Tips for removing holiday-related stains

  • By Linda Navarro The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
  • Monday, December 2, 2013 2:24pm
  • Life

It’s just about time to pull everything out of holiday storage, find your Mannheim Steamroller discs for background music and prepare for any of the uh-ohs lying in wait when family and guests come to celebrate.

We checked with local holiday rescuers and Googled, asked national sources, visited Pinterest and Heloise, and compiled a list to keep handy.

Some hints are familiar; others are updates of tried-and-true solutions.

Cleaning the silver

Some say the best way to avoid this chore is to not inherit the family silver. If it’s too late for that, Morgan Stone of Lane Mitchell Jewelers in Colorado Springs, Colo., suggests making it something fun to do with the kids.

“Take a Pyrex (glass) dish and fold up a piece of aluminum foil in the bottom, shiny side up. Submerge the silver in white vinegar, sprinkle baking soda on the top and leave it alone for a while.

“Or, it’s fine to agitate the vinegar and soda a bit. There’s a chemical reaction that releases the black (tarnish), especially in hard-to-reach areas.”

His warning: Do this in a ventilated area because chemicals released make it smell like rotten eggs.

Age-old hints: Don’t wash silver or silverplate in lemon-scented detergent because of possible chemical damage.

Store silver in flannel or a soft cloth in an air-tight bag or in a lined silver chest to avoid tarnishing.

Candle-wax problems

For wax spilled on upholstery or carpet, get a brown paper bag and an iron, says Merry Maids of Colorado. Cut the paper bag to lay flat on the problem area, with printing away from the carpet.

Use a moderate heat setting on the iron, place it on the paper bag (not the carpet) and iron back and forth over the bag.

The wax will be absorbed into the paper bag. When a dark spot appears on the bag, move a dry area of the bag over the wax spot and repeat the procedure until all wax is absorbed.

For candle wax on a holiday tablecloth, Heloise recommends putting it in the freezer until the wax hardens, then scrape it off with a dull knife.

Put white paper towels on both sides of the stain and press the towels over the stain with an iron on a warm setting. Keep moving the paper towels to areas where wax hasn’t been absorbed.

Launder as usual. And for wax spills on silver, put it into the freezer for a few hours. Remove and wax will fall off.

Spilled wine and colas

Good Housekeeping has some of the most-oft-repeated solutions for drink accidents on carpet or fabric.

First rule: Act quickly. Test first in an inconspicuous spot on fabrics or carpet.

For red wine: Blot carpet with water, apply a detergent solution of 1 teaspoon mild, clear or white dishwashing liquid with no bleach in 1 cup of warm water.

Blot again with water. Dab with 3 percent strength hydrogen peroxide.

For white wines and clear sodas: Launder washable items as soon as possible. For further stain removal, use the homemade detergent solution above.

If necessary for cola stains, also try a solution of 1/3 cup white vinegar in 2/3 cup of water. Blot with warm water.

A Heloise hint to remove red-wine stains on your tablecloth: “Pour a big dose of salt on top of the stain to absorb the liquid.

“Put the tablecloth into cold water and try to rub out the stain. Use an enzyme detergent in the hottest water safe for the fabric, soak for 30 minutes and launder.”

Wine spills on stone countertops or floors: The Marble Institute reinforces the unanimous warning to blot the spill immediately with a paper towel.

Don’t ever wipe a spill; blot it. Flush the area with water and mild soap and rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as needed.

The institute recommends cleaning with 12 percent hydrogen peroxide (hair-bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.

(Peroxide is OK, but never use ammonia and bleach together. The fumes are toxic.)

Another effective stubborn-stain remover on stone countertops or floors: Make a paste from 1 cup of powdered chalk, two drops of ammonia and some hydrogen peroxide.

Apply paste 1/2-inch thick, then cover the area with plastic wrap. After the paste has dried, remove it, clean the area and use a stone cleaner if stains remain.

Check your dealer to determine if the stone countertop needs to be resealed.

Lipstick stains

On those rare occasions when the white linen napkins are brought out, lipstick-blot marks are sure to follow.

Martha Stewart’s “stain expert” says emphatically to never wet those lipstick marks with club soda or anything else.

Instead, scrape the lipstick marks with a dull knife and then follow his rubbing alcohol/acetone lipstick-stain-pounding routine from this video:

Moisture rings

Repair the damage to wood furniture quickly, recommends Good Housekeeping.

Put a clean, thick towel on the stain. Heat your iron to dry, low or medium, and press onto the towel for several seconds.

Don’t allow the iron to touch the wood. The light heat should release moisture from the rings into the towel. Repeat as necessary. Buff and polish the wood.

Christmas tree sap

For sap on the carpet, boil water and dip in a clean cloth. Blot repeatedly onto the sap to soften. Scrape up any remaining sap.

Also, for carpet or furniture, recommends rubbing alcohol, vodka or a touch of alcohol-based liquid hand sanitizer on a soft, clean cloth.

Try this first in an inconspicuous area to test the color. Blot the sap repeatedly before the alcohol dries.

To remove sap from skin, use fingernail polish remover, rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based liquid hand sanitizer.

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