How to get crayon stains out of clothes

Kids will be kids, and that means there’s always a chance of getting crayon on clothes.

Crayon is one of the most difficult stains to remove, but with the right methods you can get it out in a snap. In this blog post, we will discuss how to get crayon out of clothes using both home remedies and commercial products.

Crayon stains

If you have kiddos of your own or work with little ones, crayon stains are something you are probably (unfortunately) familiar with. Whether you forgot crayons in your pocket and threw clothes in the washing machine or your young Picasso accidentally got a crayon stain on their own clothes, here are some ways you can get crayon out of clothes.

Wondering what prompted this post? Well, yesterday, I realized halfway through a dryer cycle that I left all of the day’s treasures in my pockets. An old S hook, a glue stick, and a black crayon were all left in my pocket. Let me tell you, opening that door was SCARY. I was certain the entire load would be ruined.

Somehow, it looks like everything was fine(?!), including the dryer drum. I’m still waiting to find colored clothes somewhere in that laundry pile and dreading the moment I do.

But, as a long-time nanny and soon-to-be teacher, this is not my first crayon-stain rodeo (unfortunately). So, if you’re victim to the dreaded crayon stain, as I too have been, here are some ways to save your clothing – Or your kids’ clothes!

Why does a crayon stain?

A crayon will leave an oil-based stain on clothing.

Usually, a crayon won’t leave a bad stain unless you end up with melted crayon on clothing.

Often, mistakes happen when crayon is forgotten in the pockets of clothing and all the clothes are thrown in the wash. It can be a pretty stressful moment when you open the dryer to see purple crayon smeared all over the inside of the dryer drum!

For that reason, you will want to avoid putting crayon-stained clothing into the dryer before removing the stain. Doing so will result in melted crayons leaving streaks all over your dryer (and giving you another mess to clean).

Removing crayon stains from the dryer

If your dryer is covered in crayon, wipe it down with a paper towel. Then, use a clean magic eraser to remov the remaining stain.

Before tackling crayon stained clothing…

The most important place to start is figuring out what kind of material you are working with.

If you’ve got a piece that says ‘dry clean only’ on the label, you’ll likely need to take it to a dry cleaner.

But, if you’re feeling confident in your ability to remove crayon stains – There are lots of methods to dry. Regardless of the route you take, I’d heavily suggest spot testing in an inconspicuous place.

First things first

Step 1: Ice the stain

If you’re dealing with melted crayon, ice it first. Grab a baggie and fill it with ice, then place it on the stain. Once the crayon stain has hardened, you move to step 2.

Step 2: Scrape the Wax off

Gently scrape the crayon off with a dull knife or the edge of a credit card. Once you have removed the excess crayon, it’s time to get your cleaning materials out.

If that didn’t work…

If you couldn’t remove the excess wax with ice, there are two pretreatment methods you can try.

Dish Soap

The first is using dish soap to get melted crayon out. Apply liquid dish soap to the affected area. Rub the liquid dish soap in using your fingers or an old (but clean) toothbrush.

Let this sit for 15 minutes before running the garment under warm water to remove all of the soap. Be sure to rinse it all off! Then, add detergent and toss the clothing in the washer on a heavy soil setting.

For best results, use stain remover on the area first or use a detergent specifically formulated for tackling tough stains.

Hang your items to dry and repeat if needed. Do not put them in the dryer until the stain is removed, though!

Oil

For really tough stains, you can also try using oil as a pretreatment. You can use WD-40, butter, cooking oil, or even mayo for this step.

Simply put a paper towel or cardboard underneath the stained area to protect the rest of the clothing, then spray the fabric or dab it on with a clean white cloth (depending on what you’re using). Using white will avoid transferring color fibers onto your already stained garment. Then, do the same from the inside of your garment.

Leave the oil soak on your clothes for 15 minutes as it works to lift the stain.

Then, put some liquid dishwashing detergent on the affected area. Using your finger or an old toothbrush, work the product into the stain and let it sit for another 15 minutes.

If the stain has lifted, you can now toss your clothes in for a wash cycle. Be sure to check that the stain has come out after the first wash, though, and avoid putting still-stained clothing into your dryer.

Other methods/tips to try

Depending on what you have on hand, you may want to try alternative methods for removing stains. Here are some other ways to remove crayon stains from your clothes.

Machine washing

When you put your clothing in for a machine wash cycle, use the heavy soil setting and use the hottest water you can. Air dry is preferable, just in case there’s a remaining stain that you didn’t see.

Vinegar

I love using vinegar as a cleaning product. Of its many uses, one of them is crayon stain removal!

To do this method, grab a pot big enough for your clothes and bring it to a boil. Soak the stained clothing in the hot water for 15 minutes. You will need to boil it to be sure you’ve got the hottest water possible, which will help to lift the crayon from the fabric.

After a soak, toss them into the washing machine with a 1/2 cup of vinegar and a few tablespoons of dish soap. *Be sparing with the soap, though, because it’s heavily concentrated. The last thing you’ll want to clean is an overflow of suds!

Add your regular laundry detergent.

Then, soak the clothes in the vinegar and soap for another 15 minutes.

Finally, run the washer and hope for the best! You may need to do two loads of washing depending on how much crayon there was on your clothes.

Baking soda

If you’re wondering how to get crayon out of clothes using common household items, another one to try is baking soda. When you rewash the clothes, use hot water, your regular detergent, and a cup of baking soda.

Bleach

If your damaged clothing were white, and stain remover/dawn dish soap couldn’t do the trick, it may be time to try bleach.

Rewash the fabric with either chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach. Just be sure to check that your clothes can handle bleach first!

What if the stain won’t come out?

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you may be unable to remove melted crayon from clothing. You’ve tried chlorine bleach, blue Dawn, and scraping it with a dull knife, but the stain remains…

If it’s one of your child’s pieces, I’d suggest tossing the clothes into a ‘play clothes’ bin. Then they will have something to wear for their next artistic pursuit that you won’t need to worry about… Since it’s already stained!

If the crayon stains are on your clothing, you’ve tried all of the home and commercial remedies, and the stain remains, it may be time to call in the pros. Head to the local dry cleaner and see if they can remove the stain for you.

Conclusion

There you have it, friends! Whether you’ve found a whole load of red-crayon-infused clothing, a sneaky crayon left in your pocket, or your little one turned their outfit into an art project, this post is filled with ideas for how to get crayon out of clothes.

Regardless of what you have on hand, we hope that you’ve found a successful way to save your t-shirts, school clothes, or anything else that may have been stained with crayon! Usually, any excess crayon can be easily scraped away and the remaining stain can be removed with some hot water, elbow grease, and household cleaners.

But, even if the stain remains, remember – Mistakes happen! Everything is a learning opportunity and this is one. A frustrating one, but a mistake nonetheless.

Do you have other ideas for how to get crayon out of clothes? We’d love for you to share them with us!

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Elke Crosson
Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations with a minor in Spanish at UBC (Okanagan). She is currently in her second year of the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with dreams of becoming an elementary-level teacher.