Posts Tagged ‘cleaning’

NTKOG #116: The kind of thin-skinned neatnik who spends her evenings wearing a ruffled apron and those ridiculous yellow latex dishwashing gloves.

I am: immune to pain. You’re looking at a dude who ate a steak sandwich twelve hours after getting her wisdom teeth out. I once put an ice pick through my whole palm, then went on mixing mojitos without so much as a schmear of Neosporin.

I am not: so delicate or anal-retentive that I need hand prophylactics just to wash a few dishes.

The Scene: My matchbox-sized apartment, slaving like Cinderella over a teetering stack of bowls super-glued together with soymilk residue. After spending the past year as a kept woman in a palatial converted 1920s mansion, it was a rude awakening to move back into an apartment where the dishwasher is this guy. As a result, I strenuously believe in blasting the water as hot as possible to at least approximate machine-powered sanitation levels.

Problem: I could only wash a glass or two before my skin would scald seventeen shades of fire engine and my finger tips would start peeling off. Great for my secret life as a gentleman art thief (no prints!); terrible for pretty much anything else.

The answer to this, as in all things, came from the charming Muscles. Muscles — as his epithet implies — has the heart of a lion, the physique of a well-groomed bear, and the hands of an 18th century duchess. Last summer, after dinner at his and Justice’s estate, he gathered up the dishes and snapped on a pair of yellow gloves.

“Dude?!” I sputtered. “You look like a promo for The Pacifier 2.”

The power of the gloves was immediately apparent: he didn’t even flicker at my ribbing, just gazed on with the smug serenity of a Bikram instructor. “They’re more helpful than you’d think,” he replied, then thrust his gloved hands into the cloud of steam rising from the sink.

My first purchase when I moved into my Boston apartment was my own pair of dorky yellow dish-washing gloves. And frig it if the ol’ guru wasn’t onto something.

The Verdict: Every time I peel off my gloves after a half-hour spell of doing dishes in 180-degree water, I gaze at my dry, unscalded hands in delight. If I were a 17th century peasant, I would burn these gloves because surely they are tools of magic and of wonder. But I am not a 17th century peasant. I am just a happily unboiled dishwasher — even if I am a slightly dorky looking one.

Also, I’ve fought the draft of this post for months now, convinced that y’all would leave me forever for sharing a story so dorky and banal. But after twenty minutes of passionately proselytizing about rubber gloves to Anglophile the other day, I realized my conviction is too great to keep bottled. If one dishwasher-less person reads this post and goes out to buy gloves, dude, this whole blog will have been worth it.


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Can’t get enough of me? As per friggin’ usual? Jump over to Are You There God? It’s Me, Nikki to read my YA-Lit recap of The Headless Cupid — one of the greatest children’s books of the 20th century!

NTKOG #53: The kind of Birkenstocky tree-hugger for whom using a paper towel when cloth would suffice is tantamount to slicing a swatch off a Giant Panda’s hide and using it to buff your counter.

I am: kind of lazy. Why do tons of laundry when you could just pick up an eight-pack of Bounty? Plus, cloth towels don’t have their own obnoxiously brain-hijacking jingle!

I am not: the best representative of Northern California, I guess. Sorry, Mother Earth! I cut the apron strings!

The Scene: My apartment — my cute little studio, stocked with everything an artsy-professional 20something could want: books books books, weird drunken wall art, a fully stocked (though shelf-less) kitchen. Er, make that everything except one thing: disposable paper goods. When I moved into my apartment on September 1st, I made the conscious decision to eschew every non-essential disposable paper good. By which I actually mean just … napkins, Kleenex and paper towels.

According to Etsy, there is a non-disposable alternative to toilet paper. But, dudes, I’m not that not that kind of girl.

I like how these reuseable toilet paper squares are color coded -- in case you live in a multi-family home? Holy christ.

I like how these reusable toilet paper squares are color-coded -- in case you live in a multi-person home? Holy christ.

And for two months, I actually lived really well without these things. I never quite brought myself to the level of using a handkerchief (I mean, dude, can we just agree that you have to be pretty hoity toity to eschew toilet paper as Kleenex?), but paper towels were amazingly easy to live without. I went down to the Dollar store and picked up some sponges and three packs of reusable microfiber cleaning clothes, and they’ve served me well.


Seriously, I use the cleaning cloths for everything: scrubbing out my sink, cleaning all my apartment surfaces (with baking soda and vinegar — no chemicals here!), wiping town the mirrors, even polishing my floors! (Equal parts vegetable oil and vinegar. I’m a hands-and-knees floor scrubber. It’s actually kind of fun! Says the girl who also hand-washes like 80% of her laundry, including cleaning cloths.)

I used to be a huge paper towel abuser. Every time my hands were a bit wet: paper towel. Counter need a quick swipe? Paper towel. Bored in the kitchen and no onions to arbitrarily chop? PAPER TOWEL ORIGAMI! But for the past two months, I’ve replaced all of my old paper towel whims — up to but excluding the origami — with normal kitchen towels.


