A few years ago, I opened my dryer to fold a load of laundry, only to discover that the entire load was stained with markings from a black crayon. It turns out my daughter left one in her pocket, and it made it through the wash cycle and melted in the dryer. Through tears, I realized every single item was stained, and I frantically started searching for how to get crayon out of clothes. I tried a few different methods and was able to save almost every garment by the end of the whole ordeal.
How to Get Crayon Out of Unwashed Clothes
If you're working with fresh crayon stains, you're already ahead of the game. Melted crayon from a dryer cycle is a bit tougher to manage and requires a few extra steps. But you can remove fresh stains with a couple of methods.
Freeze the Garment
If you've caught the crayon stain in the moment, 30 minutes in the freezer will make the removal process much smoother. It's tempting to start scraping and rubbing at the fabric once you see the crayon mess, but freezing the clothing before attempting to remove the mark will harden the wax and prevent pressing the stain further into the fabric while you're scraping.
Reach for WD40
WD40 is a solvent, meaning it's strong enough to break down the crayon wax and lift the color from your clothing. If you have an unlaundered but set-in crayon stain, this method might help restore your clothing.
- Place a thick stack of paper towels or a white rag on the stained portion of the clothing. Then, turn it inside out.
- Soak the back of the stain with a generous spray of WD40.
- After a five-minute soaking period, rinse the garment from the back of the stain (you'll leave it inside-out for this portion).
- Spray more WD40 on the stained side of the fabric and rinse again (your garment should be right-side-out for this).
- Spray any remaining marks with a pre-wash stain treatment or rub in a strong but gentle detergent like Dawn.
- Wash with hot water and ensure the stain is entirely removed before drying the clothes.
- Repeat the process as needed.
Crayon is a tough stain to tackle. Don't give up if you don't succeed during the first attempt. Some stains take extra time and multiple cleaning rounds before they finally lift.
How to Get Crayon Out of Laundered Clothing
By the time I realized there was a black crayon mixed into my load of laundry, it was a little too late for easy methods. Once crayons take a round in a hot dryer, the melted wax reaches multiple clothing items and sets deeper into the fabrics. I was worried some of my favorite pieces and my daughter's cutest outfits were ruined, but this method saved most of those pieces from becoming rags.
If you have a large load of laundry with set-in crayon stains, try working with no more than 4-5 garments at a time.
- An empty sink or large basin that can withstand high heat
- A tea kettle or pot
- Dawn dishwashing liquid
- White vinegar
- Oxyclean powdered laundry detergent (grab the one with additional stain remover if you can)
- Oxyclean or Shout pre-wash stain treatment (the strongest available version will give you the most power)
- Place your clothing in the sink or basin and begin boiling water in your tea kettle or a pot on your stove.
- Once the water is at a rolling boil, carefully pour it over your clothing. You'll need to boil multiple pot-fulls to be able to fully submerge the clothing.
- Let the clothing soak for at least an hour.
- Wring out the clothing and inspect each stain. Gently rub a bit of Dawn into each stain.
- Place the clothing in your washer and add one cup of vinegar and the laundry detergent.
- Wash with hot water.
- Carefully inspect each stain after the wash cycle. It's essential to avoid drying the stained clothing a second time. If the stain is gone, move on to the drying cycle. If some of the stain remains, apply pre-wash stain treatment and repeat the wash cycle again.
This method may require a few rounds to get every bit of the crayon stain out. It's a long process, but worth it to save your favorite pieces.
Remove the Crayon Marks From Your Dryer
The most frustrating part of laundered crayon stains is getting the crayon marks out of your dryer drum. After a single round in your dryer, one crayon can leave marks all over the walls of the drum. Before you attempt to dry any other laundry, it's important to remove these marks so you aren't risking a second melted crayon disaster.
- Use a flashlight or your phone to illuminate your dryer drum for a thorough clean.
- With a few paper towels in hand, wipe at any marks you can see. The drum may be coated in thick layers in some spots, so apply pressure if needed.
- Use a slightly damp Magic Eraser to scrub away the remaining stains.
- Check inside the lint trap and under the lining of the dryer door for any lodged pieces of wax.
- Test your dryer by drying a load of wet rags or an old towel to make sure there's no crayon left behind.
Some Fabrics May Be Tougher to Treat
When I first tackled that crayon-damaged load of laundry, I didn't expect to see the stains lift at all. So I was surprised to find that certain pieces that were covered in black crayon streaks came out clean the first time. A swimsuit, my favorite leggings, and some delicates came out good as new using the boiling water method. Other pieces, like my daughter's cotton t-shirts and pajamas, had to go through a few cycles before the stains released.
Only two pieces in the entire load of laundry couldn't be saved. A pair of woven polyester shorts just wouldn't let go of the stains entirely. Instead, the stains faded to a soft gray. One of my daughter's shirts with a heavily textured fabric was never the same. The stains didn't budge at all. But I was so thankful that most of that load of laundry was saved from the black crayon death.
A visit to your local dry cleaner is always worth a shot when you're trying to save a beloved piece of clothing. They know how to treat the toughest stains and the most stubborn fabrics.
You May Be Able to Save Your Clothes
Crayon is a frustrating stain to deal with. But getting the crayon stains out of your clothes is possible. You may need to combine methods or repeat the same method multiple times to see results. If your garment is worth saving, then it's worth trying your hardest to get those pesky crayon stains out.