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Food coloring and carpet

I try to keep my children occupied throughout the day - especially my three-year-old.  After all, I've learned, a busy child is one who is most likely not getting into things he (or she) should not be getting into.  However, every parent has those moments where you just have to step away.  Maybe it's to answer a knock at the door or a ringing phone.  Perhaps you need to make a meal.  Or, God forbid, you just have to go to the bathroom.

This was my mistake.  Why did I think that I could simply go to the bathroom?  It wasn't as though I was leaving my child unattended.  We were in our own home and, not to toot my own horn I was having an exceptionally awesome parenting day.  We had spent the morning reading books and playing with trains.  Not once had my child had to entertain himself with the TV or other form of technology.  I might have required a cup (or three) too many of coffee, but I was on top of my game. And yet, I desperately needed to go potty.  WHAT A MISTAKE!!!

It wasn't a long trip.  My child was left unattended for 1-1/2 minutes, tops.  I did my business and then returned to my regularly scheduled parental responsibilities. Here's where the Mama Laws came into play...I had just (not even one week prior) had my carpets professionally cleaned.  They were spotless.  They looked beautiful.  They were clean.

Apparently, clean isn't good for children.  They seek out the fastest method to make anything unclean.  In my case, it was the food coloring which I keep in a sealed container with other baking supplies on the second to top shelf of my pantry.  Obviously, this was the wrong place to put it.  Why didn't I have it in a lock box secured next to every Sharpie and pair of scissors that I own?

Colorful display of surrealism on my carpet

So, I came out of the bathroom and found that my son was perfecting the art of surrealism on my carpet.  Somehow, in those 90 seconds, he had managed to open the pantry (which I had forgotten to lock), pulled in a chair, climbed said chair, opened the container and found the food coloring, then proceeded to open every color in the box and begin his artwork on my carpet.

SO now I was faced with having to clean up this colorful disaster.  After much searching, I learned this was not going to be just a simple process.  Apparently, every color - except red - could be washed out with a 1:1 vinegar/water solution.  After several hours of pouring the vinegar solution over the stained carpet, the yellow, blue and green colors did, in fact, begin to wash out.  (Note: don't use towels to dob up the solution and colors.  Find a carpet cleaning machine and use the suction from it to soak up the liquids).

After cleaning with 1:1 vinegar/water solution
But, the red requires ammonia.  I thought that my PineSol cleaner had ammonia, but I didn't read the does not.  So, now my carpets smelled pine fresh, but were still red.  I went to the hardware store thinking they would have a heavy duty ammonia solution.  But, they don't.  After calling my all-knowing-Chemistry sister, I learned that window cleaner would be the best bet for finding something with ammonia in it.  So, I bought gallons of window cleaner and then spent even more hours pouring this (straight window cleaner - important to verify it does have ammonia in it) over the stain and vacuuming up with an industrial carpet cleaner.

After cleaning with window cleaner containing ammonia
By the end of the day, the stain had definitely lessened, but the red was still visible.  But, at this point, I was too exhausted to care.  The next day, after realizing that many of the colors had "popped out" again, I started the cleaning process of using the vinegar and ammonia once again.  But, as is often true with messes made by children, I finally had to admit defeat and come to the conclusion that some day I will replace my carpet.  In the meantime, the dogs' kennel has been moved over this artwork.

Colors returned as carpet dried
 Lesson learned: no going to the bathroom when curious minds are looking for something to do.  Murphy's Laws for Moms state these little minds will find the best way to wreak havoc in the smallest amounts of time.

The proud artist


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