Do’s and Don’ts for Holiday Spills and Stains

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with the ones we love. They are also open season for spills and stains. Maybe Angry Grandpa Jack spatters the Christmas gravy across your luxury carpet. Or Baby Ava dribbles her New Year’s juice on the new white sofa. Or Puppy Pete leaves a puddle on the Persian (rug, that is). Maybe that Valentine’s toast turns romance into red wine carpet carnage. No matter the oops (or the poops) there are tips for addressing those accidents. Just follow these Do’s and Don’ts for removing holiday stains.

Do Act Fast!

No need to shame the spiller. Just make sure that you clean up spills and stains safely and immediately, before they set.

Don’t Blame, Blot!

First, soak up the excess spillage. Blot area with a clean absorbent material. For semi-solid spills (like cranberry sauce) gently scrape up with a rounded spoon. (Note: Once dry, remaining solids should be broken up and vacuumed until completely removed.)

Hint: Do use only a dry white absorbent cloth or white paper towels (with no pattern) for the job. Then there is no chance color from the cloth will transfer to the rug during cleaning.

Do start at the outside edge.

Second, work from the edge of spills towards the center to prevent them from spreading.

Don’t scrub or rub or brush the stain.

Third, be gentle. Above all, avoid grinding a spill down into the fiber or damaging the surface of the carpet or fabric with overly intense efforts. Again, blotting absorbs and removes as much of the spots, spills and stains as possible. Easy does it!

Do spot-clean as follows.

Next, in the case of carpet, follow these three steps. After blotting, use a drop or two of mild detergent mixed with water to clean the area. Then, rinse with a small amount of white vinegar and water. Lastly, rinse again lightly with cool water (distilled is best) but beware over-wetting. Keep in mind that upholstery and area rugs can be a bit more sensitive. For spills and stains on furniture and fine rugs, call a trustworthy, local cleaning professional. A visit to can provide additional tips.

Don’t over-wet the surface.

As you follow the steps above, don’t over-wet the surface.  Just as before, blot dry (don’t scrub) until most of the moisture has been absorbed.

Do allow to dry.

Finally, allow the area to dry fully before additional cleaning efforts. A fan can be used to speed the process. Better yet, a cool hair dryer can help minimize water-spotting on more sensitive fabrics.  In the case of floors, apply a one-half inch layer of white paper towels to the area and weigh down with a flat, heavy object. Continue to change paper towels as needed.

Do be Patient!

Complete removal of spills may require repeating the same steps several times

Don’t melt down!

Last but not least, don’t give in to that post-holiday headache and don’t let the wine spill ruin the mood!  Professionals are there to take over when spills are not responding to your gentle efforts.

Do what you can… and let professionals do the rest.

Granted, some carpets, rugs and furniture on the markets today have been treated with stain protection. However, that is no guarantee that the particular fiber type, when combined with an oops, won’t leave a stain behind. Even some performance fabrics are not as bullet-proof as their manufacturers claim.  When it comes to holiday spills and stains, damage can be minimized if immediate action is taken. If you are unsure what to do, call a trustworthy local company for further advice. The sooner you reach out, the better the chance of a successful outcome.

“Do’s” Get It Done.

To summarize, when tackling spills and stains, there are do’s and there are don’ts. The longer the delay, the higher the probability of a spot becoming a permanent stain. Keep in mind that there are a lot of bogus cleaning tips out there – Aunt Frannie is full of Facebook “wisdom.” Be wary of those “miracle methods” on social media. For the most part, your trustworthy local cleaning company can advise you best. Remember, staining is influenced by many factors and no surface is completely stain proof. 

So take a deep breath, remain alert, and try to enjoy the moments.  Holiday stains are common and spills happen.  Removing stains and spills are all about keeping your cool. Act quickly, blot, keep cleaning efforts gentle.  And at the end of the day, enjoy that extra glass of whatever. 

But if it’s wine, you might want to reach for the Chardonnay.

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