Tips for cleaning up spilled wine, wax and lipstick stains

  • Article by: LINDA NAVARRO , The Gazette
  • Updated: November 30, 2013 - 4:23 PM

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 your family and guests come to celebrate. We checked with 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 — “think artesian hot springs.”

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 airtight 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 lie 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 scraping 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 on fabric

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.”

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