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How to get crayon off the walls... using products you already have at home

Laura de Barra lends some cleaning advice (though we can’t promise your walls will stay clean for long).

Image: Shutterstock/KayaMe

LAURA DE BARRA regularly brings her lifestyle and home maintenance masterclasses to the Glenveagh Home Magazine on TheJournal.ie. This week: getting crayon and marker off the walls.

Has your home been blessed with some new wall ‘art’? Fear not, because both crayon and marker stains can be removed with a little know how, no paint required.

Before you start using any product, always test it on an inconspicuous area first. A small amount of warm soapy water is generally fine to use on most common types wallpaper, paint and surfaces, but it pays to be cautious. Make sure anything you apply is not going to strip paint or leave marks behind.

Keep the amount of liquid you use to a minimum as some types of paints will lift, and always avoid cloths or sponges that have been dyed. This dye will transfer on to the wall and can be harder to remove than the crayon or marker.

And finally, act as fast as you can to clean marker or crayon off – set-in stains are a lot harder to remove – and you should get good results.

Now that you know the basics, here are your cleaning options…

Removing crayon

Crayons are made from wax and colour pigment. These two things that are hard enough to remove by themselves, can be a total nightmare to remove when combined. A nightmare, but not impossible if you know what to use.

1. Pencil eraser: One of the easiest ways to remove crayon is to rub it gently with an eraser. The friction will lift the wax right off without damaging the surface or taking away paint. A white rubber eraser is one most people will have to hand and can work quite well, as it won’t stain the wall or damage wallpaper like other erasers that have colour or grit.

If you do find yourself needing to get crayon off walls frequently, consider investing in a specialist kneaded eraser, which you’ll pick up in an art supply shop. These should not be rubbed against the stain – instead simply press the eraser down and lift it away to take the wax with it. Kneaded erasers won’t leave peelings behind like other erasers, so they’re safer to use on painted walls.

2. Microfibre cloth and a little washing up liquid: I’ve spoken before in this column about how microfibre creates a charge that can lift dirt from a surface so well. This also applies to wax – just make sure the cloth is dry and use it the swipe the wax off rather than rubbing it in to the wall, using a clean part of the cloth for each swipe. 

If you find there is a little wax residue or colour still on a painted surface, mix some washing up liquid and warm water and take small drop on your fingertip, rubbing gently into the stain. Then wipe off with a damp microfibre cloth. The washing up liquid acts on the wax in the same way it would on greasy dishes. If you are having a lot of trouble removing the crayon, try patting on some neat washing up liquid to loosen the wax before dabbing it off.

3. Bicarbonate of soda and a cloth: Bicarb is the natural cleaning queen and is ideal for this job. Beware though, bicarb is a mild abrasive so avoid using her on wallpaper! You only need a tiny amount here so dampen your cloth with water (again, remember to use a cloth that has not been dyed to avoid transfer), cover your finger with it and dip in some bicarbonate of soda. Lightly rub into the crayon to start dissolving the wax and it should come away quite easily.

Removing marker

Again, make sure you use as little water as you can to avoid stripping paint. Washable markers are an easy fix: take dampened non-scratch sponge and wipe over the stains. 

Permanent markers are much trickier to remove from walls and can need a heavier duty cleaner, but try with a natural cleaner first and see how you get on. Start with the below – these will work on particularly stubborn washable marker stains too…

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1. Bicarbonate of soda and a cloth: In the same was as you would remove crayon, use bicarb here. It’s the abrasive quality that will help lift the marker, so again, lighter paints won’t show this as much as darker colours.

2. Rubbing alcohol: Using a cotton bud, apply rubbing alcohol to the marker stain and then dab with a cloth. This will lift the stain away bit by bit, but be sure to use a fresh piece of cloth for every dab. The cotton bud allows you to spot clean small parts of the stain bit by bit, meaning the stain won’t spread as you clean it. 

Once the alcohol has broken most of the marker down and the stain is almost gone, dip a cloth in warm water (mixed with a squirt of washing up liquid) and this should remove the lighter marks that are left.

3. Hairspray: If you don’t have rubbing alcohol to hand, try using a cheap hairspray – the higher the alcohol content the better. It’ll take a bit longer but you should see results. Use the same technique as you would with the alcohol, applying with a cotton bud, then transferring the stain to a cloth by dabbing. 

4. Magic Erasers: Not like an eraser that you find in your pencil case, these girls live in the supermarket cleaning aisle. Many brands have versions of these, and they can be really useful to have to hand. Be careful that you don’t end up removing paint from the wall if you are concentrating on one small area. Cut off only the amount you will need to avoid waste, and squeeze out as much water as you can before using it.

Want more tips and hacks? Laura de Barra’s debut book, Gaff Goddess: Simple Tips And Tricks To Help You Run Your Home is on shelves now, published by Transworld Ireland. Buy it here or in all good bookshops, and follow Laura on Instagram for even more cleaning and lifestyle tips.

More: Dusty, rusty or cracked? How to give your garden furniture the ultimate deep clean>

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Laura de Barra

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