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Fox Around the House

How to clean up after vandals hit your home

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 (iStock)

If Halloween leaves you with more “tricks” than “treats,” here are some tips on the best ways to clean up, as well as some advice to prevent vandals from striking again in the future.

Cleaning Up An Egged Home

When faced with a tough cleaning job, most people reach for a bucket of hot water. But that’s the last thing you should use if you need to clean egg splatter off of your home. When exposed to heat, the protein in eggs begins to cook, solidify the gooey substance and fusing it to your windows and siding. To loosen the eggs, you should reach instead for cool soapy water or use your garden hose to spray down the side of the house. Gently scrub the stain with an alkaline cleaner like Simple Green of Formula 409, which will help break up the proteins. Keep in mind that with eggs, time is not on your side. The longer they sit there, the harder they will be to get off. So if possible, don’t leave the cleanup until after you get home from work.

Taking Down Toilet Paper

Toilet paper is notoriously difficult to remove. Tug it too hard and the perforated sheets are going to tear, leaving the rest of the paper dangling out of reach. The best strategy is to remove the paper without pulling on it. For low-hanging strands, reach for a leaf blower, which you can use to blast the sheets off. For higher branches, you’ll need some sort of implement to dislodges the paper, like a pool cleaner or long rake. Work the tool underneath the toilet paper and unhook it from the branch. However, you’ll need to be wary if the trees are near power lines. If so, just leave the toilet paper in place. It’s not worth getting shocked over. Ignoring the toilet paper and leaving it in place isn’t the worst strategy.  Fall rain and winter winds will work quickly to break down the toilet paper, though you’ll probably continue to find white lumps littered across your yard for months to come.

Getting Rid of Graffiti

While toilet paper and eggs are irritating shenanigans, graffiti can leave a lasting mark. The easiest way to clean up graffiti is to simply paint over it. If you have paint left over from the last time you painted the house, this can be a pretty quick task. Scrub the affected area and then apply a primer coat before you paint. If you don’t have a matching can of paint, you can use an app like Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap, which you can use to get the right shade at the local hardware store. Graffiti applied to bare wood or concrete can be an more labor intensive task to remove.  Often a power washer will get the job done, and on unpainted surfaces, you can apply a bit of paint thinner to the surface before washing it. If the vandals have tagged your vinyl siding, do not use paint remover, which will damage the siding. Instead, use a specialized cleaner such as Lift Off or Goof Off along with a nylon scrub brush to remove the graffiti.

Taking Preventative Measures

To prevent yourself from getting punked again, you need to take preventative measures. 

Motion activated lights are often the first line of defense for homeowners, but you can also add in motion activated sprinklers to give the vandals a cold shower when they come calling. To prevent graffiti in the future, you can apply an anti-graffiti coating, which will make graffiti removal a snap next time your house gets hit. To up your surveillance game, you could install a web-connected security camera, such as the Nest Cam or the Netatmo Welcome. These cameras can send you an alert on your phone when it detects suspicious activity, allowing you to take action before the vandals strike.