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Meet A Clean Person: An Interview with Jolie Kerr

 Clean towels, full hearts, can’t lose.

You might not imagine that in the year 2017 there would be a patron saint of domesticity. Especially not one with an Esquire column, an open-minded take on what “making the bed” really means, and a New York Times bestseller that references both vomit and Martha Stewart. In the title.

Meet Jolie Kerr, the cleaning expert that manages to make topics like pillow laundering and proper glass storage not just palatable, but downright delightful. Lines like “I mean, I'm assuming you don't want to drink shards,” when referring to why you should store glassware rim side-up, make it clear why.

And because we’re in the business of crisp sheets, soft warm towels, and (upward-facing) glassware, we obviously wanted to check in on our most-burning cleaning queries and peek behind the curtain of clean person life.


Q: You answer a lot of cleaning questions – on your podcast, for your column, and from your book. How do you stay non-judgemental in the face of asks like “how do you clean beer off a mattress?

A: I am continuously blown away by the fact that people trust me with their problems. People write to me with incredibly personal, difficult details of their lives and are very hard of themselves because they think they’ve done something wrong. Maybe it’s because I have an enormous amount of natural empathy, but I can’t imagine being cruel to those people.

Also, the subject I’m talking about is not super popular. If I want people to stay with me on this journey – which I do! – I have to show them a different approach to cleaning, which is often something people associate with being negative. I like to clean, and I like to explain how to do it in a way that gets people excited. When people tweet before and after photos of tile floors, I know I’ve done it right.

Q: What’s the biggest myth out there about cleaning?

A: That you have to put in a low of elbow grease. If you clean a little every day, there’s never a big mess. Consider my favorite example, the bath. If I clean my bath once a week, it takes 15 minutes. 15 minutes! That’s nothing. If I clean it once a month, it’s going to take 45 minutes. That might be less time, cumulatively, but 15 minutes at a time goes by much faster. Plus, this way I get to have a clean bath every single week, which is important, because I’m a regular bath taker. I like to watch Vanderpump Rules while I’m in there.

Q: Speaking of the bath: what’s your towel situation?

A: White bath towels, white washcloths, and white hand towels. Oddly enough, it’s much easier to maintain clean whites than other colors because there are so many more choices when it comes to products. That said – I also have a set of dark grey washcloths for washing my face because my make-up stains drive me bonkers.

Also? I live in a very small apartment. I’m definitely not a minimalist when it comes to decor – I’d probably describe my style as “Palm Beach in the 60’s” – but I’d rather have solid white bedding and bath linens so that my real objects of interest can be displayed in a way that’s still soothing to the eye.

Q: And when it comes to making your bed...

A: I make my bed every morning because I think it feels so good to get into a made bed in a way that getting into an unmade bed does not. But because I like my feet to rove in the night, I gave up the top sheet years ago. Instead, I just wash my duvet cover weekly with my fitted sheet and pillow cases.

There’s no one “right” way to make a bed; you can make your bed any way you like, as long as it’s made in a way that lends itself toward good sleep.

Q: If I want to keep my white linens Clean Person-clean, what should I avoid at all costs?

A: A cat. Any fruits that are red, purple, or blue – they will stain things violently. And then there’s turmeric. It’s not a miracle cure for anything, it’s not some ancient Indian secret we’ve been hiding from you all these years. But it is going to ruin your stuff.

Q: What’s the most “Clean Person” thing about you?
I have mirrored bedside tables that I’m devoted to, and Windex them every day because I can’t stand dust or fingerprints. And open any drawer or cabinet in my house and everything in there is organized. Even my junk drawer.

For more Jolie, check out Ask a Clean Person: The Podcast and her book, My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag ... And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha.

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