More Back to School Laundry and Household Cleaning Tips

After pushing and fighting your way through the crowds at Staples or Wal-mart to get all your school supplies, if you have younger children, you’ll be getting the standard pen, pencil and crayon stains in clothes. If you have older children or husbands you will have ink stains. Leaving pens in laundry and causing hours of extra work (cleaning ink stains from clothing and the dryer) is standard fare for older kids and husbands to be sure they never have to laundry again. Don’t fall for it.

Crayon is relatively easy to remove from fabrics. Your first instinct may be to scrape off the crayon, but please resist this urge! Instead, liberally coat the area with liquid detergent and let the garment sit overnight. Then, wash the item, following the care label instructions

As for crayon on hard surfaces, spray some WD-40 on your cleaning rag and wipe; it works well.

For dry cleanable items, it is best to leave the stain as is, and bring the item to a professional. The stain will be easier to remove if you don’t disturb it with a potentially damaging home remedy. If you’re finding pencil marks on your kids’ clothes, there’s a quick method of cleaning them up so they look as fresh as the first day of school. Believe it or not, you’re going to start by using the same method you used to get rid of pencil marks back in school … an eraser! Use a clean eraser carefully, rubbing lightly. Then apply liquid soap or a tiny amount of ammonia, using one part ammonia with five parts water. (Remember, only use ammonia in a well-ventilated area and never mix it with bleach or vinegar.) Rinse and then launder.

An eraser is a great cleaning tool if you have scuffs on the kitchen floor or walls. Many times you will have success removing scuffs with an eraser (use a white nylon eraser). Do it before getting the floor wet; you would be surprised how often it works. Hey, anything, which will save you from having to pull out a mop, has got to be a good thing.

Now for the dreaded ink stain. Using hairspray on an ink stain, which is sort of an “old wives tale”, was recommended in the past strictly for its alcohol content. The alcohol or volatile solvent is just the way the goopy stuff is delivered to your hair, the solvent dissipates into the air leaving the “stuff” which makes your hair solid in hurricane force winds. So in a nutshell, hairspray is probably not the best idea for removing something like ink stains. I know the saying “Fight fire with fire” is popular, but “Fight ink stains with goopy hair varnish” is not likely to catch on any time soon.

To remove ink from clothes have terry towels or paper towels, dry-cleaning solvent or rubbing alcohol handy. Always read and follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment label. First, sponge the area around the stain with the solvent or alcohol. Then apply the alcohol or solvent directly on the stain. Next, place the stain face down on clean white, cleaning towels. Apply alcohol or solvent to the back of the stain. Replace towels frequently.

Continue until no further ink is removed. Then rinse thoroughly. Rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent and launder in hottest water safe for fabric, with bleach safe for fabric. Always check for color fastness first. Some ink on white fabric may be removed with a dye stripper. You should be able to find this in areas where package dyes are sold. For stains on colored fabrics, check for dye stability in a hidden area before using.

Remember, heat sets ink stains. Act quickly as a precaution check your laundry before putting it in the dryer.

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