Sparkle & Smile

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Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Holiday Stain Removal Primer


Along with the season’s cheer come some nasty holiday stains.  Whether it’s a tiny spill on a guest’s new dress or an oily mess on your heirloom table cloth, having the basics at hand will help you get through the holiday stain season. Read this now and add any stain removal items on your last grocery list before the holidays.



When gravy spills on a tablecloth, use a touch of corn starch to absorb the moisture.  The corn starch will get thick and will lift off with a spatula.  Since gravy is oil based, pre-treat the stain with rubbing alcohol or vodka. Don’t dump the alcohol on the stained area as that will just make it bleed into the surrounding fabric. Instead, put some alcohol in a spray bottle and lightly mist the area. Then dab it with a clean white cloth. Continue that process until the cloth comes away clean.  Keep the area moist until you are ready to put it in the washer. Use a simple bar soap, like Ivory, and rub the soap into the stain. Then place the table cloth in the washer. Once it’s completed the cycle, check the area to see if the stain is visible. If so, repeat the entire treatment with the alcohol and soap. Don’t place the tablecloth into the dryer until you know the stain has been completely removed.


Candle wax

Even dripless candles can drip onto your favorite table cloth. But don’t worry, here’s an easy stain removal solution. After your guests have left, place the table cloth in the freezer to harden the wax.  Once the wax is frozen, remove the tablecloth and scrape off the wax with a dull knife. There will be a waxy residue left down inside the fabric. Using a clean face cloth and a hot iron, you are going to pull the excess wax out of the fabric. Place the cloth over the waxy area and heat it with the iron. Don’t remove the facecloth until it’s completely cool. Once the cloth is cool lift it up and the wax will be attached to the facecloth. Repeat this process a few more times until you feel the wax has been removed. Then treat the area with rubbing alcohol to remove the oily buildup. Rub the area with a simple bar soap and scrub with a stiff brush. Place the tablecloth in the washer with a grease cutting detergent. Check the stained area when it’s done and repeat the process if there are signs of the stain.  You can let the tablecloth air dry to see if the stain is totally removed.



Treat hard chocolate stains as if they were candle wax. Freeze to harden, then use a stiff brush or knife to remove as much as possible. Finally, treat it with rubbing alcohol and bar soap.  For chocolate syrup, dab off as much as you can with a clean dry cloth. Once the cloth comes off without any chocolate on it, pretreat the area with hydrogen peroxide.  Place the hydrogen peroxide on the cloth and continue to dab until the stain looks like it’s starting to break up. Let the hydrogen peroxide sit on the stain for a few minutes. Then use a bar soap and work it into the chocolate stain with a toothbrush.  Continue to hand wash and rinse until the stain is gone.


Red Wine

There are a few quick treatments to have on hand when entertaining, because you know someone is definitely going to spill some red wine.  Immediately after a spill, spray the stain with club soda and cover the area with salt. The salt will start to absorb the wine. Once the guests are gone brush off the salt and dab the area until the cloth comes away clean. Then treat the area with hydrogen peroxide. Be patient – it takes the hydrogen peroxide awhile to work, but you will see the stain disappear before your eyes.  Alternatively, soak the fabric in warm (not hot) water and hydrogen peroxide until the stain is gone. Air dry the item to make sure the stain is completely gone. Repeat this stain removal procedure until the stain is entirely gone.

Mystery stain

Suppose your friend has a spot on her new dress and isn’t sure what it could be.  In this case use a neutral treatment to prevent setting the stain. Put a spray nozzle in a bottle of club soda and lightly spray the area. Magically, the stain will be completely gone once the area is dry. This trick also works with mystery stains on your carpet. Just lightly mist the area and dab it with a clean cloth. Once it’s dry the stain will be gone.


Knowing these foolproof cleaning tips for removing stains, you’ll be able to truly mean it when you reassure the friend who spills her wine during the celebratory toast, “No problem.”

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