Surely we all remember that beloved children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon, right? That Harold was every child’s hero with his ability to create a wonderful world of purple from a single crayon. He was also every parent’s nightmare. Purple crayon?! Just where is he drawing this world? As a parent you have to ask – what was that author thinking?! Of course, I’m just kidding, the book is a wonderful reminder of just how vast a child’s imagination is and the wonders it can create. But I recently had my own experience with a purple crayon that made me look at it in a completely different light.

It all started at a nice afternoon lunch at Chili’s. My 10 year-old and 9 year-old still vacillated from “NO, I don’t want to color in the kids menu!” to joking around with each other and making funny pictures or playing tic-tac-toe. In this particular instance, they’d each been given a purple crayon. C’s was in a different shade than S’s, so naturally she wanted to use his crayon. Another chance to discuss proper sibling treatment and good-old sharing arose, and soon our lunch arrived. As we were leaving S declared she HAD to bring home the coveted purple crayon her brother had, because it was “really cool.” Fine. No problems there.

Cut to laundry day – I’m happily doing the mountains of laundry my family is so masterful at creating. As I picked up the last of the light colors from the washer, what do I see at the bottom but – yes, THE purple crayon. It was not, however, a simple case of “Oh, let me pick that up and move on with my day.” No. At the bottom of that washer was exactly 3/4 of the purple crayon. The other 1/4 was missing, and therefore must be in the dryer.

I took out every single piece of clothing and shook it out. Nothing. I checked the pockets of each pair of S’s pants and shorts and did finally find the pocket the crayon was in. It was full of the paper that once wrapped around the potential harbinger of doom. Alas, no extra piece of crayon.

After searching everywhere, I came to the obvious conclusion that the piece must’ve been sucked down the drain of the washer. Or something. I don’t know. I’m no Maytag man. I just knew I looked and it was nowhere to be found, therefore, it was safe to put the dryer on. You can see where this is going, right?

As if Harold himself snuck into my dryer, I discovered every sock, t-shirt, pair of pants & undies now had purple streaks all over it. I admit, I panicked. In my almost-11-years of motherhood I have never had an issue with crayons in the dryer. I lucked out having kids that didn’t try to swallow pennies or draw on the walls (drawing on tables & doors was another issue), and for the *most* part, kept me from having motherhood-induced hypertension. So now, at age NINE, S decides to commit one of the classic “Ask Heloise” crimes of all time? I felt betrayed by my 10 years of laundry luck.

Of course, I did the first thing any student of social media would do – I asked Twitter and Facebook for help. Not surprisingly, both locations gave me a plethora of responses. Some included WD-40, but I think that particular fix was meant for crayons on walls (and probably satin-finish walls at that) because I felt that spraying grease onto the clothes would not help my situation much. When someone submitted a recipe calling for Borax and vinegar, I thought that was the route to go. Only one problem, I have not ever owned 20 Mule-Team Borax. And we were out of vinegar.

I did, however, have a nice tub of my very favorite laundry friend – OxiClean. I became a fan OxiClean a couple of years ago, and I now swear by it. I no longer use bleach in my whites, just OxiClean. I use it in all my loads to brighten and as a paste on tough stains. Love it. LOVE. Anyway, I thought it couldn’t possibly steer me wrong this time around. (And if it did, I’d get the Borax the next day at the store). I thought it couldn’t hurt to add the only vinegar we did have, Apple Cider Vinegar. Why not, right? I added the cup we had left to the washer and crossed my fingers. I was hopeful because it wasn’t too bad of a mess, the crayon looked like colored pencil streaks on the clothes, not chunky, ground in wax. I was a little worried for that same reason though, afraid that the crayon had ‘become one‘ with the laundry.

I decided to use our washer’s soak feature, placing it on heaviest stains and hot water settings. About 30 minutes in, I stopped it and peaked in. The crayon…was gone! For the most part. It had turned almost fluorescent pink on some places where it was still visible, which was only a few spots. I was so excited as I closed the lid and let the soak continue. When it was done, I examined each piece and no crayon remained! Thank you OxiClean!! Crisis averted, motherhood laundry record preserved!

I’m not sure if I lucked out because so little crayon was in the dryer (I never did find that other piece) but I’m not questioning, just thanking my twitter and facebook friends and being a little more grateful for my mundane laundry experiences this week. And that, my friends, is why you check the pockets *before* you put the laundry on. Probably should’ve learned that lesson long ago.

As for Harold, he’s welcome to keep drawing his sidewalks and moons and little landmarks so he doesn’t get lost…just put the crayons back where they belong when you’re done. Your parents will thank you Harold.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with any brands here and have not been provided any product or payment for writing this post. This is just what happens at my house. Seriously.