Holiday Stain Removing Guide

There’s no doubt about it. The holidays inevitably mix things together that just shouldn’t: expensive clothes and textiles and lots of stain opportunities! Whether it’s a beautiful (and expensive) holiday sweater, your child’s finest “dress up” outfit, your carpet or your very best tablecloth, they’re all likely to take a beating during the holiday season. How could they not? From wine to hot chocolate to tree sap, the holidays are ripe with ways to completely ruin what you’ve already spent a pretty penny on.

Have no fear, though, and certainly don’t halt the festivities. Should something fall victim to a holiday “Ho, Ho, NOOO!”, just read below for ways to fix it fast.


To remove red wine that’s freshly¬†spill¬† blot it first with cold water or even dab it with a little white wine to help neutralize the red. If it’s your carpet that fell victim, then pour salt over the spill and let it sit overnight. The next day, vacuum up the salt and clean with a combination of 1 Tbsp dishwashing liquid, 1 Tbsp white vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. Blot until the stain is gone. If clothing or a tablecloth has the offending stain, rub liquid detergent or laundry stain remover onto the stain and wash with fabric-safe or color-safe bleach.

To remove candle wax, relax. It’s easier to remove it when it’s cool and solid, so let it do so. When it’s hardened, scrape as much of the wax off as possible. (The edge of a credit card works great for this!) If it’s colored wax and it’s not adequately removed by scraping, seek out a special cleaner for just this purpose available at most retail or hardware stores.

If chocolate has left its (unwanted) mark, scrape up as much as you can right away. Next, apply a laundry stain remover and rub it in well using your fingers. If it’s something machine washable, wash it using fabric-safe or color-safe bleach. If, however, the chocolate stain is on furniture, then sponge it clean with a solution of 1 Tbsp liquid hand soap mixed with 2 cups of cool water. Chocolate on the carpet? Then sponge it clean with the same solution used for furniture described above, but use warm water instead of cool.

Gravy’s good on the potatoes and the plate, not anywhere else! But if it has landed elsewhere, scrape off as much as you can because it’s the grease in the gravy that will leave that dreaded grease stain that just lingers like a nasty ghost of great meals past! Next, when able, apply a laundry stain remover and work it into the fibers using your fingers. Next, allow it to soak overnight in the washer filled with a combination of warm water and fabric-safe or color-safe bleach.

In short, the very best guard against these textile memories of holidays past is being swift and prepared. As soon as a spill occurs (with the exception of hot wax as described above), do all that you can wipe up the offending spill. Next, be prepared with a reliable laundry stain remover. (If you’re curious, I like the Oxyclean gel stick. It’s reasonably priced. It’s easy to use (even for my arthritic hands), and does a great job and getting out even set in stains.)

Photo credit: Artis Momentum

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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