Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to Salvage a Microfiber Sofa (OR "What to do when your two year old gets a hold of an orange sharpie - besides PANIC")

It’s finally happened.  I knew it would, inevitably, crop up at some point in my lifetime.  I’ve heard the horror stories.  And now I have children at just the right age.

Yes.  That’s right.  There is sharpie on my couch.  My just-barely-over-a-year-old couch.  My couch that sits front and center in the main room of my house - just inside the front door.  My lovely, beige, microfiber couch.  My just-squishy-enough-but-not-too-squishy-comfier-than-my-bed couch.
I have to say, that when I first noticed the sharpie masterpiece my two-year-old had drafted, a tutorial was the farthest thing from my mind.  Actually, I really can’t recall what my first thought was, because I went into shock right there on the spot.  My mind went blank.  I think I may have passed out standing up.  But as I took control of the situation and tackled the problem, wrestling around with it for about an hour and a half, I thought to myself, “Heck, why not?  There’s got to be other people out there who’ve encountered this/are holding their breath hoping this doesn’t happen to them but know that sometime in the future it probably will.  So at the very least, I may provide them with entertainment."  Possibly helpful tips?  You decide.
It started like this.  It was breakfast time.  (more like brunch, if we’re being honest)
ME: bug, I have to go potty.  Keep eating like a big boy - what a good job!  (I’ve found that praise works better than warnings and threats)
BUG: (mouth full of coconut yogurt) mmm-hmm!
ME: (takes a quick peek at mini who is contentedly feeding herself a bottle, then runs down stairs.)
**now, admittedly, it would have been much more intelligent of me to “go potty” and return upstairs right away, as I had said I would.  But that annoying multi-tasker in me had about 50 things going on at once, and therefore needed to switch the laundry around.**
ME: (thinking) What’s the harm, after all?  It takes 5 minutes tops, it’s not like I’m using a scrub board and lye.
**door bell rings**
ME: (Running upstairs) Com.... (trailing off when I witness the carnage before me.  And at this point, I hadn’t even seen the WHOLE picture.  All I saw was bug, with orange sharpie all over and mini, covered head to toe.  It took a loooooong minute for my brain to process the image.  Then I snatched the marker from bug, who flinched, and answered the door to reveal my sister.)
LISE: Hi!  What?
**she’d noticed the look on my face**
ME:  (holds up the offending marker)  He got mini.
LISE: (Peering inside) uh.... he got the sofa.
**this is when I went into shock.  I know I went into shock, because my whole body went deadly calm.  I turned slowly.  I looked for a long moment at the artwork.  My mouth fell open, but I didn’t say a word.  I slowly put the cap back on the marker and set it on the table.  Does this seem like a normal reaction for me???)
Well, after she cleaned my children up, (because I was still standing silently in shock) Lise got to work on the fridge (what’s that?  Oh, I failed to mention that aside from himself, his sister, and the couch, he also colored on the papasan, the fridge, the floor and the table?  Oh.  Well.) (5 minutes, I swear.  How is this possible in 5 minutes?)
We got our couch from a local furniture store and purchased a stain guard protection and a warranty offered through a different company.  Of course, in my moment of need, I couldn’t remember the very safe place I’d decided to put the paperwork so I wouldn’t lose it.  After a call where I was informed that there was no record of me ever buying a couch from this particular furniture store and two (somewhat sassy) calls to the stain company place, I was informed there was nothing that could be done without a purchase receipt and other obviously vital information - which I’d suspected, but called anyway on the off chance they’d be dying to tell me how to get sharpie out of microfiber on my own.  They weren’t dying to, so I took matters into my own hands.  My sister left me to my work, which I huffed and puffed at for a while, taking breaks to stand bug in the corner for throwing and screaming, set mini in her bouncy seat, and finally send bug to his room (not a good morning for bug).  
In my solitude, I finally had the wherewithal to snap some pictures, and this is where the real tutorial starts.  Want to get sharpie out of microfiber?  So do I.  Let me know if you’ve got ideas.  BUT, I can tell you how to kind of sort of lessen the affect of orange sharpie on beige suede type fabric.
You’ll need:
a crazy marker happy two year old to cause the mayhem in the first place
three rags/clothes of some sort
a spray bottle full of water
mild hand soap (I used dial, so now my couch is also bacteria-free)
a thumb nail
First things first.  Hopefully, you’ve noticed the stains relatively recently after they’ve been created - I’m not sure my method would work well for old stains.
Upon discovering the graffiti, resist the urge to tie your child up and send him bulk rate to Namibia.  
Allow yourself a few moments to worry that this may be the one thing that truly sends your hubby over the edge so he locks your toddler in his room for life.
Wonder if you should call your husband to warn him in order to soften the blow, or if that would be worse because he’d be brooding all day.  Wonder if you should call an upholstery shop to price cleanings.  Wonder if you should call your mom just to cry a little.
Decide against making spur of the moment cushion covers out of scraps of fabric you just happen to have lying around.  The mr would definitely be suspicious of that.
Put your worry to action.  
Working in small sections, first, wet the area thoroughly with the spray bottle.
Pump a small amount of soap onto the area.
Take a wet cloth and scrub, not delicately, in circles.
With a second damp (but not soapy) cloth wipe off the soap.
Using your thumb nail (or other, whatever works for you) scratch at the stain in very small bits, working your way around the soaped up area.  Scratch hard enough to really get at the stain, but not so hard you scratch a hole in the fabric - yes, that IS possible.
See how the soap is getting kind of orange?  The ink is coming up!
Wipe the soap away every once in a while with the damp cloth.
When the scratching method has worn out its effectiveness, rewet the area with the spray bottle.  
Scrub at the area with the damp cloth.  Really try to get the soap residue out - because that can stain too.  
Press the area firmly with the third and DRY cloth.
Repeat somewhere else.



