Buried evidence: the damaging secret documents and testimony tobacco companies tried to suppress

Many people agree that cigarette smoking is the primary cause of preventable deaths, but it took a television broadcast on the ‘Day One’ program to begin an extensive investigation of the tobacco industry. The program alleged that the industry manipulates the levels of nicotine in cigarettes.

Just before the end of 1969, a Business Week writer doing a story about the effect of an impending TV and radio advertising blackout on the cigarette industry stumbled onto a fascinating tangent. “Earlier this year, admits one tobacco executive, his company `boosted the nicotine of most of our brands.’ The idea was to `hook’ smokers so that if advertising were to be banned entirely, the `need for a smoke’ would keep people puffing.” The only response prompted by this rather astonishing piece of news in an otherwise unsurprising article was a lone angry letter in the following issue from a woman who called the alleged practice “cynical” and “criminal.”

For the next twenty-five years, there was a resounding silence about this issue until ABC aired an expose titled “Smoke Screen” on its Day One news-magazine. Within weeks of the broadcast on February 28, 1994, Congressional hearings were under way to explore the program’s central charge: that tobacco companies deliberately fine-tune nicotine levels to keep millions of Americans addicted to cigarettes. Those eighteen minutes of videotape helped mobilize vast resources in government and private society to back what had been largely a guerrilla campaign by a ragtag band of activists to cut the toll from the number-one cause of preventable death in the country. As of now, the industry is contending with five federal grand juries, a well-funded national class-action suit on behalf of all addicted smokers, an antitrust investigation by the Justice Department into an alleged conspiracy to stifle development of a fire-safe cigarette, suits by the Attorneys General of five states to recover cigarette-related health costs, a Food and Drug Administration eager to toughen regulation vastly by treating cigarettes as drug-delivery devices and individual law-suits for everything from cancers related to secondhand smoke to deaths allegedly caused by asbestos filters.

Most of these attacks are centered around the nicotine manipulation charge first made by Day One. Given the immense impact of the broadcast, many were shocked when ABC settled a $10 billion suit filed by R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. The network agreed that “Smoke Screen” should not have reported that manufacturers add “significant amounts of nicotine from outside sources.” Just why ABC settled is a mystery that may have had to do with legal-risk-shedding related to the company’s acquisition by Walt Disney. The media’s verdict has been that Day One pushed a great story one step too far when it claimed cigarette makers “artificially spike” the product with what does nicotine do.

Philip Morris immediately asserted that ABC’s apology debunked the nicotine manipulation charge. But the issue of whether every word in “Smoke Screen” would seem proper to a libel jury in Richmond, Virginia, was always different from the much larger question of whether the industry engineers its products to provide a drug.

In addition, the media disparaging of “Smoke Screen” was done without the benefit of tens of thousands of pages of internal Philip Morris documents turned over to ABC during the lawsuit and returned after the settlement, when all case records were sealed and a gag order imposed. Recent leaks of some of this information have made it clear that if “Smoke Screen” was wrong about anything at all, it wasn’t wrong about anything important.

The program was attacked for implying that the cigarette makers purchase nicotine-containing tobacco extract from firms called flavor houses and use it to boost or maintain nicotine levels in the reconstituted tobacco that is an important component of cigarettes. This “recon” normally has less nicotine and poorer flavor than ordinary tobacco leaf. In a lengthy memorandum based on the cigarette maker’s technical manuals and internal memos, ABC’s attorneys, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, set out evidence that Philip Morris had in effect cut out the middleman and was running its own extract factory. Whatever the source of the extract, it was still adding nicotine to the product. Therefore, the heart of the broadcast was true. Wilmer, Cutler argued in a motion for summary judgment: “Philip Morris adds a nicotine-containing solution – manufactured from some other tobacco – to that original tobacco material or tobacco sheet. This bears repeating: The does nicotine cause cancer applied is derived from another source.”

If accurate, the ABC memo provides the most penetrating analysis of modern cigarette manufacturing ever made public. It shows that cigarettes are not chopped tobacco leaves rolled in paper but the end-product of a sophisticated, technology-intensive manufacturing process that uses numerous components from various sources – and controls nicotine at every phase.

According to this document, a key method of nicotine control is the use of reconstituted tobacco leaf, or R.L., a “chemically engineered” material that makes up about 25 percent of the tobacco in Philip Morris’s premium brands, Marlboro, Merit, Virginia Slims and Benson & Hedges. A facility known as Park 500 in Chester, a small town south of Richmond, churns out reconstituted leaf at a rate of 450,000 pounds a day.

Realizing that in many ways Park 500 was at the epicenter of the case, ABC lawyers were searching for anyone who would tell them more about it. They found at least one source and code-named him “W.” This contract employee for Philip Morris told the lawyers he was surprised the Day One broadcast didn’t mention Park 500, since he “knew that Philip Morris created the facility to assure that its cigarettes would provide smokers a consistent high.” W himself wasn’t particularly thrilled about being around nicotine. After a few hours of breathing fumes from nicotine-rich vats at one company lab, “he sometimes would have to find a bathroom and throw up.” (Nicotine is extremely toxic: A sixty-milligram dose is lethal, with a cigarette providing about a one-milligram jolt. By comparison, one adult-sized Tylenol tablet is 500 milligrams.)

Philip Morris went to some lengths to make sure that few people knew what Park 500 was doing. “It is a highly automated facility,” the lawyers reported W as saying. “The employees are highly segregated, with few employees knowing more than just their immediate area of concern.” W suggested that ABC “carefully analyze inputs and outputs” at the plant for evidence that “Philip Morris actually increases the concentration of nicotine in the remaining tobacco product that is processed into paper at the plant.” He also said that although Philip Morris claimed it doesn’t monitor nicotine during R.L. manufacture, it has a special machine to test the extract for nicotine and other substances at fifteen-minute intervals.

W suggested that if investigators analyzed cigarettes from years past, they would find that older cigarettes weren’t doctored as modern ones are. Many believe nicotine wasn’t always manipulated. R.J. Reynolds was one of the first to grind up stems, dust and other junk for filler. Philip Morris was a leader in using ammonia chemistry to heighten the “impact” of nicotine, so the smoker could get the same buzz from less of the drug. According to recently leaked documents from the files of competitor Brown & Williamson, the use of ammonia compounds formed “the soul” of Marlboro’s ever-widening appeal over the past thirty years, causing B&W and others to try to imitate it. Ammonia helped the industry solve a nagging chemical conundrum, which is that nicotine levels rise and fall as a function of tar. Now “light” cigarettes, almost two-thirds of the market, could pack a similar wallop to full-flavor brands. And the government’s tar and nicotine measuring machines, which don’t detect the effects of ammonia, would register no change.

Brown & Williamson’s parent company, British American Tobacco (B.A.T.), apparently wanted not only to get more bang out of their nicotine but some of the poisons out of the cigarette. To achieve this, B&W hired Jeffrey Wigand as vice president in charge of research and development in 1989. A Ph.D. in both endocrinology and biochemistry, he had spent much of his career at pharmaceutical and chemical companies like Pfizer, Merck and Union Carbide.

After leaving B&W in 1993, Wigand became a source for a 60 Minutes segment on tobacco and health. The interview with him was cut because of fears that the network would be sued for interfering with a draconian secrecy agreement Wigand had signed. (It was recently run on the program.) The 53-year-old Wigand, the highest-ranking executive ever to turn against the industry, has testified before at least two federal grand juries and to the Justice Department about alleged efforts to squelch development of a fire-safe cigarette. He was also deposed in a Mississippi lawsuit in which the state is seeking reimbursement for the cost of caring for indigents sickened by smoking.

