15 genius cleaning hacks for families

Is your home getting messier by the minute? Whether it’s picking up glitter or dealing with berry stains, these cleaning hacks will help you restore order.

By Today's Parent

15 genius cleaning hacks for families

Remove crayon from walls

You’ve given her an easel and plenty of paper, but sometimes, that vast wall canvas is just too tempting. To remove offending crayon scribbles, point hair dryer at the waxy work of art until it melts a bit, about 30 seconds. Wipe off the marks with a moist disinfecting wipe or baby wipe. 

two crayons with facesPhoto: iStockphoto

Un-gross your microwave

Let's be real—your kids are the reason the inside of your microwave looks like that. Remove caked-on stains by microwaving half a cup of water and the juice of half a lemon on high for three minutes. The steam will loosen the grime for easy wiping and leave a nice smell. Be careful afterwards—the water will be super hot. 

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

Make laundry easier

1. Why can’t they ever use napkins?! Get rid of your kid’s grease stains by rubbing white chalk over the mark. Leave overnight, then launder. Magic!
2. In a rush? Speed up drying time by throwing in a dry towel to absorb the moisture from wet clothes.
3. Keep tiny toddler socks together by washing and drying them in a mesh lingerie bag.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesIllustrations: Sarah Rafter

The best way to clean a car seat

1.Remove the car seat from the vehicle and place on an old blanket. Gently overturn the seat to free any crumbs and vacuum out as much dust, dirt and food as possible.
2.Remove straps and buckles and clean them with a toothbrush and a little water, but never submerge them in water, as that can weaken the webbing.
3.If your car seat manual says it’s OK, remove the cover and place it into the washing machine on gentle. If not, submerge it in the bathtub with warm water, ¼ cup baking soda and ¼ cup vinegar. Stomp the cover with your feet to really get the dirt out and use a sponge to scrub stubborn stains. Hang to dry.
4.Wash all plastic parts with gentle soap and a damp towel.
5.Reassemble the car seat and install in your vehicle according to the manual.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

Three ways to clean up glitter spills

1. Knead playdough (get the recipe here) into a ball and pat the mess with it. The glitter will stick to it, and you’ll have glittery playdough!
2. A lint roller works well to remove spilled glitter from fabric or furniture. No lint roller? Just wrap some tape—sticky side out—around your fingers and blot the mess repeatedly.
3. To remove glitter stuck to skin, try coconut oil or oil-based makeup remover on a cotton ball.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesIllustrations by Sarah Rafter

Remove permanent marker

Somehow your kid has swiped your permanent marker and graffitied your living room wall. The solution? Baking soda and (non-whitening) toothpaste! Mix a small amount of baking soda with some toothpaste on a clean cloth. Rub onto stain in a circular motion. It may take some time and elbow grease, but the marks should disappear.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

Stop wasting soap

Even a single pump of liquid hand soap can be way too much for a kid’s small hands. Twist a rubber band tightly around the neck of the soap bottle’s pump, and a much smaller amount will land in her palm.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

Clean plastic toys

1. Toss plastic toys—action figures, Playmobil, dinosaurs, any dirty Smurfs—into a mesh laundry bag, and tightly tie up the top.
2. Toss the bag into the washing machine with a bit of detergent, and run the gentlest cycle with warm water. (Warning, this will be noisy.)
3. Retrieve the laundry bag, open it up and lay toys flat to dry.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesIllustrations by Alex Mathers

A tear-free way to wash off paint

When you pull out the paints, does more end up on your kid than on the paper? Turns out there’s an easy way to easily wash paint off your kid’s hands. Just apply moisturizer to your kid’s hands before painting. The lotion acts as a barrier, helping the paint wash right off with little scrubbing.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

Make your chalkboard look brand new

First, wipe off chalk with a wet rag. Once you’re done, soak the rag in a bowl filled with Coke or Pepsi. Wipe your chalkboard using broad strokes. Let it dry. You’re done! Your board should look brand new. No rinsing required, and believe it or not, it won’t be sticky.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

ways to remove gum from clothing

Acid method: Microwave a bowl of vinegar for 1 minute. Dip fabric in bowl of vinegar and scrub off gum with an old toothbrush.
Hot trick: Heat gum with a hair dryer and scrape with a plastic knife. Place a dollop of analgesic rub on residue and rub a zip-top bag over it (the methyl salicylate in the topical pain reliever sticks to plastic).
Cold approach: Lay ice cubes on the gum for 30 minutes. Move fabric to a flat surface and scrape off frozen gum with a knife.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesIllustrations by Sarah Rafter

Get rid of berry stains

Any type of berry stain comes out like magic if you pour boiling water over it right away. Tent the stained portion over a bowl, pour hot water from a kettle over it and watch the stain disappear.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

Actually keep bedsheets organized

Changing pukey bedding in the middle of the night is never fun, especially if the sheet sets aren’t well-organized in your closet. To keep all the components together, tuck the flat sheet and fitted sheet inside the pillowcase.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto

Load your dishwasher (properly!)

Bottom rack: Load plates, alternating large and small, facing toward the water jets in the centre. Add pots and pans, but don’t overcrowd, or you may block jets. Baking sheets and flat plans should line the outer edges of the rack.
Top Rack: Put all cups and glasses between the tines, never over them. Place bowls at an angle and add dishwasher-safe plastics here to keep them away from the heating coil. Extra-tall utensils can lie across the rack with the spoons facing down. 
Cutlery Tray: Knives should go blade down. Alternate other utensils handle up or handle down and spread them out to avoid nesting.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesIllustrations by Grace Cho

Remove salt stains

Don’t let winter ruin your favourite pair of boots. Pour equal parts white vinegar and lukewarm water into a bowl. Soak a rag in the mixture and use it to gently wipe your leather boots. Dry them off with a towel when finished. The salt will have disappeared.

15 genius cleaning hacks for familiesPhoto: iStockphoto