Halloween cleaning checklist: removing pumpkin and make-up stains

Halloween can be a messy time of year! This article discusses simple methods for removing chocolate & makeup stains, along with other typcial Halloween stains.

Updated

child dressed as ghost in freshly laundered sheet for Halloween cleaning checklist

Key steps

  1.  A great way to achieve the best stain removal results is to pre-treat the stain by gently working neat detergent into the fabric. 
  2. For washable fabrics which have become stained, soak them overnight in a bowl of warm water and liquid detergent.
  3. Always check the care instructions for different fabrics.

If you celebrate Halloween at home, then you probably know all about the classic Halloween stains that cover your clothes – and your kids’ clothes – at this time of year. From Halloween activities at home to trick or treating, and from dressing up to attending spooky parties, there’s no Halloween event that’s safe from those ghastly stains. If you aren’t sure of the best ways to tackle these devilish stains, then here’s everything you need to know about Halloween cleaning:

There’s one very important thing you need to check before throwing your kids’ Halloween costume in the washing machine: the pockets! With so many sweets around, you’ll need to be careful none make their way into the drum – heat, water, and sugar combined make a sticky mess to find later.

Pumpkin stains

Nothing quite says Halloween like carving a pumpkin, and this is one of the best activities to do with the kids at this wonderful time of year. While it’s not wise to let children loose with the carving tools, one thing they can do is help ‘gut’ the pumpkin, removing the seeds and stringy flesh. If it sounds messy, that’s because it is, and it’s very rare that clothing survives this fun activity without some sort of pumpkin-coloured stain.

  • The first step is to use a spoon to remove any excess pumpkin from the clothing.
  • Apply a pre-treatment stain remover, and leave for one hour to allow the particles to loosen.
  • Wash as normal in the washing machine, with a detergent and fabric softener if you wish. If any stain remains, then repeat as necessary.

Chocolate stains on clothes

If your kids have been trick or treating in the neighbourhood, they may have come back with a bag full of chocolate bars, chocolate-covered sweets, chocolate biscuits, and anything else chocolate-y! The result? One very happy child on a sugar high, and one set of very mucky clothes. Chocolate stains can be helped by pre-treating them before putting them in the washing machine:

  • The classic way is to massage a small amount of biological liquid detergent into the chocolate stain. Some manufacturers now offer dosing devices that double as a pre-treatment helper, ensuring the detergent reaches deep down into the fibres.

Makeup stains

Sometimes, all you need to perfect a costume is a little bit of regular makeup, but what happens if you accidentally wipe your sleeve across your wet mascara, or find remnants of foundation on your collar? There are many tricks for removing makeup from clothing – here are a few of the best:

  • Apply a colourless shaving foam to eyeshadow stains. Shaving foam is really just a well-lathering soap at its core, and works to effortlessly clean any dirty marks. Again, always test any product in a small area first, and read the directions on the care label.
  • Use a stain remover or liquid laundry detergent for oil-based makeup like foundations, lipsticks, cream eyeshadows, and anything that claims to be ‘long lasting’. Following the instructions on the label, just apply a small amount of stain remover or detergent directly to the stain, before washing as normal.
  • For lipstick stains, apply a small amount of hairspray onto the area and leave to dry – this should take around 10 minutes. Then tackle the stain with a stiff-bristled brush for instant results. Again, always test any method in a small, inconspicuous area of your garment first – and always read the care label for advice.

Face paint stains

Zombies, ghosts, the devil… whatever we’re dressed at on Halloween, chances are we’ve used some face paint to help give us a really authentic and scary look. While face paint can really complete a costume, it does come with two problems – getting it off your skin, and getting it off your clothing. If the face paint is water-based, then removal from the face, and from the clothes, is relatively straightforward:

  • For the face, good old soap and water should do the trick nicely. You could also use makeup remover or face wipes – just follow the directions on the label.
  • For clothes, simply washing in the machine with your favourite laundry detergent can be enough to flush the colours from the fabric. Again, pre-treating the stains can make a big difference.

Oil-based paints are a little bit trickier, as they don’t react to water in quite the same way. To remove from your face, try using a makeup remover designed for waterproof or long-wearing makeup. For clothing, pre-treat before washing as normal.

Food colouring stains

If you’ve got kids (or if you just really like getting into the spirit of Halloween), you may have planned a spooky dinner menu, such as blood-red mashed potatoes, or a chilling blue lemonade as an evening treat. Food colouring comes in very handy at this time of year, and can be used to transform even the most plain food and drink into something truly ghastly. The problem? Food colourings are notorious for creating stubborn stains, and can be very tricky to remove if you don’t know how. The trick is to tackle the stain as soon as possible, so if you’ve made a spill just as you’re mashing those potatoes, stop and focus on the stain. Potatoes can wait.

  • For washable fabrics, soak them overnight in a bowl of just warm water and liquid detergent, before washing the following morning. Make sure to check the care labels first.
  • For items that can’t be machine washed, like carpets, alternate between dabbing with a good quality stain remover and flushing with water until the stain has gone. Be sure to follow the directions on the label and to test any product in a small area first.

Originally published