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My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha
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My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,417 ratings  ·  256 reviews
The author of the hit column “Ask a Clean Person” offers a hilarious and practical guide to cleaning up life’s little emergencies
Life is filled with spills, odors, and those oh-so-embarrassing stains you just can’t tell your parents about. And let’s be honest: no one is going to ask Martha Stewart what to do when your boyfriend barfs in your handbag.
Thankfully, Jolie
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Plume (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  1,417 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
I was late to discover the wonder that is Jolie Kerr. In case you are similarly behind, let me tell you: She is a wildly popular internet person who writes the "Ask a Clean Person" column, which has appeared variously on some of my favorite internet places, including the Hairpin and Jezebel. (Apparently it is no longer cool to like Jezebel -- one of my friends recently called it "the Fox News of feminism" -- but sorry y'all, I am still onboard.)

Anyway. I am not a Clean Person. Not at all. Althou
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
So when I started this e-book advanced copy for review, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. If pressed, I'd have suggested a collection of humorous nonfiction essays, perhaps, dealing with some form of OCD from the author.


This is an amusing how-to book about how to clean. Kerr will try to make you laugh, but mostly she wants to teach you how to clean everything in your house. She spends pages and pages on just the kitchen, and there are LEVELS of cleaning involved in the kitchen, and de
Karielle at Books à la Mode
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog
At this point you should be thinking, "So why wouldn't everyone just use [laundry detergent] pods?" Well, I'll tell you! They present a serious hazard to children and pets, in that they're brightly colored and sort of look like fun toys and they're also just about mouth-size, and you see where I'm going with this? Right, of course you do. So it's something to take into consideration if you've got children and/or pets. You could, of course, get rid of the children and/or pets, which would allow y
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Earlier this year, I tidied. Now, I'm on a mission to be clean.

This book written by Jolie Kerr who writes the "Ask A Clean Person" column for Deadspin/The Hairpin/various Internet outlets, lays it all out in her book. Basically this is a guide for a person who managed to get to adulthood without really knowing much about deep cleaning. Though I sort of know a lot of this stuff, she has a ton of great tips and tricks in here. I now realize I don't need a ton of various cleaning products. What I n
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book made me want to clean the inside of my microwave. That should be worth six stars, at least.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
A good cleaning primer for the modern woman. Kerr has a sassy style and sensibility that will appeal to any woman who didn't grow up with a mother who a la Heloise--and probably with the same level of insanity--took me through the steps of housecleaning 101. I figured out basic hygiene on my own with some successes and some failures.

I consider myself a Reasonably Clean Person. I wipe down the counters after every meal. I do a fairly thorough job scrubbing down the kitchen once a month (or befor
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don't like cleaning. There, I said it. I'm not one of those people who look forward to spring because it means I can get out the cleaning supplies and go to town.

But I was intrigued by the title of Jolie Kerr's book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha. You gotta admit, that's a catchy title. Kerr's book expands upon her cleaning column "Ask A Clean Person."

The book is filled with practical advice, her most important "Never mix bleach and ammonia", something
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, non-fiction
4.5 stars. Let's face it: cleaning is not that fun unless you are a glutton for punishment. Sure, it's really nice to have a perfectly clean house to come home to but you have to put in a little elbow grease in order to get those results. If you're like me, you're probably wondering where do you even start. This book actually makes cleaning sound doable and like it might be even a little tiny bit fun.

I've been a big fan of Jolie Kerr's column, "Ask a Clean Person" seen on the likes of TheHairpi
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Alligator
Recommended to Fox by: Megan
This book is fairly self-explanatory. Written by Jolie Kerr of the Ask a Clean Person podcast and column fame, this book attacks the most common (and lewd) of cleaning issues with optimism and humor. Contained within these pages are a myriad of helpful hints, always written with frugality and functionality in mind. This is truly an invaluable guide for twenty-somethings, but honestly anyone and everyone can use it.

The book contains handy charts and chapters divided up primarily by the room that
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3 things you're going to want to keep in stock after reading this book:
1) Oxi Clean (and lots of it!)
2) White vinegar (AND LOTS OF IT!)
3) Denture tablets (generic ones will do just fine)

If you're at all interested in domestic goings-on, I highly recommend this book. The author has a humorous tone that keeps things interesting--which is important when you're reading an entire chapter on how to do laundry. Plus, she weaves in real-life examples and stories and, if I'm being honest, it makes you
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reading copy.

I generally find cleaning guides to be redundant when the Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens websites are such great and thorough resources. Jolie Kerr manages to bring a fresh take to cleaning that didn't feel like it was simply repeating what can be found better elsewhere. Although she is a self professed "clean person", she recognizes that most people don't enjoy household tasks and she gives "real world" advice on how often you shou
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is great. It's maybe a bit on the basic side if you, like me, grew up with parents who were very meticulous about cleaning, but even if, I do recommend reading it.

So, this book covers basic and some not so basic household cleaning-- kitchen, bathroom, laundry, dishes, to retainers, stains, and the titular barf in the handbag. The author has a really great tone that not only is very reassuring (you CAN do it!) but is also fast-paced and informative, but not so informative a reader will
Ashley Holstrom
First of all: Best cover (and title) ever, amirite? Jolie Kerr writes and podcasts about being a clean person, and after reading her book, you better believe I’m her newest fangirl. She covers each room/area of the house and what sort of daily clean vs. hard clean each zone needs. And also has funny anecdotes! And real-life letters from real-life people asking real-life questions about how to clean disasters like homemade beer exploding and people barfing on popcorn ceilings. Language levels are ...more
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: domestic-arts
Well, who could resist a title like that? And when I heard the author on the radio she didn't sound so Valley Girl, quite personable really. But in the book there are a fair number of WHOLE SENTENCES OF CAPITAL LETTERS. And also. Sentence fragments. Exclamation marks of course! I guess playing it straight might be a bit boring. I do own a book on cleaning and removing stains from clothing and have I read it from cover to cover? No. As long as the book has a decent index, there's no need. But I d ...more
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great advice on how cleaning in general. You could give Adulting and My Boyfriend Barfed... as a combo set to a college student.

