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Stain Removal 101: Help for Common Kid Messes

Kids are messy, and spills happen, but don't resign yourself to years of never having nice things. Use our guide to remove stains and keep your carpet, furniture and clothes looking as good as new!

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Photo credit: Merry Maids

Crayon- Click on the link for an in-depth description of how to remove crayon from just about every surface imaginable from How Stuff Works.

  • Some quick and easy tips: Try baking soda, non-gel toothpaste or WD-40 on your walls and a toothbrush soaked with white vinegar on clothes.

Marker-

  • On surfaces or walls: use hairspray and wipe clean with a paper towel.
  • On upholstery or tables: spray the stain with WD-40. Next, cover the stained surface with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 2 hours or overnight. Once it has set, wipe the stain with a few dropped of dish soap and a wet sponge.
  • On clothes: Use non-gel toothpaste, working it between your fingers and into the stain. Repeat this process until the stain is gone and then launder as you normally would. Other things to try: Nail polish remover

Pen ink-

On walls or other surfaces:

  1. Use a multi-surface cleaner and spray and wipe following label directions.
  2. If the stain persists, cover the area with a wet paper towel that has been sprinkled with ammonia.

For ink stains on clothes follow these steps:

  1. Spray with hairspray to loosen the stain.
  2. Soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse with water and dry. If the stain is still visible try soaking in rubbing alcohol or ammonia.

Stickers- Use a hairdryer to heat up the sticker and then a credit card to easily scrape it off of your floors or walls. If the sticker still won't come off you can try an adhesive remover like Goo Gone or Duck Adhesive Remover.

Slime- Whether you're trying to remove it from carpet or fabric, the first step is:

  1. to scrape off any excess slime with a dull knife.
  2. For clothing: Next, saturate clothing with vinegar, then rinse off with warm water and wash as usual.
  3. For carpet: Pour white vinegar on the slime stain and allow to sit until the slime begins to soften. Wipe with a towel and the stain should come right off.

Playdough- When play dough gets ground into your rug or carpet, don't despair.

  1. Let the dough dry completely for over 24 hours. Try not to step on it while it's drying and definitely don't use carpet cleaner, which may turn your carpet the color of the dough.
  2. Once it dries, use the brush tool on your vacuum to break up the dough.
  3. Vacuum up the residue.
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Photo credit: Baby Gaga

Nail polish- Check out the in-depth guide in the link for more info about getting nail polish stains out of anything. I've had my girls spill nail polish onto our carpet in multiple spots so that is my main focus here.

To remove from carpet:

  1. Scrape as much of the excess as you can without forcing it into the pile.
  2. Apply Acetone or Non-Acetone nail polish remover
  3. Keep moist and let stand for about 15 minutes, blotting occasionally. Scrape to help loosen the stain.
  4. Flush carefully with a dry-cleaning solvent or Afta Cleaning Fluid.
  5. Allow to thoroughly dry.

Makeup- To remove common makeup stains like lipstick and foundation from clothes and carpet:

  1. Use a foam shaving cream on the stain.
  2. Scrub the shaving cream into the stain with a clean toothbrush until the it disappears
  3. Wash and dry as usual for clothes and let carpet dry naturally.

Blood- Blood is a notoriously difficult stain to remove. The hemoglobin in it is a binding agent so blood binds to whatever it lands on when exposed to air. The easiest way to remove the blood stain is to work on it as quickly as possible, before it sets.

  • On clothing:Rinse with cold water and then blot with a diluted laundry detergent.
  • On carpet: Blot with a paper towel, then spray with an ammonia solution. You can also rinse or spray with cold tap water or a safe detergent such as Joy or Dawn.
  • For dried in blood stains: soak the area in cool salt water for several hours, rinse well and then soak in ammonia.

* Other household products that can work are salt, baking soda or meat tenderizer, along with cold water. Another strange method is spitting on the blood stain, if it's your own blood this may surprisingly help.

Medicine stains- My kids don't always love taking medicine, so it's not uncommon for it to end being "accidentally" spilled or spit up onto the carpet or their clothes. To remove the sticky and colorful medicine from clothing and carpet:

  1. Soak the stains in a solution of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.
  2. Blot the stain with a clean white cloth until the stain is no longer transferring color to the cloth.
  3. Then, rinse with cold water.

Bathroom Stains and Smells from Carpet, Mattresses and Furniture- Ugh, been there.

  1. If your child poops, pees or vomits on your carpet or furniture, the first thing you need to do is remove any excess fluids or chunks (I cringed writing that, but I gotta keep it real.) .
  2. Next, remove any residue with a solution of two cups cold water and one tablespoon of dish soap dabbed into the stain and let dry.
  3. If after the stain is gone there is still a remaining smell, put this recipe in a spray bottle and spray onto the stinky spot: 2 cups hydrogen peroxide , 2 tsp baking soda and 2 drops liquid dish soap. Be sure to spot treat on furniture to see if it affects the fabric.
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Gum- Ugh, this one is a doozy to remove. Follow the steps below to get gum out of carpet and hair.

  • For carpet: Freeze until gum gets hard and then carefully scrape it off of the carpet. Sponge the residue with a cleaning fluid and then apply a spot treater to the area. Cover with a sponge or pad dampened with the dry spotter and let sit until the residue is removed.
  • For hair: Creamy peanut butter scrubbed in the affected hair with a toothbrush usually does the trick. The oily stuff lubricates the hair and breaks down the gum.

Oil- To remove grease and oil food stains from clothing:

  1. Blot the excess with a paper towel.
  2. Cover the stain with baby powder, corn starch or salt to absorb the oil.
  3. Remove the absorber you used with a spoon.
  4. Work a small amount of dishwashing detergent and water into stain with your thumb. Once the detergent begins to foam up, take an old toothbrush and begin rubbing the stain using circular motions.
  5. Wash as usual.

Grass- To remove grass stains from your child's clothing:

  1. Soak the garment in cold water – never use hot water.
  2. Dab rubbing alcohol in the stain, rinse in cold water, and then apply a teaspoon of liquid detergent to the stain.
  3. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then wash as normal.

Some general tips for stain removal:

  1. Treat the stain as soon as humanly possible.
  2. Dab the stain gently so as not to further set it in.
  3. To remove stubborn stains, try leaving clothes out in the sun. This can often work for stains such as baby poop, grass and even blood.
  4. Don't put clothes or bed linens in the dryer until you are satisfied with the stain removal as drying makes stains extremely hard to remove further. Instead, try running them through the wash again.
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Kids are kinda gross and messes happen (As I'm typing this I just noticed an exciting new red crayon stain on my favorite gray sheets.), but now you have the right tools to get rid of even the nastiest stains and smells.

Good Luck!

♥ Erin