And repeat.  If your stain covers the entire cushioned area of your couch, like mine did, you see why this will take you a while.
When you’ve finished, assess the damage.  Not perfect, but much better.
Call your husband and deliver the news.  It’s better that way.
Remind yourself that the couch is a THING and the two year old crying in his room is still your baby, no matter how old he gets.
Give him a hug and willingly forgive and forget.  Go on, it feels good.  You know it does.
Borrow a steam cleaner from your sister.  
And that’s it!
Be sure to tune in tomorrow when I offer tips and tricks for delivering unwelcome and potentially life-threatening news to your husband.  A quick preview:
  1. Deliver it via phone.  No face to face.
  2. It’s all about wording.  Wording, wording, wording.
  3. Put a positive spin on it.
(Example:  me - hey, I have some bad news.  him - really?  what?  me - well, remember those sharpies YOU forgot to put away last night? [TIP 2, see, he’s just as culpable as me]  him - uh, oh.  me - yeah.  well, the good news is I got it off the table and floor really easily. [TIP 3,  make him see it could have been so much worse]  him - but???  me - the couch didn’t fare so well.  him - oh dear.  me - BUT, I worked really hard on it [TIP 2] and it’s better.  And it’s just the cushions, so we can always just turn them over. [TIP 3])
I’ve got good stuff up my sleeve.


Charmaine Poulin said...

I'm sorry.....but you had me laughing so hard with your description! Terrible things that the 2 year old can get you 5 minutes!!!! I seriously hope that you got it all out!!!! And I'm curious to know how your husband took it ;o)

Mandy England said...

LOL! That's terrible, but I love your little him/me convo at the bottom. Glad you were able to salvage it!

Unknown said...

HI Kim~ OH' MAN i HAVE been there, sharpie, red nail polish too. I got both out of my micro fiber couches... FEWWW. Wanted to let you know, on my yummy mummy treat jars, I used un-raveled gauze. Good luck. Have a great night. Jen

Unknown said...

SO GLAD it came off!

alisamm said...

I LOVE YOU! I almost wet my pants I was laughing so hard. But, it's so not funny...

Unknown said...

Phew! So glad you got it out. I'm visiting from sassy sites. Come see what I am up to at HOly Craft.

Mique (as in Mickey) said...

Oh Kimberly!! Thanks for linking up on my pity party- seeing this made me thank heavens I threw away all my sharpies. Love them. But do not love my kids to love them. ;)

Unknown said...

Lise - that's what mom said.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

This had me laughing out loud- so funny. Well, not for you clearly. But from my end, it was hilarious. I just googled to see if I could find other methods and found that shaving cream with menthol (so your furniture is fresh afterwards?) and lighter fluid (not to light up though) are used. Google it for more details. Actually, it seems you are not alone because I just typed in "remove sharpie from" and every possible surface came up. Seems Sharpies are getting around toddler homes everywhere these days!

Amanda said...

This had me cracking up reading it as I live this kind of stuff everyday as well! I've got two year old twins that are ALWAYS making messes!!!

What I Did Today said...

Ok. I'm your newest follower now. This is just too much! It's been a while since I've laughed out loud about something I'm reading online. This story of yours is especially meaningful to me since just last week I had to use hair spray and a magic eraser to get pen off the linoleum in the kitchen (we rent). It wasn't easy, but I finally got it all. Those little arms move stinkin' FAST!

rachel said...

I was told by my furniture company that rubbing alcohol works. I have had several "mysterious" pen marks on my microfiber couch and rubbing alcohol took them out every single time!

Tiffany said...

WOW! ;)

Joy Burkhart said...

LOL, almost ROFL! This was too good! I'm glad you were able to get most of it out. The rubbing alcohol suggestion above is worth a try, even now. It always seemed to work for me on marker and ink "happy little accidents!"
Joy @ tomorrow's memories

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