WOMEN

Meet the Mini-Marthas! Suddenly, Hipster Homemakers Are Cleaning Up

04/19/2012 11:42 am ET

One of my roommates periodically gets a very crafty idea when it comes to the maintenance of our apartment-he'll stay up all night and bleach the counters, then pull old wine bottles out of the recycling bin and fill them with olive oil or tap water. The sparkling counters or the shiny glass bottles are refreshing additions to the space; they are also ironic reminders that the floor is covered with little pieces of … something, and the baseboards are grimy, and the sink is full of dishes. The one way to regain control of our lives, given our overall apathy, was through performing a chore that was fun.

That roommate was a frequent reader of Jolie Kerr's "Ask a Clean Person" column on the women’s interest site The Hairpin, which provides advice to novice homemakers. The advice is, at once, delightfully voicey ("Bleachie," Ms. Kerr's term for her favorite cleaning solvent, is a recurring character to whom the author and readers express their "<3") and useful (bleach really does clean up surfaces like counters). And Ms. Kerr, with her column teaching millennial, gen-Y and gen-X readers how to remove personal fluids from leather or upholstery, is at the forefront of an online movement that’s taking homemaking from the stodgy, didactic world of Martha Stewart et al. to the cluttered homes of youngsters who apparently have no idea how to perform even the most basic task. "How to clean up vomit is a topic you'll see on Heloise, on Martha," Ms. Kerr said, "but you won’t find them in a context of people being honest about why they were vomiting on their party clothes."

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