I learned that you use an enzymatic cleaner on protein stains (i.e. any bodily fluids), ammonia on grease, and that you should dump salt on a red wine stain on carpet. It's also hilarious. The last chapter, which consists of reader questions with problems like, ah, sex stains, is worth picking up this book alone. She does also provide an answer to the title's question,
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
So it's pretty good - full of helpful information about how you clean any number of things and rooms. Thankfully, the barf part was at the end if the book. If my boyfriend barfed in my handbag I'd first throw away the boyfriend then throw away the bag.
She's got a style of writing - overly chummy and over-the-top "Hey girlfriend!" That grated after about 5 pages. Would I recommend this to anyone? Meh. It's a quick read and you can make a note of any interesting tips you read about.
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, all-time-loves
Incredibly useful book with all kinds of indispensable cleaning advice and know-how, presented in a charming and accessible way. I've been reading Jolie's stuff for years on the Hairpin and other places, and she's never failed me. Love, love, love her and this book.*

*I don't actually know her, I just feel like I do because I've been borderline obsessed with her for ages. She makes me want to be a better Clean Person!
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Simply put, Kerr is trying too hard to be liked. Her oddly defensive stance regarding her social status as as a "Clean Person"(capitalization is hers) makes the text seem less like a useful guide to solving the awkward cleaning problems of modern urban life and more like an apologetic recruitment activity into the cult of Clean. She simultaneously patronizes and panders to the reader while ultimately may leave them feeling dirtier than before they began the text. ...more
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Expensive book. Because now I need to buy, in addition to more lemons and more white vinegar, a clothes steamer and a beard trimmer. Plus cashmere detergent and shoe polish. I stay up til 3 reading more often than I'd like to admit, but this is the first time I have EVER stayed up til 3 reading a cleaning tips book. ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Meh. I've enjoyed the Ask a Clean Person column online so figured I'd enjoy the book. The only new thing I learned is that I should have been using white vinegar for pretty much everything in life that requires cleaning? Who knew? ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was motivating in it's ability to absolutely horrify me. Everything is dirty! I'm not an effective adult!

At least now I know to cover pretty much everything in vinegar.

Jolie is hilarious and lovely. I never once felt more judged than I deserved.
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction
Welp, thanks to this book, my whole house is going to smell like vinegar from now on. So. Thanks?
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievably useful and entertaining.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Hilarious and informative!
Kc Giannini
Apr 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Some useful tips in here for sure. Apparently white vinegar, baking soda and OxiClean are the cure alls! There are even tips on how to clean your bong LOL!
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic, 5-stars
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I loved everything about it. I love the minimalist cover, I love the author's writing style, I love the layout, and I love the information presented within. An enthusiastic five of five stars!

Jolie on cleaning the kitchen: "Step 5: Take a break! I'll let you in on a little secret: the hardest part is over... So as a reward for your hard work, would you care for a cold beer or soda? I bet you would. Remember to buy some before you start this project. You get to make the best sh
Jun 30, 2020 added it
You wouldn't know by the fact that it took me TWO MONTHS to read this dang book, but I found it highly enjoyable. It's a pandemic, okay? The attention span ain't what it used to be and it wasn't good to begin with. Nevertheless, I wasn't really anticipating reading what is essentially a reference book from cover to cover, but this one kept me laughing and interested all the way through. And it's got good advice! Would recommend, especially if the pandemic is making you feel like your living spac ...more
Marci-Beth Maple
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this book in our 1,000 boxes that just came from storage, and for sure, it's going to be my getting your own apartment/wedding shower go-to item to top off a gift. It's a hilarious read, but it's also FULL of seriously helpful information and instruction, and is now slotted alongside my household cleaning products for the many times where I don't know how to clean something.....which is more often than not! ...more
Emily Hampton Haynes
My husband told me to stop reading this in bed because I kept making disgusted noises and saying, "Ahhh we need to clean our [insert household item here] ASAP" It's a great read: practical and entertaining! ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So many great methods for cleaning! The hands and kneesies method is my fave.
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“The solution to a pile of mildewed stuff is to rewash it with your regular detergent as well as a cup or two of white vinegar. A note on amounts: for a regular washing, a half cup to a full cup of white vinegar is more than enough to help cut down on smells and serve as a natural fabric softener. But when you’re dealing with overpowering smells like mildew, you’ll need to up the ante, and being aware of those differences will help you to apply that understanding to various laundering situations you may find on your hands. Baking soda is another option, but I prefer vinegar because I think it works better,” 0 likes
“The solution to a pile of mildewed stuff is to rewash it with your regular detergent as well as a cup or two of white vinegar. A note on amounts: for a regular washing, a half cup to a full cup of white vinegar is more than enough to help cut down on smells and serve as a natural fabric softener. But when you’re dealing with overpowering smells like mildew, you’ll need to up the ante, and being aware of those differences will help you to apply that understanding to various laundering situations you may find on your hands. Baking soda is another option, but I prefer vinegar because I think it works” 0 likes
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