Spick-And-Span Advice For The President-Elect

Tuesday is the big day for President-elect Obama — a new title, a new job and a new home. But humorist Brian Unger wonders: How clean is the White House? He offers some advice on tidying things up to the new occupant of the famous residence.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR News, this is Day to Day. Tomorrow isn't just Inauguration Day for Barack Obama; it also marks the first time he and his family will spend the night in their new home. Our humorist Brian Unger offers these precautions to the White House's newest residents in today's Unger Report.

BRIAN UNGER: You are the 44th president of the United States, and in a few hours, you will occupy the most powerful office and reside in the most famous residence in the world. But amid the occasion's daunting significance is a question: How clean is the White House?

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UNGER: The White House may appear tidy, but outgoing presidents and their families can leave behind viruses on TV remotes, light switches and pens, not to mention traces of DNA in the 35 White House bathrooms, bedrooms, bowling alley and corridors leading away from the Oval Office. It's cold and flu season, so how can you be sure the White House is free of bugs as well as critters that can cause illness? After all, the White House is a public space and godless Hollywood celebrities have slept in its bedrooms. President-elect, you've cleaned out the White House. Now, it's time to really clean it. Here, a few tips.

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UNGER: Before using any common area like the pool, the kitchen or the basketball court, ditch the bedspread in the White House master bedroom. I've stayed in many hotels, and I can tell you, bedspreads aren't cleaned that often. Then, light the bed on fire. Housekeeping should replace the mattress with a new one. Then, begin a wipe-down of the White House using your own antibacterial solutions. Wipe down the phones, door handles, bathroom fixtures, any area where Karl Rove worked. Most housekeepers do a good job with industrial-strength cleaners, but even they can't clean up the mess left behind by previous administrations. Now, it's time to break out the black light.

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UNGER: This will reveal unseen patterns, substances on walls and carpets especially in the Lincoln bedroom, the guest room for A-list donors, dignitaries and celebrities. Sure, Billy Graham slept there, but so did Hollywood's great unwashed. Granted, few women, or men, would kick Johnny Depp out of bed, but most of us would prefer not to sleep alone in his contaminated sheets. So, get between them with a cotton swab and run it through the lab before you invite guests to stay overnight.

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UNGER: Next, check the air vents. You're looking for mold and listening devices. Both can cause problems for presidents down the road. And on your first night in the White House, Mr. and Mrs. Obama...

(Soundbite of song "Some Enchanted Evening")

UNGER: Wear slippers until the carpet is replaced, drink champagne in plastic cups until the new stemware arrives and throw on the Mantovani Nixon left in the basement. And enjoy your new home. You'll never clean out the ghosts of presidents past, but you can get rid of their dirt. Yes, you can.

And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

(Soundbite of song "Some Enchanted Evening")

BRAND: Humor every Monday from the Unger Report.

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BRAND: And Day to Day's back in a moment.

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