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Ask UfYH: Grody Kettles, Staying Ahead of the Mess, and Musty Funk

Q: How do I clean an electric water kettle? Mine was in storage for a few months and it’s got some grime on the inside, maybe from not being fully dry when it was boxed up? It’s not moldy but it doesn’t looks very enticing. Should I avoid soap? Do the water + vinegar bit a few times? Thanks!

A: You all know what I’m going to say already, right? I know you do.

Glitter text reading "vinegar"

That’s right, our old friend white vinegar to the rescue. Again. Fill your kettle with a half and half mixture of water and vinegar up to the maximum fill line, then set it on to boil. Repeat if necessary, and follow with a few kettles full of plain water before using it to make tea, unless you’re particularly fond of pickle-flavored tea.

The same principle applies to coffeemakers. Use white vinegar to descale your coffee pot. Run a vinegar/water mix through a brewing cycle, then follow with a few cycles of just water. Acetic acid is goddamn magic.

Q: I tend to unfuck my room a lot. I’ll pull everything out of my closet and out from under my bed and I’ll just clean. But then once I’ve put everything away I slowly begin to fuck it all again. How do I keep my room unfucked? 

A: Here’s the thing about unfucking: it’s not an event, it’s a process. If you just completely clean something once and then never do anything to maintain it, of course it’s going to get messy again! You’re still using the space, bringing items in and taking them out, moving stuff around, using things – it would defy all the laws of nature and physics if it stayed clean. The key part of the unfucking process that you need to follow through with is maintenance. If you can do one or two 20/10s (20  minutes cleaning, followed by a 10-minute break) every day, I can pretty much guarantee that a cleaned space will stay clean. It’s not magic, though. You need to be putting effort in on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be a ton of effort or a massive undertaking, hell, you don’t even need to start with a clean area! You can start with a messy space, and, working in 20/10s, you can clean and maintain it over a reasonable span of time. You just have to keep doing it.

Q: My apartment has a perpetual musty odor. Even when the place is sparkling clean and the windows are open it just smells stale for no apparent reason. Lighting candles or putting out air fresheners works in the short term, but the stale smell eventually comes back. Any tips on getting the place to smell fresh? Thanks!

A: Let’s look first at what “sparkling clean” is. Musty odors can come from lots of different places, but common culprits are carpets and floors, drapes, wood that’s gotten wet at some point, bathrooms (especially walls and ceilings), and closets and cabinets. You might want to investigate to see if you can find where the musty odor is originating. If you find mold, this is a big deal and needs to be taken care of immediately. Mold can lead to all sorts of health issues, especially respiratory problems. In most places, if you’re renting, your landlord is legally responsible for mold removal. Do not fuck around with mold. If, however, you’re just dealing with overall mustiness, you can take a multi-tiered approach to dealing with it.

First, reduce moisture. The drier the environment, the less likely there is to be mustiness. Consider investing in a dehumidifier or moisture-absorbing material. Second, keep the area ventilated. The more air you have moving through your apartment, the less musty it’ll be. And third, make sure you’re regularly checking likely spots to make sure you don’t have a moisture or mold situation developing. And fourth, because I will never not recommend vinegar, bringing a pan of vinegar and water to a low boil on your stovetop (for the love of Lisa Frank, please don’t leave it unattended!) will help eliminate a wide variety of odors from the air.

One reply on “Ask UfYH: Grody Kettles, Staying Ahead of the Mess, and Musty Funk”

Also, check your air conditioner. We get a musty–almost garbagy–smell from under our central A/C unit when we have a drought and the A/C runs a lot. I think it exposes the drain or something. Pouring water in the drain area, or better, water with a cup of bleach, will make it stop smelling so bad.

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