Cleaning Common Crafting Messes

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Stain Kit

It's a good idea to put together your own spot removal kit and have it handy when you are crafting. A plastic container or caddy is good for this. I have mine, along with my stain removal manual, in the laundry room cabinet. Be aware that there's no one stain remover that will work on every kind of stain, so you'll want to have a variety of things on hand. Here's what I have in mine:

  • Acetone
  • Ammonia
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach
  • Fels-Naptha soap (a heavy duty laundry bar soap ideal for prewash spot treatments, made by the Dial Corp.)
  • Dawn dishwashing detergent (this works especially well on grease or oil stains)
  • A toothbrush
  • Clean cloths
  • Dry-cleaning solution/spot remover
  • Enzyme solution (there are several on the market; I buy mine at a janitorial supply store)
  • Stain stick
  • Biz pre-soak
  • Zud rust remover
  • Sponges
  • Turpentine
  • White vinegar
  • Rit color remover

If you're handling certain types of crafts materials on a regular basis and know there's a particular solvent or other substance you need to remove any stains, keep some on hand in your crafts area.

Hopefully, if you carefully plan the location and design of your crafts area, and if you take preventative measures before you craft, you'll have very little use for your stain removal arsenal, but it's good to know it's there-just in case.

What's Your Stain?

Crafty Clues

Remember to always test any stain removal method on an inconspicuous place, or better yet, on a sample of the fabric or surface. That's why it's a great idea to keep scraps of drapery or upholstery fabric, extra tile or pieces of flooring, and carpet remnants.

Safety Signals

When cleaning up hazardous materials like paint removers and solvent, use old newspaper and put outdoors where the liquid will evaporate more quickly. Dispose of the papers in a metal container with a secure lid. Contact your local sanitation department or waste disposal contractor for information on disposing of hazardous materials.

I've listed a few key stains that might commonly come up when you craft:

  • Glues. Some glues dissolve in water or can simply be peeled off (like rubber cement). Epoxies and resins are more difficult to remove. Look on the label for instructions on which solvent to use. Sometimes hardening the glue with ice first (or putting the stained material in the freezer, if it's clothing, for example) will make it easier to peel or scrape the glue off.

  • Paint. You'll first need to know if the paint is oil-based or latex. The label may tell you the procedure to get stains out, so read it carefully. Your cleaning method will also depend on whether the paint is still wet or has dried. If oil-based and wet, flush the stain with mineral spirits. If latex and wet, flush the stain with a detergent solution. If dry, first soften the stain with lacquer thinner or paint stripper, then use the appropriate solvent.

  • Ball-point ink. Sponge it first with a detergent solution and rinse. Saturate with cheap hair spray and blot. Try (in this order) alcohol, acetone or non-oily nail polish remover, and fabric-safe bleach. I've also found that soaking ink-stained fabric in skim milk can take the stain out of some fabrics.

  • Oil. Sprinkle cornmeal or fuller's earth (available from your local pharmacy) to absorb the oil first, then sponge the stain with dry-cleaning fluid. If the stain isn't completely gone, sponge it with a detergent solution and then rinse.

  • Crayon or candle wax. Scrape off as much as you can with a scraper or knife first. First try freezing or putting ice on the stain to help harden it and make it easier to take off. If that doesn't work, put a clean white cloth (a cloth diaper works well) over the area and iron it with a warm iron. This will melt the wax and force it into the cloth. If that doesn't take everything out, repeat the procedure and then finish up with some dry-cleaning fluid.

Remember: it's always a good idea to do your crafting projects in the same place each time. That way, a little mess now and then won't be so stressful, nor will it cover the whole house. Get help with deciding on the best location for your crafting in Choosing Your Crafting Space.

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More on: Crafts for Kids

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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