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Ask UfYH: Popcorn Ceilings and New Carpet Smell

Q: What’s the best way to clean popcorn ceilings? Spiderwebs and stuff can usually just be vacuumed off, but what do you do when you get more sticky and dark dust up there?

A: OK, we’re going to add popcorn ceiling to the list of things I’m going to ban when I’m in charge of the world, along with unsealed painted wood floors and carpet in bathrooms. I’m going to tell you what you already know: cleaning a popcorn ceiling is a giant pain in the ass. Vacuuming is, by far, the most effective and least annoying way to keep it clean, but there are times when you need to get a little more involved.

The problems with popcorn ceilings are: 1) the damn texture stuff falls off really easily, and 2) you don’t have a flat surface to work with, so whatever you do, you have to do it gently. Plus, there’s that whole issue of it’s on the damn ceiling. So, when it’s time to do a more detailed cleaning, remember that you have to treat the stupid stuff gingerly, and you don’t want to get it too wet. Yeah, apparently popcorn ceilings are as temperamental as Gremlins. Mix up a solution of warm water and a tiny bit of dish soap or all-purpose cleanser, and then use a rag to blot at any stains or sticky spots. Blot dry immediately after.

Q: So I bought this new rug and it looks great but smells all rug-y and plastic-y. How do I get rid of that stench? I can’t leave it outside for any longer period of time because weather. Thanks for your help!

A: That new rug smell, much like new car smell and new… pretty much anything, is generally caused by off-gassing. Off-gassing is when materials release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other components into the surrounding atmosphere. (I haaaate the word “chemical” in modern usage, because it’s so overused that it’s become meaningless, so I try to be precise where I can.) This is generally an evaporation process, and the smell will dissipate over time. What will help the most is ventilation (a fan and an open window will do wonders) and patience. Mostly cleaning solutions, even getting the material wet with plain water, will slow the evaporation process, and depending on what you use, may introduce new compounds that will be added to the off-gassing mix. Air it out as much as possible, don’t keep it rolled up or covered, and circulate the air around it as much as you can.

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By [E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

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