Cleaning Common Homeschool Supply Messes

Cleaning Common Homeschool Supply Messes

Messes happen.

Homeschool means more time at home to make more messes possible – and homeschool comes with some uniquely challenging messes that may put your normal clean-routine through the wringer.

Nobody wants to be that parent (or neighbor) who quashes a kiddo’s love of learning just because a little mess happened and we’re here to help you stay calm, cool, and collected even when there’s a craft catastrophe!

Here are some techniques for cleaning the most common messes that crop up from school supplies.

In every case, if you feel like you’re in over your head, CALL US FIRST: (970) 215-2224. Crayola also has a helpline and an entire section of their website to help with lots of stains, too – just in case we didn’t cover something on this list.

Quick note: use these at your own risk! Be sure to TEST every method on a hard-to-see area before you go whole-hog on any potential fix (just in case the fix is worse than the original mess!)


Normal school glue is not a big deal to remove if you catch it early, especially Elmer’s or similar white glue, gel glue, or glue sticks. These can come out with some elbow grease. If dried, they might need a little coaxing to remove without damaging the surface.

  • On Carpet, Clothing, and Hard Surfaces:
    • Simple: Water + damp cloth + scrub brush
    • Next Level: Distilled white vinegar and/or damp cloth + iron on max steam (skip this step for hard surfaces!)
    • Nuclear: Goo Gone (follow the instructions on the container)


The problem with playdough isn’t necessarily the dough, it’s the color, especially if you try to dissolve the playdough – which we don’t recommend. Playdough needs to dry in order to clean out properly, at which point it’s as easy to clean up as dried mud.

  • On Carpet
    • Simple: Vacuum
    • Next Level: Stiff scrub brush
    • Nuclear: Dawn dish soap + cold water
  • On Clothing
    • Simple: Scrape as much off as you can, then pre-treat with liquid detergent and pre-soak for about 10 minutes before washing.
    • Next Level: Rinse and repeat.


Most kids’ fingerpaint is easily removed from almost everything if it’s still wet. If it’s dried, that’s a little trickier and will probably require rubbing alcohol and/or carpet shampoo. If your young artist is using acrylic, that’s another story unless you catch it quickly.

  • On Carpet
    • Simple: A sponge with water wiping outward to inward.
    • Next Level: Use a little rubbing alcohol and a brush, dabbing the excess as you go.
    • Nuclear: Carpet shampoo/Spot Shot carpet cleaner.
  • On Clothing
    • Simple: Most washable paint washes out with HOT water if caught early enough.
    • Next Level: Wash off as much as you can, then pre-soak for an hour in Oxi Clean before washing.
    • Nuclear: Rinse and repeat.
  • On Hard Surfaces
    • Simple: Use a spray of baking soda and water, scrub with a sponge or a brush.
    • Next Level: Rub with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
    • Nuclear: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.


Probably the most common errant scribble we see. Crayon is actually no biggie compared to the stress it brings out in adults. Here’s a gentle reminder to breathe, take in the art, and laugh it off (because crayon is mostly easy to remove!)

  • On Clothing
    • Simple: Scrape off as much crayon as you can first, then pre-treat with Dawn dish soap and let it soak for about 10 minutes in warm water. Gently scrub with a brush.
    • Next Level: Rinse and soak in Oxi Clean for an hour, then wash the clothing in the hottest temperature the clothing will allow. Check for the crayon marks again and repeat as needed.
    • Nuclear: WD-40 (we don’t recommend this, generally, but there’s a whole guide about it here).
  • On Hard Surfaces
    • Simple: Use a spray of baking soda and water, use a scrub sponge to remove it. Also: you may laugh, but Mayo. Put a dab of mayo on the crayon marks, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then wipe it up with a damp cloth.
    • Next Level: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
    • Nuclear: Apply a very thin layer of toothpaste + scrub with a gentle brush dipped in a mixture of water and baking soda.


Markers just get EVERYWHERE. Sometimes tiny artists just can’t help their enthusiasm for sharing their art far and wide! Marker is ALSO very easy to remove in most cases.

  • On Carpet
    • Simple: dab with rubbing alcohol in circular motions.
    • Next Level: Dawn dish soap and a scrub brush.
    • Nuclear: Spot Shot carpet cleaner.
  • On Clothing
    • Simple: Most washable markers actually will wash out, so try rinsing the clothing out first in COLD water.
    • Next Level: Place the clothing on top of paper towels and then blot-soak the affected area with rubbing alcohol. Keep in mind this may remove iron-ons/design elements, so TEST FIRST. 
    • Nuclear: Oxi Clean soak for 1 hour, then wash in hot water with laundry detergent.
  • On Hard Surfaces
    • Simple: A sponge with water.
    • Next Level: All-purpose cleaner + a sponge.
    • Nuclear: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Homeschool messes don’t have to linger, and if chasing messes down has disrupted your normal cleaning flow – we can help you with a spot-clean or a whole house cleanup to get you ready for the next day’s lessons! Call us at (970) 215-2224.

– Laura @ All Star Cleaning