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 JoeSchmidt.com. 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.
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:
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:
(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.