Almost everybody has a Thanksgiving cringe-worthy story to tell, like the time Uncle Edgar burnt the turkey or that time Aunt Emmeline spilled her third glass of wine on grandma’s heirloom tablecloth. No matter how funny or scary your family holiday gatherings are, one story seems to be universal: spilled food on delicate and often old family linen-ware. Yummy food and time spent with family can be easily ruined as everyone watches in horror as cranberry sauce seeps into the tablecloth made during the Civil War. So what is the best course of action to deal with stains? Once the festivities have concluded, having the linens professionally cleaned will be the best option. However, in the meantime, there are some mitigating steps you can take to keep stains from setting in past the point of repair.
Immediately blot and wipe away what you can of the stain as soon as it happens. Do not press down while doing this, as it can push the offending substance further into the fabric fibers. Wipe across if you can without spreading the stain, or even use a straw to suck up what you can.
Oil And Water Don’t Mix!
If the food is oil-based or grease-based, don’t use water. This can make the problem worse. Blot away what you can of the oil, and apply dish soap to the stain. Dish soap is made to break up grease, so any fat or grease stains will also need dish soap. This goes for butter stains and oil-based salad dressings. For stubborn stains, try rubbing in some baking soda before washing.
Prewash and Soak gravy/sauce stains
Foods are often a mix of non-water soluble and water-soluble material, and how the food is composed will make a difference in how it’s treated. Sauce and gravy stains should be treated with a prewash mixture or spot remover and soaked overnight before washing. After soaking, be sure to drain the washer and start a new cycle with enzyme-removing detergent.
Ah, the dreaded crimson stain! Don’t panic if one of these occurs; it is indeed possible to get them out. First, remove what you can of the berries or wine using the aforementioned methods for wiping sideways or blotting with a dry sponge. Mix 1tbs of white vinegar and ½ teaspoon of detergent with 1 quart of cool water and soak the stain in this mixture for around 15 minutes. Dab the stain with rubbing alcohol before laundering as usual. A mixture of dishwashing detergent and hydrogen peroxide will also help with wine stains.
Tomato/Citrus acidic sauces
For this, you will want to rinse with cold water and apply dishwasher detergent to the stain with another cloth. Rinse the stain with more cold water, and then repeat the process a second time. Dab with hydrogen peroxide and launder as normal.
Most people do not consider this when setting up the Thanksgiving table, but candle wax can be difficult to get out. Lay a brown paper bag over the wax and iron the top of the bag. The heat from the iron melts the wax, and the paper sack or paper towel absorbs it. Be careful with heat and paper products though. Getting the wax out is not worth risking a fire.
This Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful and enjoy the company. Spills and other stain mishaps do not have to put a damper on your holiday cheer. However, if a stain does happen, try one of these tricks to get it out before having it professionally cleaned, and be thankful when the stain comes out!