The Projectpocalypse: How To Clean Up a DIY Disaster

The Projectpocalypse: How To Clean Up a DIY Disaster

Elizabeth Licata
Feb 15, 2012

Oh no! Your awesome DIY project failed utterly in a spectacular way. Don't panic; there'll be time to try again, but first you have to tackle the mess. Even if your project is a work of sublime beauty destined for the Louvre, you could wind up with a colossal mess that needs to be taken care of. Paint, glue, blood — read on for how to clean up some of the most common DIY disasters.

Blood from fabric — Quick, spit on it! I know it sounds gross, but nothing gets out blood as quickly as spit. (I'm told the spit and blood have to come from the same person to work, but I've never actually tested that part for fear of looking like a crazy woman by asking for other people's spit or blood.) To get out blood, first spit on the spot, then rub it in. Then rinse your fabric by holding it spot-side-down under cold running water. After that, you can use a gentle detergent or wash according to your care instructions.

Hot glue — Wait for the hot glue to dry thoroughly. While you're waiting, watch this video of Make Magazine reader John Mangan using hot glue to stick together everything on his work table, then cleaning it all off with rubbing alcohol.
If your hot glue gets on fabric, there are two good ways to get it off: hot and cold. One way is to put the fabric in the freezer and then break the glue off once it's very cold and brittle. The other option is to lay a clean cotton press cloth on top of the glue (an old pillowcase is great), then iron over it. The iron will transfer the glue to the press cloth. Keep moving to clean spots on the press cloth and continue ironing until the spot is gone.

Super Glue — Nail polish remover is your best ally here, because acetone is Super Glue's Kryptonite. But acetone can damage your surfaces more than the glue did in the first place, so be careful and go slowly. With some surfaces, like skin, just warm water can help. Check out the official Guide to Removing Super Glue for what to do if you accidentally glue your lips or eyelids together. (How would one even do that? Nevermind, I don't want to know.)

Paint — When it comes to paint, the fresher it is, the easier it will be to clean up. While you're working, keep a sponge and some water handy. If you're using a solvent-thinned paint, keep some of your thinner and a supply of clean rags around to wipe up drips as they happen. Goof Off stain remover is designed specifically for screw-ups like this, and it's served me well during more than one errant spray-paint disaster.

Straight pins and other fiddly metal bits — These won't stain, so knocking over all your bolts or screws or pins or needles won't do any permanent damage. But you still want to pick them up, or you'll find them later with your toes. I keep a big magnet in my craft closet just for such occasions. When the pins scatter to the four winds, especially under furniture, I just do a quick sweep with the magnet and everything is retrieved almost instantly. A magnetic pin cushion is great for this.

Red wine — Next time, it'd probably be a good idea to wait till the project is finished before uncorking the grape. But don't worry, the experts over at The Kitchn have got you covered with a step-by-step guide to cleaning up wine stains.

Glitter — Oh, honey. Glitter is the worst. It's worse than blood, worse than glue, worse than wine. It sticks; it travels; it might even breed. If you do spill the glitter, don't breathe or make any extraneous movements that might scatter it even further. Vacuum it up as quickly as possible, and wash any exposed fabric. If you miss some, which you probably will, try to make up a cool story like "I was at a fabulous party" or "I was rescuing children from a burning glitter factory."

(Image: Shutterstock)

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