Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She'll be here every other week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.
My fiancée uses a bronzer and that shit gets on EVERYTHING. My question is not so much how to clean it but how to keep it from being such a mess. I regularly clean the bathroom but is there a way she can use her fancy makeup without giving my toothbrush a nice glowing tan?
When I started writing this, I showed the question to my fiancé and he laughed and laughed. Confession: I am a bronzer abuser. In my defense, my ethnic background is such that I look jaundiced without bronzer. I mention this to impress upon you that bronzer is just important to some women, and to ask that you be kind to those of us who powder ourselves up with Cheeto dust every morning.
This is a cleaning column, so I'm required to offer you advice on de-oranging your bathroom, but since really your question was about a replacement bronzer I consulted my Personal Beauty Guru, Jane Marie, who offered this advice on finding a less snack-food-dust-like bronzer:
For the bronzer, I'd have her switch to the Chanel one I love that's a cream, not powder. It's not actually that creamy and you still put it on with a brush. Or have her put a towel down over the vanity and fold it back up to stick in a cupboard when she's done with that step. Make sure it's white so that after a week she can see how gross she's being.
The towel suggestion is a good and commonly employed method of keeping bathrooms clean during make-up application. A hand or dish towel is the ideal size for this; bath towels are too large and unwieldy and washcloths are too small for the job.
Space and design permitting, the more stuff you can remove from your bathroom countertops the better. There are two reasons: (1) there'll be fewer items exposed to the bronzer dust and (2) less clutter will make daily cleanup much, much easier. And, when it comes to us bronzer abusers, one thing we need to accept is that we have to clean our messes up every single day.
As for what to use for that daily cleanup, you could take a page from my book and keep a microfiber sponge nearby. They do a great job of picking up dust, and they're launderable. Depending on how often you do laundry, I'd suggest buying a set—something like this would do nicely—so that you have plenty of 'em on hand to rotate in. I'm due for a restocking—right now I have just one that I launder each week along with my bath towels and linens. Cotton swabs are also a great tool for removing the orange dust from tight spaces and can always help, inexpensively, with daily or weekly cleaning.
You could certainly also use a multi-surface cleaning wipe, if that seems easier. Think Clorox Wipes, Lysol Wipes, and the like. They're more expensive and more wasteful, environmentally speaking, than microfiber sponges, though, so be forewarned.
In the comments, feel free to share all the ways in which women are filthy. Because we are, and the conventional wisdom that men are more disgusting than women is bullhonky. I mean, you all are disgusting, but no more so than the ladies. So, seriously, go for it. Work your ish out. I'm here for you.
I'll bite. How many towel uses before moving on to another clean towel? I generally switch it up when I can no longer smell the bleach on my current towel. I only use really nice overly priced comfy white towels that I can napalm with bleach without worrying.
Thank you for biting! And I'd add that your towel strat is an excellent one. Gold stars all around!
Before we start in on the details of this discussion, it's important to note that this is your towel and therefore how often you wash it, or not, is up to you. It's no skin off of anyone's nose if you launder your towel once a year! Of course, it might be skin off your nose because I'm pretty sure that towel would give you leprosy if you used it for a year without washing it. But hey! It's your nose.
On the flip side of the leper colony are the people who use a fresh towel every day. To those people I say, "Go with God." I grew up in a house where we used fresh towels every day, so that practice is not at all unusual to me, but I know a lot of people's eyes will pop out of their skulls when they read this.
The thing about using a fresh towel every day is that it requires three things that not all of us have: (1) storage space to house all those towels; (2) laundry facilities that allow for the washing of all those towels; and (3) enough money to purchase all those towels. And even if you do have all of those things, you still may choose not to use a fresh towel every day because of the waste (money, water, time) that comes with all that wash.
While it's true that there are no real rules about how often to wash a towel, it's also true that people tend to like to hear "do this thing this frequently" and so I've come up with a loose version of that for you. My ideal towel cycle is two towels per week per person. That means that you'd use a towel 3-4 times before it gets laundered. If you shower twice a day, you may want to add a third weekly towel into your rotation for reasons that we'll get to shortly. If you want a little more leeway, a towel a week is OK too. Not the greatest, but entirely OK. I really, really would like to get you into a fresh towel each week, though, so if you go more than a week I'm going to raise an eyebrow and give you one of my Chilly New Englander looks. You're terrified, I can tell.
You also would like to know why, no doubt. Well, I will tell you why! There are two reasons, which may not seem like a lot, but they're really important, so they count for, like, seven reasons. The first is that even though, yes, you're clean when you get out of the shower, you're still molting dead skin allllllllll over that towel. Which means it's getting dirty, even though you're not dirty. So that's sort of gross, and also not great for the towel because the less frequently you wash it, the more dead epidermis accumulates. Over time, that build-up is going to become one with the towel, shortening its lifespan.
The other reason has to do with dampness. Your bathroom, which is a warm and wet and therefore humid, is terribly hospitable to mold and bacteria. Moisture plus an accretion of dead skin—with all its dirt and oil—will cause those towels to mildew. Which smells bad, and more importantly, isn't stuff you want rubbing up against your skin. So there's your why.
And finally, since I have you here, I just wanna make sure that you know never to use fabric softener of any kind when laundering towels. Fabric softener leaves behind a light coating of softening residue that renders towels less absorbent. Tennis balls or dryer balls are a great alternative to fabric softeners in terms of helping them to get lovely and fluffy in the dryer; white vinegar in the wash will also serve as a fabric softener, which those of you who line dry will want to know about.
Jolie Kerr is the author of the upcoming book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume, 25 February 2014); more cleaning-obsessed natterings can be found on Twitter, Kinja, and Tumblr.
Squalor appears on Jezebel and Deadspin on alternating weeks.