How to remove dried, melted crayon from a clothes dryer

Posted on August 05, 2005 at 01:06 AM

Leaving things in the pockets of your clothes when washing them is a pretty common thing. Wallets, lipstick, change, pens, etc.. We've all done it at some point in time. And the error is usually caught before the clothes get put in the dryer. Ha. Not this time.

A few months ago I was doing some late night laundering. I rounded up some of the legal department's clothes, grabbed some other stuff and took it downstairs to be washed. In the past, I was known as a notorious non-pocket-checking-clothes-washer here at I have been scolded many o'times for leaving certain items in my pockets and having them go through the wash. Once, my cell phone went through an entire wash cycle. But even though I wasn't the one who put the clothes in the wash, I was still blamed for the simple act of leaving it in my pocket. Amazingly enough, it dried out a few days later and was still operational. So I, the now reformed non-pocket-checking-clothes washer, go through every pocket making damn sure not even a spec of lint makes into the wash.

Satisfied with my thorough inspection, I throw the clothes into the wash. I wait until they are done with the wash cycle, threw them into the dryer, and headed off to bed.

But when pulling the clothes out of the dryer the very next day, we were confronted with a grizzly find. Opening the dryer door revealed hundreds of dollars of clothing marred with strange blue smudges.


So we immediately begin to tear the clothes out of the dryer in search of the culprit. Sweat beads began to form on my brow as thought what I could have possibly missed. I am soooo dead.

"Was it a pen?" She asks.

"How the hell do I know, I checked every pocket before I washed these clothes." There was no way this was getting pinned on me.

"Do you think it was something in the washer that is leaking out?"

"No, the washer looks good. If there was something in there you think we'd see some evidence of it."

All of a sudden she finds the source of the mysterious blue smudges. Turns out, the legal department had left a blue crayon in a small, overlooked pocket on the side of his shorts near the very bottom. The pocket was velcroed shut, which was a good thing, because the amount of blue melted crayon oooozing from underneath the flap of the pocket would have been enough to make a serious mess. We were lucky.

So after taking inventory of all the clothes, I take a look into the dryer to survey what damage it had sustained. I was presented with this sight.

dryer before cleaning

A dryer tinged with blue, hardened crayon, intermingled with blue smudges along the circumference of both the front and back of the dryer drum. I could only imagine what would've happened had we thrown the next load of clothes in there to be dried. The crayon would have heated up and wreaked havoc on even more clothing. We needed to get this stuff off ASAP, but how?

First, I tried to scrub it off. My weapon of choice was a Mr. Clean magic eraser pads which usually does a great job on just about anything. I figured it would do the trick.

Boy was I mistaken.

After 10 minutes of scrubbing I noticed no discernable difference. This stuff was not coming off. So being the nerd that I am, I turn to my friend the internet, more specifically Google, and begin the search. It appears that this has happened to quite a few people, and my search found quite a few helpful tips.

One specific search lead me to the Crayola "helpful information" website (i.e. how to get our product off and/or out of your stuff) which yielded a lot of information on how to remove stains left by their products in many different situations. Good place to start? No, not really. I found it quite disturbing that they listed WD-40 as a possible solution to our problem. Yeah, I'm going to spray a flammable liquid into my dryer in the hope I get it cleaned up enough so as to not to start a fire when the next load of clothes are dried. Great idea, crayola.

Dissatisfied with what I had found so far, I happened upon one idea that seemed a little far fetched, but in the end proved to be the winner. It involved toothpaste. Lots of toothpaste.

Here's what I did to remove the dried crayon from our clothes dryer.

  • 1. Heat your empty clothes dryer by running it on the hottest setting for about 5-10 minutes.

  • 2. Stop the dryer and slather toothpaste (brand doesn't matter) over the crayon afflicted areas. Make sure every area that has crayon is well covered. The more the better.

  • 3. Close the dryer and start it. Again, let it run on it's highest setting.

  • 4. Grab one 12 oz. can of beer (brand not important) and begin to imbibe. When beer is empty, stop the dryer (approx, 7-12 min though your experience may vary).

