Ask a Clean Person: Barfy Bags and Sappy Cars

Please help save my beautiful leather handbag. My boyfriend made it a party casualty. (What, you shouldn’t mix tequila and vodka? and champagne? and so much Franzia? and also whiskey shots?) I was able to deal with the stains by scrubbing the bag with just the sudsy bubbles from a bowl of lukewarm water and a sponge. However, now the leather is kind of crunchy and, well, leathery, and it STILL smells like vom. Febreze didn’t work, and I’m afraid to use lemon. Please help save my bag!

Oh no, you sweet girl!!! I’m so sad for you and your handbag!!! I asked Edith to light up the ‘Pin Signal so I could assemble all the A Dudes and all the A Ladies and all the A Polite Persons to commune over a cauldron of steaming white vinegar in the hopes of coming up with a punishment befitting the heinous crime your boyfriend has committed against leather goods.

But before I get to that, here’s how to soften that leather back up: Get some saddle soap (KIWI, which is my preferred brand of shoe polish, makes one but it’s a common enough product that you’ll find a selection of brands at a hardware store, home improvement stores,, etc.) and follow the directions on the package. You can also get wild and polish up your boots and/or other non-vomity bags with it!

As for the smell, try one of the products aimed at getting the stink out of running shoes. (You can find recommendations in the Shoes! Shoes! Shoes! column and comments.) Give the interior of the bag a good blast with it — it may take more than one spray to completely rid the bag of the smell, but hang in there. You could also think about tossing a potpourri ball in the bag for the next few weeks as an odor mask, and also because a potpourri ball is sort of a hilarious thing to have in your pocketbook.

OK, back to that boyfriend. GENTLEMEN, LISTEN UP: Do not barf in our handbags. (This is a thing we apparently need to say now? Were you all aware of the need to say that? Because I assuredly was not!) LADIES, YOUR TURN: If your gentleman friend barfs in your handbag, please clean out the vomit and then fill the thing with bricks and use it to beat him about the head and neck. Jesus.

Ever since I moved into my current apartment a year-ish ago, I’ve had to park under a large pine tree that sheds its needles all over my car. Worse than that is the sap that it drips throughout the spring and summer. Half of my poor car was covered in it last year, and since I am decidedly not a person who loves to clean, it is still on there today. Any ideas for getting old sap off of a car?

Oh man, I love washing a car! Wanna drive over to my place with a bucket and some old rags? Yeah that might be weird, OK.

I decided to outsource this one, because I have a friend who loves cars and cleaning in equally obsessive ways (of course I do). Here’s what he had to say:

Turtle Wax Bug & Tar Remover is what we always used growing up. You use it like a spot remover — dab it on the sap, let sit for a couple of minutes and then rub off using a soft cloth. (It may take a little elbow grease to get it up.) This product is meant to be used after you’ve washed the car, but if you notice a slightly oily residue after usage you might want to spot treat the sap and then wash the car. The thing with sap is that if it’s left on your car for too long, it will chip off and take the clear coat off your paint, so it’s important to keep on top of it during the summer months when the trees drip.

I don’t know why the thought of drippy trees is killing me right now but it is. I’m imagining them all with runny noses, I think?

My roommate accidentally steamed some vegetables for too long and the pot boiled dry. It now has scary brown/black residue on its bottom. How do I get this grossness off the bottom of my pot? It is probably the best piece of cookwear I own.

You wouldn’t believe the number of “I forgot about that, um, burner thing? And how it was turned on? You know, with flame? Anyway! How do I get black gunk off the bottom of my favorite pot?” emails I get. I hope you all have renter’s insurance and a fireproof lockbox is all I’ll say about that.

But because it wouldn’t be Ask a Clean Person without a mention of baking soda, here’s a great reader tip for this very scenario that works works works! Sprinkle baking soda — more than you think you need — all over the bottom of the pot and then pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for 30 minutes (and up to overnight) and then wash it. The burnt-on whatever it is should come right up.

Previously: Green Cleaning Alternatives.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you looking for a green alternative to the suggestions found here? Because we’ve got some! More importantly: Is anything you own dirty?

Image via Flickr