Ask a Clean Person: Jacuzzi Jets, Shoe Polish Stains, and Glass Pipes

We have a whirlpool bathtub in our bathroom. I diligently clean it with Scrubbing Bubbles and the Magic Eraser every week, but the jets always remain grimy. I’m a little skeeved out to use it because I fear what disgusting crap is going to shoot out of there when I turn it on. How can I clean this so that I can enjoy living in an apartment that actually has a bathtub built for a full-sized human being? In other words, how do I clean the jets so that I can spend whole Sunday afternoons in the bathtub sipping wine and reading books?

You are absolutely right to be concerned about the vile filth those jets might be harboring. The great news is that there are products on the market designed to take care of even the gunkiest jacuzzi jets. The two most commonly found are Ahh-Some Hot Tub/Jetted Bath Bio & Gunk Cleaner and WHIRLOUT Jetted Bath Cleaner. I’m partial to the first one, because as I’ve mentioned before, I’m from Boston and mentally refer to that product as “Wicked Ahh-Some Gunk Cleanah.” But you have free will, pick whichever one you like and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you prefer a more DIY method, many people swear by this approach:

  1. Fill the tub with hot water, until it’s at least two inches above the jets.
  2. Add a half cup of bleach and a tablespoon of Cascade dishwasher detergent.
  3. Run the jets for 15 minutes at the highest setting.
  4. Empty the tub and then refill it with cold water, again making sure that water line hits at least two inches above the jets.
  5. Turn the jets back on for 10 minutes to rinse everything out.

Now enjoy that book, you lucky thing you!

OK, so. I was sitting on the bed polishing my shoes, which, I know, I know, is not something A Clean Person would do, but I was in a hurry and had to go to a wedding I did not want to go to, and this was totally not helping, and oh my God my mother was right I’m going to die alone.

Anyway, existential considerations aside, some shoe polish got on my comforter, and now I’ve got a little black spot right there on my yellow comforter. Now, it’s my understanding that shoe polish is basically a wax/grease sorta thing, which makes this a grease stain, yes? And we love us some ammonia for grease stains? But as an aspiring Clean Person who doesn’t know the ropes yet, I Have Concerns With This. (I mean, ❤ u Bleachie, but Bleachie can’t help me here, so I’m out of my depth.) Or do we want OxiClean? What about laundering it? I don’t want to make it worse, so I haven’t really touched it yet. I’m throwing myself (after first taking off my shoes) on your mercy to help this Apsiring-Clean-Person-in-a-hurry with this ugly comforter spot.

The good news is that you’re absolutely right to think that ammonia is the answer, and also that Oxi is another good option. The bad news is that shoe polish stains are insidious and must be treated immediately so that the oil doesn’t have a chance to set into the fabric. However, I’m not willing to declare your comforter dead just yet.

The first thing to try is mixing ammonia with either dishsoap or laundry detergent and warm water, and then, using a clean sponge, going after the stain with that solution. You don’t want to rub at the stain though; rather, you should do what’s called tamping — you want to literally hit the stain with the sponge as if you’re trying to drive a demon out of the fabric; this method will keep the stain from being rubbed further into the comforter. If you feel like throwing your arms up to Jesus and hollering things like, “LORD DRIVE THIS POLISH OUT!” you should feel absolutely free to do so. Once you’ve made a dent in the staining, you can launder the spread, using a cup of ammonia or Pine Sol in your wash.

If the pre-treatment doesn’t appear to be working, take the thing to your dry cleaner, show them the stain, tell them what it is and say a novena. If the stain doesn’t come out, you can always flip the comforter so that the stained side faces your top sheet. BOOM, problem solved!

Now then, you all know I don’t normally get involved in anything other than answering the cleaning Q at hand, but if I may try on A Lady’s hat for a moment: You darling thing you, you will not die alone. Call up your mother and tell her Jolie said so, and also that she needs to knock it off with the utter nonsense she’s peddling. For the love of tar, you polish your shoes!! There are many, many women who will take note of that one little fact and think, “Now that’s the sort of man I need. A man who takes the time to polish his shoes and goes to weddings even when he doesn’t want to because it’s important to someone in his life.” In fact, I bet there are a whole bunch of ladies (or men; I don’t know which flavor you prefer) reading this column thinking that very thing! So buck up, Shiny Shoes. You’ll be A-OK.

How do I clean my glass bowl? And by glass bowl, I mean my weed pipe!

Usually I get a pot of boiling water and put the pipe in it and then use a lot of pipe cleaners and end up with a ruined pot. Is there another way?

Many moons ago, I had a girlfriend who was a great lover of her dope. And when I’d head over to her apartment for ambient wine and canapés and general girl time on Sunday afternoons, she’d hand me her pipe, or her bubbler, or sometimes both (she was greedy) and say, “Here, put your disorder to work.” And there I’d sit, happy as a clam, working away at her smoking equipment until the glass shone like the top of the Chrysler Building. All of which I tell you by way of saying: You’ve come to the right Clean Person.

The method I used back then, in my pre-Preaching The Gospel of Vinegar days, involved a bent wire hanger — and here I’ll pause so we can enjoy a ritualistic group bellowing of “NO WIRE HANGERSSS” — a bunch of paper towels and Windex, and took about six hours of me at my compulsive finest. It was blessed for me, but I wouldn’t suggest any of you go that route.

The better approach to take is to place the pipe into a large bowl, cover it with baking soda and then fill the bowl half way up with white vinegar. Maybe a little less than halfway. Because, you know, there’s going to be a COOL ASS VOLCANO! And by all means, do feel free to use that pipe before you make the volcano! Because right? “Whoa.” While you’re busy whoa-ing, let it sit tight for a while (10, 15 or so minutes?) so that the volcano can work its magic, then rinse with warm water.

Another similar method a friend clued me into is to put your piece in a take-out container, or other lidded vessel, filled with equal parts rubbing alcohol and warm water. Then sprinkle a fairly liberal amount of kosher salt into the mix, lid it up, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Once that’s done, let it sit for 30–60 minutes, rinse, and hit the innards with a pipe cleaner. The gunk will shimmy right off.

And finally, a PSA from your Clean Person: Throughout today, the fine folks at Occupy Wall Street will be collecting donations of cleaning supplies in advance of tomorrow’s Operation #wallstreetcleanup. You can find more information about the event — which will begin with a human chain of broom- and mop-wielding revolutionaries who will clean Liberty Park and end with a march Wall Street — on their Facebook page, or on the OWS Twitter. Specific items they need: Brooms, dustpans, mops, squeegees, garbage bags, and power washers. If you’re able and willing to donate and/or participate in the clean up please do so, and report back to us about your experience! The revolution will be vinegared!

Previously: Let’s Clean Our Beds and Then Take to Them for the Entire Winter.

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 Exotic Destinations, via Shutterstock