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Health & Safety

10 Cleaning Hacks All Parents Should Know

Get crayon off the walls, glitter off the floor, and more

In the time it takes to unload the dishwasher, the average toddler can draw on the walls, knock over a carton of milk, and leave a trail of glitter in her wake. So it's helpful to keep these expert cleaning hacks in mind. 

1. Apple cider vinegar as a toy cleaner. "A mix of equal parts vinegar and water is great for cleaning just about anything, but is especially useful on toys that can't be put into the wash," says Melissa Maker, author of Clean My Space . "Simply spray or wipe on the solution, leave it on for few minutes, then wipe dry with a clean cloth. The vinegar smell will dissipate after a few minutes."

2. Lint roller. Even the best handheld vacuum can't get up every last speck of glitter. A lint roller is your go-to tool!

3. White chalk to get grease out of clothes. Do you leave every birthday party with someone covered in pizza grease? (Even the baby who didn't eat any?) "White chalk can get grease spots out of clothes," says Becky Rapinchuk, who is known as Clean Mama and is the author of Simply Clean. "Just rub it on and wash as usual. The chalk absorbs the grease."

4. Baking soda for crayon on the walls. When your kid gets creative on the walls, make a 50/50 paste of baking soda and water-and then gently rub in and wipe away, says Maker.

5. Coconut oil to remove stickers. For stickers that are stuck on hard surfaces like windows or floors, try this trick. "Mix equal parts coconut oil and baking soda to create a paste to remove stubborn stickers," says Maker. "Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes and then wash away."

6. Coffee filter for potty-training. We love this potty cleaning shortcut: Place a round coffee filter in your kid's potty; after he's done, flush the poop and throw the filter away. Genius!

7. Mesh laundry bag for toys. Many plastic toys can be placed in a mesh bag and tossed in the washer along with your clothing. Just be sure not to accidentally dry the bundle.

8. Dish soap for pee stains. Ditching nighttime diapers almost always involves some accidents. To clean up, mix three tablespoons of baking soda, eight ounces of hydrogen peroxide, and a drop of dish soap to a spray bottle. Then spray the mixture onto the mattress to clean up and get rid of the odor.

9. The freezer for removing gum. When chewing gum gets stuck to sneakers or clothing, put the item in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer. The gum should come off after a day. For gum stuck in hair, cover the area with peanut butter or vegetable oil, wait a few minutes, then work it out with your hands or a comb and wash hair as usual. 

10. Rubbing alcohol to remove pen ink from clothes. "Rubbing alcohol isn't just good to have on hand in your first aid kit, but it's handy for removing ink from fabric," says Maker. "Just spray some onto the pen stain, dab it, and pre-treat it before washing."