You may not cry over spilled milk — but when Aunt Jenny dumps cranberry sauce all over your finest tablecloth, there may be reason for tears. And what if your little elves drag sticky candy canes all over their Sunday best?
If your Christmas turns into a mess and your New Year's gathering becomes a "spillabration," don't fret. Just act quickly and put some of the following stain busters to the test:
Stuck on you
Christmas tree sap: Real trees smell great, but they can stain great, too. To remove sap from your carpeting or clothing, dab the stain with a white cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Don't rub, just blot. Allow the sap to dry between blotting sessions, then pick or scrape the sap away.
Candle wax: Put a paper bag over the wax and iron on low. Treat any remaining stain with hydrogen peroxide and wash. Or throw the tablecloth or clothing in the freezer for about an hour. Scrape with a butter knife. For carpeting, put ice cubes on the wax. As the wax hardens, scrape it off.
Candy canes: Soak with cold water for 30 minutes with a splash of ammonia. Rinse. Soak for an additional 30 minutes in a water/white vinegar mixture. Rinse.
Chocolate: Rinse the back of the stain with cold water. Gently rub liquid detergent into the stain. Soak the fabric in cold water and rub the affected area between your fingers and thumb. Rinse thoroughly once the stain is removed. Method B: If you have club soda on hand, douse the dark spot and blot clean.
Dining and wining
Turkey and ham grease: Treat the spots with liquid dish soap, then soak in warm water for at least 30 minutes. Wash as usual.
Yams: Wet the backside of the stain with a damp cloth. Mix a tablespoon of dish soap with 2 cups water. Apply in a circular motion. Rinse and pat dry.
Carrots: Soak stain in one part vinegar, three parts water. Rinse with warm water.
Butter: Sprinkle salt on the grease stain. Pretreat with liquid soap and wash in hot water.
Gravy: Sprinkle with baking soda and let stand for 20 minutes. Blot with clean cloth. For persistent stains, dab with mixture of dish soap and water. Continue to blot until clean.
Cranberry sauce: Rinse in cold water for a couple of minutes. Soak in cold water with a splash of white vinegar and liquid laundry detergent. Blot any remaining stain with rubbing alcohol on a cloth. If the sauce is on your carpeting, blot with a mixture of cool water and liquid dish soap.
Pumpkin pie: Mix equal parts vinegar, liquid dish soap and water. Spray on and blot. This trick also works well for berry pies.
Eggnog: Blot with a cloth. Soak fabric in cold water with enzyme detergent. If the nog is on your carpet, blot with nail polish remover. Spray with a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Blot until clear.
Tea: Dissolve half a handful of sugar in water. Soak the fabric for 15 minutes or until stain is faded. Rinse and dry.
Coffee: Blot the spill with paper towel. Rinse the backside of the fabric with cold water. Make a paste with powdered laundry detergent, cold water and white vinegar. Spread on both sides of the stain and let sit for five minutes. Rub with a toothbrush or small laundry brush until the stain is no longer visible. Wash normally.
Red wine: Stretch the fabric over a colander and pour boiling water over the stain. Blot with a dish soap/water mixture until stain is gone. If the wine is on your carpeting, try pouring club soda on the stain. Continue to blot until the stain is lifted.
White wine: Douse the stain with cold water and blot. You can also make a paste with three parts baking soda, one part water. Spread over the stain. Vacuum when dry.
Have some household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.