  • 5. Start removing the crayon from the walls of the dryer by breaking out a chisel, a jar of elbow grease (brand not important), and a wet wash cloth. After vigorously scrubbing for a good 15min, you should notice that the waxy crayon residue will begin to dissipate.

  • 6. Repeat steps 2 though 5 until crayon residue is gone.

How much toothpaste did I use? See for yourself:

Extra Whitening Crest

Believe it or not this was a brand new tube when I started. Near the end of this ordeal I was squeezing out every drop I could muster from the empty tube out of fear I would have venture out to my arch enemy Wal-Mart (one of the few places open after midnight) in order to replenish my supply. Luckily I avoided that fate and finished with just enough to complete the job.

In my estimation the Extra Whitening Crest did a fantastic job at removing the toothepaste. Though I highly doubt the whitening part of the toothpaste had much impact on the overall performance. I would like to think it did, but probably not.

Here is the result of about 2 hours of back breaking, knuckle busting work:

dryer after cleaning

(note: the small black marks you see in the picture are "chips" caused by the legal dept's endeavors as a part time geologist. On previous occasions he would leave the "treasures" (read: rocks) found during his excavations in the pockets of his shorts. Left unchecked, the rocks would fly freely inside the confines of the dryer, causing minor damage to the surface of the dryer walls.)

So, there you have it. Clean as a whistle. No more blue waxy crayon residue. The whole process only cost us a tube of toothpaste and a few years off my life from inhaling super-heated toothpaste fumes for two hours. And come to think we were worried we'd have to buy a new dryer. Puh-shaw.

One final note, I would like to thank Gap kids for designing cool cargo shorts featuring a plethora of a small pockets in areas where pockets wouldn't normally be. I'm sure you're extensive research probably told you that 6 yr old kids love pockets and they need lots of them to put all of their stuff in. So kudos to you Gap kids, and thanks again. Because without out your ingenious design skills, this post wouldn't have been possible.

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30 POSTS...30 DAYS???

Posted by: SIS | August 8, 2005 10:50 AM

Just want to thank you for the great post. My daughter left a blue crayon in her pocket, too. Now I'm getting ready to apply the toothpaste to the dryer. Your site is great!

Posted by: Juliana | September 3, 2008 12:48 PM

Just want to thank you for the great post. My daughter left a blue crayon in her pocket, too. Now I'm getting ready to apply the toothpaste to the dryer. Your site is great!

Posted by: Juliana | September 3, 2008 12:49 PM

Green and Blue crayola crayons left in the black dress pants of my 19 year old son. He is a pt time waiter putting himself through schoolat UT. The crayons mess is all over his work clothes and our dryer.. I hope toothpaste will do the job on the dryer.
I am hoping a 4 ounce glass of pino grigio will do the trick for step four.

Posted by: Joyce | September 18, 2008 08:28 PM

English is my second language, so I put beer in my dryer and for elbow grease, I put Vaseline. I have a bigger mess than what I started with. But I learned what "imbibe" means and how the term "elbow grease" is used. LOL

Posted by: yami | October 28, 2008 10:14 AM

duz this really work. Sounds like something luke and noah would do they thirteen years old and act like retards

Posted by: Dean Farris | January 1, 2009 01:27 PM

I like the toothpaste going to try it when the kiddos take a nap. What did you do with the clothes? I don't want to WD-40 those either. I'll bet you don't have a billion crayons around either and that is why your son puts the darn things in his pocket...haha. I have crayons coming out the chimney - so why they hide them in the pockets I'll never guess.

Posted by: Jan | February 18, 2009 10:41 AM

Thanks for the advise. W-D40 in my gas dryer?!? Might as well light the kitchen on fire...I'm hopefully your t-paste trick works..

Posted by: Julie | February 26, 2009 12:22 PM

I had a black crayon go thru my dryer witha load of whites.... still trying to get the black crayon off the clothes, but Soft Scrub and a green scrubby worked great on cleaning out the dryer! Just need to rinse real good!

