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Hacks for Cleaning Up Kid Created Disasters

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Everyone knows kids make messes. And most of the time it’s no big deal. Some food on the floor your toddler dropped, your school aged kids left their toys out, or your teenager left dishes in their room. But there are other times when the messes kids make are disasters.

From craft projects gone wrong to a mischevious toddler with a marker, these epic disasters can require a special touch to save your house from being permanently destroyed. For those times check out these hacks for cleaning up kid created disasters.

cleaning up kid created disasters

Hacks for Cleaning Up Kid Created Disasters

boy writing on the wall

1. Crayons and Markers

When it comes to kid created disasters crayons, markers, and pens of all sorts are often the source of the problem. And it isn’t just little kids you have to worry about. A bored teenage guest at my home once used a Sharpie to color their entire hand black.

Then proceeded to leave black handprints on my doors, sinks, toilets, and every other white surface in my home. Yikes. Here are some solutions for these coloring related disasters.


Crayons often seem like the most harmless of the coloring instruments. Until they end up on your walls. Or your kid’s clothes. Or ground into your carpet. When it happens to you, here’s what to do.

Glass cleaner that is ammonia based works surprisingly well for cleaning crayon marks off the wall. It works best after soaking in for a few minutes. Another product that can be effective is WD-40. It does leave a smell behind and some residue that will need to be washed off with soap and water.

For clothes, try scrubbing crayon stains with a toothbrush soaked in undiluted vinegar.

Permanent Markers and Ink Pens

Alcohol based products work best for cleaning off permanent marker and ink pen. Items like rubbing alcohol, hair spray, and hand sanitizer will remove permanent marker and ink from your walls. I used hand sanitizer very successfully to remove permanent marker from my walls, doors, and bathroom fixtures.

You can also use these alcohol based products to remove marker and ink stains from clothing.

green glitter

2. Glitter

There are few messes that can rival spilled glitter when it comes to difficulty cleaning up. Those teeny-tiny sparkles get everywhere! Often cleaning up a glitter spill is a multi-step process. Start with a vacuum hose to pick up any large piles of glitter.

Next, you need something sticky to pick up the remaining stray glitter. A lint roller is easiest and it works quite well. If you don’t have a lint roller, wrap your hand in duct tape and try picking it up that way.

yellow play dough

3. Play Dough

If you have play dough stuck to your carpet the first thing to do is try vacuuming it up. If this doesn’t work, try using some of your remaining play dough to pick it up. Odd as this sounds, play dough sticks to itself and the new play dough may help pull up what is stuck in the rug.

If you still have play dough stuck in your rug, you can try two things. First, try soaking it with a wet cloth to soften it up and hope it will then pull out easily. Please note that Play Doh brand advises using cold water only on their product.

A second last resort method is to allow the play dough to dry completely and then try removing it with a stiff brush.

4. Gum in Hair

There is usually a good “how did this happen” story behind a gum in the hair incident. I was once given a piggyback ride as a child where I accidentally spit my gum into my cousin’s hair. Oops. And no one wants to resort to cutting chunks of hair out so try these ideas first.

It’s a little-known fact, but oily often helps with the removal of sticky. To remove gum from hair try coating it in peanut butter, or vegetable oil, or Crisco. Let the product sit in the hair for a few minutes before trying to remove the gum. It should come out. You can then wash hair normally to remove the oil or peanut butter.

5. Stickers

My oldest daughter loved stickers when she was a toddler. And every time I turned my back she would find some and stick them on kitchen cabinets, my kitchen floor, or the computer desk. And, especially when I didn’t remove them right away, I then had a sticky mess to deal with. In many cases even when I was able to remove the sticker it would leave a sticky residue behind.

I tried several methods for removing stickers and their residue. What I found worked best was a blow dryer. Holding a blow dryer on high for a few minutes to even the most stubborn stickers usually was enough to soften them up and make them removable. Used in combination with Goo Gone this quickly became my go-to for removing stickers because it worked every time.

An Ounce of Prevention

If you have kids in the house, chances are you will encounter at least one of these kid created disasters. I hope these hacks help you clean them up! In the meantime, consider a few preventative measures. Buy your kids washable crayons and markers. Ban glitter from your home. Keep play dough away from carpeted areas or even take it outside. Remove stickers promptly anytime they are stuck on a surface and avoid giving your kids gum. Even a few of these measures might help. A few other ideas to prevent your kids’ disasters from taking over can be found here.  Good luck cleaning up your next kid created disaster!


hacks for cleaning kid messes

About the author

Elizabeth Voyles

Elizabeth Voyles (@evoyleswrites) is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in parenting and organization topics. In between writing gigs, Elizabeth loves hanging out with her husband and their two young daughters, binge watching shows on Netflix and reading trashy romance novels.

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