Rubbing Alcohol is Amazing

October 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I don’t have anything crafty to share this week.  My son has been at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, so I have been cleaning like crazy in his absence.  So here’s a random (awesome) cleaning tip instead:

Rubbing alcohol is an amazing (and cheap!) cleaning supply.  Want to get ink stains off your tan couch?  Or blood out of your blouse?  Or remove feces from the carpet and wall?   Or remove the permanent marker smiles from your front door and freezer?  Rubbing alcohol will do it all (although I haven’t had to clean up marker or feces for a while,) for under $1 a bottle.

INK: For large pools of ink (such as you might find after a child bites the end off of an ink pen and then gleefully watches the entire contents seeping into your light colored carpet) it will take several days to get all of the ink up.   But for “small” messes (such as might be found after your child colors all over the back of your ‘new’ tan couch) you can remove ink relatively quickly.

Fresh ink is easier to clean up than old ink.  To start with, saturate the ink with alcohol.  I used q-tips and an old toothbrush to scrub it into the fabric.  (I cleaned this particular mess up 3 years ago, since then I have I poured a little rubbing alcohol into an empty spray bottle as it is easier to dispense.)  A very few fabrics will react to the alcohol, so try an inconspicuous area first.   Although, at this point I didn’t figure that I would make things any worse trying to scrub it off.

The ink will spread as soon as you apply the alcohol, so grab a paper towel or dry q-tip and soak up as much of it as you can.  Apply more alcohol and dab up the ink a few more times, until it has faded, and then let it dry.  You may need to repeat this step a few times.  I like to let it dry since the spots can look darker when they are wet, and will appear nonexistent once it has dried.  As you can see in that last picture, you would never guess that the couch had been scribbled all over.

The recent large ink spots on the carpet have taken several days to remove.  I let it dry out and work on it some more the next day – it has already lightened considerably after three days of alcohol scrubbing.

PERMANENT MARKER: Permanent marker cleans up the same way as ink does.  It may not come out of all fabrics, but its worth a try.  Some colors (like green) do not clean up as easily as other colors (like black.)  For hard surfaces, just soak a paper towel in alcohol and wipe the marker away.

FECES (poop): Three years ago my son decided that fecal matter was great for painting with.  The first few times I bought cleaners, but they didn’t get everything up.  And then I tried rubbing alcohol and it worked wonderfully.

As soon as you find the lovelies, dab up as much as possible with paper towels.  Don’t scrub, it will just become embedded in the carpet.  Saturate the area with alcohol, and dab up as much as you can.  Re-saturate the area, and dab it out again.  If most of it has come up, re-saturate and scrub it out.    Alcohol kills lots of germs and stuff, but I still like to spray the area with odoban to kill anything that may be left.  I also like to clean the carpets pretty quickly afterward just in case.  🙂

BLOOD: Blood cleans up much the same way as feces.  Dab as much off as you can with a dry paper towel to start with.  If it is possible I will rinse it out in cold water next.  If not, use a damp towel to remove as much as you can without spreading it.  Then pour the alcohol on, and scrub it up.  Repeat a few times until it is clean.  Alcohol kills lots of germs and stuff, but I still like to spray the area with odoban or clorox to kill anything that may be left.

I always wear gloves when I use alcohol to clean with, since it dries out my skin quickly and leaves a lingering odor that won’t wash off.  In the last 5 years I have cleaned up WAY too many messes, and have only used one and a half bottles of rubbing alcohol – it works great, its cheap, and it lasts forever.


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