The Ultimate Guide to Tackling Christmas Stains: How to Clean Festive Messes

The holidays are a great time to spend with loved ones, but cleaning up after Christmas dinner can be a downer. Accidents happen when many people are gathered in one place, leaving stains on furniture and carpets. However, there’s no need to let these messes ruin your holiday spirit! Our stain removal experts have provided the best cleaning methods for common Christmas stains in this article.

Before you continue, it might be helpful to read our post Stain removal is a matter of chemistry. You can also check our post on different types of upholstery fabrics and how to take the best care of them for more useful insights.

Cheerful toasts often result in red wine spilt on both clothes and furnishings. Image by Freepik

1. Red Wine, Port or Cognac

Red wine, mulled wine, or even a splash of port can make for a festive and enjoyable holiday toast. However, accidents can happen, and wine pills can leave behind stubborn stains on furnishings. If you find yourself dealing with a red wine stain after a Christmas get-together, don’t worry! Here is how to treat the spill and salvage your carpet or sofa:

  • Blot up as much wine as possible with a clean, dry cloth if the stain is fresh. 
  • Apply dishwashing soap mixed with water to the stain and blot gently with a sponge.
  • Rinse with cold water and continue blotting until the stain lightens. 
  • Rinse with clean water and let it air-dry completely.
  • If the stain has dried up, using a carpet stain remover like Wine Away or Chateau Spill may be better. Follow the instructions on the product label. 

Rich meaty sauces are the perfect addition to the Christmas turkey, but can leave a nasty stain on the carpet. Image:  Robert Owen-Wahl

2. Gravy and other meaty and greasy sauces

Can Christmas dinner be considered complete without the rich flavour of gravy? We don’t think so! The darker and thicker the sauce, the tastier it is. However, it is also more difficult to clean. Therefore, before attempting to remove a gravy stain from your furnishings, please consider the 5 tips at the end of the article. To remove gravy stains from your carpet or sofa, follow these steps:

  • Remove any solids and blot excess gravy. 
  • Sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda over the stain. 
  • Leave the powder on the stain for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Vacuum the powder thoroughly. 
  • Mix 1 tbsp dish soap, 2 cups of warm water, and 1 tbsp ammonia if the stain persists. 
  • Blot the stain with a clean sponge dipped into the solution. 
  • Rinse with clean water and blot dry.

Read also: How to Remove Grease Stains From Upholstery Fabrics

The vibrant red colour of cranberry sauce can be quite a challenge to remove from carpet and upholstery. Image: Flickr

3. Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce spills can become stubborn stains and an unpleasant memory of the holiday dinner if not cleaned up promptly. This is because cranberries contain anthocyanins, which are highly pigmented and give red foods and beverages their intense colour. In fact, anthocyanins are commonly used in the food industry as natural colourants. However, cranberry sauce stains are tough to remove since the sauce is also sticky and gooey due to the added sugar. Here’s how to deal with a cranberry sauce stain on your carpet or upholstery:

  • Scrape away any excess cranberry sauce using a dull knife or the edge of a spoon.
  • Mix a solution of mild dish soap and warm water.
  • Using a clean cloth or sponge, blot the stain with the solution.
  • Continue blotting until the stain lightens.
  • Rinse the affected area with clean water and blot dry.
  • If the stain persists, consider using a specialised carpet or upholstery stain remover. Be sure to follow the product instructions carefully.

Check also: 6 Ways to Keep Furniture and Carpets Clean All Year Round

Decadents deserts are the star of every festive dinner but nobody likes to remove chocolate from their upholstery. Image by vecstock 

4. Chocolate

During holiday celebrations, hot cocoa, chocolate cakes, and candies are always crowd-pleasers. However, chocolate stains can be quite stubborn to remove from carpets and upholstery. If your furnishings are dark or brown, you might even miss seeing the spots at first. Eventually, the stains will become visible due to milk, butter, and other fatty ingredients present in chocolate. Therefore, inspecting your furnishings for stains and crumbs after your Christmas feast is a good idea. Here’s how you can remove chocolate stains from your carpet and furniture:

  • First, gently scrape off any lumpy bits on the surface using a flat knife or spatula.
  • Apply carpet and upholstery stain-removal product. 
  • Start blotting the area using paper towels or a clean white cloth.
  • Reapply the product and keep blotting until the stain is no longer lifting.
  • Rinse the area thoroughly by blotting it with a clean cloth dipped in cold water.
  • Blot the surface with a dry, clean cloth and let the spot dry before using your furnishings.

Read also: How to Remove Greasy Stains From Your Carpet?

Children often want to be a part of the toast and some of their fruit juice can end on the carpet. Image by Freepik

5. Fruit juices and soft drinks

When children want something colourful in their glasses like adults, they cannot drink alcohol, so we give them fruit juice. Sadly, most fruit juices are brightly coloured, and kids, excited by the Christmas spirit, are the ones who spill the most often. There’s no use in getting angry with the children and ruining your Christmas mood. Instead, you can follow these simple steps to clean a fruit juice stain from your carpet or furniture.

