Stain-fighting solutions for every holiday drip, dribble and smudge


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If you’re anything like me, then you’re a food dropper — which also means your clothing is a magnet for food stains.

Now factor in holiday parties and cranberry-flavored menus, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

But fear not, holiday party-goers: The American Cleaning Institute knows that you’re clumsy, especially after you’ve had one too many, and it’s got a solution for every kind of stain. Just remember to treat stains as fast as possible; the longer they sit, the harder they’ll be to clean.

Fruit-based stains

(e.g., cranberry sauce, apple cider and pumpkin pie)

Remove excess fruit and run under cold water. Wash ASAP with the warmest water and a bleach that is safe for the fabric.


Oil-based stains

(e.g., turkey, gravy, butter and salad dressing)

Pretreat with a prewash stain remover, and use the hottest water in the washing machine that’s safe for the fabric.


Beverage stains

(e.g., coffee, tea, wine and soda)

Soak or sponge the stain in cool water. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. Use oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach in the washing machine, if it’s safe for fabric.


Food-coloring stains

(e.g., colorful cakes and desserts)

Sponge the stain ASAP with cool water. If this doesn’t work, soak the stain in cool water for at least 30 minutes. After soaking, pretreat with a prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent; then wash.


Wax stains

Use a dull knife to scrape off the surface wax. Put the stain between paper towels, and press with a warm iron, transferring the wax to the towels. Keep doing this, using clean towels, until the wax no longer transfers. Place the stain face-down on another clean paper towel, and sponge with a prewash stain remover; blot with paper towels. Let it dry; then wash.


Soot stains

Shake the garment out, and don’t rub. Wash with laundry detergent and the hottest water possible for the garments. Keep cleaning until until soot and/or smoke odor are removed. You may have to repeat as many as five times.