How to Remove Common Party Stains

  1. The downside of hosting a shindig: PSD (Permanent Stain Damage). Here’s how to rescue your space from food, drinks, and klutzes.

    Click here for all your common party stain removal needs!

  2. Berry Stains

    Immediately: Spoon up the excess sauce and sponge with cool water, if safe for fabric. Dab with a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then apply a solvent like Shout.

    Note: If it’s on a nonwashable fabric, treat it the same, but use water sparingly, apply a mild detergent like Woolite and don’t throw it in the laundry


    The morning after: Soak the stain for 15 minutes using a mixture of 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent and 1 quart cool water. Rinse. Sponge with rubbing alcohol, and then throw it in the wash, using bleach if needed.

    Key cleaners: white vinegar, liquid laundry detergent
  3. Cocktail Sauce

    Immediately: Blot as much as you can with a slightly damp cloth, and then mist the stain with a solution of 1/4 tsp. dishwashing liquid and 1 cup water. Agitate it gently with your fingers and blot again. Spritz the area with water to remove the soap. Spread a cloth over the stain and put a heavy book on top of the cloth; leave it overnight.

    The morning after: If a stain remains, blot the area with a cloth soaked in a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water until the stain disappears. Finish by flushing the area with warm water.

    Key cleaners: dishwashing liquid, white vinegar
  4. Candle Drippings

    Immediately: Wait for the drippings to dry before applying an ice pack to the wax. Let the wax dry completely overnight.

    The morning after: Scrape off the wax using a credit card or thin butter knife. Remove as much of the wax as possible; then place one paper bag underneath the tablecloth/napkin/placemat and another on top of the stain. Gently iron the area until the wax has been transferred to the paper bag. If wax is on your carpet, use a blunt object to shatter the wax and vacuum it up.

    Key cleaners: ice pack, credit card or thin butter knife, iron, paper bags
  5. Chocolate

    Immediately: Get up as much as you can with a slightly damp, absorbent cloth; then blot with a dry spotter solvent on a clean white cloth. Don’t pour the solvent directly onto the fabric because it can dissolve the latex backings of many rugs and carpets. When the stain is gone, saturate the area with clean water.

    The morning after: If the spot remains, spray on 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and don’t rinse.

    Key cleaners: dry spotter solvent (K2R, Carbona, or Energine), hydrogen peroxide
  6. Red Wine

    Immediately: Sprinkle the stain with table salt and blot with a damp, absorbent cloth. Sponge the stain with a few drops of white vinegar until no more color comes out. Sponge with rubbing alcohol and saturate with water to flush out the spot. Still there? Spread a cloth over the stain and put a heavy book on top; leave it overnight.

    The morning after: If there’s any remaining color, spray on 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and don’t rinse. Or try a product called Wine Away, which can be effective at removing vino stains.

    Key cleaners: table salt, dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide
  7. Coffee

    Immediately: Mist a black coffee stain with a solution of 1/4 tsp. dishwashing liquid and 1 cup water; blot until color is no longer absorbed. Rinse with warm water. For coffee with cream/sugar, use a dry spotter with a cloth and blot until the cloth stops absorbing color. Don’t pour the solvent directly onto the fabric. Saturate the area with water.

    The morning after: Smear glycerin over the stain; let it sit for 30 minutes. Repeat the steps from the night before. If any stain remains, spray on 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and don’t rinse.

    Key cleaners: dishwashing liquid, dry spotter, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide
  8. Juice

    Immediately: Mix 1 Tbl. liquid dishwashing detergent with 1 Tbl. white vinegar and 2 cups warm water. Use a clean, white cloth to sponge the stain with the solution until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat as necessary.

    The morning after: If you still see traces of juice, mix 1 Tbl. ammonia with 2 cups warm water. Sponge the stain with the ammonia solution and blot until the liquid is absorbed. Using a different sponge, cleanse the area with cold water and blot dry.

    Key cleaners: liquid dishwashing detergent, white vinegar, ammonia
  9. Oil

    Immediately: Blot up excess oil; then sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda onto the stain. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes and vacuum if the stain is on a carpet -- if not, skip this step. Use a clean, white cloth to sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent. Blot until the solvent is absorbed and reapply the solvent and blot again if the spot won’t budge.

    The morning after: If the stain lingers, mix 1 Tbl. liquid dishwashing detergent with 1 Tbl. white vinegar and 2 cups warm water. Sponge the stain with the solution and blot until the liquid is absorbed.

    Key cleaners: baking soda or cornstarch, vacuum, dry-cleaning solvent, liquid dishwashing detergent, white vinegar
  10. Mud

    Immediately: If it’s a significant amount, try to wipe it up without driving it deeper into the fibers. Don’t use water -- most of the mud is likely sitting on the surface, and water will only spread it down into the material. Just let the mud dry and wait until morning.

    The morning after: Vacuum it up (you’ll get 90 percent of the mud). Can you still see dark traces? Sponge it with a few drops of white vinegar and sponge again with warm water.

    Key cleaners: vacuum, white vinegar