Just last year, I bought my kids a whole new fall wardrobe at once (I have no patience for shopping — hence the large amount purchased in one fell swoop). When I got home, I washed it all with a few dirty things I saw lying in the hamper. Unfortunately for my kids’ brand-spankin’-new wardrobe, my daughter had just gotten into the habit of hoarding crayons and had conveniently left a brown one in the pocket of her jeans. You know what that means? Brown. Crayon. On. Everything.


I didn’t even notice until after the load had come out of the dryer, at which point the crayon had melted its way firmly into everything, including the $40 dress I had splurged on. Needless to say, I was not happy. Who am I kidding? “Not happy” is the understatement of the year. I burst into tears and cried uncontrollably for a half hour. I’ve got to be honest — I’m really not sure which of the myriad of things I did worked, since I tried them all. But I will list them all here and you can try what you will!


1. One site I found told me (before loading clothes in the washer) to combine the following ingredients in a washer filled with hot water: 1 cup borax, 2 capfuls detergent, 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 1 cup Shout stain remover. Let all of the ingredients swish around in there for a few minutes, and then put the offending clothes in the washing machine. Mix around for a few minutes, and then let everything soak in there for at least an hour, if not overnight. In the morning, put everything on a rinse cycle and wash as you would a regular load. I tried this twice first before anything else, and it definitely made the crayon stains lighter.


2. Soak everything in a washer of hot water and dishwashing detergent — again for at least an hour or overnight. Then run clothes through a regular load.


3. Cover your ears (or in this case, your eyes) if you’re against all things petroleum. WD-40, which is mostly known as a lubricant for car parts, is actually really useful at all kinds of stain removal. That’s because WD-40 is also a solvent and can break down tough stains on clothing. Here’s what you do: Get some paper towels and put them beneath the article of clothing. Then spray some WD-40 on the stain and wait about 10 minutes. The stain should start to dissolve onto the paper towel. Turn the article of clothing over and repeat. Then work some dish detergent into the stain and rub lightly. Wash clothes as usual and voila — stains gone! WD-40 is so well-known for getting out crayon stains that Crayola actually recommends WD-40 for crayon stain removal on its site. Not sure who was the first to discover this little fun fact about WD-40, but here’s hoping they didn’t try motor oil first.


I tried all three tactics, and after days of soaking and washing, then soaking and washing again — I am happy to report that I removed all the crayon from my kids’ clothes. Granted, the clothes looked like they had been worn a whole season already since I washed them so many times, but that’s better than my daughter’s dress looking like she used it to wipe her bottom, you know what I’m saying?


— Chanie


You can submit a question to Mother Nature, and one of our many experts will track down the answer. Plus: Visit our advice archives to see if your question has already been tackled.


Photo: dacotahsgirl/Flickr; MNN tease photos of crayons on paper and wax crayons via Shutterstock