Monday, August 26, 2013

Crayon, Crayon, Everywhere

I have spent more hours than I care to admit over the past few weeks focusing on removing crayon from various fabrics and surfaces in my house.





You name it, I've probably worked on it.

Clothes? Of course.

Bathtubs? Yup.

Sheets? Naturally.

Reagan is in the amazing artist stage of toddler-hood. The world is her canvas, any substance can be her medium. She's willing to work with yogurt, ketchup, popsicles and milk. She's happy to use her body if no other surfaces are available. Thankfully she has not yet explored the same naptime body art that Madison experimented with. Fingers crossed it stays that way. If you can't figure it out - don't ask, just be glad you don't know.

Shockingly, this isn't a huge problem for me. Toddler mealtime is messy, and I'm used to it. Soap, spray, and a sponge take care of the table, Reagan is happy to be plopped in the tub, and a good spray or soak in OxiClean takes out the worst of her stains.

But crayon is quickly becoming the bane of my existence.

When Madison went through this phase, and we found her first cavewoman portraits on the walls, or books with additional illustrations, we simply took the crayons away. They were no longer out for her to grab. We still let her color of course, but when Mommy or Daddy has to physically get the crayons out, supervision will be high. We colored together. We colored at the table. The worst we ever dealt with was Madison's insistence that crayons not have paper - and what she couldn't pull off with her little fingers, she gnawed off.

That seems like child's play now.

When Reagan started this phase, we made the effort to keep the crayons away from her. Supervised coloring.

The problem this time however, is twofold.

1) We have many, many, MANY more crayons to keep track of this time.

2) We have a three year old.

The three year old is very into drawing and coloring and writing and reading these days. She owns many beautiful sets of Melissa and Doug crayons, has stacks of paper and coloring books, and loves to sit down and use them.

The 18 month old smells this need. She senses it. She waits for it.

We took most of the crayons away from Reagan's reach. We put them in preschool style boxes that Reagan, in theory, can't open. We have set in Madison's room and a set in the kitchen. Madison knows that these are her big girl crayons. She is to use them appropriately and put them away when she's done.

She does.

But Reagan is sneaky. She is the swiper of crayons.

I still can't figure out if Madison is helping, or if Reagan is that good, but Reagan always seems to slip a crayon or two away. And once she's got one, she manages to keep it quiet from me until I let my guard down.  Then I turn around to find the carpet, the ottoman, the walls, turned into Reagan's gallery.

We even had a crayon go through the dryer, which you veteran parents know is the worst thing to discover in a load of clothes. I'm not sure if the crayon was put into the hamper, or if it found its way in while the girls were helping with the laundry, but green crayon on clothes is the worst.

So how did I combat?

Shockingly, not the way I thought I would. Oxiclean and the Magic Eraser both failed me. The clothes looked no different at all after a soak, and the Magic Eraser didn't even come close to removing the color.

If you are ever in this situation, here are my remedies.

Goof Off.

Magic for the walls and the table. Originally I used it along with the Magic Eraser, but it actually slowed me down. I used an old burp cloth, though a washcloth or dust rag would work as well. Spray and wipe, with a little elbow grease for the tough spots.

Spot Shot.

I have made excellent use of this product - both on carpets and upholstery. Saturate, then blot up with a white cloth. The old cloth diaper/burp cloths worked for me. Once I got the bulk of it out, I sprayed again and scrubbed with a brush.

As for the clothes...well, I tried it all. Started with what I had on hand. Borax, Oxiclean, Shout, Resolve.

Then I found this solution on the site Diary of a Doctor's Wife.

1) Put the clothes in the washer, and set the water to hot.  Hot as can be. She actually suggested adding a pot of boiling water.
2) Add your laundry detergent (whatever you have), a 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 4-6 Tbs. of dish liquid (I used the magical blue Dawn).
3) Let the clothes soak for 10-15 minutes.
4) Let the wash run normal.

I had a few people tell me I'm really lucky that adding Dawn to the washer didn't cause a flood. It's the vinegar that prevents that. Vinegar cuts the bubbles. Definitely don't use dishwashing liquid in the washing machine unless you're adding vinegar too.

This got most of it. I ran it again and it got even more.

I was left with a few pieces. T-shirts, pjs, underwear, I called "good enough" and moved on. But I had two pairs of shorts that fit really well, and I wasn't ready to give them up, and Adam had two white golf shirts and a pair of white plaid golf shorts where the green was still pretty noticeable.

I tried LA's Totally Awesome, which I found at the Dollar Tree. I used a full bottle at full strength and soaked the clothes before repeating the first method. Stains lightened, but still there.

I am a stubborn, stubborn girl. I scoured the internet. (By the way, I just kept these particular pieces of clothing stain treated and waiting in the laundry closet. They went in with every load and were pulled out before that load went in the dryer).

WD40 - soak and scrub. Better...

Soft Scrub - scrub. Better...

Finally, it was Goof Off that did the trick. Honestly, if you really look, you'll see faint, faint green marks on the the shorts and one of the shorts. These are thin, moisture wicking, Nike, high tech sports fabric, so I have a feeling that had something to do with it.

Moral of the story? Keep crayons away from young toddlers. And be very suspicious when they get quiet.

And keep your cleaning closet well stocked.

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