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How to Tackle 6 Common Party Stains

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Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tripletri/">Triple Tri</a>/Flickr/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">Creative Commons</a>
Photo by Triple Tri/Flickr/Creative Commons

Talk about a party foul! Days after the big game, as you're putting the pillows back in order and sweeping up after your Super Bowl party, you find a fumble on the arm of your chair... or the back of the couch... or stuck in the fibers of your carpet. What to do with those old spills? Here are the six most common party stains and how to tackle them after the fact.

#1 Barbecue sauce. For tomato-based condiments like barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, and ketchup, mix a 50/50 solution of lukewarm water and a degreasing dishwashing soap (such as Dawn). Dip a towel into the soapy solution and blot the stain until most of it is absorbed (don't try to scrub it out as this may cause the stain to spread). Then, saturate the area with white vinegar and blot with a new, clean towel. Repeat the process until the stain disappears.

#2 Buffalo wing sauce. Buffalo wing sauce and other hot sauce stains can be treated in the same manner as barbecue sauce. If the stain is on a removable white or light-colored fabric (such as a pillow case or cushion cover), sprinkle salt over it and squeeze enough lemon juice to saturate the area. Take the fabric outside and leave it to dry in the sun for several hours until the stain fades, then flush the area with white vinegar and launder as usual. (Don't try the salt and lemon solution on dark fabrics, as they might discolor in the sun.)

#3 Beer. If your friends got a little too wild when their team scored a touchdown and beer went flying everywhere, simply mix a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar, soak a rag with it, and dab the beer stain until it fades away. White vinegar also works wonders for removing the odor of stale ale.

#4 Red wine. Remove an old wine stain by mixing equal parts hydrogen peroxide (3% strength) and dishwashing soap, then pouring the solution over the stain. As it soaks in, the stain will magically fade before your eyes! Repeat the application as necessary until the whole stain is gone. No need to rinse; just let the solution air dry on the fabric. To prepare for the next accident, keep a product called Wine Away in your party clean-up kit; it's non-toxic, made from fruit and vegetable extracts, and found in retailers like BevMo, Cost Plus, Sur La Table, and online.

#5 Nacho cheese. Scrape off the dried, hardened, crumbly bits of cheese off the fabric with a butter knife or scrubby sponge. Mix equal parts lukewarm water and dishwashing soap, and dab the solution into the stain with a towel until most of the stain fades. Spray the area with water, then allow to air dry. If the stain persists after drying, spray the area with 3% hydrogen peroxide, let it absorb for a couple of hours, then blot dry with a towel. Repeat the hydrogen peroxide treatment as needed until the stain is removed.

#6 Glass rings on the table. What genius left their margarita on the rocks on your coffee table when there was a coaster right next to it? If a white water ring just happened in the last day or two, you can try to circulate warm air around the ring with a blow dryer on low. Move the blow dryer back and forth above the stain, taking care not to overheat the surface. Sometimes, this is enough to evaporate the moisture out of the finish. If the water ring is particularly stubborn, try rubbing mayonnaise on the stain with a soft rag, going in the direction of the wood grain, until the stain is removed. You can tackle very difficult water rings by leaving a thin layer of mayonnaise over them for a few hours, then rubbing with a soft rag. (Note: These methods should only be used on newer wooden tables with an oil or lacquer finish; consult a restoration specialist if the table is an antique with a shellac or varnish surface.)

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