Thanksgiving, Christmas : Cleaning up Holiday Oh-ohs

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Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years; the next few months provide plenty of opportunities for parties. But with the fun of entertaining come the oh-ohs; the spilled wine, the candle wax on the carpet, coffee rings on the end table, and many other little spills and mishaps.

You will find your holiday more entertaining if you know how to clean up afterward. We are going to look at some of the more common entertaining mishaps.

Candle Wax

On Hard Surfaces – Let it harden and scrape off as much as possible. The wax left can be melted with a hair dryer and wiped up as it melts.

On Fabric (tablecloths, clothing, carpet) – First, freeze it. Put the fabric item in the freezer until the wax is hard and brittle. If it is the carpet, put ice in a zip lock bag and lay it on top of the wax for awhile. Break off, peel off, or scrape off as much as possible. If the wax begins to soften, re-freeze it.

Once you have removed as much wax as possible in this way, lay folded paper towels or clean absorbent paper over the wax spill. Run a warm iron over the folded paper towels having them soak up the wax as it melts. Keep replacing the towels with clean ones until no more wax comes up. (Check the temperature of the iron, especially if the carpet is nylon. You want to melt the wax, but not melt or scorch the fabric. For velvet or other plusher fabrics, use a steam iron)

Finally clean with soap to get the last of the wax out.

Red Candle Wax – After using the above tips, dab a small amount of denatured alcohol onto the stain if any candle dye remains on the fabric. Sponge with water.

If the stain is on a very light colored surface you may want to try this tip before using the iron: Mix ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide with 3 cups of cool water. Do not use hot water or it will set the stain.

Dab that on and let it set for 5 to 10 minutes. If that helps some but not enough, add a little more peroxide and let it set longer. Then rinse very well with vinegar and water.


Red Wine on Wood Furniture – Rub the area with paste wax, silver polish or a cloth barely dampened with ammonia. If the spot still remains, make a thin paste of boiled linseed oil and rottenstone, and rub it into the stain with your finger. Wax or polish. (rottenstone – a weathered and decomposed siliceous limestone; in powdered form it is used in polishing.)

Red Wine on Upholstery – Blot the fresh stain with paper towels. Sponge with warm water to dilute the stain and blot again. Apply talcum powder to any remaining stain. Let the powder stand for two to three minutes. Gently brush off talcum powder. Repeat sponging and blotting if stain persists

Champagne on Marble – Go to a jewelers lapidary supply store and purchase a small amount of a product called 99% pure oxide. It is a very mild polishing compound used for cleaning jewelry. Mix that with water into a paste like toothpaste.

Now take a real chamois, like for cars, dampen with water and polish your marble spot. It may take a time or two, but if that doesn’t remove the spot, it’s probably permanent.

Drink Rings, Heat Marks, Etc.

Stain from Hot Mug on Wooden Table – Find a product that contains linseed oil, turpentine and a little beeswax. Use with a window open and fan going. Apply the mixture with a 0000 steel wool pad. Let that set about 30 minutes (no longer) and wipe off. Be careful storing the rag, the mixture is combustable.

Marks from a Hot Dish If a hot dish or cup leaves a white ring on wood, mix some cigar or cigarette ashes with water to form a paste. Apply, then buff with a white cotton cloth. The Antiques Roadshow suggested using a soft cloth and wipe the white marks with cheap clear alcohol (the kind you drink, NOT rubbing alcohol.)

Drink Ring on Wood – Some quick fixes for watermarks.

Rub mayonnaise into the wood.

Mix approximately one half teaspoon of olive oil and ashes from a couple of cigarettes and make it into a paste. Then rub the paste on the stained area. Then simply wipe clean.

Cigarettes & Smoke

Cigarette Smoke Odor – The smell of smoke lingers in carpets, upholstery and curtains. Wash any items that can be washed, or you can try a commercial odor remover.
Try leaving a small container of vinegar in each room to keep it smelling fresh.
If you have smokers in your house, you can keep several candles burning while they are smoking, and covering the bottom of ashtrays with baking soda also helps.
Open the windows whenever possible to allow fresh air in the room.Cigarette Burn Removal from Wood Furniture For a cigarette burn that hasn’t penetrated the wood finish, make a thin paste of pumice and boiled linseed oil and apply it to the burned area. Wax or polish, working with the grain of the wood.


Lipstick on Fabric – Dab stain with denatured alcohol using a soft, white cloth. Rub dishwashing detergent gently into the stain with your finger. Try using a stain stick and leaving it on for several minutes before washing, if the mark is stubborn. Wash fabric as usual.
Ask your dry cleaner for help if all else fails.

Melted Chocolate on Upholstery – Allow melted chocolate to dry and harden.
Scrape off completely dry chocolate with a blunt knife. Use carpet shampoo and a soft-bristled brush to gently work carpet shampoo foam into stain. Use damp sponge to wipe away foam.
For stubborn stains, try liquid stain removers.

Chocolate Stains From Fabric – Allow melted chocolate to dry and harden. Scrape away hardened chocolate with blunt knife. Pre-treat the stain with stain remover or detergent. Wash as usual.

Chocolate/Cocoa on FabricSoak in cold water. Press detergent into stain while wet. Use pre-wash stain remover and launder in hottest water safe for fabric. To remove remaining grease stain, sponge with cleaning fluid, let air dry. Rinse thoroughly. If stain persists, sponge with hydrogen peroxide. rinse thoroughly. Launder using bleach safe for fabric.

Coffee/Tea on Fabric – Blot the stain immediately with paper towels. Sponge the stain using cool water. If possible, soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Rub detergent into stain while wet. If safe for fabric, stretch cloth over bowl and pour boiling water through stain. To remove remaining grease stain (from cream), sponge with cleaning fluid. Let air dry. Rinse thoroughly. If stain persists, sponge with hydrogen peroxide. Rinse thoroughly. Launder using bleach safe for fabric

Soft Drinks on FabricSponge stain immediately with cold water. Apply pre-wash stain remover and glycerin. Launder using bleach safe for fabric in hottest water safe for fabric. Some soft drink stains are invisible after they dry, but turn yellow after aging or heating. This yellow stain may be impossible to remove

Soft Drink Stain Removal from Carpet – To remove a soft drink stain from your carpet, mix 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent with 1 cup lukewarm water. Follow up with 1 tablespoon of ammonia in 1/2 cup of water.

General Tips:

Test the cleaning solutions on an inconspicuous part of the fabric or carpet before using them on a large area.
Always use a white cloth rather than a colored one to prevent any dyes from coming off on the carpet or fabric.
As you blot, keep turning the cloth so that you are using a clean, dry section to pick up the stain and cleaning fluids from the carpet. Don’t rub.
Avoid scrubbing or rubbing the stain excessively. This can cause the stain to further penetrate the fabric.
For some stains the trick is to keep going. Continue to blot, continue to rinse, it takes time to remove some stains.

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