Almost certainly due to the “On This Day” function, a February 2020 Facebook post about using mayo to remove crayon from walls recirculated in February 2021:
Alongside an illustrative short video of blue crayon being effortlessly wiped from a wall, an account under the name Jessica Hard wrote:
Just so everyone that’s a mom knows. Mayonnaise takes crayon off walls.
In the clip, a textured wall with several dark blue crayon marks is visible. Hard then shows viewers a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise (Hellman’s on the East Coast), and rubs the wall with a blue cloth. Subsequently, all traces of crayon are removed from the wall.
Hard did not explain whether the mayonnaise was pre-applied prior to filming, whether it worked instantly or after a period of time, nor if the mayonnaise was on the cloth or on the wall. As she wipes the crayon off the wall, she says:
So if you put mayonnaise on crayon on the wall … it literally wipes off … fuckin’ parenting hack! That’s nuts! What?
Presumably after 2020 sharers noticed it in their 2021 “Memories,” the video began circulating again in February 2021.
A Brief History of Internet Methods for Cleaning Crayon From Walls
Crayon on walls is a common household problem, particularly in homes with young children — part of the tip’s virality likely came from the commonplace conundrum of crayon on walls (and the video was originally shared prior to ongoing stay-at-home orders initiated in March 2020).
An initial search for how to remove crayon from walls typically led to advice published by one of three genres of website:
- House painting companies;
- House cleaning companies (like national cleaning chains), and;
- Cleaning product manufacturers (advising the use of their products to solve the problem).
A July 2015 blog post from housepainting franchise from FiveStarPainting.com noted that unwanted crayon on walls was indeed common, and advised homeowners to try four approaches before considering repainting a becrayoned wall:
If you have small children, the chances are good that they will likely determine that a wall or two in your house desperately needs their artistic talents. And while no one enjoys spending a Saturday removing crayon from the walls—it happens.
The good news: Most homeowners have the necessary products around the house to remove the crayon.
• Baking soda
• Magic eraser
• Rubbing alcohol
None of the four suggestions — baking soda, toothpaste, a Magic Eraser, and rubbing alcohol — were oil-based, and thus they are unlikely to leave grease stains on flat-painted walls. Still, the company advised readers to test a small and hard to spot portion of the wall before potentially causing additional damage:
Before you start with your chosen method for removing the crayon, test the cleaning agent on a small non-visible area of your wall to see what it does to the surface, color, and sheen. If the area still looks as it should when you finish testing, then proceed.
By contrast, the viral Facebook video did not direct users to do a “spot test” before applying mayonnaise to their walls. Housecleaning franchise Merry Maids also provided a listicle on different crayon removal methods for wall, including mayonnaise — one of the methods involved a “cleaning eraser,” better known as a “Magic Eraser” due to the popular version branded by Mr. Clean.
MrClean.com similarly published a page (“Get Crayon Off Walls”) advising customers to use a Magic Eraser to safely clean crayon off walls:
It’s always fun to get artwork from your kids, but when their self-expression lands on the walls, we’re not so thrilled. And crayons tend to be the culprit. Thankfully, Mr. Clean® knows how to get crayon off walls. Next time your little Picasso decides to turn the living room into a crayon canvas, grab the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Durable. It’s 50 percent stronger than the Magic Eraser Original, so you can powerfully remove crayon messes just like Mr. Clean. With his legendary cleaning power on your side, you’ll know how to remove crayon from walls in no time!
Although the page featured directions, the steps amounted to “dampen a Magic Eraser and rub the crayon off,” which is typically the manner in which Magic Erasers function. At the bottom of the page, a smaller disclaimer advised:
Test a small area with light pressure before use. Not recommended for the following surfaces: high gloss, polished, dark, brushed, satin, faux, bare/polished wood, copper, stainless steel appliances, non-stick coating or vehicle body. Do not use with chlorine bleach or other household cleaners. Rinse required for surfaces in direct contact with food. Do not use on skin or other parts of the body. Using on skin will likely cause abrasions. Keep out of reach of toddlers and pets to avoid accidental ingestion.
Melamine sponges (often known as Magic Erasers, regardless of brand) are prized for their ability to remove unwanted markings from surfaces — but they can also remove paint if used too vigorously or on a delicatesurface. Incidentally, the example image for “glossy painted surfaces” was a crayon stick figure on a wall:
Be careful when using Magic Erasers on painted surfaces with glossy finishes. The abrasive eraser can damage the finish and make it look dull and uneven.
Yet another common household multitasker is a lubricating spray known as WD-40; the brand similarly advised consumers to use WD-40 to remove crayon from walls. Like mayonnaise, WD-40 is an oil-based substance, and the general concept was the same:
There are a number of different techniques that can be done to remove crayon from walls but always remember, whatever method you are using, test a small area first as not all of them will work on everyone’s wall.