That deposition was recently leaked to The Wall Street Journal, which posted it on the Internet. It strongly reinforces the idea that cigarette companies share an obsession with promoting consumer addiction. Wigand said that former B&W chief executive officer Thomas Sandefur, who testified to a Congressional committee that he didn’t believe nicotine was addictive, told him, “We’re in the nicotine delivery business and tar is nothing but negative baggage.”

Wigand’s deposition ranges over many topics, from the role of lawyers in sanitizing research results so plaintiffs’ attorneys and regulators would find no evidence that B&W knew cigarettes cause disease – one fifteen-page report of a B.A.T. scientific conference was cut to three pages – to how Brown & Williamson scotched its safer-cigarette project, one focus of which was to replace apparently hazardous additives, like glycerol, with less hazardous ones.

“Cigarettes are basically a needle, unfortunately a dirty needle, through which the drug nicotine is delivered. And he was hired to make the needle a little less dirty,” said Richard Scruggs, one of Wigand’s attorneys. “His plan was to understand through basic science the carcinogenic properties of the different additives and different components of cigarette smoke. And once they’re identified, he could remove some of them that may have been totally unnecessary.” Wigand’s other mission was to make a cigarette that was less likely to start fires.

Before he was sacked in 1993, apparently because of differences with Sandefur, Wigand encouraged research on the effects of inhaling various burning additives, which had never been properly done despite warnings by scientists that even seemingly wholesome substances can behave quite differently when smoked. Some of this work was carried out through British American Tobacco at its lab in Southampton, England. Some of it was contracted out by law firms such as Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., so that it could be claimed it had been done in “anticipation of litigation” (and thus was protected by the lawyer-client privilege) rather than as standard product research.

During the deposition, Wigand was asked point-blank by Ron Motley, an attorney for the State of Mississippi, “To your scientific knowledge, did Brown & Williamson ever engage in the manipulation of nicotine levels in tobacco products?”

Wigand replied unequivocally, “Yes, they did.” He then conducted a brief tour of the various ways this can be done, such as controlling the blend and treating the product with ammonia compounds, but he emphasized, “Number one is free use of reconstituted tobacco.” He said the company believed that a cigarette needed “from .4 to 1.2 milligrams of nicotine, in that range, to maintain smokers.”

To regulate cigarettes as drug delivery devices, the F.D.A. must prove not only that the tobacco companies adjust the nicotine level but that by doing so they intend to affect “the structure or any function” of the body. Enter researcher Victor DeNoble, another former cigarette-company employee turned critic. Like Wigand, DeNoble believed he had been hired to help make a safer cigarette. In 1980, Philip Morris gave him the task of identifying a nicotine substitute that would produce the same mild but addictive high without the irregular pulse and heart rate the drug can cause. DeNoble succeeded brilliantly. Yet four years later, he was called into a supervisor’s office and given two hours to shut down the lab and vacate the premises. DeNoble recalled one of the company’s lawyers telling him, “You’re making us look like a drug company. And we just can’t afford that.”

DeNoble was a postdoctoral fellow in behavioral pharmacology when he and his partner, Paul Mele, were lured to the Philip Morris Research Center in Richmond by the offer of a state-of-the-art laboratory and unlimited money. (DeNoble and Mele say that as a joke they once sent a request for $278,000 to do a nicotine experiment on the space shuttle. It came back approved.)

Working with up to 200 rats, they synthesized nicotine analogues, just as Philip Morris had hoped. All their work was top secret and was effectively deep-sixed when the lab was shut down in 1984. By that time, DeNoble and Mele had put Philip Morris so far ahead of the scientific curve that it took more than a decade for academic scientists to duplicate some of the experiments. That was fine with Philip Morris, since DeNoble and Mele’s studies helped prove beyond a reasonable doubt that nicotine is in a class with heroin and cocaine as a dependence-inducing chemical.

The first signs of trouble came when the two scientists performed a study that showed that the brain and the biochemistry of the body develop tolerance to increasingly higher doses of nicotine after an initial period of near-paralysis. “When we presented them that data, that was the first time they actually ordered us to do something – never do another tolerance study again,” said DeNoble. “The thing is, that exact study defines nicotine as an addictive drug, because that’s the primary criterion in the diagnostic manual for the American Psychiatric Association.”

So DeNoble and Mele did what any responsible scientist would do – they did as much tolerance research as they could, plus many other experiments. In 1983 the Cipollone suit was filed against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies, alleging that tobacco companies marketed a needlessly hazardous product and caused the death of a New Jersey woman. Also that year, three lawyers and a clerk turned up at the laboratory. Very politely, they asked DeNoble to walk them slowly through every experiment. The lawyers continued to visit for six months. DeNoble was also summoned to New York to brief the president of Philip Morris and his staff. “I presented all of my work, which was ongoing. And he only asked one question. And the question was, `Why should I risk a billion-dollar industry on rats pressing levers for nicotine?’ I just looked him straight in the face. I said, `I don’t know.'”

In November, Philip Morris’s new president, Shepard Pollack, actually strolled into the lab and asked DeNoble and Mele to give him and the company lawyer a tour. After seeing the self-administration experiment, in which a rat presses a lever to get nicotine, Pollack asked if that meant nicotine is addictive.

“Don’t answer that question,” the lawyer ordered DeNoble. But DeNoble assured him that, in fact, self-administration alone wasn’t enough to define addiction.

“And then the lawyer asks me a question. He goes, `Are these the same tests a government agency would use to define drug abuse?’ And I said, `Yeah. I was trained by NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse.’ He had a fit. He actually told Mr. Pollack, `Get out of here, we’re not going to talk anymore.’ And he pulled him out of the lab.”

Rather than fire the two scientists, which would look bad, Philip Morris gave them a “choice” – either quit or stay with the company as factory workers making cigarettes. A week after they quit, DeNoble was asked to return to the lab to open a safe. He found only a bare room. The cages, surgery tables, intravenous lines, filing cabinets, notebooks even the wiring connections – had been stripped.

Like Jeffrey Wigand, who now teaches in a high school, DeNoble gave up corporate science and wound up in the public sector, working with the retarded. And just as Wigand now faces legal attack by Brown & Williamson, the industry is likely to do its best to muzzle DeNoble, whose testimony was a dramatic highlight of the 1994 Congressional hearings into nicotine manipulation. DeNoble says the F.B.I. told him that Philip Morris had been following him for years, tape-recording and photographing his appearances before scientific and antismoking groups.

Both DeNoble and Wigand were convinced that what they knew was extremely dangerous to an industry that sells $250 billion worth of its product worldwide every year. The current barrage of attacks notwithstanding, few believe this wealthy cartel is in any economic jeopardy. But a dampening of tobacco’s public visibility through curbs on cigarette makers’ youth-oriented marketing remains possible, if the public demands it. Former industry insiders with hair-raising stories to tell, especially about the industry’s pandering to children, could help puncture the in-grained skepticism that smokers are victims of anything more sinister than weak wills. There are quite evidently some people who work for big tobacco, like Wigand, DeNoble and W, the informant in the ABC suit, who feel the sting of moral quandary for their part in the world’s most peculiar industry. ABC’s lawyers took note of this: “W told us that he thought the Philip Morris employees were `good churchgoing people,’ but that the company was responsible for killing people.”


All the tobacco companies categorically deny they manipulate nicotine. As for its reconstituted leaf (R.L.), Philip Morris reiterates the position it has taken since the Day One broadcast aired in 1994: that R.L. manufacture is a closed process in which some nicotine extracted during processing is re-added. “The nature of the process is to reduce levels of nicotine,” according to Michael York, an attorney for Philip Morris, who said there is a net loss of as must as 15 percent of the chemical.

