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Trash Talker

updated 11/06/2000 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/06/2000 01:00AM

When Linda Cobb, better known as the Queen of Clean, saw her book of cleaning tips pass Harry Potter on the Amazon.com bestseller list in August, she had a good inkling why. "He can entertain the kids," she says. "And I'll clean up after them."

Well, maybe not personally. But Cobb's book Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean, which has sold
more than 700,000 copies, has certainly cleaned up with such offbeat tips as using Tang as a toilet bowl cleanser, WD-40 lubricant to remove crayon marks and coffee as a deodorizer. Such wacky ideas, says Phoenix bookstore owner C.J. Snow, get readers' attention. "But," he adds, "she wouldn't sell this many books if it didn't work."

Raised in Michigan, Cobb, 54, started working at a heavy-duty cleaning service after her husband, Bruce Dusette, died of leukemia and she had a stillborn daughter—both in 1980. Remarried to John Cobb, 72, a retired businessman, in 1994, she moved to Phoenix and began publishing a cleaning-tips newsletter. Appearing on local TV's Good Morning Arizona in 1997, Cobb made a splash. "I said, 'I'm the Queen of Clean and we're gonna talk dirty today,' " she recalls. Soon Cobb had a weekly spot.

These days, Cobb—who has a foster son and four stepdaughters—says the best thing about being the Queen is not doing other people's housework. "I'd rather talk about it than do it any day," she admits.

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