It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and one of the messiest. Whether it’s red wine sloshing onto your favorite sweater or gravy droplets splashing your lap, the holidays are synonymous with lights, decorations, festive get-togethers, and some of the toughest, most stubborn stains we all dread.
The good news is even the worst spills can be treated with guile, patience, and, of course, SaltyLama’s eco-friendly laundry strips. Just remember to consult the label and washing instructions first. If your sweater, suit, or dress requires dry cleaning, for instance, skip these steps and simply speed it to the professionals.
Otherwise, here are the five most frequent stains you might encounter this season — and helpful tips to salvage your outfit.
Red wine stains are among the most feared — and with good reason. During the holidays, you might be wearing a white shirt or blouse in the evening, and perhaps drinking a glass or two because it’s so cozy. If you have ever experienced this, you know how exhausting it can be to remove the dark red blotch.
Reach for the club soda: Although water will do, it’s best to use club soda to dilute the wine. Just make sure that in your haste to get it off the garment, you don’t end up getting the wine on something else that will also stain. Then use a paper towel or napkin to soak it up.
Add a pinch of salt: It can help to first treat the stain quickly with salt because it will extract the liquid from the fabric. Just don’t leave the salt on the garment for too long because it can cause damage to the fibers.
Pre-treat: You can use SaltyLama strips to create a stain remover. How? Take a strip, rip it into pieces, and put it in a bowl. Create a paste by adding a tablespoon of hot water. Once the paste is finished, delicately rub the concentrate into the fabric. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off with cold water. If the stain is still lingering, repeat the process a few more times. If you don’t have our detergent strips available, you can also treat the stain with vinegar. First, dab the area with a clean cloth to absorb as much as possible of the wine and remaining salt. Then create a solution of white wine vinegar and two parts water and apply it to the stain.
Wash: Take the item and put it in the washer, programmed to the normal setting. Add one of our detergent strips.
You know the deal. You’re sitting comfortably at the dinner table with your family, and suddenly someone says something funny that makes you laugh so hard that the meat on your fork flies off — along with the gravy that lands on the tablecloth and your laughing self. Some would say it was worth it, but others know that gravy is especially difficult to remove from clothing and table linens.
Act quickly: Always remember the faster you can remove any sauce from your fabric, the easier it will be to make it spotless again.
Scrape — don’t wipe: With a spoon or dull-edged knife, scrape the gravy carefully off the fabric. Don’t use too much pressure as that will just make any stain worse — and even tougher to get out.
Use a stain remover: As we outlined above, you can grab a SaltyLama strip, shred it into pieces, and put it in a bowl. By adding hot water, you’ll end up with a concentrated mixture perfect for removing stains. Rub the resulting concentrate into the fabric with a toothbrush. If you don’t have one of our eco-friendly strips handy, concoct a solution of one part dishwashing liquid and two parts warm water. Gently rub it into the stain. Afterward, rinse everything with cold water.
Wash: Put the garment in the washing machine along with a SaltyLama detergent strip. Running a normal cycle should be sufficient.
The holidays wouldn’t be the same without candlelight. Just ask the Danes. A whopping 13 pounds of wax is melted each year, per person, according to The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well. While Danes incorporate luminescence into everyday living, the rest of us tend to use candles to burn birthday celebrations and holiday traditions into memory. However, a slip of the grip when handling a freshly extinguished flame or too intense a breath when blowing one out can create a mess.
Does candle wax stain?
Modern candles are made of paraffin wax (a product of hydrocarbon and petroleum) or organic materials like beeswax and soy. Depending on the type, once the hardened wax has been removed from a textile, it may leave behind a stain or oily residue. Additionally, if the candle is a colored one, traces of the pigment or anilines (an oily, synthetic chemical substrate) used to dye it may still linger. Here’s how to remove wax from clothes and tablecloths — before it becomes a forever stain:
Freeze it: Simply place the stained clothing in the freezer for a few hours. The wax will harden, making it easier to remove.
Flake it: Use a dull instrument like a butter knife to flake the wax off of the garment. Take care not to drive the wax deeper into the fiber. And unless you’re confident in what you’re doing, avoid sharp objects as one slip can irreparably damage the very garment you’re attempting to restore.
Melt it: Another option is to hold a hair dryer near the wax (without touching it) for a minute or two. The heat will melt the wax and it can then be dabbed off with a paper towel. You can also put the paper directly on the candle wax and then blow dry the paper. The heated paper automatically absorbs the wax.
Apply a stain remover: Inspect the item to see if any trace remains. If it does, use one of our SaltyLama detergent strips to create a high-powered stain remover. Mix a strip with hot water in a bowl. Then apply the concentrated mix to the stain.
Do a wash: If you choose to hand wash the item, you can soak it in the sink with a detergent strip, then rinse and hang dry. If the garment can go in the machine, wash it as usual, using one of our eco-friendly strips.
Whether it’s in the form of a pudding, bar, or a hot drink with marshmallows, chocolate is everywhere during the holidays. And as stains go, it is extremely unruly. That’s because first and foremost, chocolate is fat.
Scrape off as much as you can: Chocolate smears easily, so you want to be careful handling the stain. If the substance is still solid and hasn’t melted or softened, try to remove what you can by using the edge of a credit card or utensil.
Pre-treat: After mixing a SaltyLama laundry strip with water, delicately rub the concentrated stain remover into the area. No strips handy? You can also combine salt and flour, which you then can put on the stain. Let the mixture sit. Gradually, the salt will draw out the moisture and the flour will then bind it. Afterward, you can easily wash this stain. But be careful here. Because if you have stains that contain milk, then you should always wash cold first, so that the proteins that are contained in the milk, for example, do not coagulate. Because then stains are even more difficult to remove.
Wash: If the item must only be washed by hand, do so using one of our detergent strips. Just mix it in the sink with hot water until it’s dissolved. Let the garment soak. If the clothing can go into the machine, run a normal cycle with one of our strips.
Coffee stains happen year-round, of course, but they can seem especially plentiful during the holidays when you are sharing cold mornings and wintry evenings with family and friends.
Act fast: Coffee is chemically complex, with oxidizing ingredients, such as caffeine, that require a fast response to any spill. What’s more, the hotter the beverage, the tougher the stain.
Pre-treat and wash: Our laundry sheets make a potent stain remover when mixed with hot water. You can also use baking soda or dish soap to treat the stain if that’s all you have available. After rinsing it, put it in the wash with warm water. Be warned that the older the stain, the harder it will be to completely remove.