Topic: Cleansers For Kids' Grafitti

Every mom seems to have a marker catastrophe at some point in her mothering career. It's natural that childhood curiosity should seek to explore different mediums and uses for the coloring utensil. "Why draw on an 8- by 11-inch piece of paper when you could draw on a 8- by 11-foot wall?" thinks the curious child. "And why not use my body as a canvas?" Then there's the 12-month-old who sees the marker more as a snack than a writing instrument, and he eats the tips off of a whole box of markers only to poop in Technicolor the next day. And don't forget the traditional markerization of the brand-new birthday outfit. But it's markers on wall that turns Eve loco. And just last week, my two-year-old left another Sharpie fresco on the entry hall wall. I called my sister Meg for suggestions on how to get the permanent marker off. Turns out she was wondering the same thing. "My daughter has an alter ago," she explained, "a superhero name for herself -- Chauncey Yellowstone. She wrote her emblem -- a capital C with a Y inside of it -- all over my newly painted hallway walls and curtains. Sort of like the mark of Zorro, except it was the mark of Yellowstone. She used indelible markers."

My sis was exasperated, and not ready to take up the paintbrush again. I thought I would try to save her -- and me -- a few gray hairs and research cleaning ideas.

"The two times my kids wrote on walls," replied my other sister Cathy, "happened when we were guests in someone else's home. The first time was when my three-year-old scribbled all over Mom's new wallpaper. The following year, during a visit to my mother-in-law's home, my two-year-old marked up her wallpaper. I am not sure why both times were on wallpaper. I figure it was because we had no wallpaper at our home, so the kids thought they were adding to the drawing already on the wall. I can't remember what I used to clean it off, but I did manage to get it off. The fact that I washed it immediately after it happened must have helped."

Friend Margaret, always the superb tipster, had a winner. "My two-year-old Grace has been on a marker kick," she explained. "She finds David's indelible markers he uses for school, and she draws everywhere. She has marked up so many of our walls. I use Mr. Clean Magic Erasers [ $1.88 for a two-pack at Wal-Mart]. I give them five stars," she touted. "Or perhaps I should say, 'five rubber gloves.' They feel like memory foam, and you scrub them on the wall and the sponge wears away until it's gone, just like an eraser. It's trippy. It has worked on enamel and flat paint in our house. Every mom with would-be artists should have this product." Wal-Mart also sold Mr. Clean Magic Eraser 2-in-1 with absorbent wiping layer ( $2.42 for a two-pack).

I added her advice to my notes and called several stores to get more product suggestions for Meg.

The Ace Hardware salesman warned me about different paints. "You should realize that if the marker is on flat paint, since flat paint is porous, the marker goes right through it, so it won't come off. Also keep in mind that some cleaners might take the shine off of some paint surfaces."

The Dunn-Edwards salesman offered more advice. "You don't want to use too much of the cleaner, because then it could take off your wall paint," he said. "Put a little of it on a cloth, and just dab it on the mark. I have a cleaner called Krud Kutter [ $5.92 for 40 ounces at Dunn-Edwards]. I use it at home and it does work. Or you could try Goof Off [ $3.11 for 4.5 ounces], but that is harsher. I'd try the Krud Kutter first. If the marker does not come off the wall," he added, "repaint. Spot primer the area first, because if you just repaint without priming, the marker color will bleed through."

CM Supply pointed me in the direction of Cleanup Solvent 22 by Titan Laboratories ( $4.74 for a 16-ounce bottle). "This has less chemicals than our other cleaners," she offered. "I would try this."

If the marker paintings still don't come off, I guess I will drag out the old paint can and roller.

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