Each year since I became a professional Clean Person—as opposed to what I was prior to that, which was a regular old compulsively clean and weirdly knowledgeable person—I've taken great joy from compiling a guide of holiday gifts to give to loved ones, clean or dirty. This year's version appears on Racked, where I have a new-ish column called Out, Damned Spot (cute, right?) that I'd love for you to check out.
The Gift Guide gives me a chance to search out and recommend items and products I normally wouldn't, because in the course of my regular job, my goal is to help people find and use products that are readily available, cost-effective, multi-purpose, and so on. Like, I know you all tend to skew young, broke, and short on time/space, and thus I don't need to send you all over the globe searching for some artisanal odor eliminator when God put white vinegar here on His great green Earth.
But oh! How that artisanal odor eliminator calls to me, appealing to the side of me that loves things and is also a sucker for packaging—seriously, I am a marketer's dream. The Gift Guide gives me a chance to work some of that out, and also to poke a little fun at myself and my Clean Brethren by recommending things like a Joan Crawford print and a set of fancy padded hangers.
That was probably my best pick to date, if I'm being really honest about things.
The process of compiling the Gift Guide mostly involves my imagination and willingness to go to a lot of really weird places on the internet. All of that means that in the course of making my selections, I find a lot of really, insanely, egregiously bad products. Which I have compiled into my first, and hopefully not last, list of Clean Person Gift Guide Rejects for your reading pleasure.
Fancy hangers are a kind of fun gift — I've gotten a set, I know from experience! So I generally will go out in search of stylish padded or specialty hangers to include in my Guide. (Um, you would be shocked at how many hanger suppliers there are out there.) (Maybe you wouldn't, actually. You all are an unceasingly surprising group of people!)
I saw these and sort of liked them, despite the terrible name. The leopard, you see, it appeals to my Italian side. But look more closely, and you'll see what the problem is. The hanger, it has cleavage. CLEAVAGE. THAT HANGER HAS CLEAVE. The world, she is a difficult place sometimes.
Actually I take it all back: Cleavage on a hanger is hilarious, and this is a perfect gift. I'm going to get one for each member of the Deadspin staff. Who do you think is most likely to use it? (And, more horrifyingly, how will they use it?)
With apologies to our friends at Lifehacker, please don't give anyone a mop caddy this holiday season. First of all, mopping is terrible, and you should avoid it. Second of all, a mop caddy is a crummy fucking gift.
The Laundress is one of my first stops when compiling the Gift Guide, because their products are crazy expensive and not things I would normally recommend to a general audience, but they're nonetheless fancy enough to make for great gift items for the laundry-obsessed folks in your life. HOWEVER. I dinged this product after a tiny bit of consideration for two reasons: The first is that it annoyed me that this was a Christmas-specific item, which I think is just kind of rude and snobbish. The second, and more important, reason I nixed it is that it calls to mind Santa's skidmarks. And the holidays are hard enough without that.
My internal monologue upon seeing this item went something like this.
Wow, that is a batshit-insane product designed for batshit-insane compulsive people. Actually, it's probably for retail use, in which case it makes sense, but still … there must be people out there who have these in their homes, and that is nuts. Ooooh, I should put it on my Gift Guide Rejects list! And also, the more I think about it, I actually want this?
And then, like a week later, I realised that I'd included a hanger organizer on a previous Gift Guide because I'm a crazy goddamned loon.
The Fashion First Aid brand offered a trove of terrible gift ideas this year. I mean, this is just so dumb. So so so so so dumb. I can practically guarantee that these adhesive protectors will fall off or chafe uncomfortably or both. I'm so annoyed by these things! They're just so dumb and wasteful and no one would actually use them, right? (Since I have you here, allow me to remind you that instructions for cleaning ballcaps and obliterating ring around the collar can be found on this'n very site.)
The ways in which Fashion First Aid annoyed me brings us nicely to ….
I know that this is generally a male space, so I'm offering a TRIGGER WARNING before sharing a link to the most-viewed Ask a Clean Person over at Jezebel, on how to deal with discharge buildup and staining in underpants.
Sorry. I did try to warn you! (Your most-viewed is the pit-stain monster post, and I love you all for it.)
This product bothers me for a few reasons. One reason is that you don't need a special stain treatment product for discharge. The second reason is that the name is really vulgar, and that statement is coming from a woman who generally loves vulgarity. The third reason is that SERIOUSLY DO NOT BUY SOMEONE DISCHARGE STAIN REMOVER ARE YOU INSANE?
We cannot let the hedgehogs win, you guys.
Bubble baths and such aren't actually items I would include on my Clean Person Gift Guide, in part because they fall more into the personal-grooming category than into the home-care one, and also because they're such a staple of normal gift guides. I'm pretty far from normal, so.
But I mention these in a preventative spirit, lest any of you are considering getting them for the lady in your life. Here's why: These fuckers stain like the goddamned dickens. Like, the entire tub will have a lovely orange (or pink, or purple) ring around it when she's done with her relaxing soak. I can think of no finer way to utterly ruin a bath-time experience than by having to break out the Soft Scrub immediately after toweling off. Avoid these things at all costs, I'm begging you! They make me angrier than just about anything else in the whole wide world! Even angrier than when one of the Deadspin staff tries to tell me how to cut, or not cut, a sandwich! They are the Devil's own bath products! And in closing, the hedgehogs must be defeated.
A staple of my Gift Guide is add-on ideas for people who are getting big-ticket items like electronics, trips, or fancy cookware. Which brings me to this sad tale: One year, I knew a friend was getting a Le Creuset tea kettle, and so I got her a bottle of this stuff to help her keep it in tip-top shape. I also bought a bottle for myself, because I'm the sort of jerk who does things like that. Unfortunately, the product just plum did not work. Which was so disappointing, and I'm sorry to deliver that news, because I really love Sur La Table, which is why I'm going to add this nice thing about the store: If any of you are engaged and trying to decide where to register, we had a GREAT experience at every turn with our SLT registry.
Waaaaay back in February (oh, God, remember February? Another one is on its way, guys. Kill me now, okay?), my very first book was published, and a lot of copies were sold, amazingly enough! I sure would love to sell a few more copies, though, which is where you come in: I couldn't quite bring myself to be the sort of monster who included her own book in a Gift Guide of her own writing, but on a rejects list? In front of you guys? Yuuuup. Sure thing. Plus: It makes a really great gift, seriously! The New York Times said I was "funny and wise"! Slate hated it. What better endorsements could there be?
Because it's the holiday season, and I'm feeling extra giving, here is a for-serious service I'm making available to you: If you live in New York City and would like me to sign a copy (or copies!) of my book, email me, and I will do my best to make that happen. (Offer valid in Manhattan only.)
Seasons cleanings, and a very tidy New Year!
Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume). Are you dirty? Check The Squalor Archive for assistance. Are you still dirty? Email her.
Image by Sam Woolley.
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