York said the Park 500 plant does not measure nicotine in tobacco extract, and although the special machine mentioned by “W” is used, it measures levels of moisturizers, not nicotine. He said there is job “specialization” at Park 500, but not secrecy. York suggested W might be confusing Park 500 with a nearby plant that produced a de-nicotinized cigarette called Next that was a commercial failure. That plant did measure nicotine, he said.

ABC and the network’s lawyers refused to comment on any aspect of the libel case.

Philip Morris says Victor DeNoble’s work showed that nicotine is not truly addictive. The company charges that his story is full of distortions and denies that it has sought to protect scientific research from discovery in lawsuits.

Brown & Williamson has challenged the veracity of Jeffrey Wigand, asserting that Wigand denied any wrongdoing by the company when questioned in 1994 by the Justice Department. It suggests that his change of heart had to do with the role he played as a source and consultant for 60 Minutes.

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Spiff up wood floors: bring back the glow with these simple, speedy tips

Biggest Challenges

  • Scuff marks
  • Dingy traffic aisles
  • Sticky stains; paint spatters

Fastest Fixes

1 Rub out rubber scuffs.

Though comfy on your feet, shoes with rubber soles and heels can wreak havoc on polyurethaned wood flooring. Fortunately, scuff marks usually “sit” on top of a floor’s finish, so they are fairly simple to remove. If the mark is a light one, sometimes just rubbing it with a sock–like the one on your foot (bonus: no bending down required)–or a clean tennis ball is all it takes to get rid of the streaks (the latter trick also works on scuffed laminate floors). For more stubborn marks, apply a little baking soda to a damp cloth and gently rub the scuff until it disappears. Rinse by wiping with a clean section of the damp cloth, and buff dry.

2 Clear the pathway

If there’s a dull path right down the center (a.k.a. the traffic lane) of your floor, you’ve got a buildup of dirt that needs a wet cleaning to remove. Skip the mop and bucket (wood floors should never get too wet) and instead use a product–like those by Bona, Minwax, Armstrong, or Bruce–that’s formulated to safely and easily clean urethane-finished wood. Lightly spritz a 3′ by 3′ area of the floor with the cleaner. With a dampened microfiber cloth or mop, go over the area to pick up the dissolved dirt. Let dry. Repeat until the area is clean (in other words, if you don’t need to mop in some spots, don’t bother), rinsing the cloth or mop often.

3 Shoo away goo

Tacky messes, such as tar and gum, can really get a grip on a wood floor, and the solvents that are safe to use on other flooring types can damage wood’s finish. To safely remove these splotches, place a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and hold this on the clump to harden it. Then, with a credit card or plastic spatula, gently scrape off the brittle pieces. For dried paint splatters, moisten a cloth with a little rubbing alcohol, place this on the stain for a few seconds to loosen it, and use your scraper tool to dislodge the blob. Follow up by rubbing with the baking soda paste from step 1 to remove any remaining bits; rinse and buff dry.

Make It Easier Next Time

* Shed shoes at the door to keep tracked-in dirt and scuffs off floors.

* Ditch the broom and vacuum your floors once a week or so. You may think that sweeping is the way to cut down on grime, but vacuuming is more thorough, not to mention less effort than using a broom and dustpan.

* Consider the all-in-one Bona Hardwood Floor Mop and GHRI-tested Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner to quickly tackle spills when they happen.

Tools You’ll Use

  • Clean sock or tennis bail
  • Baking soda; soft cloths
  • Wood floor cleaner; microfiber cloth or mop
  • Plastic bag; ice; credit card or plastic spatula
  • Rubbing alcohol

Your healthy home

In the same way that eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly helps your body fight off germs and illness, keeping your home clean and disinfected helps you fight illness before it spreads. Good health can begin athome if you follow a few common sense guidelines and understand which germs can cause illness and how to stop their spread.

Cold viruses and certain other illness-causing germs aren’t just found inside the body, they can he found outside the body as well. Studies show germs can actually survive on hard surfaces around the house — like the refrigerator, faucets, doorknobs, telephones and TV remotes — from several hours to several days. Most doctors believe illness can occur when you touch something contaminated then bring your hand to your mouth, nose or eyes.

One of the most effective precautions you can take is to teach family members to wash their hands frequently, especially when they first come home, before meals, or when one of them is sick. You can also promote good eating habits by keeping healthy snacks on hand. Good nutrition is the number one factor in building a strong immune system. And, of course, try to keep household surfaces free of the viruses and bacteria that cause illness.

Remember, wiping surfaces with just soap and water will not kill harmful germs. And most household products are designed to clean but do not necessarily disinfect. In fact, wiping without disinfecting may make matters worse — germs can be spread around and onto other surfaces. To supplement cleaning you need an EPA-registered disinfectant such as LYSOL[R] Disinfectant Spray. It is proven effective against a wide variety of viruses and bacteria, including Rhinovirus, the leading cause of the common cold, and Rotavirus, the leading cause of infectious diarrhea. For proof positive that a product disinfects hard surfaces, check the back label to make sure it has an EPA registration number.

Following, is a room-by-room guide to safe-guarding your family’s health and creating a clean, healthy home. The makers of LYSOL products have a full range of household cleaning products that both clean and kill germs.

Throughout the House

One of the most basic things you can do to keep your home healthy is make sure it’s well-ventilated and frequently aired out. Most germs live longer in warm, stale environments. Once or twice a week — even when it’s cold out — open the windows and let the air circulate. Also, be sure to lower the indoor temperature at night. This promotes a better night’s sleep which will help strengthen and recharge your immune system.

In every room of the house disinfect frequently touched surfaces with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray. These “hot spots” are prime places for germs to spread, particularly if someone is sick.

Don’t forget the bathroom, basement and laundry room. If there’s a sharp, musty smell, it may be due to mold and mildew which may cause allergies or other ailments. Clean and disinfect these rooms regularly using a product that controls mold and mildew, like LYSOL Basin Tub & Tile Cleaner.


Germs love the warm dampness of a bathroom, so clean and disinfect it regularly. Every time you flush the toilet you catapult germs and bacteria onto nearby surfaces. Rhinovirus, the germ, can also be transferred in the bathroom via faucets, toilet handles, doorknobs, etc. And a wet floor is the ideal breeding ground for fungi that can cause athlete’s foot.

Take these precautions:

  • Disinfect bathroom surfaces regularly with specially formulated LYSOL products like LYSOL Basin Tub A Tile Cleaner and LYSOL Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Both provide effective, targeted cleaning while killing a variety of illness-causing bacteria and viruses.
  • Close the toilet lid before you flush.
  • Change toothbrushes every three months.
  • Unfold and dry washcloths. If left damp, they can foster bacteria growth.


It’s the heart of the home, but according to studies, it’s also potentially the most contaminated. The USDA estimates that each year at least half of the up to 80 million cases of food-caused illnesses originate in family kitchens, not in restaurants. Salmonella and E. `, two common food-borne bacteria, can be found in raw meat and poultry. Proper cooking kills the harmful germs, but they can still be spread around the kitchen and to other foods from raw juices that aren’t properly cleaned up.

