Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pipe Cleaners

Most mornings I rev up the blender to make a smoothie from an Atkins shake, 1/2 a banana and some frozen fruit. If I'm commuting, it lasts for my 30 minute drive.

I leave the cup behind and after a day in the car....

..it's pretty gunky.

The straw defies the dishwasher's potscrubbing abilities. I stood one upright in the cutlery basket, and it melted. Sideways on the top rack, the water doesn't get inside the straw. I tried handwashing, but the bottle brush I have is too big to get into crevices.

I went to the supermarket and asked for pipe cleaners. The checkout girl (20ish) looked at me blankly. Is it my NY accent? Growing up, I remember pipe cleaners hanging on a cardboard display near the register, along with those eyeglass repair kits that you never have with you when the teensy screw falls out. My mom would keep pipecleaners around for us to use for school projects.

I had no luck at the supermarket, so off I went to Michael's craft store, and again I was met with a blank stare. Am I saying something wrong? After describing a "thing that looks like a long caterpillar, on a bendy wire" I was led to the aisle where the Chenille Stems hung in multi colors. Chenille Stems?? They're pipe cleaners, people! Walmart calls them "Fuzzy Sticks" and you can get a bag of 100 for under $2. They're in the fabric crafts aisle, with the other "affordable family fun" items like googly eyes and crayons.

I got a bag of white ones so I can see how clean I'm getting the inside of a dark colored plastic straw. I hold the straw upright under running water, squirt a little liquid detergent, and thread the pipe cleaner through. It does the trick!

Curiosity usually gets the better of me, and that's what Google is for. The Wikipedia entry states: "A pipe cleaner or chenille stem is a type of brush originally intended for cleaning dottle from smoking pipes. Besides cleaning pipes, they can be used for any application that calls for cleaning out small bores or tight places."

Dottle? That's a new scrabble word for me! It's the wet and sour-smelling mass of unburned tobacco found at the bottom of a tobacco pipe. Ewww. This might be T.M.I. (too much information) but, in the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sherlock had a habit of drying out all the dottles from the day's pipes on a corner of his mantelpiece to be smoked the following morning. Sherlock Holmes, that's nasty.

Anyway, add chenille stems to your list of thing to have "just in case" or on the offchance you'll need to clean out a tight spot. And pick up an eyeglass repair kit, too...ya never know.

Life is good. Level & Plumb.

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