Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her. Are you still dirty? Subscribe to Ask a Clean Person: The Podcast on Acast, iTunes or Stitcher, and like Ask a Clean Person on Facebook.
I got Sriracha on a pair of khakis, and it left quite a few separate stains. I Googled “sriracha stains jolie kerr” and found an old column about condiment stains. Is lemon juice the best course of action? Then washing in cold water? It’s red, so I assumed it was a tomato stain but I don’t really see tomatoes in the ingredient list. The stains will have dried by the time the pants can be cleaned.
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There’s so much great stuff going on in this question, I can hardly contain myself. I’m so excited that I get to talk about hot sauces, the Jolie Kerr Google Trick, old columns, and what is probably my favorite personal vignette from my time doing this very weird and wonderful job.
How I Discovered the Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Sriracha Stains
I often tell people that being a Clean Person is a little like being a doctor at cocktail party: When I’m in a social setting, everyone wants to ask me about their proverbial moles. I don’t mind this at all—I love hearing about people’s messes. Frankly, I’d much rather hear about how you ended up with candle wax on the ceiling than have to look at photos of your ugly babies. Now you know.
A few summers ago, over after-work drinks, a coworker piped up, “Jolie, can I ask you a question?” which, given my line of work was something he needn’t have worried about. The question was this: He had an old pen stain on the light-colored pants he was wearing, and he wondered if there was a way to get it out. There sure was, I told him! Rubbing alcohol was the trick and, I added, if there was a bottle of hand sanitizer around, that could be used as a stain remover, since hand sanitizer contains a high concentration of alcohol.
We found some hand san, massaged a small amount of it into the pen mark and voila! No more pen stain. I went back to drinking my wine. My friend, however, wasn’t content to stop there—those same pants also had some old Sriracha splatters on them and he was curious…
I bet you don’t even need me to tell you that the hand sanitizer took those old Sriracha stains right out. There you have it: The solution to old Sriracha stains is hand sanitizer. Straight up rubbing alcohol will also do the trick.
Another thing About Hot Sauce Stains
Our Letter Writer mentioned that he assumed Sriracha contained tomato, because of its bright red hue, but actually, the color comes from the chili peppers (in the case of Sriracha, red jalapeños). Red chili peppers, however, operate similarly to tomatoes in terms of staining, so many of the treatments used for one will also apply to the other. Which brings me to that old column about condiments, which I’m leaving here because cookout season is upon us—no doubt you’ll face some sort of ketchup or mustard stain situation in the upcoming months.
The biggest thing to know about a condiment stain: Time is the enemy. If you catch it while it’s fresh and can dab some water on it, the likelihood of it coming out will be much higher. If you have hand sanitizer on you, all the better: Scrape or blot up as much of the offending matter as possible, then work a small amount of the hand sanitizer into the stain until it begins to lighten. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone.
And About that Google Trick
The second best thing that people do for me on Twitter is to share the the keywords they’ve paired with “Jolie Kerr” when Googling solutions to cleaning disasters. Here’s a recent example that’s, if I’m being honest, on the tame side, but hilarious and evocative nonetheless.
I mention it because you may not know that Ask a Clean Person has been around for a long, long time, and there’s a huge archive of old columns out there. It’s a handy thing to remember when a cleaning disaster strikes.