Don’t let crafty kid messes add to your stresses!

Here are some tips for cleaning up after your budding Picasso has created those hand prints, gifts, cards, colored cookies or dyed eggs, from the The American Cleaning Institute.

glitter snowflake craft for kids

Quick tips to clean up craft project messes

Choose wisely. Stock your craft closet with washable paints and markers and water-based craft glue. If any of the coloring mediums get on clothes, simply pre-treat the stain with a prewash stain remover and toss the soiled items in the wash.

Safety first: Many of these cleaning methods use products that are not safe for children, such as bleach and cleaning fluid. Please be sure to keep all such items well out of a child’s reach.

Glue stain removal

To remove water-based craft glue, scrape off the excess glue. If the glue has hardened, you may need to soften it before you scrape it off. Fold some paper towels into a 1/8″-thick stack. Saturate with warm water and then place the stack on top of the glue stain. Leave the paper towels in place for about an hour until the glue softens.

Once you’ve scraped off the glue, pretreat the stain with a prewash stain remover and launder, using the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric.

Finger paint stain removal

Prevention is the key. Use a plastic tablecloth or tape down a large sheet of paper to help keep the table clean. If you have painting smocks or old T-shirts, have the kids wear them to avoid getting paint on their clothing.

Marker pen stain removal

For regular felt-tip markers (those that aren’t labeled “permanent”), rinse the stain with cold water until no more color is being removed. Then place the stain face down on some clean paper towels and sponge with rubbing alcohol. Apply the alcohol first to the clean area around the stain and then directly to the stain. Replace the paper towels as often as needed. Launder using the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric.

When it comes to washability, not all markers are alike. In addition to permanent markers with ink that doesn’t come out, no matter what you do, there are water-based markers that use water-soluble inks. They are generally nontoxic, but not necessarily washable.

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When purchasing markers for children’s use, read the marker package instructions carefully so you are sure to select ones that specifically feature washability.

Glitter removal

Depending on where the glitter lands, the two best ways of capturing errant sparkles are vacuuming them up or blotting them up using the sticky side of masking tape. If you own a hand-held vacuum, keep it nearby for instant glitter control.

Wax stain removal

Scrape off surface wax with a dull knife. Place stain between clean paper towels and press with a warm iron. (Replace paper towels frequently to absorb more wax and to avoid transferring stains.) Place stain face-down on clean paper towels. Sponge remaining stain with prewash stain remover or cleaning fluid; blot with paper towels. Let dry. Launder. Note: If any color remains, rewash using sodium hypochlorite bleach, if safe for fabric, or oxygen bleach.

Crayon stain removal

colorful-crayonsFor a few spots: Treat the same as candle wax (above) or dampen the stain and rub with bar soap. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.

For a whole load of clothes: Wash with hot water using a laundry soap and 1 cup (212 g) baking soda. Note: If color remains, launder using sodium hypochlorite bleach, if safe for fabric. Otherwise, pretreat or soak in a product containing enzymes or an oxygen bleach using hottest water safe for fabric, then launder.

Food coloring stain removal tips

If you treat the stains as soon as the coloring session is over, they will be easier to remove.

Start by sponging the stain with cold water to remove as much of the food coloring as possible. Then pretreat with a prewash stain-remover and launder. If the stain remains, mix a solution of 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric, or 1/4 cup of oxygen bleach per gallon of cool water, and soak for at least 30 minutes. Rinse, and then launder.

Don’t forget to have your kids wash their hands any time they take a break to help reduce transferring food-coloring stains to their clothing.

Pens / ink stain removal suggestions

Some inks in each of the following categories — ballpoint, felt tip, liquid — may be impossible to remove, and laundering may set some types of ink. Try pre-treating using one of the following methods (which must be done by an adult):

Prewash stain remover:

1. Pretreat using a prewash stain remover. Launder.

Denatured alcohol or cleaning fluid:

1. Sponge the area around the stain with the alcohol or cleaning fluid before applying it directly on the stain.
2. Place stain facedown on clean paper towels. Apply alcohol or cleaning fluid to back of stain. Replace paper towels frequently.
3. Rinse thoroughly. Launder.

Alternate method for denatured alcohol or cleaning fluid:

1. Place stain over mouth of a jar or glass; hold fabric taut.
2. Drip the alcohol or cleaning fluid through the stain so ink will drop into the container as it is being removed.
3. Rinse thoroughly. Launder.


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