So, as you prepare foods, be conscious of how germs might be spreading. Keep raw meats and poultry separate from other foods and use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables. Wash your hands frequently and run all cutting boards, sponges, utensils and plates through the dishwasher where the high temperature will kill germs. To disinfect kitchen surfaces such as faucets, countertops, cabinet handles and appliances use LYSOL Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner, an EPA-registered disinfectant that cleans and kills bacteria commonly found on kitchen surfaces. Keep in mind that antibacterial dishwashing and hand soaps may kill germs on hands but they do not kill germs on dishes, glasses or other hard surfaces.

The kitchen floor also needs special attention. Use a solution of 1/4 cup LYSOL Deodorizing Cleaner or LYSOL PINE ACTION[R] Cleaner in one gallon of warm water. Both disinfect even when diluted.


Babies are dependent on you for their hygiene. And their developing immune systems are particularly susceptible to colds and other illnesses which can spread to other family members. Plus, small children may not show symptoms but may be carriers of viruses that cause certain illnesses such as the Hepatitis A virus. That’s why regular disinfecting is important, even when your baby appears healthy.

In the first two years of life, most children have eight to ten colds, even more if there are older siblings or the child is in daycare. Very young children are also prone to bronchiolitis, a lower respiratory infection, and infectious diarrhea. Studies show the viruses that cause bronchiolitis and diarrhea can survive outside the body anywhere from several hours to a few days, so it’s especially important to clean and disinfect your child’s room and play areas frequently. The tub you wash your child in should be cleaned and disinfected with LYSOL Basin Tub & Tile Cleaner. Also disinfect “hot spots” regularly, such as the changing table, high chair, playpen and toys, with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray.

When They’re Away From Home

With more than 8.3 million children in day care centers, and family and group programs, the likelihood that colds and other infectious diseases will be passed from child to child is even greater.

The good news is a recent day care center study shows LYSOL disinfecting products play an important role in helping to stop the surface-to-human spread of many illness-causing germs. When an infection control program was put in place that included regular disinfection, the number of respiratory illnesses among children was reduced by more than one-third. So, if teachers and parents remember to wash hands regularly and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like toys, tabletops and handrails several times a week, we can help keep infectious illnesses at bay.

By using the full line of LYSOL household products, you’re taking an important step by disinfecting while you’recleaning. It’s an easy way to help create a healthier environment for you and the ones you love.


* Disinfect the telephone handle regularly with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray.

* Use paper towels instead of sponges or dishcloths. If you do use sponges, run them through the dishwasher along with your dishes. The heat will kill any germs.

* Each time you empty the kitchen garbage, spray the pail with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray to keep it fresh.

* To prevent mold and mildew, shake the shower curtain after use and leave it open, not drawn, so moisture can evaporate. Spray regularly with LYSOL Disinfectant Spray. Once a week, give the rubber shower mat a disinfectant bath. And in the laundry room, keep your washing machine open when not in use.

* When a family members is ill, keep dishes, glasses, utensils and towels separate to prevent the spread of germs.

* Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. At room temperature, bacteria multiply quickly. Store leftovers as soon as possible.

* To help prevent cross contamination of food-borne bacteria, keep raw meats and poultry separate from other foods.

* If you have a humidifier, empty the reservoir daily and clean it with LYSOL Deodorizing Cleaner.

Make wood floors shine

Wood surfaces are high style, but they don’t have to be high maintenance. Most of the time, they just need a weekly once-over to lift away dust and dirt. This isn’t a down-on-your-hands-and-knees job; just grab your vacuum. But be careful: If you use an upright, turn off the rotating brushes first–bristles can scratch floors. (If you can’t disable the brushes, break out the broom or Swifter.) Have a canister vac? Put the hard-floor attachment to work.

QUICK TIP Dryer sheets are magnets for dust. Grab a used one to wipe the fuzz-ball-prone corners where floors and walls meet.

To vacuum or sweep less often, cut down the dirt your family tracks in by placing mats outside and inside the front door. Or make yours a socks-only household. One industry report suggests that if shoes stay at the door, you can reduce tracked-in dirt by up to 80 percent. To prevent scratching, put felt glides on furniture legs and keep Sparky’s nails trimmed (so he doesn’t leave a trail of nicks on his “welcome home” race to the door).

Twice a year, if your floor looks dingy, it’s time for a deep clean (think of it as your floor’s version of spa day). If your boards are finished with polyurethane or another type of coating, treat them with a specialty product that doesn’t contain wax, which will make the floors cloudy and slippery. In our test of seven brands, Orange GIo Hardwood FloorCleaner was best at cutting grime. Spray it on a reusable microfiber cloth and work the rag across a small section of the floor (or spare your knees by using a microfiber mop). Dry with a clean cloth, then move on to the next spot. You shouldn’t wet the entire area at once because even a moisture-resistant wood surface can be damaged by standing fluids.

You can also try Method’s Omop wood-cleaning kit, which comes with a long-handled pole, a microfiber cloth, a 14-ounce bottle of cleanser for wet mopping, and three dust pads for sweeping. Bonus: The pole is curved for getting under couches and tables.

If your floors are waxed, apply a solvent-based cleanser like mineral spirits with a microfiber mop. (Wax finish is ultra sensitive to water, so you should never use a water-based cleanser on it.) Dry, wait 30 minutes, then rub on a coat of wax using the same mop with a fresh cloth attached.

QUICK TIP Between waxings, rub dull spots with waxed paper.

How to get rid of …

* Candle wax Cover with a bag of ice; flake off brittle pieces with a putty knife.

* Dried paint Chip away with a putty knife; on a polyurethane floor, loosen the splatter marks with an alcohol-soaked rag.

* Shoe scuffs If you’re wearing socks, rub the streaks with your toe–this move almost always makes the lines disappear. If that doesn’t work, apply finish-friendly cleanser with a soft cloth, then buff.

Source Audio: Dimension Reverb and Hot Hand 3 Wireless Controller

Dimension Reverb 

Source Audio‘s Dimension Reverb ($189 street) stuffs 11 ‘verbs and a d into the small sturdy package as the company’s Soundblox 2 pedal. The preset sounds produced by the Dimension’s 56-bit DSP and 24-bit converters were clear, clean, and very usable out of the box. As a space freak, I love to tweak sounds, so I was pleased with the inclusion of controls for Decay Length, Blend, Pre-Delay, Diffusion, and Bass and Treble. According to reverb pedal reviews, any of these parameters can also be controlled in real time through an expression pedal or the Hot Hand Wireless Effects Controller.

The Dimension Reverb offers two programmable settings. Depending on the gig, I would set one footswitch for a great sounding slap-back delay and the other for a vintage-drenched spring reverb; or one for a bit of ambience, and the other on a fully wet, long decay Arena setting for sound design effects.

Modulation can be added to any reverb, with full rate and depth control. Plugging in the Hot Hand controller let me create flashback-inducing psychedelic effects simply by waving my hand to increase the modulation rate as the reverb decayed. Unfortunately these plush sounds are restricted to mono.

Source Audio teases that full MIDI implementation is around the corner. As someone who believes you can’t have enough avenues to ambience, I hope it’s soon, as that would provide access to many sonic possibilities at the touch of a footswitch. In the meantime, though, with its abundant atmospheres and unique features in a pedalboard-friendly package, the Dimension Reverb might be your best bet for spacing out.

KUDOS 12 tweakable reverb and echo presets cover the gamut from workhorse to wild.

CONCERNS Not stereo.

Hot Hand 3 Universal Wireless Effects Controller

Though Source Audio manufactures a full complement of great-sounding effects, the Hot Hand controller is what sets this company apart. Until now, however, you had to use a Source Audio pedal (or the Hot Hand MIDI-EXPController manipulating a MIDI controllable device) to get this striking stage effect. The new Hot Hand 3 ($150 street) lets you use the Hot Hand ring to control any effect that has an expression pedal input. When using SourceAudio devices, the tiny receiver is powered by the effect; with third party effects you must plug in the supplied power adaptor and use a TRS jack (or, for Line 6 effects, a standard guitar cable).

