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Step-by-step stain removal

Home (wreckers) for the holidays

Last reviewed: November 2009

Combine good food and drink with a roomful of guests, excited children, and a hungry dog, and there are bound to be a few mishaps. With years of experience cleaning up in our labs, our experts offer advice for some common household goofs.


Spills on carpet or fabric

Wine stain on carpet
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For wine

First blot with water. Next use the detergent solution from Recipes for disaster. For red wine you can then dab with 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide.

For soda

Blot with the detergent solution, then use the vinegar solution (see Recipes for disaster). Rinse with warm water. If a trace remains, dab with 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide.


White ring marks on wood

White ring marks on wood


Blot with an absorbent cloth, wipe with a damp cloth to help dissolve the stain, and dry with a soft cloth. If the stain remains, apply a little nongel toothpaste, or liquid or cream car polish, rubbing with the grain. Wipe with a dry cloth and polish, if needed.


Lipstick on cloth napkins

Lipstick on a cloth napkin


Blot with acetone-based nail-polish remover. Then try a store-bought cleaning solvent,such as Afta or Goo Gone. If that doesn't work, try the detergent solution, then rinse.


Candle wax on the tablecloth


Pour boiling water through the washable fabric from a height of 12 inches (the height increases the velocity of the water, which helps separate the wax from the fibers). If the fabric can't be laundered, sandwich it between paper towels and apply a warm iron.