Ask a Clean Person: Get Rid of the Easter Bunny, Seriously, He’s Revolting

I found this totally gorgeous white rabbit fur muff at a thrift store a few years ago and, for whatever reason, put it in a closet in my parents’ house and forgot about it for too long. I just rediscovered it, only to find that it has been infested by a team of some kind of creepy invertebrate that may or may not all still be alive. How do I de-bug it without harming the delicate, soft rabbit fur so that I can go ice skating, walk in winter wonderlands, and enjoy other old-fashioned winter fun with my beautiful rabbit fur muff?

Oh dear, well yes, this is certainly one of the perils of thrift- and vintage-store treasures: creepy crawlies. *scratches at self* Since you don’t know precisely what the nature of the infestation is, your best bet is to go with boric acid, which sounds scary but really totally isn’t. Unless you’re a bug, in which case it’s TERRIFYING because basically every bug ever haaates boric acid. Oh also! Every bug ever also hates bay leaves, which we’ve covered before but bears repeating. Maybe use both? Hey, why the heck not?!?

In terms of technique, find a lidded plastic storage bin with a good strong seal to it that’s big enough to fit the muff — and here I’ll pause to give everyone some time to crack their favorite muff joke. Wanna hear mine? “Q: Why did the muff cross the road? A: To get to the other ride!” — and spread a thin layer of the boric acid along the bottom. Throw in a few bay leaves! Then place the muff in the container and seal that sucker up. Leave it for a week or so? Then take the muff out and give it a thorough looksee in order to remove the bug corpses. I’m sorry to tell you that you’re going to have to do this by hand, and if you’re squeamish you can and should totally wear rubber or latex gloves. Actually? If you’re really squeamish you should just outsource this to a furrier. Oh yes they do so still have those! Look ’em up in the Yellow Pages? You can also use a gentle slicker brush to pick through the fur. Slicker brushes are those things you all use on the cats you’ve gotten rid of.

Then to perk up your muff (it’s taking all of my will to not subject you to another muff joke, people. I just hope you appreciate the ladylike restraint I’m showing here!) try some steam. Fur loves steam. If there’s any staining, you can use a baby wipe or a mild shampoo, because what’s fur, really? It is just hair! And then! Because it’s just hair! You can blow dry your muff and now I’m actually going to have to stop because I’m about to be smote by God for my filthy mind. (Okay really it’s because I have to go weep with laughter at my own “give your muff a blowjob” joke.)

Oh wait wait though! One last thing: whatever you do, DO NOT USE MOTHBALLS. They’re real, real bad for fur! And they stink.

Help! I was hanging out at a fellow Hairpinner’s house and got a couple of dark chocolate stains on her beautiful white-blue couch. What do I dooo?!

You run run run run run and grab the damn dishsoap ASAP is what you do. Actually, this is just a generally good rule of thumb: when things spill in the home, go for the dishsoap first. “Dishsoap and a sponge cures many, many ills,” says the Clean Person who is forever choking on her morning coffee and spraying it all over her white bedlinens.

Because you’re working with upholstery, you don’t want to overdo it with the water, so get the sponge wet, give it a quick squeeze, splurt on some dishsoap (a dime-sized amount’ll do ya), and give it another squeeze to activate the suds and get more of the water out. Then hit that stain with the sponge, being careful to tamp at the stain rather than rubbing fiercely, which will run you the risk of grinding the stain further into the fabric. You want to lift that stain up, not grind it down, ya dig?

If the stains lingers, get your hands on some OxyClean and make a paste of it with water but not too much water! Then let it sit for 15, 20 minutes or so (but not too long, lest you pervert the color of the fabric), and wipe it off with a damp sponge or towel.

I inherited an awesome pair of white Prada patent leather wedge sandals that have about an inch of cork on the bottom. I’m not usually a white sandals type of girl, but these are great because they don’t make me look like a little girl. Unfortunately, they’re yellowed. I tried wiping them clean to no avail, and I can’t just leave them in a bucket with bleach because of the cork. Any advice on how to get them white again?

You’re going to think I’m crazy here. You’re going to think I’m yanking your chain. You’re going to think, “There’s no way in HELL that I’m going to try this on my Prada sandals — PRADA, DO YOU HEAR ME, LADY, PRADAAA??” but I want you to take a leap of faith with me: the answer is a Magic Eraser.

I tried it on a green paint scuff mark I got on my patent Manolos (“MANOLOS, DO YOU HEAR ME, LADY, MANOLOOOS!!”) and that scuff mark came right out, no damage to the shoes. I’ve suggested it to others with dirty patent leather of all colors, and they’ve all reported back to say that the experiment was a complete success. SO THERE.

Due to some art spillage/leaky sculpture action (don’t ask), I have a stained gallery floor situation on my hands. Giant red food coloring stains on hardwood, like the biggest, messiest Easter egg dyeing party of all time. Is there any way to clean this, or am I about to get billed for new flooring? Please say it can be cleaned because I’m seriously broke.

Sort of oddly, this question came in just a day after I’d researched solutions for getting green food coloring stains out of things, and actually? No one ever really addresses green food coloring stains, mostly just the red ones. It’s curious. (Except of course I research green food coloring stains because St. Patrick’s Day happens to my constituents and I just want everyone to be prepared.)

Anyway! It turns out that this is what you’re to do with red food coloring stains on floors and other surfaces: mix about 1/4 cup of ammonia with 1–2 tablespoons of dishsoap and a few cups of water, swirl it around to make it sudsy and use the solution to wash the floors with a sponge or old rag. You may also want a scrub brush to help move things along.

Previously: Game of Beds.

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?