If you have school-aged children, this was probably the week that you got all their supplies packed up and sent them off on to their first day of school. Even for us grown-up kids, September still carries that great Back To School feeling, and so this month Pretty Clean columns are devoted to all Back To School topics, like cleaning book bags and lunch sacks.

To kick this micro-series off, we’ll start with the basics of removing pen, marker and crayon from fabric and hard surfaces. Because whether you’ve got kids or are just a little klutzy yourself, we’ve all been there before.

Pen and Marker Stain Removal

There’s actually a pretty simple equation for you to remember when it comes to ink stain removal. 1. Avoid water. 2. Reach for the rubbing alcohol.

Easy, right?

The problem with using water to treat an ink stain is that the water will cause the stain to spread and make the situation worse.

The tendency of ink stains to spread is a thing you want to bear in mind even when working with rubbing alcohol, which is the thing that will take pen and marker stains out of fabrics from clothing to upholstery. If you flood the stain with rubbing alcohol, it may cause spreading. Instead, apply the rubbing alcohol to a rag, sponge or a cotton ball and dab at the stain. You may need to take a few passes by reapplying more of the rubbing alcohol to your rag, but eventually the stain will lighten or come out completely and you can launder the item as usual. For furniture, wipe the area that you’ve spot treated using a damp rag with a very small amount of mild detergent to remove the alcohol residue.

If the pen or marker ends up on painted wall or tile, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will take those ugly marks right out. Just be sure to test in an inconspicuous spot to be sure the Eraser doesn’t damage the paint.

Crayon Removal

A Magic Eraser will also work on removing crayon from walls and other hard surfaces like tables and floors. But there’s one more secret weapon that every mom of crayon-wielding kids should know about: WD-40!

To use it to remove crayon from hard surfaces as well as clothing and upholstery, spray a small amount onto a rag or sponge. Using the rag, wipe the crayon off—it should come off immediately. Once the crayon is entirely removed, rinse the rag and put a small amount of soap on it, then go back over the area to remove any remaining WD-40.

As a bonus, I want to mention that WD-40 will also work to remove glue from fabric. So if your kids come home from Arts & Crafts with glue on their clothes, reach for the WD-40. Apply a very small amount of the WD-40 to a rag and blot at the glue. Then rinse the fabric well with cold water and work a small amount of mild soap into the area where you applied the WD-40 to remove it, and launder the garment as usual.

Now you can encourage your child’s creative side without having to worry about all the messes that come with being an artiste!

READ MORE: Pretty Clean: 10 Essential Products For Staying Clean On The Road