Clean For X-Mas: Ask A Clean Person’s Jolie Kerr On Holiday Messes
Brandon Wetherbee | Dec 17, 2015 | 9:00AM |

Jolie Kerr does not make you feel like a dirty person. The author of My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha does not make you feel like a bad person because there’s a stain on your floor. Or your suit coat. Or in your bed. Stains happen. Kerr will help you clean them.

We spoke to the author, podcaster and columnist about potentials stains, spills and dilemmas you’ll face during the holiday season.

Drink Stains

On Kerr’s Ask A Clean Person podcast, episode 24 “Give The Gift of Clean,” she tackled the dilemma of a spilled bottle of red wine (pick up some Wine Away for tannin stains and keep salt handy). So we asked her about spilled cocktails. “For cocktails you don’t need to worry as much. Blot as much as you can and focus on strain treatment.” When it comes to cocktails made with fruit juice, purchase some Red Erase, a product aimed at children’s spills, but comes in handy for drinkers.

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Salt Stains

When we spoke to Kerr we didn’t think it would be 60 in December. It may not stay warm. Sooner or later it will snow and sooner or later your floor will have salt stains. When it comes to floors, Kerr told us, “the preventative measures are actually things worth suggesting. “When you’re having a party, try to have a mat out front as a mat as soon as you walk in. Another options is a runner of butcher paper in the entryway. It may not be that visually appealing, but it’s an easy way to get shoes clean and easy to disperse of after parties.”

But no matter how much you prepare, floors will get dirty. “Salt stains will happen and a very easy solution that works on virtually every surface except white stone, is white vinegar. From leather dress shoes to hardwood floors, white vinegar works.”

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Lipstick and Makeup Stains

I’ve consulted My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha about this. In her book Kerr suggests rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball is recommended on a white cotton blazer. So we asked her about darker clothing and different fabrics. She suggests the same thing, even for leather and silk, just don’t saturate. Just make sure the cotton ball or cloth is damp, not dripping.

She also suggests using makeup remover to the same affect, which is obvious in hindsight.

A third option is also clear as day. She told us, “a lot of women use pre-moistened makeup removed cloths and those are great because they’re at the right level of wetness.”

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Deep Cleaning Before The Party

Should a good host hire a maid or do a deep clean before a party? No.

“The idea of cleaning before a party is you want to do the shallowest clean. Unless your floor is really, really dirty, you don’t want to mop your floor. If you go over the floor with a vacuum cleaner, wipe up any visible spills or stains, it’ll look good. Presumably, no one is going to be taking a magnifying glass to your floor.” You are not obligated to invite anyone over to your parties.

Here’s some more good advice. “Focus on the bathroom, skip the shower unless it’s a really wild party, clean the toilet very well, clean your sick, put away all your personal items, there will probably be a snoop or two.”

“Focus on the kitchen with a very specific thing in mind. Leave it ready for all of the stuff that’s going to happen to and in it. Wash all your dishes and put them away, run and empty your dishwashers. Make sure the drying rack is empty.”

“Take out all of the trash, put liners in, leave garbage cans and waste baskets in clear locations. Set it out in the open for your guest, especially in the bathroom.”

“Think, what can I clean now that will make cleanup later easier?”

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Tact For A Spill

Thus far we’ve dealt with floors, greetings, spills and preparation. What’s left is tact. Inevitably, someone is going to spill something. It’s your job as host to make sure they don’t regret coming to the party.

“It’s more about the attitude,” Kerr told us. “The best thing that happens when there’s a spill is say, “Spills happen!” Clean it as soon as you can. You want to do it so no one slips and falls and it’s usually as easy as grabbing paper towels.”

If the spill is on carpet, you’ll want to attempt to clean it up ASAP. Carpet soaks up stains and people are going to track that spill around. Try to get what you can but don’t go overboard. “Don’t take it to the point where you’re on your knees with the Resolve.”

“Be of the mindset that spills are going to happen and you’re going to be perfectly fine and your biggest priority is making sure your guest doesn’t feel bad about it.”

This is the most helpful and easy to execute advice Kerr gave us. “Keep extra paper towels handy and stash them in every room that people are going to be in.”

Jolie Kerr’s book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha is excellent and we highly recommend buying a copy for yourself and the people you love. This is coming from someone who does not love cleaning. Never in my life have I blown off steam by cleaning the bathroom or mopping the kitchen floors. Cleaning needs to happen so bugs don’t eat your food and so clothes smell slightly less bad.

If you buy someone this book it does not mean you’re telling them you think they’re dirty. Kerr suggests giving the book as part of a gift, along with a bottle of red wine and maybe some Wine Away with a note that reads, “Just in the event you spill, here’s a little help…”

Kerr brought up an excellent point. “There’s no judgement in saying you’re going to spill red wine.”

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Read Kerr’s Esquire column, download her podcast and follow her on Twitter.