Dip switches allow you to adjust the receiver to match reverse-polarity expression inputs or Line 6 devices. In a process that’s too involved to fully detail here, controls on the top let you configure the interaction of the ring and receiver. The manual could also explain it better, but Source Audio’s customer support is happy to assist.

I started by plugging the receiver into the expression input of an Electro-Harmonix Ring Thing, where I was quickly able to gesture octave pitch sweeps in either direction, or mind-bending ring modulator frequency sweeps. Using the ring to control the wet/dry mix on a Source Audio Dimension Reverb let me play through a mildly wet reverbsetting, then add a huge decay simply by throwing my hand in the air.

With its X, Y, and Z-axis control, the Hot Hand 3 can be used to manipulate multiple devices with different gestures. More sensitive than an expression pedal, the Hot Hand is also more visually impressive. Just imagine being able to do pitch- or wah-type sounds from anywhere onstage–untethered from a pedal. Want an extra dose of performance pizazz? Absolutely check out the Hot Hand 3.

KUDOS Allows dramatic gesture control of any effect with an expression pedal input.

CONCERNS Manual could be improved.

CONTACT Source Audio, sourceaudio.net

Bench Tests: 5 Distortion Pedals

The evolution of top rated distortion pedals is much like that of the automobile. Both retain their fundamental design elements, and both have been tweaked to the nth degree in the quest for greater performance. Evidence of endless refinements are obvious in the five pedals tested here. These boxes span the colors of the ratty rainbow–fuzz, boost, and good old-fashioned distortion–and each has a unique way of dishing out the dirt.

We tested each pedal using a Fender Strat and a Tele, and a Gibson SG and Flying V. Amps included a Fender Deluxe Reverb, a Vox AC30, a 50-watt Marshall and 4×12 cab, and a Bad Cat Hot Cat combo.

DOD YJM308 Preamp Overdrive

The YJM308 Preamp Overdrive –an updated version of the classic DOD 250 Overdrive favored by Yngwie J. Malmsteen–is a basic distortion box with level and gain controls, and a heavy-duty anodized enclosure that houses a single PC board. The construction and layout are dean, but, as per original spec, there’s no status LED or true bypass.

Tonally, the YJM is a meat-and-potatoes affair. It packs a reasonably gutsy output (though not enough for a walloping clean boost), and the distortion is cranky and unrefined with a penetrating treble slice that sounds particularly cool through a Marshall 4×12. The YJM stings hard through open-back combos and–in spite of being tweaked for extra bass–it’s rather brittle at high-gain settings. Lower gain settings tame the edginess, and also make the pedal more dynamically responsive. Props to the YJM308 for not trying to be a Swiss Army pedal. It’s a stompbox that, for better or worse, says, “Love me for who I am!”

Frantone The Sweet

Entering the scene during the boutique Gold Rush of the ’90s, Frantone carved a niche with hand-made pedals that sported stellar construction. The Sweet, features a cast-aluminum enclosure, a fiberglass circuit board, and chassis-mounted volume, tone, and sustain controls. Other nice touches include true-bypass switching, genuine Bakelite knobs, germanium transistors, and an epoxy enamel finish.

The Sweet is an old-school-style fuzz that isn’t ashamed to hiss, sputter, and squawk. Pumped through a Marshall, it yields smooth, violin-type textures with a touch of roughness. The tone control has enough range to dial in full-on “Spirit in the Sky” rasp, and there’s enough output on tap to bludgeon an amp. You can get very cool tones by using this box as a booster with just a smidgen of fuzz. And with its tried-and-true style of cacophony, The Sweet could jump right in as a replacement for one of your rare vintage fuzzes.

Fulltone Distortion Pro

One of the first builders of boutique stompboxes, Michael Fuller set the standard for high-end pedals. His latest release, the Distortion Pro, is a unique design that features a rugged steel enclosure and a single PC board that bears an ultra-neat circuit. Two mini trim-pots are mounted inside the case for adjusting overall gain structure. What makes the Distortion Pro special, however, is that it packs not only volume and distortion knobs, but also the following exterior trim pots that let you really fine tune your tones:

* Resonance. Adjusts overall bass response.

* Voicing. A tone control that adds touches of distortion.

* Saturation. Alters the dynamic response to simulate the effect of playing through a spongy amp.

* Highs. Adjusts overall treble response.

Even before you start tweaking the trim pots, however, the Distortion Pro sounds killer. The distortion knob delivers dynamic tones that range from Robben Ford-like chirp to heavier grind, and the output control can unleash amp-clobbering levels. With some fine-tuning, however, the Distortion Pro really flexes its muscles. In particular, the Saturation control allowed me to do the previously unthinkable: Run a wide-open distortion pedal into an unforgiving Fender Twin Reverb loaded with JBL speakers. By turning up the Saturation, I was able to morph the fierce attack into a creamy tone reminiscent of a low-wattage combo. Then, by tweaking the Voicing control, I could restore some of the bark and detail that was lost in the process. Amazing!

Unlike most distortion units, the Distortion Pro lets the sound of your guitar and amp really come through. No matter how much gain you use, there’s no loss of tonal character and the sound cleans up startlingly well when you turn down your guitar. The Distortion Pro is an extremely versatile and musical distortion pedal.

Roger Mayer Voodoo-Boost

Having designed his first stompbox in 1964–and later creating the Octavia for Jimi Hendrix–Roger Mayer reigns as the elder statesman of guitar effects. The Voodoo-Boost is a simple pedal with a very welcome feature–dual low-impedance outputs that preserve detail and sparkle when driving other amps and/or effects, as well as safeguard signal strength through long cable runs.

The Voodoo-Boost sports super-clean construction, a steel enclosure that houses a single PC board, and three controls (output, fatness, and gain). Although the output is sufficient to kick an amp’s front end into grind territory, I could have used more of a volume boost when playing a Strat or Tele. The fatness control is nicely voiced, adding punch and portliness to open-back combos, but it can’t compensate for the sizzle that occurs when you run the pedal at high-gain settings. The best tones were elicited by combining low-gain settings with lots of output–a strategy that allows the character of your amp and guitar to shine through, as well as maintain clarity and string-to-string detail.

Menatone Top Boost in a Can

The Top Boost in a Can aims to deliver the overdrive characteristics of the venerable Vox AC30–a tall order for a stompbox, as the complex overtones of this classic amp are some of the hardest to imitate. The TBIC’s AC30-style controls are mounted to the aluminum chassis, and a single perforated board grips all of the circuit components. You get volume, gain, treble, bass knobs, and cut control that adds top-end when turned counter-clockwise. A killer feature for slicing through a band.

The TBIC produces more gain than you can shake a stick at, but it tends to sound splattery and unfocused at higher settings. There’s also an abundance of output, although audible hiss makes the TBIC less suitable as a clean boost–even at low gain settings. Where the TBIC thrives, however, is in front of a dark sounding, already clipping amplifier. Through a non-master Marshall, the TBIC’s powerful EQ let me coax a “second” channel out of the amp. I dialed up a thick, beefy tone on the Marshall, then used the TBIC to deliver a slicing, medium-grind tone. When I turned down my guitar’s volume–voila!–a Vox-like clean tone with chime, clarity, and dynamic punch appeared. The TBIC isn’t the easiest pedal to dial-in, but it’s capable of giving a one-sound amp a real personality overhaul.

