1 Mind that marker. To remove marker from a chalkboard, paneled surface, or desk, wipe with a damp sponge. If any stain remains, apply a mild abrasive cleanser with a damp sponge, work in a circular motion, and rinse. If the stain persists, saturate a cotton ball with nail polish remover, blot the remaining stain, and rinse.

2 Clean up the crayons. Removing ground-in crayon is easier if you first scrape away the excess with a dull knife. Next, spray the stain with WD-40 and let it stand for a few minutes. With a small stiff-bristle brush, work the stain and wipe with paper towels. Respray with WD-40 and apply liquid dishwashing detergent on the sprayed area. Work in with the brush and wipe the stain away with a damp sponge.

3 Take off tape. Remove sticky residue by carefully dabbing the area with rubbing alcohol, petroleum-based pre-wash, or cleaning fluid.

4 Clear away clay. First, let the clay or soil dry. Then remove as much of the dried clay as you can by brushing the area with a stiff brush. Next, dampen a sponge and wash the soiled area with a solution of a half teaspoon white dishwashing detergent and a cup of water. Rinse with clear water. Use as little water as possible to allow the carpet to dry quickly.

5 Foil the fruit juice. Don't use soap when fruit juice stains smocks or bibs; it sets the stain immediately. Instead, soak the area with cold water and let sit for 30 minutes. Rub some detergent into the stain while it's still wet. Wash or rinse as usual. If this doesn't work, apply hydrogen peroxide if the item is bleach-safe, then rinse well.

6 Fade away food coloring. First, soak the stain for 30 minutes in a solution of a half teaspoon liquid detergent and one tablespoon white vinegar. Let dry. Then dab on rubbing alcohol, continuing the treatment until no additional stain is removed. Soak the stained area in a solution of one quart warm water, a half teaspoon liquid detergent, and one tablespoon ammonia. Rinse.

Sources: Heloise from A to Z (Perigee Books, 1992), the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, and Binney & Smith. For a free booklet with more stain-removing tips, call (800) CRAYOLA.

This article originally appeared in the April, 1998 issue of Early Childhood Today.