Ask a Clean Person: You Are Still Making Your Beds!

Welcome back to March Madness, Clean Person-style, a month-long project we’re calling Let’s All Make … Our Beds. It’s just what it sounds like: we’re going to make our beds for the entire month of March. To keep everyone excited (and I mean, who wouldn’t be excited about this?), I’m tweeting regularly about all things bed-related — follow me @joliekerr and use the hashtag #LAMOB to join in — several of this month’s AaCP columns will be devoted to the topic of beds, bedmaking, and bedcleaning (got questions? Ask away), and my bedspiration-themed pinboard will continue to grow. With that, here’s part three.

Men are disgusting. I’d get rid of mine, but I happen to love him. He doesn’t own a jizzcliner, but we do have a problem with my gorgeous bedding and skid marks.

Before you vomit in your mouth, please let me preface that the dude and I have talked about it and come up with a solution for preventing marks from occurring on my white 600 thread count sheets. He was extremely embarrassed about it and has taken precautions (wet wipes in the bathroom, pre-sex) so it doesn’t occur. Most days.

While the solution works, occasionally we crazy kids give in to our baser urges, and don’t stop for the tingle-killer known as, ‘Hold on, baby, I need to wipe my ass.’ When we do the deed without the pre-wipe session, he usually leaves skids. Or he farts really hard in his sleep and somehow, skids occur in the middle of the night. I’m not really sure what’s happening while I sleep, but the morning after lurid, non-wiped sex, I usually wake him by lovingly pointing at the area on the sheets with a look of horror on my face.

So my question is, aside from having sex with boxers on, what products could we use to get the skids out of my sheets after the dirty deed? I’d rather not bleach them since I think it will take the sateen finish away. Should I be using something special to get rid of the germs, or does OxiClean wash away my sins along with the skids?

Before I get into the treatment of fecal stains — which are actually blessedly, fantastically, miraculously easy to manage — I’m going to swipe Lola’s nurse cap for a moment to suggest to you that you have your fella check in with his doctor about what’s going on ‘round back. Your note leads me to believe that he may have issues with fecal incontinence that need to be addressed. Fecal incontinence can be caused by a whole host of things, such as muscle damage to the sphincter or (sort of oddly) constipation, some of which are no big deal but some of which may be signs of serious health issues. Either way I think he — and you! — will rest easier if he sees a doctor to ensure that nothing is wrong or get treatment if something is amiss. Treatments, by the way, can range from surgery to medicine to … wait for it … anal kegels. I KNOW! How fun is that?! Kegels: not just for the ladies any more!

If you want to learn a bit more about fecal incontinence — and who among us wouldn’t? — check out the Mayo Clinic’s website, as well as that of the Cleveland Clinic, which even created a fancy scale called the Cleveland Clinic Incontinence Score to measure the severity of a patient’s problem. (Related: Cleveland, um, what’s going on with you?) And finally, Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the subject. Important reminder: internet research doesn’t take the place of actually going to the doctor.

With that out of the way, let’s talk clean up. You’re spot-on to think that Oxi is a good solution here; I don’t love bleach for bed linens because it doesn’t play nicely with protein stains, and our bedclothes are generally full up on protein stains (sweat, sexual fluids, the like). Even though these stains will probably come out by just laundering them as usual with detergent and a good sprinkling of Oxi, it’s probably not a bad idea to spot treat them prior to laundering. I’ve been having great luck with the OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick. For, ummm, you know.

Another product that’s worth mentioning here is Borax, for a couple of reasons. Borax is amazing stuff in terms of giving stains a run for their money, but it’s also gentle enough that it’s commonly recommended for baby laundering. Wait no, not baby laundering — don’t launder your babies! I mean, you know … baby clothes laundering. And also you know who poops a lot, like, all over the place? Babies. So Borax will treat you, and your precious sheets, right given what you’re dealing with.

And finally I just want to say that how lovely I think you are. As old timers know, I try not to get into the business of offering personal opinions or thoughts in response to cleaning questions, but wow, I was so touched by the gentleness and humor you’ve displayed with this situation. You sound like a really great lady.

