How to get out holiday stains

HOUSTON Pat Slaven, resident stain expert at Shopsmart, says you can get most stains out at home with a few simple products.

Take cranberry sauce, a holiday favorite on your plate, but not on your carpet. Slaven recommends mixing one teaspoon of clear or white detergent with a cup of warm water then blot the stain.

"If there's still a little bit of a mark left, try a red-dye remover like Didi Seven," said Slaven.

What about gravy drippings on your tablecloth?

"Mix up a bit of Fels Naptha with water and use it to pretreat oily stains," said Slaven. Then wash as usual.

And what about red wine? If it spills on your carpet, first blot the excess wine with water, then a detergent solution. If that doesn't work, try hydrogen peroxide to lift out the color.

If you get red wine on your clothes, you should pretreat it with a laundry booster like Shout or Spray 'n Wash.

And don't make the mistake of ignoring white wine spills or champagne and ginger ale. You'll be sorry later on.

"We spilled white wine on this carpet swatch about a year ago. Eventually the sugars will caramelize and leave this," said Slaven, pointing to a stain.

So while the dry cleaners may be the pros, with a few key products you may be able to get those nasty stains out yourself. And save some money while you're at it.

Another tricky stain that turns up around the holidays is candle wax. For washable fabric, experts say you should pour boiling water through the fabric. For non-washables, you want to sandwich the fabric between paper towels and then run a warm iron over the wax.

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