  • Blot up as much of the juice as possible using a paper towel or clean cloth
  • Mix 2/3 cup of water with ½ cup of white household vinegar into a spray bottle and apply it to the juice stain.
  • Blot the vinegar out using a clean, damp sponge.
  • Mix 1 tbsp dishwasher detergent with a cup of warm water. Apply this onto the fruit juice stain and blot.
  • Rinse the area using cold water and a damp paper towel.

Check also: The Ultimate Guide to Sofa Stain Removal

All the excitement among the youngest family members can lead to accidents on carpets and mattresses. Image by mdjaff on Freepik

6. Urine

During the holiday season, experts often write about removing stains caused by gravies, wine, sauces, and other festive menu items. However, many people seem to avoid discussing stains caused by wetting accidents, even though they are very common. In fact, it’s not a surprise that the abundance of foods and drinks during Christmas festivities results in urine stains left by the youngest family members. Here’s how to treat urine stains on carpets, mattresses or upholstery:

  • Put on a pair of heavy-duty cleaning gloves.*
  • Grab a few rags or a bunch of paper towels, and soak the urine as quickly as possible.** 
  • Mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a small bowl or spray bottle.
  • Damp a clean sponge into your cleaning solution and blot the affected area, but try not to saturate it. Repeat a few times.  
  • Use paper towels or a dry cloth to blot out the cleaning mixture.
  • Rinse away any vinegar residue by blotting with a clean sponge dipped in lukewarm water. Repeat until you make sure there’s no cleaning solution on the carpet or upholstery. 
  • Use dry, clean rags or paper towels to soak the residual water. 
  • Let the carpet air-dry away from direct sunlight or heat.

* Always wear gloves when dealing with organic stains like urine, faeces, vomit or blood to avoid potential health issues.

**If the urine stain has dried, we strongly recommend you book a stain removal specialist to help you remove the strong smell and ensure your carpet or mattress is pristine.

For more information you can read our comprehensive guide on urine stain removal.

Heavy foods can lead to nausea, so it’s not surprising vomit is among the most common stains after a holiday get-together. Image by benzoix on Freepik

7. Vomit

When it comes to uncomfortable topics, we can’t ignore vomit, which is another unpleasant stain that might surface during the holidays. The rich holiday menu, topped with plenty of alcohol, can get the best of us and make us feel a bit sick. Young children may also eat more than their stomachs can handle. As a result, it’s not surprising that vomit is among the most common stains during holiday get-togethers at home. Once you’ve ensured that the person who vomited is okay, the next thing you need to focus on is the vomit stain. Here’s how to deal with it:

  • Grab a pair of cleaning gloves, as vomit can be potentially infectious.
  • Scrape any solid bits from the surface using a flat knife or spatula.
  • Mix 1 cup of water with a few tbsp of baking soda. Apply the solution onto the stain. 
  • The baking soda neutralises the high acidity of stomach acid. This will prevent damage to the carpet or upholstery material.
  • Blot the area to lift the remaining liquid.
  • We strongly advise you to stop the DIY treatment at this point, even if there’s still visible colouration from the vomit. The reason is that vomit can be quite complex, consisting of various foods and beverages, especially after a holiday dinner. It is best to cover the stain with a clean towel to prevent spreading the substance and call a certified stain removal specialist.

Read also: How to Remove Blood Stains from Carpet and Upholstery?

Sometimes you might need to loosen the dried up dirt on the carpet with a brush. Image by Freepik

5 Tips for Successful Stain Removal from Upholstery and Carpets

If we spill something on our clothes, we can easily remove the garment and soak it in water to remove the dirt. However, the stain removal process is quite different when dealing with a spill from the Christmas dinner on carpets or furniture. We must be careful not to spread the stain or oversoak the spot to avoid ruining the furnishings. Additionally, carpet and upholstery stains may not be noticed immediately, unlike a spill on clothes. Therefore, it’s essential to keep in mind the following tips from carpet and upholstery cleaning professionals while cleaning stains from carpets or furniture after a festive dinner:

  • Act quickly, as some stains are almost impossible to remove once they dry.
  • Don’t treat a stain if you’re unsure of its origin. Some dried foods can look alike, making it challenging to identify and remove.
  • Using multiple cleaning products to treat a stain will likely make it worse.
  • If you are uncertain about the type of fabric or material you are dealing with, it is best to refrain from cleaning it yourself. Instead, seek the help of a professional stain removal service.
  • If you need to wait for a stain removal specialist but want to avoid spreading the dirt, cover the spot with a clean rag or paper towel.

Don’t hesitate to contact us whenever you need help getting your home immaculately cleaned. Our cleaning experts will remove even stubborn stains and dirt and bring back the as-new look of your carpets, furniture and mattresses.

We hope our tips will help keep your home nice and clean during the festive season. The CleanerCleaner team wishes you happy holidays!