Ask a Clean Person: Stanky Slippers, Ganky Humidifiers, and Manky Uggs

My husband loves these leather slippers with faux-fur lining, but after about a year, they started to carry an odor. Soon it was so bad that his clean feet would pick up a nasty, lingering foot-stank after just minutes in the slippers. We had no idea how to clean faux fur, let alone faux fur deep down inside a shoe, so we put them in the washing machine, let them get kind of wrecked, called them his “outdoor slippers” (for mail retrieval and trash disposal), and bought a new pair for indoor use. He’s been more careful with these new ones — for example, he no longer puts dripping wet feet in them immediately after showering. But now this pair is starting to stink, and he is so sad! Can you help us fix the smelly slippers?

Lady, he needs sneaker balls. And if you and your husband are anything like me and, um, every boyfriend I’ve ever had, you two will crack a testicle joke every time those things come out and then laugh and laugh and laugh like you’re twelve years old. Shoe nuts. That’s what I’d call them if I had a stinkyfooted dude around who required sneaker balls. “ROY! Time to put the shoe nuts in them thar slippies. I can smell ’em from out here.”

There are a whole bunch of options and styles when it comes to sneaker nuts, and most of them are in the $5 range, which is just swell! Here are a few I found on Amazon, though most sporting goods and men’s casual shoe stores will also carry them.

Sof Sole Matrix Sneaker Balls
 — Sneaker Ball Happy Face
 — Sof Sole Shoe Freshener Sneaker Balls (I like these ones the best because of the skull-and-crossbones motif.)

A few other things to try: if the faux fur is getting dingy looking, give it a few passes with a baby wipe, which is low-moisture and won’t soak the fibers, but contains detergent that will help lift any grime. You can also take a page out of the Lady Boot Playbook and clean the faux fur with cornmeal. Stuffing the slippers with newspaper will also help to draw out moisture, if he accidentally reverts to his feral state and puts his soaking wet feet inside them.

Lastly, see if you can talk him into taking up a foot powder or spray habit. My sources tell me that Gold Bond and Naturally Fresh are good brands to use.

The humidifier has cooties. What do Clean Persons do? XXX, Mom

Normally I don’t include sign-offs in the column, but come on, how cute is my mom? I also thought you all might enjoy the fact that Mother of Clean Person sends me questions. Often, actually! (So does Father of Clean Person, but usually the questions are along the lines of, “What do I have to do to get your mother to clean up her act?” You can see where I get my sterling sense of humor.) Which is fun, if a little stressful. I keep worrying that if I don’t get the answer right I’ll be taken into the formal living room for a talking to about how she’s not mad, she’s just disappointed.

Okay but humidifiers! Seems that a number of you are faced with cootie-infested humidifiers and no no, we can’t have that. The answer, as always, is vinegar. And maybe bleach if things are really bad.

The first thing to do is to take apart any sections that can be detached from the unit and soak them in a vinegar and water or bleach and water solution. The kitchen sink is probably the best spot for this operation, but the bathtub will also work well. If you’re going to use the tub, fold your bathmat up so you can kneel on it without hurting your kneesies. Let the pieces soak for 15–20 minutes before giving ’em a good scrub with a sponge or rag while submerged. You can use an old toothbrush to get into the corners and odd crevices; Q-Tips are also good to have on hand for tight corners. Dip the cotton into your cleaning solution, hold the plastic parts up outside the soaking liquid, and swab away (you don’t want to do this operation underwater because the cotton will disintegrate).

Once all your parts are cleaned up, put the machine back together and, if you’re worried that there are cooties (ahhh!) in the non-detachable pieces of the unit, fill the tank with a vinegar and water mixture and let it cycle through. The thing is about doing this is … your house is going to stink like vinegar. Which might not be a bad thing in that if there are any weird lingering odors in the home, the process of decootie-ing your humidifier will also eliminate them. But if you’re a person who hates the smell of vinegar, this isn’t going to be ideal. Which leads me to a product that I discovered while compiling the Clean Person Gift Guide and, truth time, have spent the past two months violently rolling my eyes at, until oh right, here’s an actual great use for such an indulgent thing: scented vinegar.

I know, I’ll give you a minute. It’s completely absurd.

Would it make you feel less ridiculous to make your own scented vinegar? I know it would make me feel less ridiculous to make my own scented vinegar. Here are some instructions on how to do so (hint: mix vinegar with a scented oil you like, et voila! Scented vinegar. Eyeroll sold separately).

Uggs! I shove my feet into them all winter long and try to avoid rain puddles and city sludge, but sometimes I become careless. How do I keep the suede pretty and the fleece interior from being not nearly as disgusting as I think it probably is?

First I have to tell you that I’m not an ugg boot wearer, so all of this is based on research and trusting my Clean Person Sense (it tingles!), and also I’m just betting that a bunch of you out there have some good tips to share. And then I want to say this — based on my inbox, there are lots of you wearing uggs, and by now you’ve heard it all, right? Mm-hm. So can those of you who are so offended by them practice your silently judging skills while we talk amongst ourselves? Thank you, we’ll make this quick.

Right then, huddle up ugg gals: there are two distinct problems when we talk about cleaning uggs — stains and smells, and we’ll tackle them separately. First up, stains.

UGG makes a cleaner specifically for the care of sheepskin ($10), and honestly? At first I was all, “Pfft, they’re pushing a single-use, branded product to make money, and that’s annoying to me, I’m sure I can find a better product to recommend,” but then I read the reviews — and granted, there are only four of them — and they were all super positive. So okay, something worth mentioning to you!

Then I found this sort of insane post on DIY Uggs Cleaning that involves a nail file and milk? I don’t know. I’m just going to leave that link there and let you do with it what you will.

Our old friend baby wipes will go a long way in getting the dingies out of your uggs. This won’t be a great solution for major stains, but if your boots have just gotten a little grimy from streetwear, baby wipes are a solid choice.

And lastly, many, many, many dry cleaners now offer ugg boot services, so if you’re feeling like throwing money at the problem, ask your local cleaner if that’s something they do.

Moving along to smells. Here we can take a page from our friend upcolumn with the stinky slippies and use sneaker balls. The newspaper trick is also a good one, since part of what’s making your uggs smell is that there’s moisture trapped in them. You can also treat the innards with any number of shoe deodorizers (look for ones specially designed for sneakers for maximum destinkifying), active charcoal inserts, or baking soda.

Previously: Tackling a Major Clean-up, Parts One and Two.

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 curious to know if she’s answered a question you have? Do check out the archives, listed by topic. More importantly: is anything you own dirty?

Photo via cosma, via Shutterstock