How to Remove Melted, Exploded Crayon from Clothes: A Step-by-Step Guide

Getting Melted Crayon Out of Clothes After Laundry Disaster

I opened up my dryer to find this and knew my next several days would be derailed.

This is what it looks like when a crayon explodes / melts in the dryer. Vicious spots everywhere.

It was a perfect example of the “second shift” and how so many of us as parents do THANKLESS housekeeping chores all the time, and then something unexpected goes wrong, and it’s on US to right the ship, creating even more (invisible) work than we already do. Ok, rant over. Wait, one more rant: my husband was ready to just throw all of these clothes away, which somehow makes it even devalued that I “created” this work for myself by trying to salvage them. I know some of you out there understand. I’m my frugal parents’ daughter, resourceful to the extreme, and I was NOT going to take this punishment from the laundry gods lying down. 

I’m sharing my process and advice in case you stumble on this post in the future after finding an exploded crayon in your laundry (if so, sorry you’re here, and YES, you can get it out).

Background Research:

I used these posts by Crayola (post 1) and (post 2), this ad-barraged blog post, and this video for inspiration.

The Steps I Took:

Step 1: Clean out the dryer. Turn it on EXTRA-HOT for 15 minutes or so. Then open it up and scrub all visible color with dryer sheets. Follow that up with a Magic Eraser scrub session. Don’t forget to put your head in and get the parts of the dryer that you can’t see from the outside. When all color is relatively gone, dry wet white rag and make sure it comes out without crayon on it. If it does, you can go back to drying clothes safely in there.

Magic eraser on a hot dryer. Get every single spot.

HOT TIP: Don’t spray cleaner in the dryer and then stick your head in. I did this and nearly fainted. And the spray cleaner did nothing anyway, so just don’t do it.

Step 2: One piece of clothing at a time, scrub the visible spots with Dawn liquid dish detergent and an old toothbrush. It doesn’t come off, and you’ll be feeling frustrated. But it’s helping to break down the wax. I did this in my children’s kiddie pool in a pot of extra-hot water. 

HOT TIP: Some people suggest using WD-40 and/or Lestoil on the spots as you scrub. I did an A load and a B load to compare, and there was NO DIFFERENCE between the A load (Dawn) and the B load /(Lestoil) except for the nauseating smell of the Lestoil load. If you go this route, be sure to wear a mask and scrub outside, because I felt ill for the rest of the day. But really, there’s no point. Just use Dawn. Plus, if you just use Dawn, you can leave the disposable gloves and mask off the list of items you need to buy.

Step 3: Soak for 6+ hours in EXTRA HOT water with a cupful of OxiClean and a half-cup of BIZ. I checked in on it after about 3 hours and was totally disappointed–all of the spots were still there, but then when I came back at the 6-hour mark, I was delighted to see that many of the spots had melted away without any extra scrubbing needed.

Step 4: Remove clothing from the OxiClean/Biz bath, one by one, scrubbing AGAIN at any visible remaining spots.

Step 5: Overnight water bath in mixture of EXTRA HOT water + 1 c baking soda and 2 c white vinegar. This might have been overkill, but it was already night, so I was like: what the hey.

Step 6: Wash the laundry in an EXTRA HOT–VERY DIRTY–2X RINSE–SOAK cycle (or whatever your machine’s heavy duty-est setting is), with another dose of OxiClean and Biz. 

HOT TIP: I had wanted to take this load to a local laundromat in case it messed up my washer, but my husband told me that would be evil and lacking in integrity, which is true. I think my conscience would have ultimately prohibited this anyway. Good news though! It did not mess up my washer.

Step 7: Hang clothes to dry outside, all day, preferably in full sun.

Air drying in the sunshine and Virginia pollen

Step 8: Wash the clothes in yet another EXTRA HOT–VERY DIRTY–2X RINSE–SOAK-OxiClean-Biz cycle.

Step 9: Dare to dry the clothes in your dryer. 

Step 10: Feel so proud!!!!!!!!!!! Even if no one else cares and you just spent hours and hours on work you hadn’t expected for this week, I see you!!!!

A few parting thoughts:

  • If this hasn’t happened to you yet, tell your children that they should check their pockets before putting clothes in the hamper. I was feeling really frustrated at my kids, but then it occurred to me that I’d never actually taught them this basic laundry practice. To be honest, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened to me sooner.
  • Our situation was the result of 2 crayons: a pink Crayola and a red off-brand from a restaurant visit or something. The pink came out WAY better. I’m never using non-Crayolas again in my household!
  • It didn’t get every last bit of crayon stain (I’m looking at you, off-brand red), but it DID get the clothes to a point where they can be worn (which they WILL be. The two “worst” results were my daughter’s soccer jersey and my sons’ favorite shirt). And I can vouch that they will not ruin further loads of clothing in the dryer, despite these lingering stains. I know because I’ve since dried further loads in the dryer… no spots.

Carly B

Carly B

Carly is a postpartum doula and Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) based in the West End of Richmond, Virginia.