Thanksgiving is here, which means you’re probably already cleaning your house and prepping the meal. It’s a lot of work…but then you get to enjoy the eating. Yay! But then you have to focus on cleaning again. Boo!
The trouble with Thanksgiving is that it involves so many delicious foods that also happen to be super stainers. Here’s how to get stains left by the most common traditional Thanksgiving foods, drinks, and miscellaneous messmakers out of your fabrics.
How to tackle the most common Thanksgiving food stains
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The food is what makes Thanksgiving the holiday that it is, but also the messy horror that it can be. Here’s how to remove the stains of the most common fare.
Remove cranberry sauce stains
This delicious treat is bizarrely really only enjoyed once per year—maybe because it leaves such horrific stains? To battle any that gets on your clothes or tablecloth, mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with ⅔ cups of rubbing alcohol, then using a clean cloth to sponge the stain. Keep blotting until the stain is absorbed and wash the item as normal.
Remove gravy stains
The drippiness is what makes it so good and so messy. Per Clorox, scrape off any excess with a dull knife before blotting with a paper towel or cloth, then cover the stain with cornstarch to suck up the grease. Brush the residue off and follow with a blotting of cold water and dish detergent. Rinse (and repeat the blotting if necessary) and you’re done.
Remove butter and other grease stains
For greasy stains, first try dish soap, which is literally designed to clean up grease. Apply it directly to the stain. Rub it in gently until you’ve saturated the area, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, wash your clothes as you normally would, or use a clean, wet cloth to dab up the detergent. You can also try white chalk. Rub it over the stain to pull up that grease, then toss the stained item into the washing machine.
Remove pumpkin stains
To get pumpkin out of fabrics, scrape off any solid bits lingering on the material, then run it under cold water to loosen the stain and make sure it doesn’t spread. Pre-treat it with a little laundry soap or stain remover, then throw it in your washer on the hottest setting. Add bleach if it’s safe for the fabric.
Remove sweet potato stains
These stains are similar to pumpkin stains, but they’re really bright, so you want to act on them fast. Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap with two cups of cool water, then use a clean white cloth to sponge the stain out. Keep repeating the process until the stain is gone, then follow up with a clean cloth dipped in cold water to blot out the detergent.
Remove stains from mashed potatoes
The severity of the stain (and the kind of removal you’ll need to undertake) depend largely on what your potatoes are mixed with. If there’s butter in there, use the cornstarch method mentioned earlier to pull out the grease first. If there is other dairy, like cream, in the mix, be sure to avoid setting the stain with hot water and opt for cold water instead. Next, scrape the solid potato off your fabric and then you can turn it inside out and run it under cold water. Rub a small amount of dishwashing liquid into the fabric and rinse it again. Pretreat with a liquid enzyme laundry detergent for at least half an hour before tossing it in the wash on the hottest setting.
How to clean up Thanksgiving drink stains
What’s a good meal without some good drink? Not much! And the best drinks stain, so let’s get after it.
Remove red wine stains
To battle red wine, your first option is using a high-proof, clear alcohol like vodka or gin. Pour it over the fresh stain and soak up whatever you can with a rag. Repeat as necessary. Your second option is to bring enough milk to cover the stain to a near boil, but take it off the stove before it actually boils. Then soak your stained item in the liquid for 30 minutes before rinsing with cold water and tossing it in the washing machine.
Remove white wine stains
This is a little easier than red wine because it’s, well, not red. Use plain, warm water to dab at the stain, but if it’s set in or stubborn, add a small squirt of dish detergent to your water and blot. Wash as normal after that.
How to deal with other Thanksgiving stains
Some of the things that can stain your fabrics on this special day aren’t food or beverages at all. Don’t stress, though. They, too, have solutions.
How to get out candle wax stains
Candles can drip on your tablecloth and leave ugly marks. To remove wax, you can try either a hot or a cold technique. If you opt for cold, put ice or an ice pack on the wax to freeze it, then scrape it off with a thin object like a credit card. If you go for heat, your approach will depend on the surface the wax is on. If it’s a hard surface, use a hair dryer to melt it, then rub it off with a cloth. If it’s on the carpet, set a paper bag on top of it, iron over it, and press down until the melted wax is transferred to the bag. The same process works for fabrics like tablecloths: Sandwich the fabric with paper bags or newspaper, then iron on medium heat until the wax has transferred from the fabric to the paper.
How to remove lipstick stains
A fancy dinner calls for a fancy look, so you can expect guests to wear lipstick to your house—and probably get it on your nice napkins. Mix equal parts lemon juice and baking soda to create a paste, spread it over the stain, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Wipe it away with a clean cloth and wash the fabric on a high temp. If the lipstick was of the liquid variety, try dabbing it with rubbing alcohol instead of the lemon and baking soda.