How to Survive the Tricks of Halloween
It's disappointing to wake up November 1st and realize the house was the target for the neighborhood frat party or ground zero for the local high school crowd. After all, part of the fun of being a Halloween "trickster" is knowing how difficult toilet paper and eggs are to clean up. Here is a short review that might help get things moving. The supplies listed below are for worst case scenarios -- actual needs will depend on how devious the urchins were. Remember, most messes are best cleaned up before too much sunshine.
An obliterated jack-o-lantern is a sad sight to see in the light of day. Fortunately, smashed pumpkins are easy to clean up -- just keep in mind they have a high sugar content. So, if some of the innards were smeared on windows, doors, or siding of your house, clean them up with soap and water before the sun bakes it into a hard crunchy substance that will require a good soaking. After soaping, windows will need a water rinse followed by a polish with glass cleaner.
Luckily, squash makes great compost. Gather up any large chunks from the lawn and bushes to add them to next year's garden space. Any small bits of pulp and string left behind on the grass are easily chopped up with the mower and mulched back in.
Lastly, check any vehicles for dents and dings -- if tossed, pumpkins do pack a punch. For the most part the pulp will clean up in a good car wash.
Having a toilet papered house is just flat out embarrassing. There are mixed opinions on how to deal with the aftermath, but the most important factor is to remove it as quickly as possible. Loose bits will quickly spread across the neighborhood and any grass that is covered in it will smother. The key to TP cleanup is to start before morning dew or wait until it has baked dry in the sun -- wet TP is frustrating to tackle.
For tall trees and rooftops, break out a sturdy ladder and swat away with a broom. (Keep an extra eye out for power lines.) Then, collect the smaller pieces from the ground with a rake and trash them. When the TP is tangled in lower bushes and shrubbery, turn to the leaf blower and blast the little squares loose. But be careful -- this can be tricky for anything with thorns, especially roses. Do not allow TP to disintegrate around roses as it will encourage mold growth once it becomes wet.
Eggs are the most treacherous of prankster tools and in the end are just flat out gross. The quicker they're taken care of, the better off the house will be. Eggs are corrosive and can damage any surface, not to mention they smell to high heaven. However, do not attempt to scrub egging sites. The egg shell bits will cause further damage if rubbed in, causing scratches and even embedding in certain types of siding and trim.
First, using a low-pressure setting on a power washer, wet the area beneath the mess with cool water. This will prevent the egg from causing more damage as it slides away. Next, spray above the mess, allowing the water to run over the egg on its own. Using a side-to-side motion, slowly rinse away the debris. When all the visible egg is rinsed away, go back over the site with soapy water to prevent a residue build-up that will cause an unappetizing odor on a warm day.
Do not spray directly into the egg mess as this will cause it to splatter and spread out even farther. In addition, never use warm or hot water to clean up egg. This will cause the egg to become even more corrosive as it cooks. If the egg has already dried or is particularly thick, an alkaline solution cleanser will assist with the removal. After rinsing away any shell pieces, use water, the alkaline cleanser, and a stiff brush to scrub up.
An egged vehicle requires the same care as a house. Never rub the egg with a brush or rag as this will surely damage the finish. Rinse with cool water first and then use regular soap and water. If corrosion damage has occurred (foggy clear coat) a swirl remover might help hide the discoloration, but a new paint job is required if the egg has been baked on.
Silly String and Shaving Cream
These two monsters in a can are lumped together in the same category because they are probably the most innocuous of all the trickster options. Shaving cream is really just a lathered soap, yet it contains chemicals such as fragrances that can cause discoloration if left on surfaces for a few days. Silly string contains a variety of dye, and even glitter, that can also cause staining. Once either substance dries, they become rock hard and firmly attached to any surface. Do not try to pick or scrape it free as this is likely to cause any paint to be peeled up with it. Instead turn to the trusty power washer once again.
It may take a good soak to remove the shaving cream, but it is worth it in the long run. Check to make sure the nearest drain does not get clogged up with silly string since it will not completely dissolve right away. After rinsing, go back over the affected area with warm water and a light soap to remove any residue left behind.
After spending a fall day in the sun cleaning up someone else's mess, take the time to consider the plan for next year's Halloween. This is generally the point of any trick -- would it be simpler to just buy some candy? If not, the next best option is to hide in the shadows and wait for them to visit again, and then play some tricks of your own.