Just when you think you’ve nailed the whole “keeping your house clean” thing, children can bring endless surprises into the mix.
While you probably have a good idea of how to keep your carpet, curtains, and soft furnishings protected from general adult wear and tear, having children in your house can be a whole different ball game.
Not only are little ones more prone to accidents, but kids love substances such as slime, paint, and mud which you might not have much experience of cleaning up.
The stakes for effective cleaning can also feel higher when you have children. Although no one expects family homes to look like show homes, there’s evidence that keeping a generally clean and organised home can make an impact on children’s health, stress, and happiness levels.
You might need to work out your own strategies for dealing with piles of clothes on the floor and toys left scattered about after clean-up time, but we can help out with some useful tips for removing sticky, smelly, or stain-prone marks from your home.
1. Sweets and Chewing Gum
Gummy sweets, chews, and bubble gum can present some unique problems for house-proud parents. Especially if they’re left to go hard, these can stick firm to carpets and soft surfaces, or leave permanent sticky marks on counters and floors.
You can read our in-depth blog for tips on how to remove gum stains from upholstery such as sofas and chairs. However, our number one method is to:
- Carefully warm the sticky patch with a hairdryer or covered iron to weaken the bonds holding it to the surface.
- Use a scraper or butter knife and plenty of paper towels to remove the bulk of the sweet
- Get rid of the remaining sticky mark by gently massaging oil soap into the fibres with a toothbrush
- Blot it with warm water and allow to dry completely.
To remove gum or sweets from a hard surface such as a floor or table, you may have more luck freezing the gum. This can be done by applying a bag of ice on top until it goes completely hard. Being careful not to scratch the surface, it should then be easy to peel the sweet away using a plastic knife.
You can clean up any residue left behind with a small amount of oil-based cleaner (or cooking oil) on the spot, before cleaning the whole area normally with water and mild detergent.
Whether one of your little ones ran straight in from the garden, the dog evaded it’s post-walk clean up, or the walk home from school involved one too many muddy puddles, mud stains are a common problem for families.
Many cleaning sites recommend cleaning up mud marks on your carpet ASAP to avoid them setting in, but we’re the exception. Allowing mud to set and harden makes it much simpler to clean up.
If you can see pieces of hardened mud on your carpet after waiting some time, loosen them with a dry scrubber before vacuuming it up. Any dirty discolouration left behind after this can be sorted with a small amount of your favourite laundry detergent dabbed on with a sponge.
If the stain is caused by a pet or you notice a smell while cleaning, sprinkle a little baking soda on top to absorb it. You can vacuum up the powder after a few hours, or the next morning.
3. Felt tip pen stains
Felt tips can create bold, vibrant works of art, but one slip can also add some unwanted colour to your favourite chair or carpet.
Especially with water-based felt tips, it’s fairly easy to wipe marks off of hard surfaces like the kitchen table or even a wall using your regular surface cleaner.
- Blotting any wet ink with a dry paper towel
- Wetting a paper towel to try and remove the dry ink (do NOT rub or wipe, again, only blot)
- If this doesn’t work, soak a cloth in slightly soapy water, wring it out, and blot the stain with this
If none of the above work, it may be time to either call a professional or try some commercial stain removers. In some cases, these can discolour surfaces, so try a little in an out-of-sight spot on the material before committing to use it.
When it comes to permanent markers such as sharpies, water won’t make much of an impact. However, vegetable oil or rubbing alcohol can make a difference to marks on hard surfaces, while nail polish remover works well on carpets.
4. Paint stains
There are different ways to remove different types of paint from carpets and soft surfaces. However, poster paint and acrylic paint are most often included in children’s craft sets and both of these are water based.
With this in mind, we recommend the following steps to get rid of paint stains on upholstery or carpets:
- Dry blot any wet paint with a paper towel to get rid of as much as possible
- Use a toothbrush or blunt knife to loosen dried paint from the carpet
- Vacuum up loose pieces of paint
- Spray soapy water onto the surface and blot the stain with a paper towel, working from the outside in
5. Glue and Slime
PVA glue peels off skin and solid surfaces easily, but soft fibres are a different story. Similarly, getting dried slime out of your carpet is no picnic.
If you spill craft glue onto your carpet or sofa, we recommend:
- Blotting with a dry cloth or kitchen towel to soak up as much wet glue as possible.
- If any glue has dried into the carpet, use a damp cloth next to soften it
- Carefully dab some white vinegar over the stain and leave for 15 minutes while it dissolves the adhesive
- Soak up as much of the mixture as possible with a paper towel
- Sprinkle some bicarb to absorb the vinegar smell and leave to dry naturally
If you don’t have any vinegar to hand or want to avoid the smell, diluted washing up liquid can also be used to dissolve PVA.
Since glue is often it’s base, a similar method can be used to remove wet slime. However, because a glob of slime tends to have more volume than a glue spill, you may need to take some cues from the chewing gum removal tips to eliminate it completely.
Freezing can be a useful way to release solidified slime from carpet fibres, as can working on it with a butter knife. If any discolouration if left behind, you can treat this with rubbing alcohol.
6. Spilled Drinks
Nothing’s worse than the smell of stale milk clinging to your furniture or an old sticky mark left by a fizzy drink spill.
The trick to clean up most of these from carpets, sofas, cushions, and bedding is similar to what we’ve seen so far for other spills:
- Blot as much of the liquid as possible with a dry cloth or towel
- Rinse a clean cloth in water and a squirt of washing up liquid
- Dab it on the stain until it lifts
- Soak a new cloth or towel in cool water and use it to “rinse” the stain site
- Soap up as much of the liquid as possible, then leave to dry
- Sprinkle baking soda to eliminate any unwanted smells
- If the spot remains discoloured, try a stronger acid such as lemon juice or vinegar
7. Vomit and Urine
Flus and stomach bugs are sadly frequent events for some families.
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones, many children go through a bed wetting stage or a bumpy transition period when potty training. All of this means that knowing how to properly clean up sick and urine is a useful addition to your skillset.
We have an entire blog dedicated to effectively cleaning vomit off mattresses, which can also be applied to sofas and other upholstery, so we won’t go into that here.
If a child wets the bed, follow these steps:
- Remove the sheets, duvet, and any mattress protectors as quickly as possible and put them through the washing machine
- Blot any wetness on the mattress with an old towel, avoiding rubbing or scrubbing
- Mix two parts of cold water, one part vinegar, and a small amount of detergent, add it to a spray bottle, and spray the area liberally. Leave it for at least 15 minutes
- Blot the area with a clean towel, before sprinkling with baking soda
- Leave to dry for half an hour and vacuum up the soda
- Allow it to fully dry before re-making the bed with clean sheets
Using a waterproof mattress protector can also be a lifesaver, meaning you only have to wash the sheets after a bedwetting.
Even if you’re a pro at cleaning up after a night time accident, if you need to do it regularly, we recommend getting the mattress professionally cleaned every few months. Without specialist equipment, it’s difficult to reach the deeper parts of the mattress’ foam or springs.
Time to Call in the Professionals?
If the normal home remedies for cleaning up common kid messes doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to ask for some help!
Family friendly cleaning services such as A Cleaning Service in Bristol, Bath, and Cardiff can save you a world of worry.
Our experts can sort almost any cleaning conundrum and leave your floors, kitchen, and upholstery looking brand new. We also commit to only using eco-friendly products which are safe for children and pets.