Best way to remove melted crayon and candy from your car

Posted July 19, 2019 by Chris Blaisdell, Onsite Detail

The Pinnacle of all Detailing…

This blog may or may not be the pinnacle of all detailing… removing melted crayon and candy from a car. I can’t count the number of interior detail jobs I’ve done when either a melted crayon or melted gummy candy had softened, melted, and somehow hardened its way into the carpet, cracks, and crevasses of a vehicle. Unfortunately, this might be the way you have described the interior of your vehicle to a friend… you may have said things like, “there’s melted crayon in the back cup holder” or “there’s a melted gummy bear on the car mat on the passenger side”. If you’ve never said those words you’ve at least thought them or have heard someone say it. If you’ve never heard anyone say anything like that I promise that you know someone who has. The thing I’m trying to get at is that melted substances in vehicles happen to the best of us in one way or another. It’s a fact (that I may or may not have made up for the support of my writings today). 

List of melted sticky things we’ve found in cars;

  • crayons
  • candy and chocolate
  • wax (candles, etc.)
  • deodorant
  • spilled sticky food
  • lipstick/chap-stick
  • makeup
  • fruit
  • donuts/pastries
  • unrecognizable gunk…

Crayons, gummy candy, and chapstick are very different… although young children will try to eat all of them. There are many methods and techniques that you may hear that you can use and that are effective in removing melted crayon and candy from a car and off of vehicle carpet and out of vehicle cup holders.

My experiences with removing melted crayon and candy from a car, out-of-vehicle carpets, and off-vehicle interior surfaces have been trial by error, always starting with the least aggressive method first if you are not sure what it needs. In many cases, the process of getting them out of the carpets or cup holders will be the same. I will mention a few chemicals and/or techniques that will work for removing the sticky and hardened substances in your vehicle.

Loosening up the sticky stuff

The first thing you want to do before you can actually be removing melted crayon and candy from a car safely is to soften or loosen it up. I usually test the area with some all-purpose cleaner (APC) or a light-duty degreaser. You will want to let the APC/degreaser sit on the area for a minute or two to let it soften the crayon or gummy. If you have a putty knife you can use that to separate the substance from the carpet or fabric, but be extremely careful that you do not damage the surface that you are working on. In some cases, it could also be on a leather seat. It may be slightly easier to remove from leather but the care that needs to be taken is even greater with vinyl or leather. The damage to leather can be irreversible so be sure to be extremely careful or it would need to be repaired. We will come back to leather in a little bit. After letting the APC/degreaser or a solvent-based chemical (do not use on the leather, vinyl, or sensitive materials) soften the crayon or gummy candy, continue analyzing, loosening, and scraping.

The Power of Steam

One of the most effective ways to loosen and remove these substances from the carpets and fabrics and using a steamer. The steamer will do an excellent job at loosening and separating the crayons and gummy candy, etc. from the fabric and carpet fibers. With the steamer, you will want to make sure to extract it fairly quickly. With the heat of the steam softening the crayon or gummy enough to get it off the carpet, you will want to make sure you get it extracted as fast as possible for the best results. Letting it sit too long could give the substance time to either harden or with it being softer, it could seep into the fibers even deeper. A great tool for extracting after being softened is a hot water extractor. Keeping the wax from the crayon or the gummy candy soft and warm will enable you to extract the substance from the carpet much more doable. Before using the steamer or extractor, you will want to attempt getting off as much of the substance as you can. The more crayon or candy that is on the fabric when you start steaming, the bigger the possibility of all that getting pushed further into the fabrics thus making it much tougher to remove. Especially if it hardens again.

Something you will notice with the crayon almost immediately is that it will leave its color behind. If this happens, don’t worry. This is common and normal. The sad truth is that the color from the crayon will most likely dye the carpet. The paraffin wax and color pigment, when heated, will create an oil-like substance that you will want to make sure you remove as soon as possible. That is another reason you will want to try to gently remove as much of the crayon as you can before heating to avoid dying an even larger portion of the carpet. When done successfully the carpet will be clean but might have a dyed portion. Know that it’s clean but maybe permanently colored. When it comes to the gummy candy, you shouldn’t have the worry of dying the carpet but will still want to make sure it is removed with the same quickness and method as the crayon.

Careful with the Leather

When it comes to the leather, it may be a little easier but will take a little more care to clean effectively. Again, you will want to make sure that you remove as much of the crayon or candy as possible. If it is possible to do a deep clean on the leather without applying the heat do that. Keep the spot moistened with APC/degreaser to keep the substance from adhering back onto the leather. With the last resort being hitting the spot with the steamer. Try to avoid using straight steam on the spot for an extended period of time. It could damage the leather. Some streamers will come equipped with a brush that you can attach to the end. After attaching the brush, wrap a rag or cloth around the brush. I would recommend a microfiber rag. This will disperse the steam enough to not damage the leather but will still get it hot enough to separate the crayon and gummy from the leather. Spray the area with some properly diluted degreaser and start gently steam cleaning the area. You will want to closely monitor the area you are working on to make sure the leather is still in good shape. Once clean make sure to recondition the leather as we do with our Interior Detail.

I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something. The auto detailing world is continually growing and progressing. There may be other methods for removing melted crayon and candy from a car out there that would be more effective in your specific situations and I would encourage you to search them out to find something that works for you or feel free to reach out to us and we can help you out. Contact via phone or text at (801) 412-9274 or you can request an appointment on our website! Safe Travels!

by Andy Stallings, CD, Operations Manager, Onsite Detail