Although the holiday season is filled with all types of magic, I’m going to bet that you can’t magically avoid those inevitable holiday stains. Whether it’s red wine on your new couch, gravy splotches on your white tablecloth or coffee spilled on your newly-cleaned blouse… they’re tough to avoid!

The good news is that I’ve discovered a few ways to tackle those stains. Because the least of your worries should be a fun-filled holiday moment ruined by an accidental spill.

Before your in-laws arrive at your home for Christmas, or you host your annual New Years’ party, take a look at my top stain removal tips below.

Morning Coffee Spills

If you start your morning with a spilled cup of coffee, it doesn’t have to ruin your day!

The reason coffee is so hard to remove is because it includes Tannin—a natural vegetable dye found in some plants. While difficult to clean, it can still be done!

If you catch it immediately, a stream of cold water might take it right out. You can even give it an extra scrub with bar soap, baby powser, baking soda, salt, or a gentle stain remover.

Related: My Favorite Coffee Recipes and Accessories

If it sits in the material for a while, start by rinsing it under cold water for about 10 minutes. After, rub liquid dish soap or laundry detergent into the stain and let it sit for up to 5 minutes then rinse. Repeat this every 5 minutes until the stain is completely gone.

If the stain still remains, mix powdered laundry detergent with water and white vinegar (equal parts) until it turns into a paste. Scrub the stain with a toothbrush and rinse the fabric thoroughly.

Grease From All That Cooking

If we’re being honest with ourselves, greasy food always seems to taste the best. But when that grease drips onto a tablecloth or clothing, it can be a bare to remove.

If you find yourself with a greasy or oily splotch on your shirt, put dish soap on the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. When you’re done, rinse it under cold water and repeat the process until it’s fully removed.

The biggest piece of advice I can give here is to triple-check to ensure the stain is completely gone before throwing your tablecloth or clothing into the dryer. As soon as it’s tossed around in heat, the stain won’t come out.

Rich Gravy Stains

If a boat of gravy is sitting on my holiday table, it will soon become my best friend. I use it on everything from turkey to potatoes to stuffing!

Occasionally, that same boat of gravy ends up dripping onto the tablecloth. Thankfully, a few steps are all you need to follow to remove the stain! Start by wiping off any excess gravy with a knife or a spoon. Be careful not to rub it in… but any excess residue will make a bigger mess.

Related: 12 Things You Need For Your Next Meal

When the gravy spill is cleaned up a bit, use a solvent-based stain remover (such as Shout) and spray it on the stain—completely saturating it and rubbing it in with a toothbrush.

Let it work its way into the fabric for about 15 minutes, then you can toss it into the washing machine on the highest temperature (while adhering to washing instructions). When your cycle is complete, check the area to ensure the stain is completely gone before tossing it in the dryer.

Pumpkin Pie and Sweet Potatoes

I don’t think you’ll EVER catch me passing up a piece of pumpkin pie. And while roasted sweet potatoes aren’t quite as tempting, they’re still a welcome addition to my holiday table!

If your pie and potatoes end up slipping onto your brand-new dress pants, you can still remove that stain without a whole lot of work.

Similar to gravy, scrape off any excess food with a spoon or a dull knife. And if you’re in a position where you can take off the stained article of clothing, flip the clothing item inside out and run it under cold water to flush out the stain as much as you possibly can.

Related: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie (With a Little Chocolate)

Next, grab your go-to stain remover and pretreat the stain—letting it sit on the clothing for about 5 minutes. Afterward, you can pop it into the machine and wash it as you normally would.

If it’s not machine washable, simply rinse the treated stain under water (and repeat the spraying and rinsing process) until the stain disappears.

Cranberry Sauce Messes

Some people serve the jelly form and others make it from scratch. But no matter the form of the dish, cranberry sauce is a classic holiday meal addition.

The best thing you can do if some of that sauce ends up on your tablecloth or blouse is to rinse it with cool water. Next, you’re going to mix 1 quart of cool water with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent.

Use this mixture to blot the stain thoroughly (I find that doing this with a clean cloth works best) until you can’t see the stain anymore.

Related: Easy Cranberry Apple Bake

You can also let the entire item soak for about 15 minutes in the solution if it needs some extra love. After, rinse the clothing items or tablecloth with water, and if the stain remains, use a sponge to blot the stain with rubbing alcohol. Rinse your item thoroughly and launder it as normal.

Spilled Red Wine

The holidays are a time to unwind! But if your glass of wine ends up on your clothes, on the floor, or on your couch, you’ll want to tackle the stain immediately.

The pigment in the wine is always difficult to remove—especially because it soaks into the fibers of the fabric and causes the stain to set almost immediately. But if you catch the spill quickly enough, you’re not out of luck.

Begin by blotting the stain with a paper towel or a clean cloth. Just make sure you dab and don’t rub! Next, you need to apply a treatment to the stain and this will depend on what you have on hand.

Here are a few DIY removal treatments for red wine.

Dish soap and hydrogen peroxide:

  • Mix together: hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap.
  • Pour the mixture onto the stain and let it sit (checking often to see if it disappears).
  • Add more until the stain is gone.
  • Wash the article as usual.

Kosher salt:

  • Blot the stain and sprinkle kosher salt onto it.
  • Let it sit for about 3 minutes, but if you need something more effective, you can let it sit overnight.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  • Wash the article as usual.

White vinegar and laundry detergent:

  • Cover the stain entirely with white vinegar.
  • Add some liquid detergent on top of the vinegar.
  • Wash the article in hot water until the stain disappears.

And if you need a super simple solution to red wine removal, you can also check out the Silvadore Stain Remover from the Just Jill Shop!

Chocolatey Catastrophes

I say “catastrophes” because chocolate can be especially hard to remove. And while you can do some damage if the stain is treated incorrectly, you should walk out with clean clothing by following a few basic steps.

First things first. Remove crumbs, chocolate chips, or other chunks of chocolate with a spoon, knife, or clean toothbrush. After, apply a mixture of 1 tablespoon dish soap and 2 cups warm water to the stain with a microfiber cloth—blotting the stain gently.

Related: The Best German Chocolate Caramel Cake

As with most stains, remember not to rub a chocolate stain as this can set it even further into the fabric.

If the stain still remains after some thorough dabbing, repeat the process a few times before soaking up the solution with a clean towel. Then, wash it as normal!

Fussy Food Coloring

Making Christmas cookies is always a fun tradition for the kids, but it can also be parents’ worst nightmare. Do bright colors ring a bell?

If you end up with reds, greens, yellows, and blues all over your cloths and clothes, you’ll want to act quickly to get rid of the stains. If you have food coloring on your machine-washable clothes, immediately run the stain under cold water. Let the water do the work… any rubbing will cause the stain to set!

Related: My Best Holiday Cookie Recipes

After step 1 is complete, use a stain remover or a heavy-duty liquid detergent (one that contains enzymes) on the stain. Work in the solution with a toothbrush or your fingers and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

When complete with the scrubbing and sitting, throw the item into the wash and launder it like you usually would.

Wax From Holiday Candles

While most holiday stains come from food, other stains may also work their way into your next festive function. One of the most common? Candle wax.

If your favorite candle was knocked over, don’t jump on the stain right away. Instead, let the wax harden, and scrape it off with a knife. If additional wax remains, use a hairdryer to melt the excess residue.

Follow by soaking a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and dab the oily part of the stain. If clothing was the victim of the spill, you can launder the item as usual.

Don’t let a stain ruin the holidays… use these tips to keep them at bay! If you have any more nifty holiday stain removal tips please let me know. It’s always fun to share household hacks with one another!

From my holiday home to yours,


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