Cleaning up Thanksgiving Holiday Spills and Stains


You know any time you get family and friends together, spills and stains are bound to happen. Right?

Spills and stains happen in my house with just about every gathering we have. I stopped stressing over it years ago, I can’t change the inevitable.

I decided I’m not going to follow everyone around with a rag to clean up stains or a spoon to pick up spills (no one knew that’s what I was doing though, they would have thought I was crazy!).

If I noticed the spill, I’d attend to it, otherwise, I’d catch it the next day.

My advice to you – try and relax a little. Thanksgiving is about family, so why stress about it overly much beforehand?

Below are the most common foods and drinks shared for Thanksgiving dinner and how you can clean them – should they get spilled.

When cleaning carpet stains, do not rub at the stain or you risk spreading the stain further.

After stain removal treatments, make sure you avoid putting an item in the dryer until you are sure the stain is gone.

Removing Red Wine Stains with Club Soda

Wine is one of those things that is bound to get slopped. When you’re walking around having a good time talking with others, an arm is bound to get bumped, and oops – out slops the wine.

Cleaning Red Wine Spills from Carpets

Club soda is an item many of us have on hand around the holidays for cocktail or mocktail hour and is something you can make use of if a red wine spill happens.

  1. Pour club soda on the red wine stain.
  2. Blot up excess liquids with an absorbent paper towel or clean towel.
  3. This may need to be repeated a couple of times. Make sure to change to a clean section of towel, replace when necessary. 
  4. Dry as best you can with another clean towel.

Have one of the guys use his weight to lift up any excess liquid and you should be good to go. If possible, place a chair or end table over the spot until it’s completely dry.

Removing Red Wine Stains from Clothing

If the red wine stain is on your clothing again, pour club soda on a clean rag and blot at the stain. Continue until the stain is gone.

If the stain is a large one, see if you have something for your guest to put on while you tackle the stain.

If the garment can take it, rinse with the hottest water possible. Just be careful when rinsing you don’t get your hands in the way of the hot water.

Believe it or not but hot water is one of the best ways to remove fruit juice stains and it works on wine too.

How to Remove Cranberry Sauce Stains

One of the most likely places stains will happen is on the tablecloth. Just as hot water can remove a wine stain, it can also work on a stain such as this and I know for some of you, this cleaning method may go against everything you’ve heard and been taught – but this is the recommended method for cleaning a cranberry sauce stain.

Cleaning Cranberry Stains from a Tablecloth

After the sink is cleared and dishes put away, put some water on to boil and bring the tablecloth to the sink.

  1. Pre-rinse the table cloth with the hottest tap water possible to remove any remaining solids.
  2. Then have someone help you hold the table cloth over the sink and pour the hot water slowly and gently over the stained fabric.
  3. Cover every bit of the cranberry stain and please watch your hands with the hot water.

If any stain is left over, leave the table cloth to soak in a bowl of hot water with 1 teaspoon of liquid dish washing detergent for 60 minutes. Rinse with clean water. Launder as usual when the stain is gone. Avoid the dryer until you’re sure the stain is out.

Removing Cranberry Sauce from the Carpet

There’s also a good chance one of the kiddos, sitting at the little table, will drop some of their food on the carpet during the dinner hour.

  1. First, clean up any solids from the cranberry sauce.
  2. Using a clean cloth, paper towel or other absorbent, blot up the liquid until it has been absorbed. 
  3. In a bowl, add 1 cup of warm water and into that mix 1 teaspoon liquid detergent together. Stir to mix the detergent in the water. 
  4. Pour a little of this mixture over the stain. Use a clean toothbrush or your fingers to gently work into the carpet.
  5. Repeat if necessary.
  6. Blot and get it as dry as you can with a clean towel. If it’s in an out of the way spot where no one will trip on the towel, leave it covering the area until completely dry.

Removing Tough Cranberry Stains

If you didn’t notice the cranberry stain until later or you thought you had the stain out earlier, it’s still possible to remove the stain with hydrogen peroxide.

You may want to test this in an inconspicuous place on the carpet first. Although hydrogen peroxide should not damage the carpet, prevention is your friend here.

  1. Pour some 3 percent grade hydrogen peroxide over the stained area. You don’t need to over saturate the carpet.
  2. With a clean towel, place it on top of the stain.
  3. Depending on the severity of the stain, leave the stain covered for 1 hour or more.
  4. Periodically check to see how the stain removal process is going.
  5. Repeat if necessary.

Hydrogen peroxide will turn to water when exposed to light so be sure to keep this covered.

Cleaning up Gravy and Butter Spills on Clothing

Gravy is like a grease stain. Its part grease, and part meat or milk solids that easily binds to fabric.

  1. To begin, use a clean paper towel on both sides of the fabric and dab up as much of the gravy as you can.
  2. Use cold water and a clean cloth to rinse the remaining gravy material away.
  3. Pat dry with clean towel.

If you happen to be one of the guests for dinner and you’re worried about staining, you can pre-treat the stain with a little Dawn dish washing detergent and wash as usual when you get home.


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