I have a eyemask, you know, for sleeping. It’s from [ubiquitous New York City pharmacy] Duane Reade, I’m fairly certain the tag said it was silk, but, you know, Duane Reade. After wearing it for nights and nights and nights of eye cream and Tazorac and what-have-you, it occurred to me that it would be nice to clean the thing I put on my face every night. Is this just a matter of machine washing (but maybe silk? really questionable though)? Or is there some super magic Clean Person way I can not be gross about my eye mask?

Your best bet is to handwash it, which for an item like an eyemask is seriously a 10-minute proposition. You can probably toss it in the laundry with impunity, too, given that it’s a hale and hearty soul from the Duane Reade (if you use a lingerie or hosiery bag, go ahead and throw it in that just for an extra measure of protection). Just take it out before the rest of the load goes in the dryer and let it air-dry.

If you go for the handwashing option what you’ll want to do is to fill up your sink — the bathroom sink will be fine since it’s such a small item, but you can also use the kitchen sink or a clean bowl even — with lukewarm water and a small (like a half a teaspoon small) amount of detergent. Again, because it’s a Duane Reade item I don’t think you need to bust out any kind of fancy delicates washing detergent, though of course you can! Swish the detergent around in the water to make some suds, put the mask in, give it a few swirls around and then let it soak for five to ten minutes. Then give it a little chh-chh rubbing action to release any grime lurking within and drain the sink. Refill with clean water, swirl the mask again a few times to rinse before gently squeezing out as much excess water as you can. Don’t wring it, just sort of push down on it while it lies flat in the drained sink. Then place it on a clean towel, fold the towel over it and press press press to remove even more water. Then lie it flat to let it air dry. You’ll probably want to do this once a month/once every other month.

I am embarrassed to even have to ask this, but could you explain what these mythical “hospital corners” are, how to make them, and why one would do so? I’ve been blessed to have not spent any time in hospitals and this is always confusing me.

Sure thing, and no need to be embarrassed! “Hospital corners” is the term used to describe a sheet and/or blanket that’s been tucked tightly such that bottom edge is secured under the mattress and each side is folded into a triangle at the corners.

Making a hospital corner involves four steps.* Ready?

(1) Lay a flat sheet on top of the bottom sheet, with the top or patterned side facing down (this is so that when you fold the edge of the top sheet over your blanket, the decorative or patterned side is facing up).
(2) Tightly tuck the bottom edge of the flat sheet under the mattress.
(3) Move around to the side edge of the bed, and flip the part of the sheet that is hanging up over the top of the bed. Tuck the overhang tightly under the mattress. Pull the part of the sheet you’ve put on top of the bed down, and tuck that tightly.
(4) Repeat step 3 on the other side of the bed.

*These instructions presume that you’re using a fitted bottom sheet and a flat top sheet with which you’ll make the hospital corners.

Perhaps you’re still not envisioning this process clearly. Or perhaps you just have a hankering to watch a fine looking military man make a bed. Yes, perhaps! Well, this is me, being here for you:

If you need me I’ll be watching that on loop. Humina humina gentlemen, you can LA my MOB any time!

I know I can continue on just fine without ever knowing the answer to this but… I can never decide how to arrange the pillow case openings when I’m making my bed. I have a superabundance of pillows, for one thing, and I like to be uniform. I know it doesn’t matter, but should they all be lying (a) facing to either side (all openings one direction, either right or left); (b) turned inward (all openings facing the center); (c) turned outward (all openings facing away)?

As you know, I’m not super big on giving you rules about your beds other than, like, MAKE THEM, so before I get into this thing I want to remind you to do what suits you! Seriously, your bed, your boom-boom time, your choices.

With that said, generally when negotiating pillow placement you want to arrange things so that the openings of the cases are facing the outer edges of the bed. So option C.

One last little tip on pillowcases: when you’re making your bed, grab the pillows by the open edge of the case, holding each side together, and give it a little THWAP. You know, a thwap … sort of snap the pillow out? That will help to fluff it up and straighten the case, which will make for a tidier looking bedscape.

Previously: Get Rid of Your Coworkers, 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 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 by iamanewbee, via Shutterstock