You just finished what you thought was your last load of laundry, only to find the inside of your dryer is now a horrible mess. Whether it’s from Little Timmy’s Crayon, your husband’s ink pen, or that feather pillow you just wanted to fluff before your mother-in-law’s arrival: there’s no need to panic. Just follow these steps.
Gum or candy: Scrape what you can from the dryer drum using the side of a credit card or a spatula. Then, place an ice cube over the residue and let it sit for two minutes to harden it up. Break or scrape away as much as you can. If a mess still remains, wet a dryer sheet (or moisten a washrag with commercial fabric softener) and let it sit on the gunk for 20 minutes. The surfactants in the softener will help break down the stickiness of the mess, so you should be able to scrub away the rest. (Remove it from clothing by using the wet dryer sheet method, or by heating vinegar in the microwave until very hot, then pouring it on the gum or candy stains and scrubbing with an old toothbrush.*)
Ink stains: Even though it might look like a nightmare inside of your dryer, removing ink stains is actually pretty easy. Add 2 cups liquid bleach to an old bucket or sink, and fill the rest of the way with warm water. Soak an old towel in this liquid and, without wringing it out, toss it into the dryer. Run it on the no-heat or “fluff” setting (heat will set the ink) for 20 minutes. Remove the towel and repeat with another if any ink remains. Be sure to run your dryer on one last cycle with a towel dipped in clean, bleach-free water to remove any residue. (Remove it from clothing by placing a clean cloth underneath the stain and dabbing — not rubbing! — it with another cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol or sprayed with hairspray.*)
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Melted Crayons: First, remind yourself how much you love Little Timmy. Then, run the empty dryer for a few minutes on high heat to soften the crayon. While it’s still warm, scrape as much of the melted crayon away as you can using the side of a credit card or spatula. For the remaining gunk, make a paste of baking soda and water and scrub, changing your cleaning rag frequently as it, too, becomes stained. Stubborn spots may require soaking with a surfactant (see “Gum or Candy” treatment, above). Once clean, put an old towel soaked in clean water into the dryer and run it for 20-30 minutes on high to make sure you’ve removed all of the stains. Inspect the towel after the cycle; if it’s stained, you’ll need to repeat these steps until you’ve got it all clean. (To remove from clothing, place an ice cube on the stain to harden the wax and scrape as much off as you can using a credit card or butter knife. Then clean the stain with liquid dish soap until the spot is gone. If any still remains, lay a wet dryer sheet on top of the stain for 20 minutes, then run the stain under warm water until it’s gone.*)
Exploded Feather Pillows: Your dryer probably looks like you’d stuck a live chicken in there. Take a deep breath, and remove as many feathers as you can with your hands. Use your vacuum to get the rest. Even though your dryer looks feather-free now, chances are there’s quite a build-up in the lint screen and dryer vent. Since these are a major fire hazard, you’ll need to follow the steps for deep cleaning your dryer to make sure you’ve removed all of the feathery bits.
*Once you’ve removed the stain from your clothing, wash it on the highest setting allowed by the manufacturer’s label, and check that it’s gone before putting it in the dryer. If any remains, repeat these steps until the stain is gone.
Bonus tip: Prevent future dryer nightmares by teaching your family members to empty their pockets before putting their clothes in the dryer!