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Chances are, one month into the new school year, the supplies our young students have been using every day are starting to get a little dirty. To help us refresh everything is cleaning expert Melissa Maker, who stopped by Your Morning to share some tips and tricks to deal with the most common messes and keep school gear clean.

Check out her tips below, and don’t forget to click on the video above for even more great advice!

Stained containers

For plastic containers, you’ll need to get the stains off and then the smell out of the container. For best results, you’ll want to hand wash with warm, soapy water. The dishwasher doesn’t always clean the stain or smell completely. Use warm water, dish soap and a cleaning toothbrush. To deodorize or get harder to clean stains out, you can make a paste with baking soda and water and scrub with a cleaning toothbrush. You can also put your containers out in the sun to naturally deodorize and remove stains! If you’re really having a tough time, you could try non-staining alternatives like stainless steel lunch containers.

Drink bottles

These are relatively low maintenance, especially the stainless steel ones. They are not dishwasher safe, but there are bottle brushes that you can get that are really handy. If you have a straw, you can get a straw cleaner as well – you should keep both of these sink side! Give the bottles a good wash every few days if you’re just using for water.

Backpacks and soft lunch bags

For backpacks, make sure you check the fabric care label first, to see if the bag is machine washable or not. Then, you’ll want to pre-treat any stains. Most bags are machine washable – place in the machine on a cold water / gentle cycle. If there are any loose accessories or decals attached to the bag, make sure to remove them first, or opt to hand wash so they don’t fall off or get ruined in the machine. Remove straps or put the bag into a laundry bag or pillow case to prevent them from tangling. If you can’t machine wash, use a heavy duty scrub brush, warm water and some dish soap. Once the bag has been cleaned, hang dry – in the sun is even better! It will naturally deodorize for you.

For lunch bags, it’s essentially the same idea as the backpack – check your care tag! Most can be thrown in the washing machine on a gentle cycle and hung to dry. If you have to hand wash, use warm water, dish soap and a soft sponge. For stains on the interior plastic lining, make a paste of baking soda and water, scrub with a cleaning tooth brush and rinse with warm water. If there are any odours, you’d want to leave it open, ideally in the sun, for 24 hours.

Marker and crayons

As a preventative measure, check all of your markers and crayons and make sure they’re washable.  Crayons on walls or furniture – try to remove with a small amount of dish soap on a damp cloth. If that doesn’t work, use a little bit of baking soda on a damp cloth. Make sure to test in a small area, you don’t want the baking soda to scratch the surface – it shouldn’t, but you always want to make sure. If it’s a really tough stain, spray a small amount of WD-40 onto the surface, let it sit for one to two minutes, and then wipe with a paper towel. You’d then want to rinse the area with some dish soap and water and dry with a clean cloth.

To get marker off of furniture and floors, first try wiping it off with soapy water and use an old rag (the marker will bleed, don’t use a new white cloth!). If you’re unsuccessful with that attempt, you can try is a little bit of rubbing alcohol or even some toothpaste. The toothpaste should be non-gel toothpaste, and remember to always test in a small inconspicuous area first. Some other things you could try would be nail polish remover, baking soda or WD-40. Make sure to rinse with clean water and I can’t stress enough – testing in a hidden area first is key!