Halloween is here, and with it comes much making of spooOOooky messes! Halloween messes are special, in that they can be pretty bad ones, but fortunately for you guys, I’m both a Clean Person and a Halloween Person, and so I have solutions up my very witchy sleeves for you.
Wigs and Fur Suits
Costume wigs and furry suits can be washed pretty much the same way you wash hair: With shampoo. Use cool water and, in the case of wigs, don’t rub the fibres, which will cause tangling. After you’ve washed a wig, shake it gently to remove water, then lay flat to air dry. You can style a wig using brushes, combs and curlers, provided they’re not heated, which will cause synthetic hair to melt.
Fur suits, because of their size, may be best washed in the tub. When you’re done shampooing and rinsing the costume, press down on it to extrude water, then roll it in a large towel and lay flat to air dry. If it looks a bit mangy or matted once it’s dry, a slicker brush, like the ones used to groom pets, can be used to fluff its fur back up.
Greasepaint and Regular Makeup
Halloween makeup gets messier than the regular stuff – partly because the theatrical makeup that’s so popular for costumes is thicker and more pigmented than the regular stuff, and also because even when using the regular stuff, Halloween tends to bring out the exuberant makeup artist in us. But have no fear, because there are simple ways to clean it up if it makes a mess.
Rubbing alcohol is excellent for removing makeup stains from skin, clothing and other textiles, and hard surfaces such as countertops. Apply the alcohol to a cotton ball or pad, or to an old washcloth, and dab at the stain, repeating as needed until the makeup is gone. Then, go over the area with a damp cloth or sponge to remove the residue from the rubbing alcohol.
Makeup remover can obviously be used to take makeup off of your person, but it can also pull double duty in taking makeup off of clothes, strollers, car seats and so on. Just be sure to use the oil-free kind, otherwise you’ll end up with a totally different kind of stain in need of removing!
Cooking oil will also help to remove stubborn makeup from skin or hard surfaces. Not for use on fabrics, but a helpful thing to keep in mind if, say, the long-lasting lipstick you used to draw on your kid’s face just won’t budge.
Spray-in Hair Colour
Rubbing alcohol will also remove coloured hairspray stains! Apply a small amount to the stain using a cotton ball or soft cloth, then wipe away with a damp rag or flush with cool running water. You can also buy rubbing alcohol in a bottle with a spray nozzle (or decant it into a spray bottle you already have), which I’ve personally found to be a total game changer when it comes to stain removal.
Rubbing alcohol can also be used to eliminate coloured hairspray from upholstery, though carpet and upholstery stain treatment products will do the trick, as well.
If you’ve stained your bathroom, a cream cleanser or a powder cleanser will help you tackle those stains. A thing to keep in mind is that you want to allow the product time to penetrate the stain before you go in with a ton of elbow grease; let it sit on the stain for a minute or two before wiping or scrubbing away. If the coloured hairspray has gotten into the grout, use a stiff-bristled scrub brush in concert with one of those products to lift it out of the porous material.
Fake blood is usually made of food colouring, corn syrup and water, which means that what you’re essentially treating is a food colouring stain. For those – you guessed it! – rubbing alcohol does the job for removing those stains from fabric. Bleach, and products that contain bleach, can also be used for removing fake blood stains from hard surfaces such as bathroom floors or countertops.
Glitter is a danged mess! But also, it’s so lovely-looking that we can forgive it – plus, I have tricks (get it???) for cleaning the stuff up.
When glitter gets all over the floor or furniture, vacuuming is a good option for cleanup, but you’ll want to switch the attachments before you go in. Use the hose attachment, or a handheld with a nozzle-style opening, rather than a brush-style attachment. Otherwise, the glitter will get all caught up in the bristles and then you’ll wind up vacuuming the whole house with glitter.
Lint rollers and other sticky things, such as masking or painter’s tape, or mailing pouches (really!), are also great at picking up glitter.
Lastly, here’s one of my all-time favourite tips: Silly Putty and/or Play-Doh will pick glitter up from all kinds of places, from skin to the living room rug. Plus, then you’ll have glittery Silly Putty!
Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. Her flagship column, “Ask a Clean Person”, debuted in 2011. Here on Lifehacker, we’re launching a new iteration of it, focusing on parenting and all the messes it brings.