Home clean home

The sight of clutter all around the house may be driving you crazy, but old magazines, junk mail and toys are harmless compared to the invisible germs that can make you and your family sick. It’s a fact of life. Once the school year begins, children become ill more often, because the germs that cause colds, flu and diarrhea are easily spread in the classroom. To prevent the spread of germs, it’s important to teach your child to wash his hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after coming home from school. The second most important thing you can do to help your family stay healthy is to disinfect throughout your home, paying close attention to frequently touched areas, which are key germ transfer points.

Cook ‘n clean

Germs really love the kitchen, especially sponges, dishcloths and sinks. An easy way to disinfect all three is to soak sponges and dishcloths for five minutes in the sink in a solution of 3/4 cup Ultra Clorox® Regular Bleach and one gallon of water. Rinse with clean water and let dry. Premixed Clorox Clean-Up® spray disinfects in just 30 seconds and can be used to wipe up food spills. For refrigerator handles and other frequently touched areas, use Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes.

Prime time clean

On average, a person can touch and retouch up to 300 surfaces in just 30 minutes, contaminating and recontaminating frequently touched surfaces, if someone sick leaves his germs behind and you touch the same surface, you could get infected by bringing the germs to your mouth, nose or eyes. To help stop the germ cycle, use Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes to kill germs on telephones, doorknobs, light switches, TV remote controls and any other frequently touched surfaces.

Squeaky clean

Think of it as your own personal spa, one that needs to be cleaned throughout the week. Sponges, sinks and drains should be disinfected daily. Once a week, or as needed, use Pine-Sol[R] Original Brand Cleaner to remove bacteria in the shower or tub, or on tile and toilet surfaces. If you have a lot of buildup, try Antibacterial Soft Scrub® with Bleach Cleanser. To disinfect the toilet bowl, pour a cup of bleach in the bowl, leave for 10 minutes, then brush, especially under the rim.

Clean machine

Even if your laundry looks and smells clean, without bleach it’s not the purest clean. That’s because washing with detergent alone can leave behind yucky, invisible stuff scientists call body soil. You want to use 3/4 cup bleach * in every white and bleachable color load to remove body oils, sweat and germs. If you don’t have any bleachable loads, run the machine empty with a cup of bleach * once a week. This will get rid of the microscopic layer of bacteria hiding out in the washer. It’s like mouthwash for your machine.

Staying healthy

Bacteria and viruses are all around, just waiting to make you sick. But if you’re smart, you can beat them at their own game. The best way to stop the spread of germs and disease is to wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially before you eat. Use warm soapy water and rub vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Cleaning with soap and water removes germs, but doesn’t kill them. That’s why it’s important to sanitize and disinfect surfaces that are touched often, like counters and doorknobs.

Did you know?

Bacteria can be spread by touching surfaces that have germs on them, such as sponges, sinks, faucets, refrigerator handles, cutting boards, tables, phones, doorknobs and light switches. Some bacteria can live on surfaces such as doorknobs for up to two hours. The average sponge has as many as seven billion germs on it that double in number every 20 minutes. Instead of sponges, health experts recommend using paper towels with a disinfectant or Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes. Just a single germ on a kitchen counter can grow to more than 34 billion in just 12 hours. Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes reduce the number of germs and bacteria on surfaces by 99.9 percent.

Most children catch up to eight colds per year. Children in the U.S. lose 189 million school days annually due to the common cold. Parents in the U.S. lose 126 million workdays annually taking care of sick children. The average teacher loses 5.3 school days a year due to illness. The common cold costs the U.S. economy more than $20 billion.

The dirty work

A his-and-hers guide to cleaning house–without screaming at your spouse.

There’s one thing virtually every couple can agree on: A clean home is better than a dirty one. But when it comes to the actual work it takes to get your home in shape–just think of all that washing, scouring, and tidying–many husbands and wives find themselves on opposite sides of the mildewed shower curtain.

We don’t fight about anything else,” say Jim, 33, and Karen Mahoney, 29, of Flatbush, NY. “But when it comes to cleaning our home, the nagging and nit-picking start almost immediately.”

The issues are manifold: Whose job is it to clean what? How often–and how thoroughly–should it be cleaned? Is any amount of clutter acceptable, or must it be banished completely? And if there’s a dust bunny (or two) hiding behind the entertainment console but no one can see it, must it still be removed?

Take the cleaning compatibility quiz below with your partner to find out how well you match up when it comes to doing the dirty work. Then read on to learn how you can make your home livable–and still live together peacefully.

Now that you know what kind of a cleaner you are (and he is, or not, as the case may be), you’re ready to understand why fights break out between you and your honey. In the cleaning war of the sexes, there are five trouble spots:


She says: Looking at the exact same space, a man will see a den while a woman will see a pigsty. A man can look at a stove top and be truly unaware of the drops of spaghetti sauce sprinkled around the burners. Are there missing rods and cones in the male eye?

More likely, this phenomenon has sociological roots. Of the hundreds of small jobs that need to be done in a house, most men have been brought up with an awareness of the biggies, like vacuuming, but not of the more subtle tasks, like dusting the Venetian blinds. So they have a higher threshold for dirt, accompanied by a weaker eye for details. We’re more likely to clean corners and crevices and to notice when something needs cleaning in the first place, while he’s blissfully unaware.

He says: If there is a difference between how men and women see dirt, it’s not due to something men lack, but rather something we have: It’s called common sense. Let’s admit it, if the bathroom floor behind the toilet is dirty, will anyone really notice?

Is it any surprise that, to many men, a bathroom can go a good two or three months with just a few daily touch-ups? Our wives, on the other hand, seem to feel a cleaning frenzy is in order every two weeks or so.

When Wendy sees one fingerprint too many on the walls, I head for shelter. It could be noon on a Saturday or 2 a.m. on a Tuesday–time has no meaning when she decides that we’re living in intolerable filth. She becomes a whirling Tasmanian anti-devil, sucking up and destroying any unfortunate speck of dirt in her path. Frankly, if I didn’t take cover, she’d probably Dustbust me.


She says: In no room of your house is the difference between “tidy” and “clean” more clear. The typical woman’s bathroom is a chaos of beauty products and wet lingerie, while a man’s bathroom is clutter-free but filthy as a movie-theater floor. Errant body hairs, an inattention to spills, and a general lack of, shall we say, “aim” make men the prime causes of bathroom grime.

Yet when you ask a man to clean the bathroom, the filth is precisely what he will ignore. He’ll jam all the cosmetics under the sink, throw your panties in the trash, and emerge feeling immensely self-satisfied. I once asked Dave to clean the tub, and he meticulously organized the shampoos on the rim but didn’t touch the filmy soap scum.

Katy Glass, 41, of Washington, PA, was preparing for the arrival of dinner guests and sent her husband to clean the bathroom. “After several hours, during which I’d cleaned the whole rest of the house,” she says, “John came out of the bathroom with a proud smile. He hadn’t touched the toilet. But he’d gotten out the ladder and washed the ceiling.”

He says: Ask any woman about the ladies’ room where she works and she’s likely to cringe. When women have the luxury of not cleaning up after themselves, they are capable of leaving things on the toilet seat that would make Wes Craven scream.

But that same woman wants the bathroom in her home clean enough for company, and she wants her husband to clean the toilet–the logic being that he messed it up the most.

