February, Cupid’s little hidey-hole, the month that makes you feel terrible if you are single. So single or not, I hope the cleaning tips below will warm your heart, because I love you… like a friend.

My house is full of dog hair. Is sweeping or vacuuming better to remove the hair?

In the past, when it came to removing pet hair from bare floors, I was strictly a broom gal. Over the years, I’ve moved more towards using a vacuum to tackle this task. But because I am clingy and really bad with change, I tend towards both sweeping and vacuuming during a pet-hair-cleaning sesh. I begin by sweeping all of the large plumes of pet hair, focusing on getting it out of corners and from underneath furniture. I then sweep the piles of hair into a dustpan and throw it into the trash. After this, I use the vacuum to get any errant hairs that escaped the broom bristles. The best vacuum for pet hair, as I mentioned in the December issue, is the Shark Navigator Pro Lift Away, because it has a nifty bare-floor attachment and other attachments specifically for removal of pet hair. Many vacuums (such as the one listed above) can also be used to vacuum pet hair off of furniture. So yeah, if you are going for extreme Isabel analness, sweep and vacuum. If you’re going for less time-consuming and pretty much just as effective results, I’d go for the vacuuming-only option!


My kid was eating chocolate and got it all over his new white t-shirt. How can I remove the chocolate stain?

There are a few paths you can take to remove this chocolaty mess. You can first try applying dish soap to the stain using a clean, soft-headed toothbrush. Gently dab the soap over the stain, then lightly brush in an upward motion. Be careful not to scrub, as this can work the chocolate stain deeper into the fabric. Follow this by soaking the shirt in a bowl of cold water for at least 30 minutes. If the stain won’t budge, repeat this process. For an older, more stubborn stain, try wetting the area with cold water and squirting some clear or white toothpaste onto it. Use your finger to gently smooth the toothpaste over the stain, and then rinse the shirt in cold water. Follow this by sprinkling some baking soda over it and rubbing gently until the stain is gone. And finally, if all of this fails, try lemon juice. Soak a clean cloth in lemon juice and dab the stain until it disappears. Hopefully one of these tips will make your child’s shirt more presentable (if less delicious).


I love my husband, but I don’t love that he gets pee on the floor of the bathroom, causing it to reek. What can I do to get rid of this smell?

The sulphury smell of bacteria-laden, dried human pee in a bathroom makes me want to barf. Because men almost always sprinkle pee all over the floor when urinating—and also because many people let the yellow mellow in the toilet—home bathrooms can begin to smell like the men’s room at Saturn Bar (RIP) before you know it. If you don’t take care of the wee-wee floor immediately, the smell will become unbearable pretty quickly. To tackle this stinky dilemma, you’ll need the following ingredients: two gallons of hot water, 1/4 cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of Borax, and a small squirt of your favorite dish soap. Now you’ll mix the baking soda, Borax, and water together to create a paste. Use a sponge to scrub this onto the floor and the base of the toilet. Be sure to scrub the caulk and tile grout too—the funk hides there. Let the paste sit for about 30 minutes. Now you’ll spray the area with a mixture of half water and half vinegar. Let the paste and vinegar simmer for about 20 minutes, then rinse with water. If your husband has been spraying urine onto the floor for a while, you may have to repeat this process a few times to completely eradicate the pee smell. Also, from time to time, I recommend removing the toilet seat (which is very easy to do) and cleaning the top of the toilet bowl, around where the toilet seat is attached to the toilet. You’d be surprised at how much disgustingness you’ll find there. While you’re at it, take the toilet seat outside, spray it with a hose, and scrub it with dish soap and white vinegar. Good luck! (P.S. I made a sign for my bathroom that says, “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat.” I find that a note can be helpful… or passive aggressive. Anyway, it’s worth a shot.)


My rugs smell like feet. How can I make them smell better?

You don’t wear shoes inside specifically so you won’t track dirt onto your pretty rugs. But now, your rugs smell like corn chip feet. You can’t win for losin’! A good solution is using a carpet deodorizing powder. But as we’ve discussed in the past, store-bought cleaning products, such as carpet deodorizers, are laden with chemicals and can potentially hurt you and your feet. I don’t know if you know this, but feet are one of the most absorbent parts of your body. We don’t want them sucking up all those chemicals. I recommend making your own carpet-rug deodorizing powder. It’s extremely easy—only two ingredients! You’ll need baking soda and the essential oil of your choice. Pour some baking soda into a bowl and add about 20 drops of essential oil to the bowl. Mix these ingredients together with a fork. Pour this mixture into a salt shaker or sifter, and sprinkle it over the rug. Let this sit for 30 minutes to an hour, and then vacuum it up. Now your rug should smell fresh and feet-free!

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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