Your crafting area is a huge mess, now what? Find out how to clean up craft supplies from lots of different surfaces!
I’m sure we’ve all been there, you start an exciting new craft project and somewhere along the line, there’s a mess. You might spill, or get paint on your clothes or drop something. It happens and it’s the worst!
So today we’re going to talk about how to clean up craft supplies. I have tried to compile all the best craft cleanup advice in one place but as always, test things with your own mess first!
Before we get to cleanup though, let’s chat about making sure arts and craft messes don’t happen in the first place. Or at the very least, let’s talk about some things you can do so that a crafty mess isn’t a total disaster.
How To Prevent Craft Supply Messes
- Think about where you do craft projects. Don’t craft on your new couch in the living room. Or in the middle of your child’s bedroom rug. Just don’t. Choose a table or surface that can be easily cleaned instead. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Wear old clothes or a smock. This one is self explanatory but I know it’s one we often skip at our house, thinking it will be fine. Don’t be like us!
- Protect surfaces before you start. Cover your table or counter with newspaper or brown craft paper or even a garbage bag. I have also used an old plastic birthday party tablecloth from the dollar store, they are great for this kind of thing!
- When you can, choose water based or washable craft supplies they are way easier to clean up. They make some really good washable craft supplies these days, they don’t have to just be for toddlers.
- Expect a mess. Whether you are crafting with kids or by yourself or with other adults. Adjust your expectations and expect messes. Then think about what you can do to make them palatable. If your new rug is precious, put something down on the floor. If you know your toddler will get markers on their face, don’t do crafts on the same day as family pictures. You get what I’m saying here?
General Guidelines for Cleaning Up Craft Supplies
- Test a small area first!! This the number one most important piece of advice for cleaning up craft supply messes. If you’re using rubbing alcohol or fabric cleaner or nail polish remover or a magic eraser…TEST, TEST, TEST. Getting a stain out is no good if it also bleaches the color out or scratches a surface, right?
- Clean up the craft supply as soon as possible. Most craft supplies are much easier to clean up while they are still wet or before they are set/cured. The exception, in some cases, is hot glue.
- If you are using a water based craft supply, make sure you try to clean it while it’s still wet. Most things will be MUCH harder to clean once they’re dried.
- Don’t put it in the dryer. If your attempt to clean up a crafty mess involves laundering something in the washing machine. Do not put it through the dryer until you are sure the stain is gone. The dryer may set the stain and make it permanent.
- REALLY don’t put it in the dryer if you used a flammable liquid to clean it! If you used hairspray or anything else flammable, seriously, do not put it right in the dryer!
- Make sure to have good ventilation if you’re using anything other than water and soap to clean.
- Don’t mix chemicals. Ever. Period. If you use bleach, for example, and it doesn’t work, don’t then try some other cleaner on the same sport.
- Accept that some craft messes will be permanent. At some point, you may have to give up and accept your losses. Hopefully you can laugh about it later?
So let’s talk about some specific craft supplies and how to clean them up!
How to Clean Up Glitter
The best way to avoid a glitter mess is not to use glitter. I’m kidding. But if you do have a glittery mess, the best advice is to sweep it up first. When you have swept up most of the dry glitter you can dab up the rest with a damp paper towel. Then take your broom outside and shake it off and rinse your dustpan. Avoid getting large amounts of glitter wet, it won’t help. I also don’t like to vacuum glitter because then your vacuum will be glitter infested forever.
How to Clean Up Acrylic Craft Paint
If you have acrylic craft paint on a hard non-porous surface, it’s best to clean it up while it’s still wet. You can do this with a wet paper towel and it should come off.
If the craft paint has dried on a hard non-porous surface, you will likely be able to peel or gently scrape it off, be careful not to scratch your surface. If that doesn’t work try rubbing with a wet sponge.
If you get acrylic craft paint on fabric. You MUST clean it up while it’s still wet. Saturate/rinse the fabric with cool water as soon as humanly possible. It’s really your only hope to fully get the paint out. If I get acrylic paint on my shirt, I would run the area under the faucet until the paint is gone. If it’s not completely removed, add some laundry detergent. Do not allow the fabric to dry until the stain is totally gone.
If you get acrylic craft paint on a fabric surface like a couch or carpeting, again, try not to let it dry. Blot with cool water, you can try mixing in some laundry detergent, until the stain is gone.
