5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “[Ask a Clean Person](https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ask-a-clean-person/id996183661?i=1000382315226&mt=2).” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.   

Labor Day is, somehow, upon us. While the weather in most places is still screaming IT IS THE HEIGHT OF SUMMER, for most people this long weekend marks summer’s final hurrah. Hopefully you’re getting out of town, maybe hitting the beach, or heading to a pal’s lake house, or maybe one of your more monstrous friends is having a holiday weekend wedding … and if you are traveling, you’ll need to pack! To be a master traveler, you must be a master packer. Help is here.

Do you need product recs? Email Jolie or tweet at her with requests or questions!

Packing Organizers

Photo: Amazon

Packing cubes — nylon sacks that allow you to seriously organize your suitcase — are great for longer trips, because having clothes pre-sorted by type (underwear, pjs, t-shirts, jeans, workout gear, swimsuits, etc.) means less time rummaging through your stuff and more time out and about at your destination. They can also double as luggage on their own, so if you’ve got shorter trips planned during a longer trip, you can use them to pack one or two days worth of clothes and leave your big suitcase behind. The cubes also help to maximize space in your suitcase, and will make repacking at the end of your trip a much easier job.

Shoe Bags

Graphic: Shep McAllister

Shoes are filthy. This is true of dress shoes you wear to fancy events, when you might be trodding all over damp grass or sticky dance floors, and of the flip flops, sneakers and deck shoes you wear on the beach, down by the lake, for outdoor runs, and so on. Shoe bags help to keep all that filth from getting on your clothes and the inside of your suitcase; for those of us who wear high heels, shoe bags will keep pointy heels from damaging any delicate clothing you might be packing.


Bonus packing tip: If you use a roller suitcase, put shoes and other heavy items in the wheel-side of the bag, which will help to keep it balanced as you race through the airport to catch a flight or negotiate a set of stairs.

Spray Bottle

Graphic: Shep McAllister

If you’re off for a casual trip, wrinkled clothes probably won’t be a big concern, but if you’re heading to a wedding, or traveling for business, showing up all rumpled-looking is probably not the look you’re going for.


Travel steamers are great, and de-wrinkling sprays like Downy Wrinkle Releaser exist, but you don’t need either if you know this trick: A small spray bottle is all you need to remove creases from your clothing. When you arrive at your destination, or before the big event, hang your clothes, fill the bottle with water, give the clothes a light spritzing so that it’s just-barely damp and run your hands over the fabric to smooth it (a trigger-style spray bottle is better for this operation than a pump-style one). As it dries, the wrinkles will ease out naturally. For a badly creased garment, lay it flat, spray it and smooth it out with your hands. One last tip! If you have an item of clothing that’s gotten a little funky smelling and you want to wear more than once, put some vodka in the bottle, mist the garment and let it hang to air out for about 30 minutes — the vodka will eliminate lingering odors.

Hand Sanitizer

Graphic: Shep McAllister

You’re probably like, “Yeah yeah everyone knows that a small bottle of hand sanitizer is smart to pack when you’re traveling,” but maybe you don’t know this: Hand sanitizer can pull double duty as a stain remover. Yes indeed! Hand-san contains a fairly high concentration of alcohol, which is an excellent stain remover, especially for things like ink or food. To use it for stain removal, put a small amount on your fingers and massage it into the stains, which will start to lighten and come out of the fabric.

Two Travel Laundry Bags

Graphic: Shep McAllister

Two? Yes two! Okay this one might be a bit too fussy for many of you but it comes straight out of my own personal traveling arsenal and I swear by it: I always pack two small bags for dirty laundry, one for lights and one for darks. That way, as I take off clothes that will need to be washed once I get home, I’m pre-sorting them to save myself the chore of separating by color come wash day. It’s a small thing but I’m always so glad when I get home and am faced with a mountain of post-vacation laundry to have one less thing to deal with.