Once the guests are gone and all the dust has settled, it’s time to survey the damage. It pays to act quickly, even with messes that have been there for a while. Another rule of thumb: Always blot stains on carpets, napkins, clothing, and the like, because scrubbing can damage their surfaces. Below are specific treatments for seven common problems. Whatever the recommended cleaning solution, try it first on an inconspicuous spot, and follow any care-label instructions that apply.


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Wine and Soda on Fabrics or Carpet
Cure:
For white wines and clear sodas, launder washable items as soon as possible. Blot carpet with water, apply our homemade detergent solution (1 teaspoon of a mild clear or white dishwashing liquid without bleach in 1 cup of warm water), and blot again with water. For red wine stains, follow the same instructions and then dab with 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide.

For colas on carpet or fabrics, blot with our detergent solution, then, if needed, try our vinegar solution (⅓ cup of white vinegar with ⅔ cup of water). Blot with warm water, and if a trace remains, dab with 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide.

Christmas Tree Sap on Carpet or Upholstery
Cure:
Whether your tree is a pine, fir, or spruce, the sticky sap is basically the same, according to a tree expert at Cornell University. Blot sap with isopropyl rubbing alcohol to dissolve it, then use our detergent solution. Blot carpet or upholstery with the solution, then blot with clean water. Dry with a white cloth.

Chocolate on Carpet or Fabrics
Cure: Scrape off excess. Blot carpet with our detergent solution. If the stain remains, try the vinegar solution. Dry with a white cloth. For washable items, use your washer’s soak cycle and one of our top-rated detergents that’s tough on chocolate, such as Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release or Persil ProClean Power-Liquid 2in1, then wash.

Cranberry Sauce on Fabrics or Carpet
Cure: Scrape away excess. Pretreat washable tablecloths and other fabrics with Resolve stain remover, launder, and line dry. If the stain persists, dab with 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide and line dry. For carpet and upholstery, blot with our detergent solution. If the stain remains, use 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide. Repeat with clean white cloths until none of the stain transfers to the cloth. Then blot with water to remove cleaning solution. Dry with a white cloth weighted down with a stack of books.

Gravy on Table Linens
Cure:
Scrape off excess with a spoon. Pretreat with a Fels-Naptha paste or Resolve stain remover and wash. Do not put items in the dryer until the stain is gone or it will be even more difficult to remove.

Lipstick on Cloth Napkins
Cure:
Blot with acetone-based nail polish remover. If the stain remains, apply our homemade detergent solution, then rinse.

Candle Wax on Tablecloths
Cure: Pour boiling water through the washable fabric from a height of 12 inches (the height increases the velocity of the water, helping separate the wax from the fibers). For fabric that can’t be washed, sandwich it between paper towels and apply a warm iron; repeat with a clean towel until the wax is lifted.

Holiday Stain Busters