So, the holiday season is in full swing; you’ve spent an eternity cleaning and decorating the house, got lots of gifts hidden in secret places all around your home, and made a whole heap of sweets and treats to eat and drink. Now all you have to do is host the ultimate holiday party, which will be completely fabulous and without any major accident to wreck your gorgeously spruced up pad!
Of course, you’ve done due diligence and applied all the top tips to protect your flooring – you’ve even gone all out and bought some beautiful new rugs to counter any muddy footprints – but there’s no way that you can completely party-proof your home. So, here’s a handy bunch of tips and tricks to clean away all sorts of holiday stains and spills!
Removing Stains from Carpets
Most carpet owners are likely to have a branded carpet cleaning product on hand, which will do the trick for most stains. It is worth noting, however, that you can minimize the damage of most liquid spills by making sure that, whatever product you use, you avoid rubbing or scrubbing the carpet too much. A blotting technique that helps lift the liquid from the carpet is preferable to scrubbing the liquid further into the pile. Using clean, dry cloths – ideally terry toweling – to blot the liquid is also preferable.
Nail polish! So, the party hasn’t even started yet and your teen daughter has just spilled her favorite Maybelline Pinkalicious polish all over her bedroom floor! Yikes! Fear not – simply blot the area with a cloth dipped in nail polish remover (nb – always keep liquid nail polish remover in your house).
Sodas, colas, ice cream, jelly and mud! For these everyday sorts of spills and dirt you need not use a specialist cleaning product: a simple mix of 1/4 teaspoon of clear detergent (non bleach) or white vinegar with about a quart of water will do the trick.
Blood, chocolate, tea, coffee, wine and vomit! If any of your guests are more than merry and serious disaster strikes then try these fixes: for wool or wool-blend carpets try the detergent mix above; for polypropylene carpets one part of chlorine bleach to five parts water will deal with these tougher stains; for all other types of carpet use 1 tablespoon of ammonia mixed with 1 cup of water.
Cooking fats and oils! Always have paper towel in your kitchen and your iron in a convenient place – then if you accidentally trip whilst carrying your turkey to the dining table streaking fat and oil all over the carpet, all you need to do is place a sheet of paper towel over the spill and then iron the paper on a warm setting to draw the fat or oil off the carpet. You may wish to follow up with the detergent mix once most of the fat/ oil has been removed.
Candle wax and gum! Both of these carpet stain nasties can be treated in the same way: use ice blocks to freeze the wax or gum, then break it up using the base of a knife or a spoon, followed by a swift pass of the vacuum cleaner to pick up all the pieces! If there is still any residual wax, try using the iron technique above.
Cigarette or ember burns! Two options for these particular problems: first you can try rubbing the pill with the flat edge of a knife. If that doesn’t lift the burn mark off, then you will need to trim the burnt pile out of the carpet using a very sharp pair of nail scissors, and then using superglue stick down chopped pile cut from a bit of the carpet under some furniture (or from a remnant that you’ve thoughtfully kept by for this very reason!).
Visit our carpet and rug cleaning guide for more general carpet maintenance tips.
Removing Stains from Wood Floors
Of course, one of the advantages of wood floors over carpet is that generally they are easier to clean. For most liquids spills, you simply need to soak up the spill with paper towel and then run a mop or cleaning rag over using a mild mix of non-bleach detergent and water. Remember water is not wood’s friend, so don’t use a sopping wet mop – a well wrung out damp one is ideal. Aside from a detergent mix, there are also various branded cleaning products that your flooring supplier will likely have recommended.
If, after the initial clean, a stain has really seeped into your hardwood floor then you may have to do a spot-repair by sanding back the area and reapplying a sealant or finish to it. This may be something you might prefer to live with until you are ready to tackle refinishing the whole of your hardwood floor. For more on hardwood maintenance and care click here.
Scratches! The most common problems you’ll find – especially after a party – are scrapes and scratches on your wood flooring. For light scratches the best option is to use wax sticks or wood-stain markers to help hide the scratches. For deeper scrapes or dents, you will need to consider doing spot-repairs as mentioned above.
Cooking grease, gum or wax! Use the ice trick again – get a bunch of ice blocks to the stain to harden the grease, and then scrape it off with a paint scraper (or a knife, but don’t use the serrated edge!). Then wash the area with the detergent mix as per.
Blood! Heaven forbid that your holiday party ends in a bloody mess but, you know, accidents do happen… If the water/ detergent mix doesn’t fully do the job (n.b. use cold water) then you should be able to remove any residual bloodstain by carefully applying a little hydrogen peroxide.
Lipstick! You can usually lift lipstick off wood using the detergent mix, and using warm water and rubbing very gently with a scouring sponge will help.
Burns! Burns made by fire embers or dropped cigarettes can be gently scraped away using a dull knife and then you can spot-repair the area finishing with wax, oil or a little sealant.
For more fabulous tips and tricks for keeping your home looking fantastic, have a look at the Martha Stewart Homekeeping Solutions pages – a veritable treasury of cleaning and maintenance info all in one place!