Halloween is fun and all, but then there’s the aftermath. Even if you dole out treats, hooligans may plaster your home in eggs, or shower your car in shaving cream, or trim your trees with toilet paper. In fact, around this time of year certain towns ban the sale of eggs to minors in an attempt to keep these high jinks to a minimum, although we’re dubious that makes much difference.
If you’re one of those unlucky homeowners faced with a horrifying post-Halloween cleanup job, read these tips first. Broken down by type of ammo—egg, shaving cream, and TP—these tips from pro cleaners will save you time, energy, and further damage to your property so your home is no worse for wear, at least until next year.
Whether they’re splattered on your home or your car, eggs are bad news because they can corrode paint.
“It’s crucial to clean eggs as soon as possible,” says Mary Findley, a veteran cleaning expert and owner of GoClean.com. If the goo has hardened, you’ll want to soften it first by covering it with a sopping wet hot cloth that’s been dipped in a 50-50 mix of water and distilled grain-based white vinegar. Let that set 10 to 15 minutes, Findley says, then gently wipe it off. If there are any egg shells, delicately pick them off first, or else they might scratch the paint.
If you do find, alas, that the egg has damaged or discolored your paint, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
“Before going to the expense of repainting your car, grab what’s called an oxidation remover at an automotive supply store,” says Findley. “This is a polishing compound designed to remove scratches that can also restore the color somewhat. When using it, always wipe from left to right and never in circles, or else you will now have swirl marks on top of the scratches.”
For damaged paint on homes, apply a primer over the area, then repaint.
That luscious foam may be kind to your skin, but it’s a killer on paint, so this is another mess you’ll want to clean quickly. If you catch the cream when it’s still wet, a pressure washer can blast it off. But if it’s dry, “don’t scrape it away, since you may damage the paint,” says Hannah Caner, an editor at Who Knew? Tips. “Instead, use a wet rag to dampen the shaving cream until it softens, and then wash the area with dish soap.”
“If you wake up the morning after Halloween to find that your house has been toilet-papered, check the weather report,” says Caner. “If it’s a dry day, wait until the dew has evaporated before you start cleaning, since the TP will be less likely to shred into pieces.” If it’s rainy and damp, on the other hand, you should start as soon as possible to keep the shredding from getting worse.
To gather the paper without damaging your trees, use a rake or broom to gently comb over the branches; a leaf blower can also help you clear twigs without damaging them. “Or try taping a lint roller to a broom handle so the paper sticks to the sticky tape of the lint roller,” says Findley.
There are also ways to curb your odds of a post-Halloween cleanup completely. “Turn on your porch lights and keep them on all night on Halloween,” suggests Findley. After all, Halloween pranksters prefer to do their dirty work in the dark.