So how do I handle this duty with a minimum of fuss? Let me share with you my top-secret, patented, tool-free method for male commode cleaning, which requires only about five minutes of real work. Bring a bottle of Fantastik and a magazine into the bathroom. Lock the door behind you. Open lid of toilet (if you haven’t left it open already). Spray Fantastik on all visible surfaces, and wipe off with toilet paper. Flush 50 times while reading magazine. You won’t have broken a sweat, but she’ll think you’ve done hours of work.


She says: Laundry, like vacuuming, is a terrific task for men: a left-brain job they can see through from beginning to end. It requires no personal judgment or creative improvisation; one must simply follow the time-honored steps from A to B to C and use the correct amount of detergent.

However, there are snares. One, if you give this job to your husband, you can’t expect him to do anything else. It will take him all day. Two, he must be pretrained in the laundry arts, from the proper technique for fitted-sheet folding to color and line-dry-only separation. And three, while his way might not be the best, it’s still his way. Three successive repairmen have failed to convince Dave that you can’t fit a square peg (industrial-sized loads of laundry) into a round hole (a washing machine the size of a toaster).

Ideally, you should divide laundry detail according to each person’s area of expertise. The person who realizes first that the laundry needs to be done is responsible for putting it in the washer. She who doesn’t want her spandex bras shrunk to Smurf-size proportions should carefully transfer clothes from washer to dryer. And he whose shirts must be folded with hospital corners had better be there the minute that dryer buzzes or it’ll be wrinkle city at work the next day.

He says: There are two reasons men end up doing laundry. One is the sinister clothing imbalance of the sexes, which is illustrated by Jim, 33, and Sharon Beecher, 34, of Stamford, CT. Like many people, Jim and Sharon determine that it’s time to do laundry when one of them is out of clean underwear. The catch? Sharon owns more underwear, so Jim always ends up doing the laundry. Confesses Sharon, “I don’t think he’s realized that I just buy a new pair whenever I run out.”

The other reason men become the specialists of the spin cycle is that we are the only ones qualified to do the job right. In other words, only a man can master the technique of extracting the last milliliter of detergent from the jug, vacuuming the lint trap, and high-tension folding using vice grips.


She says: I’ve never lived with a dishwashing-compatible companion. My college roommate was perpetually annoyed by my habit of “showering” the dishes, washing and rinsing each one under the running tap, instead of “bathing” them, filling the sink with soapy water, scrubbing all the dishes, then refilling the basin with rinse water.

When Dave and I moved in together, I wanted the dishes cleaned as they were dirtied, while he was in favor of attending to them when the pile in the sink reached critical mass. What ended up happening, of course, is that every time he used a dish and put it in the sink, I rushed to clean up after him.

While he never actually did the job himself, Mr. Fussy-Britches had definite opinions on how it should be done, insisting that I pasteurize each dish in the sink before it went into the dishwasher to be cleaned–again. So a few years ago, when he had backseat-washed me one too many times, I snarled, “If you don’t like the way I do it, do it yourself.” It’s been smooth sailing ever since.

He says: Most men have a “wait and see” attitude regarding dirty dishes. Once we’re done eating, the dishes have served their purpose. So now, perhaps they will magically go away. Maybe fairies will clean them in the night. Or more likely, our wives will break down and wash them before we have to. Sometimes we resort to subterfuge, leaving a bite of food on a dish, for example, so we can justify placing it in the refrigerator instead of washing it. The oven is another virtually pest-free haven for dirty pans.

In the end, most husbands have to face the fact that, at least some of the time, the dishes are their responsibility. Of course, this is usually around the time we try to put hand soap in the dishwasher. In most households, the golden rule becomes “You eat off it, you rinse it, you put it in the dishwasher.” But some couples still subscribe to the idea that whoever doesn’t cook should clean up. The key there is to volunteer for perpetual chef duty. (Hint: Domino’s does so count as dinner.)


She says: While no one wants things dirty, the same is not true of clutter. An empty tabletop is,, in my eyes, a thing of beauty; to Dave, it’s a potential home for one of the piles he creates on every available surface. Leah Elder, 32, of San Francisco, agrees: “My husband makes the piles,” she says. “I combine them.”

My spouse, unfortunately, is convinced that if his piles were merged or put out of sight, his brain would freeze up permanently. Dave’s brand of incessant Chinese-water-torture clutter is not the same as the occasional sheer messiness of life. Certain things–like children’s bathrooms or play areas–are meant to be messy for relatively short periods of time. and some partners are more comfortable with this than others. Says Katy Glass, “John sometimes gets upset when our children throw their bookbags around, so either I pick up before he gets home or I ask the kids to do it. And sometimes,” she adds, “I just tell him to lighten up. This is, after all, a home.”

He says: Creating clutter is a crime of which men and women are both guilty. Jim Mahoney says Karen has a habit of leaving the vacuum in the middle of the floor when she’s finished with it. Or she’ll accidentally drop a piece of paper on the rug and leave it there for days before he finally breaks down and picks it up. “When I ask her if she’s doing it on purpose,” Jim says, “she tells me, `Of course not. I just didn’t see it.'”

I’ll admit that when men are the clutterers, we’re equally oblivious. We drop clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper. We leave our shoes wherever we happen to take them off. You may think this is some kind of passive-aggressive attempt to get you to play Mommy and pick up after us, but trust me, we’re not that smart.

Eliminating clutter altogether seems an unreasonably strict and unfair goal. You’d do better to establish “safe zones” where the clutterer is free to build piles: in a closet, for instance, or on top of a nightstand. In return, the anti-clutterer is not allowed to organize anything in the zone. The penalty for uninvited entry into the zone is–horror of horrors–a larger zone. And the penalty for unauthorized spreading is nothing short of total pile termination.



  • Do the dishes after every meal (add 1 point)
  • Leave dirty dishes on the table after every meal (subtract 1 point)
  • Take out the trash (+1)
  • Throw the trash in the can without first putting in a garbage bag (-2)
  • Clean the refrigerator regularly (+5)
  • Find something growing in the fridge–and leave it there (-5)
  • Do a load of laundry from start to finish (+2)
  • Drop dirty clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper (-2.)
  • Clean the toilets (+5)
  • Assume that flushing the toilets is essentially cleaning them (-5)
  • Put away the kids’ toys (+2)
  • Get them to do it on their own (+3)
  • Clean the litterbox (+2)
  • Forget about the litterbox until the cat pees on your bed to remind you (-4)
  • Wash the car (+2)
  • Wash the car floor mats in the bathtub (-2)
  • Remove hair from the shower drain (+1) Leave hair in the drain until the tub overflows (-2)
  • Replenish toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels (+1)
  • Leave a scrap of toilet paper on the roll rather than having to replace it (-1)
  • Clean something once you’re reminded to do it (+1)
  • Clean something without being told (+2)
  • Hire a maid to clean it for you (+5)

SCORING: Add up your points, and compare your score with your spouse’s.

  • 15+ points = Neat Freak

You rule the house with an iron mop, and those floors–you could eat off them!

  • 8-14 points = Comfortably Clean

You’re careful to remove muddy shoes before coming inside, and you make your bed every morning–almost.

  • 1-7 points = Slightly Sloppy

There’s an old sock, three pencils, and 49 cents under your sofa cushions. You never met a magazine you didn’t want to keep.

  • Less than 1 = Unredeemable Slob

The clutter in your closets has developed a gravitational pull. You’d rather move to a new home than clean the old one.

How fussy are you?

Find your scouring style–and the plan of attack to match

Let’s be honest: Some of us are rather casual about the annual top-to-bottom. But no matter what our personal style or our quirks, most women fall into one of four groups when it comes to house-cleaning–from the flick-a-dust-cloth type to the serious, rubber-gloved gladiator. Which are you? Not sure? Find yourself in one of our mini profiles, which we’ve based on two criteria: your general tolerance for dirt and the amount of time you spend on regular cleaning each week.