If you get acrylic craft paint on fabric and it has dried, it’s probably too late. This great guide suggests trying nail polish remover or hairspray, but I have not had either of those work.
How to Clean Up Watercolor Paint
Watercolor paint is, by nature, very water soluble, so if you can get to the paint while it’s still wet, clean up with water may work. Saturate the area and blot until the stain is gone.
If you get watercolor on fabric, try to blot immediately with lots of water. If a stain remains, treat as you would any other fabric stain with laundry detergent or cleaner. Do not put in the dryer until the stain is gone.
How to Clean Up Spray Paint
Your best bet for cleaning up water based spray paint is wiping or washing it away with water before it dries. If you have dried spray paint on your skin, some mild hand soap and gentle scrubbing will eventually get it off.
If you have oil based spray paint on your skin you will need to follow the directions from the can for removal, probably using a solvent. Other people recommend trying baby oil or olive oil as an alternative.
If you make a mess with spray paint outside, for example, on your driveway, consider a pressure washer.
If you get spray paint on fabric, try and clean it with water if water based, or solvent (after a spot test) if oil based, before it dries. But if that doesn’t work, it may be a lost cause.
How to Clean Up Hot Glue
Hot glue is tricky because, well… it’s hot. Are you really a crafter if you haven’t burned yourself at least once with hot glue?
If you have dried hot glue on fabric or soft surfaces, put it in the freezer or hold ice cubes on the spot and see if you can peel the glue off.
If you have dried hot glue on hard surfaces, swab rubbing alcohol around the edges of the glue (after spot testing of course!) and see if you can peel them apart.
How to Clean up Glue
Can I possibly explain this better than Bob Vila? I doubt it. He recommends cleaning up glue from glass with WD-40, from wood with a hair dryer, and from plastic with oil (all after spot testing of course).
If you get dried glue on fabric or carpet, the best bet is to gently scrape as much of it off as you can with something like a butter knife. You may consider adding a little dish soap and water.
How To Clean Up Sharpies
I have first-hand experience cleaning up Sharpie marks, my kids love them a little too much. If you get Sharpie on a non-porous surface, it comes off with rubbing alcohol and some wiping. Other suggestions for cleaning up Sharpie include hairspray & hand sanitizer (which usually contain alcohol), nail polish remover, and even WD-40. But again, make sure to spot test first!
These methods may work on Sharpie marks on fabric but please be sure to spot test first, getting a marker mark out of your favorite shirt is no good if the liquid you used to clean it leaves its own mark behind or bleaches the color out!
How to Clean Up Pen Marks
The good news is rubbing alcohol usually works for pen marks too! I may sound like a broken record, but be sure to spot test first!
How To Clean Up Wax
When I was a teenager I once spilled an entire double boiler of melted wax on my parents wood floor. So I can say from experience, that for hard, smooth, non-porous surfaces, you may be able to gently scrape dried wax off with something like a credit card. Do a spot test to make sure you don’t scratch the surface.
For a more delicate hard surface like vinyl flooring or a wall, try heating the wax gently with a hair dryer and wiping it off or dabbing with a rag dipped in hot water.
To get dried wax out of fabric try freezing the items and then scraping the wax off. If that doesn’t work, lay an old clean dishcloth or brown paper bag over the wax stain and gently rub with a warm iron to soak up the melted wax.
How To Clean Up Crayon
First of all, I think it is always worth the extra money to buy washable crayons. It might not seem necessary, but they really do clean up perfectly. It’s totally worth it.
If you get crayons on a hard surface like your walls, first try soap and hot water. That might be enough. If not, the second most recommended solution is a Magic Eraser. However, be sure to spot test, I used a Magic Eraser on a wall with eggshell finish once and it left marks behind. Other options include baking soda, toothpaste and plain vinegar. The baking soda and toothpaste, like the Magic Eraser are abrasive so test first.
If you get crayons on fabric, try liquid dish detergent and warm water and some gentle scrubbing.
How To Clean Up Chalk
Rinse up chalk messes from surfaces with lots of water. If you can’t get chalk out of your clothes, I read to try blotting with rubbing alcohol and then laundry detergent if that doesn’t work. If you can’t get chalk marks off your driveway, try a pressure washer!
So tell me, what’s your worst craft disaster? Have you ever had to clean up craft supply messes? Let me know if there’s any craft supply that I didn’t cover!
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