Your Guide to Solving 8 Notorious Holiday Stains

The holidays are full of food, family, fun—and the occasional freak-out over a stain-threatening mishap. When the turkey grease splatters or a glass of red wine spills, spring into action with these lifesaving (or, at the very least, couch- and carpet-saving) stain removal tips. With these remedies up your sleeve, cleanup will be as easy as pie.

Red Wine on the Couch

How to Remove Red Wine Stains

Oh, no! Your guest accidentally spilled a splash of red wine during an animated conversation. Fortunately, if you did the cooking, you definitely have the remedy on hand. Salt will help absorb a red wine stain while it’s wet, so lightly blot the spot with a soft towel, then cover the stain immediately with a layer of salt. Return 15 minutes later to vacuum up the salt. Spot wash any remaining wine with warm water mixed with mild dish detergent.

Grease Stains on Your Apron

How to Remove Grease Stains

Grease stains are a natural byproduct of cooking a big meal. Not to worry! You can save your apron, oven mitts, tea towels, and any linens that take a hit with this single remedy. First, soak the stained area immediately with a laundry stain pretreatment product. After a few minutes, vigorously rub in a heavy-duty laundry detergent, and throw the item into the wash immediately. Before the item goes into the dryer, check that the stain is completely gone. If you still see it, lay the article face down on an absorbent towel, pour dry-cleaning solvent through the back of the stain, and launder once more.

Related: 8 "Zero Dollar" Laundry Room Hacks

Chocolate on the Chairs

How to Remove Chocolate Stains

If a piece of chocolate cream pie or a stream of syrup finds its way onto a dining room chair, remove the excess carefully—you won't want to grind the stain further into the fibers of your fabric. Then, using a clean cloth, apply dry-cleaning solvent to the stain. (Great for carpets and fine upholstery, dry-cleaning solvent is a professionally approved tool that you should stash in your laundry cabinet.) Just blot up the solvent, and repeat the application until the stain is gone.

Related: 10 Life-Changing Tools for Easier Spring Cleaning

Cranberry Sauce on the Napkins

Cranberry Sauce Stains

Prepare yourself: Your cloth napkins will take quite a beating during a formal holiday meal, and some of the most stain-prone smears may be caused by that vibrant, tangy culprit, cranberry sauce. Flush this stain with cool water as soon as dinner is over and your guests have gone. Then, mix a little laundry detergent and one tablespoon of white vinegar into a quart of cool water, and soak the stain in the solution for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse it off to see your results. If the stain remains, gently sponge rubbing alcohol over the stain and rinse again thoroughly.

Related: Set the Table with 9 Thanksgiving DIYs

Gravy on the Tablecloth

How to Remove Gravy Stains

When you clear the dishes from the Thanksgiving spread, don't be surprised to find a brown-tinged ring wherever the gravy boat sat. If you can catch the spillage in action, use a cloth to remove as much of the excess gravy as you can, without rubbing it in. Later, soak the stain with laundry stain pretreatment, and wash with the hottest water the fabric will bear. If the stain remains, soak it in oxygen bleach and launder again.

Related: The Morning After—13 Lifesaving Party Cleanup Tips

Butter on the Table Runner

How to Remove Butter Stains

Undoing a buttery mess begins simply with a (clean) butter knife: Scrape the excess off, and apply a grease-cutting liquid dish detergent directly to the stain. Rinse the detergent out just before laundering your cloth, at which point you'll also want to pretreat the item with stain remover, and set the machine to the hottest water the fabric will tolerate. If the stain remains, try removing it with dry-cleaning solvent.

Related: 11 Things You Didn't Know You Could Clean in Your Washing Machine

Coffee on the Carpet

How to Remove Coffee Stains

When the coffee you serve with dessert refuses to stay confined to its mug, immediately blot up as much of the spill as possible. When your guests have gone, you can combine a tablespoon of dish soap and a tablespoon of vinegar in a few cups of warm water. Using a sponge, alternately soak the stain with the mixture and blot it up with an absorbent towel until the brown blotch is all gone.

Related: How to Get Rid of Every Carpet Stain

Wax Drippings on the Tablecloth

How to Remove Candle Wax

After the candlesticks that brighten your Thanksgiving centerpiece have mostly melted away, you may find that wax drippings have pooled and cooled on your tablecloth. To clean them up, first scrape the chunks away with a butter knife. Address the soaked-in leftovers by placing a plain paper bag over the spot and running an iron set on high heat over the paper to pull out the oils. Throw the tablecloth in the wash, and make sure that no wax stains remain before tossing it into the dryer.

Related: 10 Easy DIY Candles for a Festive Season

Stay Calm

how to clean common stains

Don't cry over spilt wine. With this handy guide, you don't have to lose your cool over drips and spills.

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