Posted by: kris | April 27, 2009 09:00 PM

Blue and purple crayons in a SOCK. only a 2 year old can find a new "pocket" for crayons. was up til 2am scrubbing with comet and nothing. armed with toothpaste and ready to start again. thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Bea | June 22, 2009 08:32 AM

easy clean on the drier is flitz metal polish dissolves the crayon as you rub. its smells funky but works good and faster then toothpaste, cleaned with damp cloth and mild detergent to help with the smell from polish then ran drier on fluff to vent it out.

Posted by: walker | July 19, 2009 12:37 AM

I just had this happen to me and I was able to get the crayon out of the dryer..I used Grease is in a white bottle with black and yellow worked wonders on the dryer. I was told to try it on the clothes..did it..but the stains are still there a little so I am going to try the paper towels and iron thing because I am scared that WD-40 will leave a grease spot on the new clothes!

Posted by: Christy | August 17, 2009 11:13 PM

But were you able to get the crayon out of the clothes? I'm dying to know. Since, um, this just happened to me. Ugh ugh ugh. New fall clothes for the one year old, and the shirt our 3 year old wears 6 days a week, all victims of a frakking crayon.

Posted by: katie | August 29, 2009 11:35 PM

i think that that was a good idea putting a magic earaser in the dryer that really worked.......

Posted by: kayla | October 18, 2009 03:57 PM

i think that that was a good idea putting a magic earaser in the dryer that really worked.......

Posted by: kayla | October 18, 2009 03:57 PM

I had a similar mishap tonight and was pleasantly surprised that Scrubbing Bubbles Foaming Bathroom Cleaner worked. I sprayed it on and let it sit for about 2 minutes then wiped it off with a soft cloth. Some areas had to be reapplied, but it only took me about 10 minutes.

Posted by: Meghan | November 9, 2009 12:15 AM

I had to clean up the dryer this evening after my daughter failed to tell me that there was orange crayon all over the inside. Anyways, I used a product called 'LA's Totally Awesome' all purpose cleaner and degreaser. It worked great! I get it at Dollar General for $1. It is concentrated, but I used it full strength. And it is not flammable, which made me alot more comfortable than using WD-40.

Posted by: lisa | December 5, 2009 07:46 PM

Thanks for the Tooth paste tip!! Working on that right now!

For answers on the crayons in the clothes themselves- saturate the clothes with SHOUT stain remover, let sit for 20 minutes. Mix scalding hot water, a little more SHOUT, some tide stain remover, and a few tbsp of tide detergent in sink/tub put clothes in until completely covered. (I soaked the first set of mine all day, but an hour worked well on the second set. Take a tooth brush and scub loose the particles. It worked on 95% of the clothing.

Posted by: Echo | April 22, 2010 09:32 PM

I don't know about that whole toothpaste ordeal but I used a mild car polishing compound (not car wax)inside my white dryer to remove red and yellow melted crayon stains. Then, wiped it down with soap and water before running the dryer. Worked great.

Posted by: PK | August 4, 2010 07:03 PM crack me up! Very interesting and creative post. I'm going to run the toothpaste trick now! Thanks!

Posted by: Michelle | February 25, 2011 03:10 PM

alcohol....much less mess and elbow grease, just hold your breath

Posted by: tammy | March 5, 2011 01:26 PM

Whooo Hooo!!! Oh thank you thank you! I have only been able to use my dry for old clothes and blue clothes. One of my 4 awesome kids must have had a blue crayon hiding in a pocket.The entire inside of my dryer has had a blue film. I have tried lots of things.T have only done the door with the toothpaste method. But it is now white!! I was almost to the point of trying to scratch together enough for a used dryer.

Posted by: Brenda More | September 19, 2011 09:54 AM

Just spray (jig-a-loo) all-around lubricant (orange spray can) on a smooth rag and scrub. It instantly dissolves. You may need to re-position the rag frequently though, it clogs quickly.NEVER spray directly into drum as it may leak on electrical parts and cause fire or explosion. (duh...)Beer is not necessary since about 3 min. into the job you most likely will be stoned and giggling as I was. Cheap buzz though.

