Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cleaning Homeschooling Messes: a Complete Guide

Often, as homeschoolers, we are on the lookout for project ideas and things to do to enrich our dear lambs' education and lives. What has been forgotten in all of the homeschool books and forums, is the fall-out from those projects and the very special methods it may take to clean up after them.

Here is a catalog of messes and how to repair your home after them.


This is a special sort of Waldorf mess, but if you have ever tried your hand at candle, soap or cream-making, you have most likely encountered it. To remove beeswax:
1) From the floor: take your patience and a nice, flat, butter knife and scrape. Be kind to your floor;
use the flat edge and take your time to avoid scrapes. Follow with a squirt of vinegar and water, wipe clean.
2) From fabric: use an old cotton rag or dish towel and an iron. Place the dry towel on top of the waxed one, the iron on a low setting, and iron over the spot carefully. Repeat until absorbed into the rag, keep for the next time or toss.

Pencil shavings.
1) Use a pencil sharpener with a container attachment. Make sure the seal between the two has been correctly closed before putting it into the hands of a child.
2) You can save your pencil shavings to use as artist pastels, each in an individual box, such as a pill divider.
3) When your children are older and sharpening pencils for mom is not as much fun as it once was, and they can understand not to grind them to a pulp; you could treat yourself to an electric sharpener; bzzz, and you're done. Do not neglect to empty the contraption that holds the shavings on a regular can generally be counted on to hold, and spill, a large quantity of mess.

Water color.
1) As the name implies, this is painting with a bit of pigment and a lot of water. The best way to approach this activity is with a short-handled brush and water recipients with wide bases.
2)  In the early years, we would still use paint shirts, even for mixing the paint.
2) Brushes can be simply rinsed with water, no soap or detergent needed.

1) If you own test tubes, invest in a little bottle brush; about 1.99 at your local discount or grocery store. It is the very best way to clean the bottom and sides of a narrow test tube.
2) Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer, and empty chemicals in appropriate places, some cannot be dumped down the sink without dire consequences for both your pipes and the environment (including your drinking water).
3) Litmus, if left for 6 months in the bottom of the test tube, will take several minutes of intense bottle-brush scrubbing to remove. Use normal dish soap, rinse often and keep scrubbing. And for future reference: avoid leaving this or any other mixture sitting in wait of future use for an extended period of time. I know, I understand, I empathize; I hate to waste what might come in handy at a later date as well, but trust me; your time is worth more than that bit of solution.
4) Chemicals not to dump:bleach and ammonia based products at the same time; hazard!


If you use the kool-aid method, there is limited scope for mess. Now, if you are into perfecting your shades and experimenting with acid or procion dyes, you are in for a treat, and potential repercussions on your home.
1) Use appropriate bottles for squirting dye, sold at Dharma Trading Co., with substitution possible by ketchup and mustard bottles from a dollar store.
2) If soaking or squirting, do so outside or over layers of newspaper, lots of them.  
3) When precautionary measures fail; you can always tie-dye the "damaged" garments later. Great instructions can be found on the Dharma website.  

Aprons: are an excellent addition to any homeschooler's cooking, painting or modeling gear.


An easy way to say "Yes!" to the outdoors every single day and not have to bear the consequences. Ask friends, check the second-hand stores, they last forever and no one wears them for very long.


Mud is the most frustrating and long-lasting of messes in most climates. The kids bring it in, the dog carries it to all corners of the house, it seems to travel on its own. Mostly, though, if you can keep a   1) rug, heavy enough to stay put or taped down, immediately next to all doors that it could possibly enter, and regularly shake out/change/vacuum the rugs, you will do a lot to keep it down to a dull roar of a mess.
2) Train or bribe, it amounts to the same thing, your dog(s), to allow paw-wiping each time he enters the door. Same for your kids. Not paws. Feet.  Shoes. Socks. Whatever they managed to escape in.

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