Written by contributor Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship.

“Do you have kids or pets?” the carpet cleaners always ask. That seems to be the universal measuring stick for how clean your carpets and walls are going to be (or not be).

Kids are notoriously messy, and I do believe they’ve earned the reputation justly.

From a variety of bodily fluids on the carpet to crayon on the walls and crumbs mortaring the cracks in the table, moms have lots to say about the messes kids make. When I asked on Facebook about kid mess examples, I got lots of fodder for this post. Here are the highlights:

When Things Hit Your Carpet

Photo by Andrew Eick

Blood: Hydrogen peroxide diluted with water; soak a rag and press lightly. (Always spot test in a corner, but on light carpet this is generally effective and safe.)

Mud: Vinegar and water; hopefully you have a spray bottle of this anyway, diluted about 1:10 or so. Squirt and SCRUB! The sooner you get to this stain, the better your chances. A caution: make sure you don’t use vinegar on stains that might be ink or color based, as it could set them in permanently.

Poop: Biokleen Bac-Out is a good first line of defense, but that awful yellow breastmilk poop sometimes offers a tougher challenge. I got stains out recently by mixing up a solution of hot water and oxygen bleach (let it cool so it doesn’t set the stain with hot water), soak a rag and let it sit on the spot. The problem? Now the spots are cleaner than the rest of the carpet, so you kind of need a room-sized rag to really do it right!

Urine: Water, soak it up, water, soak it up, then sprinkle with baking soda. Allow to dry and vacuum. More miraculous uses for baking soda HERE with some great ideas for kid messes from other moms in the comments.

Vomit: Um. Yeah. Not my favorite thing to clean up. Try any or all of the above???

Steam vacuuming: I recommend just hot water, but there are a bunch of possible ideas for a natural carpet cleaner for a steam vac over at Kitchen Stewardship.

Two different readers had dried banana in their carpet. Yuck. I’d soak it up then try oxygen bleach. That stuff is nasty!

Crafts Gone Wrong

Photo by IngaMun

Crayon on tables, walls, counters, chairs, etc. (hard surfaces): A little baking soda and water does the trick.

Markers on hard surfaces: Baking soda works, too. I even tested this on a wooden chair just for you guys – you should have seen my 3-year-old’s face when I grabbed a marker and colored on the chair! “You are not supposed to do that, Mama!”

Markers/Pen on fabrics: Rubbing alcohol blotted on with a cloth, and patience. Just keep doing it over and over, and it should work like a charm. I’d stay far away from vinegar spray for markers as there’s a good chance it will set the stain.

Stickers where they shouldn’t be: This one’s for the peanut gallery – what do you use to get stickers off (since I’m guessing my Goo Gone in the basement is not so “natural”)?

Clothing Stains

Spray stain treater: Biokleen Bac-Out diluted 1:1 with water in a spray bottle; right away, rub it in, put in hamper.

Soak for persistent stains: Oxygen bleach in hot water; soak for 1-24 hours, especially handy for baby poop.

Grease stains: undiluted dishwasher soap or concentrated soap. I ran some tests on various options with grease spots, (my nemesis!) and have enough to report for a whole post. Coming at a later date!

When You Wish Bleach Was Natural…

What do you use to sanitize after a poopy accident (on floor, in tub, carpet, etc.)?

I’ve written here before about how to naturally clean the house after illness, but basically:

Hard surface sanitizing: I rely on my bottles of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide water, sprayed one after the other. A dash of tea tree oil in a spray bottle of water is a disinfectant, too.

Carpet and upholstery: I described what I’d do to get the yuck out above, and I guess I cross my fingers, use vinegar, then baking soda and hope that the germs are gone after someone pukes on the couch. Blech.

I have to admit, the last time I used bleach, it was when the toilet – full of number two – overflowed and poured into the basement laundry room, which was also where I stored extra food. I just couldn’t fathom anything but bleach for the job.

I recently gave away my last bottle of bleach, and the only thing I think I’d ever use it for again would be to sanitize water in an emergency situation, and then I’d filter it right back out with my Berkey.

What are your natural solutions to the messiness of childhood?

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