Posted by: father of seven | September 21, 2011 09:12 PM

I tried a "citrus" goo-gone-type cleaner and also a WD-40 wipedown with elbow grease. Neither one really worked, they only lightened the crayon colors. In desperation I tried a bubbling bathroom cleaner and a magic eraser pad. It came up immediately with a little rubbing. It only took about 10 minutes compared to an hour with other methods. This one definitely worked for me, not sure why, maybe because the dryer is fairly new?
Hope this helps. Today I will move on to the next phase of super hot water and dish detergent to remove residues/cleaners then tumbling with dry junk towels.
Then I'll attack the crayon stains on the laundry load :P

Posted by: mary b. | December 5, 2011 09:41 AM

Thank you so much!! I had an orange crayon all over. I did try a little wd-40, but it didn't really work, and I was not comfortable using it. I used a whitening toothpaste that had scrubbies in it, and it worked so well! I could see it working as I lathered it on. Only took two times, though I still have a test load to do of old rags/towels. Next will be tackling my clothes, and of course, it was a load of all our "nicer" clothes.

Posted by: lisa | December 10, 2011 10:49 PM

I took a hair dryer and heated crayon spots on dryer door and drum and wiped off with damp rag fairly easy. I have rd crayola ots all over a sheet and couple of garments . Do you trash them or is there a method to totally remove coloring?

Posted by: texasgal73 | January 17, 2012 06:38 PM

I took a hair dryer and heated crayon spots on dryer door and drum and wiped off with damp rag fairly easy. I have rd crayola ots all over a sheet and couple of garments . Do you trash them or is there a method to totally remove coloring?

Posted by: texasgal73 | January 17, 2012 06:38 PM

I used a hair dryer and heated crayon spots on dryer door and drum and wiped off with damp rag fairly easy. I have rd crayola ots all over a sheet and couple of garments . Do you trash them or is there a method to totally remove coloring?

Posted by: texasgal73 | January 17, 2012 06:39 PM

The best method i found to removing crayon from our dryer was to use scrubbing bubbles as can indicates. Rubbing alcohol and wd40 were a serious waste of time! Now if only we could get it out of my children's clothes...:-)

Posted by: lacface | February 23, 2012 03:55 AM

Scrubbing with Spray and Wash under scalding water worked for us. I eventually went this route when I realized that the iron and paper towel thing wasn't going to work.

Posted by: J | March 10, 2012 09:30 PM

Worked beautifully!! Only took me 30 mins total. Counting 10 mins of scrubbing! Thanks!

Posted by: Jennifer W | September 8, 2012 03:19 PM

The Scrubbing Bubbles worked great heated up the dryer spayed it on and it just melted the crayon. No scrubbing just wiped away the bad crayon.

Posted by: nathan beasley | October 28, 2012 03:43 PM

Well, this afternoon my clothes dryer was attacked by a tube of lipstick. A tube with not one, but two colors in it AND they also contained sparkles! YUP, I had washed a load of my blue jeans and put them in the dryer. My solution...I wiped the entire inside of the dryer out with "Distilled White Vinegar" and it came off just perfectly! I re~washed the jeans in Biz and the vinegar and there was still some lipstick, so I re~washed again, this time I soaked for about a half hour and now they look pretty good.

Posted by: Mitzi | November 18, 2012 06:26 PM

Thanks for the tip. So far so good. I definitely see a difference. I used Colgate regular till I ran out then Tom's baking soda peppermint. My sinuses are clear, that is for sure. I am heating the dryer and going for round two in about 5 minutes. I had better results scrubbing with my bare hands than with a towel. I got a handful of water to loosen the smeary-dried paste to clear it away. The towel seemed to absorb the toothpaste too much during initial scrubbing. Thanks for the non-flammable solution to an already inflamed situation!!

Posted by: Jayna | March 24, 2013 12:04 PM

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