In a matter of days many homes will be swarming with all manner of friends and relatives and the treats, decorations and messes they leave behind. Don't be surprised if you have wine spilled on your oriental carpet or candle wax melted on your grandmother's tablecloth. In fact, you should expect it and arm yourself with both store-bought and homemade stain removal treatments. Here are some tips from our experts on how to remedy the most common holiday mishaps.
Spills on carpet or fabric. For wine, first blot it with water. Next use the detergent solution below. For red wine you can then dab with 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide. (Make sure the fabric is colorfast first.) For soda spills, blot the area with the detergent solution, then use the vinegar solution, also below. Rinse with warm water. If a trace remains, dab with 3 percent-strength hydrogen peroxide.
White rings on wood. Blot the spot with an absorbent cloth, wipe with a damp cloth to help dissolve the stain, and then dry with a soft cloth. If the stain remains, apply a little non-gel toothpaste, or liquid or cream car polish, rubbing with the grain. Wipe with a dry cloth and polish, if needed.
Lipstick on cloth napkins. Blot the lipstick 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 table cloth. Pour boiling water through the washable fabric from a height of one foot (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.
To make the detergent solution. mix one teaspoon of a mild clear or white dishwashing liquid—no bleach—in one cup of warm water. For the vinegar solution, mix one-third cup of white vinegar with two-thirds cup of water.
Commercial stain removers
In our tests of laundry stain removers, Resolve Laundry was tops and is a CR Best Buy. But don't buy by brand alone, a Resolve product was also the worst performer. Shout Advanced Action was almost as good as Resolve Laundry and can be applied up to a week before laundering, a plus when you have a house full of company. Other stain treatments typically direct you to apply them right before washing.
—Mary H.J. Farrell