My hand-stenciled "Famous Facial Hair Dudes Throughout History" kitchen towel set. Can you tell I had a lot of time on my hands before the move? More pertinently: can you identify all five Famous Facial Hair Dudes?!

My fabulous hand-stenciled "Famous Facial Hair Dudes Throughout History" kitchen towel set. Can you name all five famous dudes?!

And yet — and yet, this post is written in the past tense. That’s right: I relapsed. Last weekend I was making eggplant parmesan, and as I frantically patted the slices of eggplant with Hemingway’s most radical forehead furrows, it occurred to me: I just don’t do laundry enough that using cloth towels on decayable food can be the best of all possible ideas. So I caved and bought a single roll of paper towels to use exclusively for food preparation. I know. I’m weak.

The Verdict: Living without what I considered to be a simple necessity? Totally easier than anticipated! Although I’m no longer a paper-towel tyrant, I’ve set a personal goal for myself to use no more than a single roll of paper towels every two months. Easy on the wallet and on the planet!

Oh jeez, guys. Between this and the hand-washing and line-drying, I truly am turning into a hippie. Next stop … Diva Cup? (I totally will if they send me a free sample. TAKE NOTE, DIVAS!)

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NTKOG #13: The type of hippie/vegan/freegan chick who eschews store-bought fungus-blasting cleaning products for biodegradable homemade concoctions. (Look, these projects can’t all be glamorous.)

I am: eco-friendly only inasmuch as you’re considered kind of a dick if you’re not, in this day and age. There. I admitted it. I recycle in my home and generally when I’m out, as long as it’s not too inconvenient; I own dozens of reuseable grocery totes and make some sort of an effort to remember them; I walk instead of driving when I’m not in a huge rush (or when parking’s going to be a hassle.)

I am not: too trusting of any cleaning products not bearing a big-name slogan in neon colors.

The Scene: My apartment’s semi-grungy bathroom, which is monochromatically Navajo White — except for huge swathes of baby blue paint dripping down the tile walls, and streaks of blackish dirt covering every surface. Because the shower curtain had been covering the only source of natural light when I first viewed the bathroom, I didn’t realize how bad things were; the only thing I had commented on to the previous tenant was the bathtub, which she had assured me she had cleaned thoroughly, despite the asymmetrical grey stains starting halfway up the walls and darkening as they oozed toward the drain.

“I scrubbed the shit out of that tub!” she assured me, not once but twice.

Well. Thanks for getting the shit out. But you didn’t have time to go after the soap scum too while you were down there?

Armed with nothing but a package of microfiber cleaning cloths, a sponge, a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda, a gallon jug of vinegar and an on-sale container of Dawn dish soap (combined value: $5), I closed myself into the bathroom and prepared for battle.

The four accumulated years’ worth of soap scum came out of the tub fairly easily, once I rinsed the tub with vinegar, then sprinkled it all with baking soda and sponge-scrubbed until my arms were asleep. It was so successful that I used the same basic trick on the walls and floor, except I blended the baking soda in with dish soap until it formed a frosting-like consistency (that made me quite unreasonably hungry), then used it to scrub. At that point I noticed that the top inch or two of every single tile on the wall was coated in layers of three different colors of paint. Apparently whoever painted the bathroom was too lazy to buy painters tape and so decided they’d just “be really careful” — essentially the painting equivalent of the pulling-out method of birth control. Awesome, guys. Really great.

The Verdict: Dang, guys. This all-natural cleaning idea is amazing. My few basic ingredients did a stunning job taking up four years worth of accumulated soap scum, dirt, dust, bad paint job, rust, everything! And all without even a single paper towel, too! Although I definitely had to put in a few hours and a lot of elbow grease, pausing in my toils every so often only to curse the fucking Swiffer generation, who apparently either cannot recognize dirt & scum, or else perhaps encourage it under the delusion that it contains anti-oxidents.

Turns out I was totally wrong about this whole hippie cleaning thing. It’s significantly cheaper than store-bought products, and works just as well, if not better. Although I still stand firm in my reservation that the kind of girls who use all-natural cleaning supplies are much the same demographic as those who choose to use “keeper cups” instead of tampons and are thus generally to be ignored by polite society.

Bonus Tutorial: How to clean a fucking bathtub (especially if you are of the Swiffer Generation)

This is very complicated, guys. It’s totally effin’ brain surgery.

  1. Empty all of your shampoo, shaving cream, etc, out of the tub, and make sure your bathroom is well-lit.
  2. Dampen a sponge and sprinkle baking soda all over it.
  3. Choose a reasonably clean part of your tub and scrub it as hard as you think humanly possible (or even harder, if you can!) for forty-five seconds. Note the color that the patch is, post-scrubbing.
  4. Scrub the rest of your tub until it matches the color achieved in #3 (reapplying baking soda and re-wetting sponge as necessary.)
  5. THAT’S FRIGGIN’ IT! Go clean your bathtub, 20-somethings. It’s beyond overdue.

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