Ask a Clean Person: Get Rid of Your Men, Seriously, They Are Revolting

I recently moved into a house of dudes. There are six of us living in the house and I am the only girl. I am also the only one who makes any attempt at keeping our space “nice.” I say “nice” because if you saw photos of the common areas it would look pretty decent. The problem is the smell. Even when the garbage has been taken away and everything is freshly vacuumed and mopped, a smell lingers. I would say that it is a combination of dirty socks, stale deodorant, beer, and a general layer of dirt/dust.

The floors are wood, so it’s not like I can just rip out some carpet. We have fans on 24/7 in the living room, so there’s not really an issue of poor air circulation. I just cleaned out the fridge. There is no rotting food in the pantry. We’re all smokers but generally keep that constrained to the outdoors. I’m definitely beyond Febreze-able territory here, and I’m wondering if there is a magical way to get rid of this beer/foot/stale smell that permeates the house. I’m kind of assuming it has been engrained into the floors and walls, and that nothing short of a giant Arm & Hammer baking soda box installed in the foyer could do the trick, however any suggestion is greatly appreciated.

The bad news is that you’ve contracted an acute case of Boy Smell. The good news is that Boy Smell is very treatable.

The first order of business is to give the common areas a thorough vinegaring, which will go a long way in eliminating the embedded Boy Smell. Here’s what you’re going to do: Round up the roommates and start issuing orders, “LISTEN UP, LADS. TODAY WE ARE DOUCHING THE HOUSE.” Say it just like that. If they balk, tell them that they will score 65% more tail if the pad doesn’t smell like sweat socks. That ought to motivate them. Such simple creatures, aren’t they?

Hand over a stack of rags, and fill up a couple of big bowls with a white vinegar solution (equal parts water and vinegar should do it). Tell them to dip a rag in the solution, wring it out, and go over every surface with the vinegar solution rag, followed by a wax-on, wax-off-type situation with a dry rag. Do be sure to use the Karate Kid metaphor. Speak to them in their language, if you will. Explain to them that they want to go over the walls, floors, non-upholstered furniture, etc. You should just stand there and boss them around.

OK, once that’s done get yourself a couple canisters of something called The Bad Air Sponge. I know! Do you love it? You totally love it. Set them out around the common areas (you can sort of tuck them in corners or behind furniture); that will help to keep the problem at bay going forward.

And look, if you can’t make them submit for the vinegaring, just put out the Sponge. If you can sneak into their rooms and hide Sponges under their bed, even better.

I was wondering if there was a way to get the pissy smell out of bathrooms? I once again live with boys, and the smell smacks you in the face once you open the door (which is kept shut at all times). I’m going to say the smell is coming from all surfaces of this toilet. I’ve tried all kinds of cleansers and even pure bleach, and it may go away for a while — or I could just be losing my sense of smell from all of the chemicals — but it always comes back. Is there any way to get rid of it for good?

Well, before we begin we have to do this thing: When dealing with urine, ❤ u though we might, Bleachie is not your pal. Remember the old ammonia + bleach = big no-no rule? Right, and pee-pee has ammonia in it, so in general plan to shy away from bleach and bleach-based products around the toilet area.

There are several possible sources of the smell, so let’s whip out (heh, get it?! Oh God, I’m so sorry. Get rid of your Clean Person, seriously, she is revolting) our process of elimination technique and get down to brass tacks.

1. The toilet: The tank is likely holding in urine smells. Maybe even one of the boys peed in it! They will point their things at any receptacle and just let loose, I swear! Our great pal white vinegar will do the trick in helping to flush out (!!) bad water. Pour some in the tank, put on the heaviest duty rubber gloves you can find, get a scrubby brush and go to town. Then flush flush flush flush. Keep adding vinegar to the tank water, about a half a cup at at time, so that you’re flushing the bowl through with vinegar too. Now go ‘round the exterior of the bowl with a rag and some vinegar solution to get up any residue lurking there.

2. The toilet seat: Toilet seats are pretty inexpensive! And easy to replace! Toss the old one, because the plastic might have just, like absorbed a permanent piddle odor?

3. The floor and the walls: Let’s be honest? The guys? Are dripping on the floor and probably also splashing on the walls. If cleaning the pissoir and replacing the toilet seat didn’t fully do the trick, take a page from the book of our friend upcolumn with the terminal case of Boy Smell in her living room and give the bathroom a thorough vinegaring.

4. Preventative measures: One thing that concerns me in your letter is that you’re keeping the bathroom door shut. It’s a real damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t thing, because gross eew gross you don’t want those smells in the rest of the house, but that potty needs air circulation, lady! If there’s a window, open it! Leave the door open! Put a fan in there if you can! Circulation is so necessary, just like no panties and jeans! Also definitely get yourself a tub of The Bad Air Sponge. That will help matters greatly.

Probably take these suggestions in order of least time- and cash-consuming to most. You might find that just cleaning the tank does the trick; it may be that you need the full monty to destinkify the commode.

I’m moving in with my boyfriend who wants to bring his old La-Z-Boy recliner with us to the new place. This is fine by me except for the fact that the arm of the velour-like fabric is covered in old semen. Like visible stains on the green fabric. I don’t want to bring the old semen with us, so is there any way to get rid of the stains??

May I say that you are one seriously permissive girlfriend? I mean, it takes one to know one but still… wow. A semen-stained green La-Z-Boy. Congratulations on winning the Best Girlfriend Ever pageant! Love your sash!

The quick and dirty solution is to hit that stain with OxiClean. Oxi is aces on protein stains (old timers are raising the roof right now in celebration of the glorious return of the protein stain to AaCP!). Because you’re dealing with upholstery, you’ll want to make a fairly thick Oxi paste, i.e. low water, because you don’t want to saturate the chair. Apply the Oxi, let it work its Oxi magic for 30 or so minutes, and then with a damp — not soaking, damp — towel blot blot blot blot blot, gently rubbing at the fabric to pull up the crusted-on splooge.

While you’re going about this business, do be sure to sweet talk the recliner and turn to your boyfriend to inform him that now he’s not the only one in the family who’s had a romantic interlude with the La-Z-Boy.

Once you’ve gotten the stain up, let the chair air dry or turn the hairdryer on it. (“Lolll, Boyfriend, now I’m giving it a blow job!”)

When the chair is dry, go over it with a vacuum fitted with a brush attachment. That will help to restore the nap back to its former, pre-cum-dumpster state.

Another option you have is renting a steam cleaner, which you might want to do anyway? Hardware stores, grocery stores — those are the kinds of places you’ll find steam cleaning equipment rentals. Ask the rental folks what kind of cleaning solution they recommend for their machine/what works best for the type of fabric you’ve got. If they ask what sort of stain you’re dealing with and you’re too embarrassed to tell them the truth, just keep the protein stains in the family and tell them it’s barf.

Earlier: Get Rid of Your Cats, Seriously, They Are Disgusting.

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?

Photo by Vladimir Melnik, via Shutterstock