  • 1 The truly relaxed (those who’ll want to follow our Faking It plan) can live with a little mess; they don’t mind dust bunnies, or leaving the house with the beds unmade, and they tend to do chores at night, when nothing looks as dirty as it does at high noon. Weekly cleaning time: one hour.
  • 2 Mildly Fastidious housekeepers are most bugged by cosmetic problems; offended by dust and disorder, they swoop down on filmy mirrors and toss the newspaper as soon as it’s read. They refuse to grapple with mildew, however, and they scrub toilets only in an emergency. Weekly cleaning time: three hours.
  • 3 Members of the White (glove sisterhood, serious cleaners all, deal with spots right away–you’ll never see a bathtub ring in their quarters. They keep kitchen counters immaculate and medicine cabinets pristine. Weekly cleaning time: seven hours.
  • 4 Take No Prisoners regard cleaning as a holy war: They scrub the kitchen every night, park Dustbusters in each room, and change towels daily. Weekly cleaning time: ten hours. Or more.

Any of these sound familiar? Good. Then go to the matching checklist compiled by the Good Housekeeping Institute’s home care department. (Chores are based on the assumptions that your home has had maintenance cleaning throughout the year and that spring-cleaning and decluttering are separate projects.) Time estimates will help you plan your attack; note that each list builds on the previous ones–meaning that, if you pick the Take No Prisoners approach, you’ll want to do the chores in the preceding plans too.

Or not. Because in the end, spring-cleaning is about your sensibilities, not your mom’s. So if you want to skip vacuuming the mattress or dusting the ceiling fan, your secret is safe with us.

1. Faking It

Time: about 3 hours 10 minutes


Time allotted: 5 to 10 minutes

Be sure to clear debris out of the rubber seal around the door while you’re at it.


Time allotted: 10 to 15 minutes

Wood: Use a mild detergent-and-water solution or a wood cleaner like Min-wax. Laminate: Use a sponge and an all-purpose spray cleaner.


Time allotted: 20 minutes


Time allotted: 15 minutes (not counting mirrored walls)

TIP: Never spray window cleaner directly on mirrors, because it can seep behind them and ruin the backing.


Time allotted: 45 minutes


Time allotted: 15 minutes


Time allotted: 1 hour

“Thoroughly” means removing everything from tables and other surfaces, so you can sweep away the dust that’s usually invisible,


Time allotted: 10 minutes

TIP: To leave a shine, wipe chrome with a paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol or white vinegar.

2. Mildly Fastidious

Time: 8 hours 25 minutes

Grand total (adding in chores from previous list): about 11 hours 40 minutes


Time allotted: 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Don’t forget to vacuum in corners and along walls,


Time allotted: 15 to 20 minutes

TIP: Freshen pillows in a dryer set on air fluff (no heat).


Time allotted: 20 to 30 minutes


Time allotted: 1 1/2to 2 hours


Time allotted: 8 minutes


Time allotted: 25 minutes (add 15 to 30 minutes for removing wall/shower mildew)

Use a grout brush or old toothbrush, and scrub with a mildew-removing bathroom cleaner or chlorine bleach.


Time allotted: 30 minutes (45 minutes with tracks)

TIP: Spray on a soap scum-removing cleaner, or swab with a mixture of 1/2 cup powdered water softener (like Calgon) dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1 quart water. For heavy buildup, apply a paste of a gentle powdered cleanser (like Bon Ami), powdered water softener, and water. Allow to set several minutes. Scrub, rinse, and wipe dry. Next, apply spray cleaner to the tracks, and scrub with a narrow brush or toothbrush; rinse.


Time allotted: 30 minutes

Be sure to toss out expired over-the-counter drugs and any unused prescription medicine.


Time allotted: 5 minutes


Time allotted: 1 hour


Time allotted: 5 minutes


Time allotted: 30 minutes per fan


Time allotted: 30 to 45 minutes Pull everything out, sort, and discard junk; put items you want to keep in clean plastic boxes so you can find them later. Thoroughly vacuum under the bed, using the crevice tool to clean around wheels and legs. Replace items.

3. White Glove

Time: 31/2, days Grand total (adding in chores from previous lists): 5 days


Time allotted: 1 day Wash both sides of storm windows and regular windows with a spray window cleaner. Remove blinds and wash by immersing in a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water (or wiping with moist cloth dipped in solution).


Time allotted: 15 minutes


Time allotted: 45 minutes Remove bins and shelves and wash in warm sudsy water. Wipe permanent shelves and walls with a sponge or cloth dipped in warm sudsy water. Vacuum coils, using the crevice-tool attachment.


Time allotted: 1/2 day to 1 day


Time allotted: 1/2 day (2 rooms)


Time allotted: 21/2 day

TIP: Instead of spraying the glass with window cleaner, spritz the paper towel instead. The same holds true when you’re using a spray product on wood.


Time allotted: 11/2 to 2 hours

TIP: Remove vent-hood filter and clean in the dishwasher. Use an all-purpose spray cleaner and scrubbing pad to clean remaining hood surfaces, if necessary. Wipe fan blades with a clean damp cloth.


Time allotted: 10 minutes

4. Take no prisoners

Time: 3 days

Grand total: (adding in chores from previous lists): 8 days


Time allotted: 1/2 day to 1 day

TIP. Apply polish to the cloth first (not directly on the furniture). This minimizes buildup that can occur when the polish isn’t thoroughly buffed.


Time allotted: 45 minutes


Time allotted: 3 hours


Time allotted: 15 to 20 minutes

Using the upholstery tool, vacuum top and sides of mattress to remove dust, lint, and mites. Flip mattress and rotate to even out wear. Vacuum box spring.


Time allotted: 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Vacuum out any ashes or debris. Clean soot from newer brick, stone, and tile with a soft brush and a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water. For tough stains, use TSP (trisodium phosphate; available in hardware and paint stores) mixed with water. Older brick (50 years old or more) should be vacuumed. Clean screen with a sponge or cloth dipped in a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water. Degrime polished brass tools with soap and water; rinse and dry. Use brass polish to clean unlacquered brass. Scrape soot from glass doors with a razor blade or scraper, then clean as usual.


Time allotted: 1 day

TIP: Vacuum or use a sweeper and disposable cloth (like Swiffer) to remove loose dirt and cobwebs. Dip., a sponge in a solution of all-purpose cleaner or ammonia and water. Start at the bottom and work up on 2- by 2-foot sections, overlapping them to prevent streaks; rinse. (Change wash and rinse water frequently.)


Time allotted: 1/2 day


Time allotted: 15 minutes

TIP: Use two cloths–one for black keys, one for white–to keep white keys from staining. Slightly moisten a soft, lint-free white cloth with a solution of water and dish-washing liquid. Rub gently lengthwise–never across the keys, because it can darken the sides. Dry with another soft white cloth.


Time allotted: 1 hour

Vacuum crevices, spaces between keys, and all speaker covers with the dusting-brush attachment. Clean screens with a microfiber cloth (like 3M’s High Performance Cloths) or a damp paper towel, then dry.


Time allotted: 30 to 45 minutes

Discard worn or stained tablecloths, sheets, and towels. Refold and organize remaining items.


Time allotted: 30 minutes

Use foam or spray upholstery cleaner (like Woolite or Resolve) or a portable deep cleaner (like Hoover’s SteamVac Jr. or Bissell’s Little Green Machine). Use only the method or product recommended for your fabric.