Clever Ways to Clean Bad Stains & Messes

Eight solutions for common household cleaning problems.

Penicillin, car seats, DVDs. We have much to be grateful for when it comes to modern day parenting.
But perhaps the single greatest breakthrough when it comes to ushering small people into adulthood is Google. Specifically, the "how do you..." search. As in "How do you get permanent marker off of wood floors?" or "How do you get Desitin out of wall-to-wall carpeting?" What did people do before the Internet?
Below are eight simple tried-and-true ways to fix the parts of your house that your little darlings have ruined.


  1. Ballpoint Pen on Your Microfiber Sofa
    No problem. Try some hairspray. (White Rain does a fantastic job.) Spray from 6 inches away; then blot with a wet washcloth. Afterwards, compliment your budding Picasso and offer him/her a pile of scrap paper.

  3. Permanent Marker on the Wood Floor
    Believe it or not, toothpaste will save you. Not gel, but the white paste kind. Rub it on, then wipe off with a wet paper towel. Your floors will be minty fresh. (You can also fix scratched DVDs this way.)

  5. Pee Soaked into a Mattress
    Some say most accidents happen within a mile or two of home. I say it's when you forget to put the waterproof mattress pad on your kid's bed.Thankfully vinegar will take care of things nicely. Just soak the area with the white distilled vinegar from your pantry. Let sit for a while; then blot with a wet towel. Your child may smell like a potato chip, but there are worse offenses.

  7. Desitin Rubbed into the Carpet
    Do you have a child who mistakes tushy cream for sunscreen (both are made with zinc oxide) and feels compelled to protect his or her rug from the harmful rays of the sun? Fear not. Just wipe up as much as you can with a baby wipe; then generously sprinkle baking soda over the stained surface. Let it sit for several hours. Then take a wet washcloth with some mild dish soap, get down on your hands and knees, and curse your child under your breath as you think of all the other things you could be doing rather than rubbing furiously at the carpet.

  9. Gum in the Rug
    And while we're on the subject of sticky stuff in flooring fibers, peanut butter works like magic. It seems like adding fuel to the fire, but the oils in peanut butter release the "stick" in the gum. Rub some creamy peanut butter into the carpet fibers; then use a clean cloth to wipe it up. Of course, you'll then need to clean up the peanut butter -- but a wet cloth with some mild dish soap will do the trick. Peanut butter also works for getting gum out of hair.

  11. Sap on the Windshield
    Peanut butter to the rescue again! Rub on, rub off. Peanut butter will also take sap off your hands.

  13. Oil Stains on Clothing
    The same stuff that takes the shine off your nose will remove the dripped olive oil from your pants or shirt. Simply sprinkle some cosmetic face powder onto the stain and rub gently. Wait a few hours and then "flick" the powder (which has absorbed the oil) away. You may need to repeat this. Then put some detergent on the spot and throw the clothing in the wash.

  15. Temporary Tattoos
    That adorable picture of a dinosaur on a skateboard your 4-year-old pressed onto the back of your hand? Not so adorable on a job interview. Baby oil will get it right off. Just don't do this in front of your child.
    Do you have any additional tricks readers may benefit from? Share your wisdom by leaving a comment. And then stock up on those essentials: toothpaste, vinegar, hairspray, peanut butter, etc.


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