REMOVING WALL MARKS WITH WD-40
The best solution for crayon mark removal that won’t damage your walls is using WD-40® Multi-Use. To get crayon marks off walls simply spray it onto the crayon marks, leave for a few minutes for it to work its magic, then, use a clean rag to wipe the formula off your wall – and just like that, the crayon stains will disappear with it. Not got a trusty can of WD-40? You can buy one in our Amazon store; choose from the WD-40® Smart Straw Multi-Use or the WD-40® Flexible Straw System.
Like Mr. Clean, WD-40 advised spot testing before applying the product to a high-visibility surface. Baking soda appeared to be the most common substance recommended by companies for getting crayon off walls.
Mayonnaise Specifically to Clean Crayon from Walls
HouseBeautiful.com shared the tip about cleaning crayon from walls with mayo in a 2014 item, cryptically titled “There’s Something in Your Fridge That Can Remove Wall Stains.”
Although the site did not mention a spot test, it did provide a more thorough method for using mayonnaise to clean walls:
If any crayon doodles wind up on your painted walls, simply remove them with mayonnaise. Spread a small amount onto a damp cloth, wipe, and voilà! The mess will be cleaned up right away, without having to use a traditional cleaning solvent.
In 2012, LifeHacker.com also published a blog post about the tip. While HouseBeautiful.com recommended applying mayo to a damp cloth and wiping crayon, LifeHacker advised applying mayonnaise to the wall and “wait[ing] a few minutes”:
The oils in the mayo do wonders to break down the wax in crayon. Just dab a little over the crayon lines, wait a few minutes, and then come back with a damp cloth. It may take a little pressure, but the mayo and the crayon should both come off in one fell swoop. That’s all there is to it.
Commenters pointed out that the oil in mayonnaise might cause worse wall staining:
“This might work on walls painted with gloss paint. With flat or semigloss you’re just trading one problem for another, as the grease in the mayonnaise gets sucked into the paint. If you really must use an oil based product to get crayon off your wall, use lighter fluid. It works and it’s volatile enough that it will not leave permanent stains.”
“I feel like this would replace the crayon with an oil stain.”
ApartmentTherapy.com addressed the topic in February 2020 due to the virality of Hard’s post at the time; that article approached the story in the same way HouseBeautiful.com did (“The Secret to Removing Crayon from Walls is Already in Your Fridge.”)
The site spoke to Hard about the origin of the tip (answer: found on the internet), and consulted cleaning experts to determine whether it was sound. ApartmentTherapy.com noted it might be efficient, and emphasized “caveats” about the method:
Thinking that this must be too good to be true, we reached out to a few cleaning experts, who gave us the scoop on this, erm, tasty technique. Turns out, it really does work—with a few important caveats.
Before you try anything, though, you’ll want to “test any product [in this case, mayo] first on an inconspicuous area to make sure that the product is compatible with the wall surface,” notes Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s laundry and cleaning expert.
If all appears well with a patch test, you can go ahead and apply the mayo to the stain. “After the mayo has soaked in for a few minutes, it can be removed with a damp cloth and applying a little pressure by rubbing in small circles to help pull the crayon wax from the wall. Be sure to wipe down with a damp cloth all of the mayonnaise to completely remove any oily residue, to prevent any oil stains,” said Stapf.
You’ll also want to proceed with caution depending on the type of paint on your walls. “Do not use mayo to get crayon marking off a wall if the paint has a matte or flat finish, such as in most bedrooms,” said Caleb Liu, owner of HouseSimplySold.com, a California-based house flipping company. “The texture is porous and will absorb oil from the mayo. You’ll end up with a greasy mess.”
Of note is that while the consulted cleaning experts explained why mayonnaise might work to take crayon off walls, the “important caveats” included a caution against using the tip on “a matte or flat finish.” As we noted, the video shows a textured wall with what looked like glossy paint — flat, matte, or eggshell finishes were extremely common for interior walls, and one of the advisors stated that mayo would stain those extremely common surfaces.
Finally, a 2017 Insider post tested three common internet cleaning hacks for crayon on walls — an eraser, baking soda, and mayo. A summary stated:
I tried three methods to remove crayon from walls that people swear by: baking soda, mayo, and a simple pencil eraser. Baking soda is the only way to effectively remove the crayon markings.
Of the three, mayo was not only not effective, it stained the wall:
I had read that if you slather mayo over the crayon marking and let it soak for a few minutes, the crayon would simply wipe off with a damp cloth. So I tried it: I took a big spoonful of mayo, rubbed it over the crayon marking on the wall, and waited about 10 minutes.
I wiped the mayo off with a damp cloth, but all I got was a greasy wall — with the crayon totally intact. The mayo method worked the least well. In fact, it left my walls in worse shape than they were before.
In February 2021, a viral Facebook post recommending the use of mayonnaise to remove crayon marks from walls re-circulated after a year. The clip depicted a roughly textured and apparently glossy wall; although mayonnaise (or WD-40) can efficiently remove crayon from some surfaces, it can stain flat, matte, or eggshell paint finishes and create “a greasy mess.” Although ApartmentTherapy.com endorsed the tip, the outlet included a directive not to use the condiment to get crayon off painted walls with flat finishes, as those textures could potentially absorb the oil and become stained.