Dear Home Ec 101,
Hello! My three year old son decided it would be fun to draw on our car upholstery with black pen. In the past I have been able to use hairspray on crayon with wonderful success (couch and table cloth), but I have never attempted it on pen. Any tips or am I better of just leaving the unsightly mess? I’d hate to try something and have it look worse.
Inky in Indy
Give a little kid a pen and they will create a masterpiece. Unfortunately, if they don’t have any paper on hand, they’ll draw on anything that happens to be around, whether it’s their own skin or your walls or your car upholstery.
Fortunately, cleaning it isn’t that bad. You’re going the right direction with thinking hairspray, but it is the alcohol in the hairspray that does the actual cleaning. So skip the middle man and get some rubbing alcohol.
First, blot the stain to get up any excess ink. Don’t rub. Nowhere in this process should you rub*- rubbing will cause the stain to spread, so blot only. Then put some alcohol on a rag and blot again with the alcohol. Keep alcoholing and blotting until the stain comes up.
I find it really amusing that we’re using rubbing alcohol to clean something that is blot-only, but perhaps that is only me. Good luck!
*If you have a very large ink blot, you may have to do a tiny bit of rubbing. Work from the outside of the blot inward to make the stain smaller.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.