Don't Let Cleaning Summer's Stickiest Messes Ruin Your Summer Fun

When the weather turns hot, it’s time for summer treats like popsicles, lemonade and ice cream. Throw in those year-round kids’ favorites like candy and gum, and you could spend a good part of your summer cleaning up sticky messes. Kids are great at making messes, but not so great at cleaning them up. Keep your kids happy and your house clean when you use these tips for cleaning summer’s stickiest messes.  

Keep Your Cool Over Popsicle Messes

Popsicles keep kids cool and happy, but when they start melting all over the carpet or furniture, they’re not a favorite to clean up. To remove a popsicle stain from upholstery or carpeting, dampen the stain with dishwashing liquid. Then, place a white terry cloth towel over the stain and run over the towel with a hot iron and the cloth will soak up most of the stain. Any remaining stain can usually be removed with dish soap and water. For popsicle drips on floors, wipe up immediately with a damp cloth until it’s no longer sticky.

For popsicle messes on clothes, rinse the stain with cold water. Apply stain remover and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Wash the clothes as you usually do, and the stain should disappear. Stubborn stains may need a dab of ammonia to get all the dye out. Whatever you do, don’t dry the clothing until the stain is completely gone or the heat from the dryer could set the stain for good.

First Aid for Lemonade and Juice Spills

Summer means lemonade stands and juice boxes — and plenty of spills. Cleaning summer’s stickiest messes like these sugary drinks doesn’t have to be a big deal. Use a paper towel first to get up as much as you can and then use a microfiber cloth with warm water. For spills you don’t get to right away, scrub with your damp cloth.

If the kids spill juice or lemonade on upholstery or carpet, blot up as much as you can with a paper towel to keep the dye from setting. Then use a dampened cloth to gently loosen up the rest and blot, don’t rub, until the stain is clean. Most drink spills on clothing can be handled by soaking the stain with spot remover and then washing as usual. Make sure you take care of the mess as soon as you notice it to prevent the stain from setting.  

Ice Cream, You Scream!

You can’t have summer without ice cream, and this sweet frozen treat melts faster than you can scream “No!” It’s probably on your kids’ hands and clothes as soon as they take the first bite, and who knows where it will end up next. Most upholstery, carpet and clothing can be handled with the same treatment.

If the stain has dried, soak it with cold water for about 10 minutes. Avoid hot water which will set a protein stain like ice cream. Dab the stain gently every few minutes to blot up the loosened residue. If you can still see any remains of the stain, rub liquid laundry detergent into the stained area and let it sit for 30 minutes. Finally, rinse the mess with cold water and dab dry. If the clothing needs more work, spray spot remover on the stain and wash as you usually do.

Spilled Milk? Hold Those Tears

“Don’t cry over spilled milk.” is a familiar saying for many of us, but don’t let the fear of spilled milk and sour odors make you tear up. Here’s how to handle this sticky, stinky mess. For seat cushions, if you get to the stain while it’s still wet, soak up as much as you can with a towel and remove the cushion cover if possible. Use a damp cloth with dish soap to clean the remaining milk or toss it in the washer if the fabric allows it. Your goal is to keep as much of the spilled milk as possible from soaking into the foam part of the cushion.

For carpets and most other furniture fabrics, follow the same procedure as above. Instead of using the washer, keep dabbing the mess with a damp cloth. If you find spilled milk that’s already dry and giving off a sour smell, you’ll need to re-wet the area and proceed with the steps above. To make sure the odor is gone for good, baking soda is one of the best natural cleaners and deodorizers around. Sprinkle it on the area while it’s still damp, let it dry and then vacuum up the remainder.

Bubble Gum Blues

Bubble gum is one of the most common sticky messes you’ll find. Clean away those bubble gum blues with this handy advice. The least messy way to remove gum is to freeze and harden it and then chip it away. For smaller items with stuck-on gum, just place the item in the freezer, wait about an hour and then chip away gently with a butter knife. Water and dish soap should get the rest out without too much trouble.

When gum gets stuck in carpet or hair, put some ice cubes in a plastic bag and lay it on the gum until the gum becomes hardened. Break or scrape the gum off, again, use water and dish detergent to take care of any remaining stickiness. To get stubborn gum out of hair, rub in some mayonnaise, vegetable oil or peanut butter. The lubrication and gentle rubbing in the area should loosen the gum for easy removal.

If the freeze-and-clean method for carpets and upholstery doesn’t get the job done,  saturate the area with a natural cleaner like white vinegar or lemon juice to dissolve the gum. Rub the liquid in thoroughly, but be careful to not push the gum into the carpet or fabric. Let it soak for about ten minutes, then remove the gum by scraping it off with a butter knife or gently picking out pieces with tweezers. Finally, clean the area with water and dish detergent.

Hard Candy Doesn’t Have to Be Hard to Clean

From half-eaten hard candy dropped haphazardly to forgotten pieces in kids’ pockets, candy messes are some of the toughest sticky messes. Here’s your game plan for cleaning up that candy. On carpet and upholstery, scrape to remove as much of the excess as possible and pick out small pieces with tweezers. Dampen with warm water and a few drops of white vinegar. Let the solution soak in for about 20 minutes. Dab with a clean, dry cloth every five minutes or so. For stubborn stuck-on candy, use rubbing alcohol instead of water and vinegar but be careful not to remove any of the dye in the fabric.

Treat candy stuck on clothing just like you do with other fabrics, but use spot remover after you get out as much candy as possible. Let it sit 30 minutes and then wash as usual. If the stain is still visible after washing, wet the fabric and add a few drops of ammonia. Let the clothing soak for 30 minutes and keep it moist the whole time. After 30 minutes, dab the area with a clean, dry cloth until almost dry and throw the clothing back in the washer for another wash cycle.

After keeping your kids’ rooms cleaned up through the school year, you probably dread cleaning summer’s stickiest messes. With these handy tips and some help from The Maids®, the kids can enjoy those sticky treats all summer long, and you can keep the house clean while you keep your cool.



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