It’s not just serial killers who’ve wondered how to remove blood stains. It’s not only clumsy folk who’ve pondered how to remove red wine stains, or desperately typed in the words, “remove chocolate stain” as their dessert enthusiastically smears into their new white couch. We’ve all had bad spills and wondered why our efforts to clean them up just makes things worse, so we asked Debra Johnson from Merry Maids what we should do about every household spill we could think of. We’re happy to report that the only thing she spilled in return was the beans—we’ve listed the fixes below, in alphabetical order.
How To Remove Blood Stains
- Blot the stain from the outside in with a cool, damp microfiber cloth or, if the stain is dry, scrape it away with a toothbrush or scraping tool.
- Mix one cup of cold water with club soda and pour it onto the stained area, then continue to blot with the microfiber cloth.
- The spot should start to lighten—once the cloth stops picking up blood, you can stop blotting.
- Apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain (you may want to blot with a cotton ball or ear swab).
- Blot with a microfiber cloth.
- Once the stain is gone, pour cold water onto the area and pat dry with a towel or microfiber cloth.
How To Clean Up Broken Glass
“I’ve found that one of the best tools for picking up glass is either a piece of white bread or tape,” says Johnson. “Then vacuum the rest up to make sure you got everything. With tape though, you must be careful using thinner tape as you want to avoid cutting yourself.”
How To Remove Chocolate Stains
All you need for chocolate and other dessert stains is a mixture of cold water (two cups) and dishwashing soap (one tbsp.). Take a microfiber cloth dipped in the soapy water and blot the stain until it’s come out completely.
How To Clean Up Cigarette Ash
- Pretreat with a stain remover and wash in laundry using hot water and bleach (if clothes are white).
- If the stain remains visible, take a microfiber cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol and dab the stain with it, then launder again.
- Using a clean microfiber cloth, blot the stain with a DIY dry-cleaning solvent until it disappears and solvent is fully absorbed:
- Sprinkle baking soda onto the stain and it let stand for an hour, then vacuum.
- Using a clean microfiber cloth, blot with the same DIY dry-cleaning solvent used above until solvent is absorbed.
- Repeat until the stain is fully removed.
How To Remove Coffee Stains
- Blot the stain with a paper towel or white cloth to remove the excess coffee.
- Mix one tablespoon of liquid dish soap with two cups of cool water and one tablespoon of white vinegar.
- Using a clean white cloth, dip cloth in cleaning solution and blot stain.
- Repeat until stain is no longer visible.
- Blot dry with a clean white cloth until all excess liquid is removed and until the white cloth is no longer transferring color to the cloth.
Note: For upholstery – use only dish soap and water with the same steps above.
- If you’re unable to immediately remove your shirt, blot the spill with ice and a paper towel.
- Before laundering, wet the stained area with cold water and pre-treat it with stain remover.
- Launder as usual.
Stainless Steel Surfaces:
- Make a paste using two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide.
- Test an inconspicuous spot on the stainless steel with the paste (not all stainless steel is made equal) to verify there is no discoloration.
- Allow paste to sit on stain for three minutes. Rinse with damp cloth or paper towel.
- If stain is not completely removed, use the same process until the area is clean.
The Coffee Pot Itself:
Coffee pots are used more frequently than a lot of kitchen tools, but who remembers to actually clean the things? Since coffee makers and pots are indispensable to many of us, Merry Maids recommends creating a cleaning mixture that consists of a ½ cup of vinegar and water, and letting several cups of the mixture run through the coffee maker to keep it clean and running smoothly, then rinsing it out by running plain water through it twice. To help maintain your coffee pot and keep it working properly, clean it once a month.
How To Remove Gum
- To get gum out of your carpet, fill a Ziploc bag full of ice and put the bag directly on the gum for ten minutes to harden it.
- Use a knife or scraping tool to fully scrape gum from carpet.
- Spot treat the stain with a mixture of water and dish soap, or other cleaning solution, blotting until gum is fully removed, then blot dry.
How To Clean A Ketchup Stain (or any condiment)
- Blot away as much ketchup as possible (don’t rub).
- Run cold water over the stain and add liquid detergent or stain remover to the spot, then let sit for a few minutes.
- Sponge the stain with white vinegar.
- Repeat steps 2–4 until as much of the stain has been removed as possible.
- Pretreat stain with stain remover.
- Launder as usual.
- Allow garment to air dry.
- If stains remain, wet the stained area with cold water, apply liquid detergent or stain remover and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Launder as usual. Continue process until stain is removed.
- Remove excess ketchup with a clean microfiber cloth.
- Create a mixture of cool water (two cups) and liquid dish detergent (one tbsp.) and lightly apply to the stain.
- Blot the area with a clean white microfiber cloth until stain disappears.
- If persistent, repeat until it’s gone, then blot dry as much as possible.
- Remove excess ketchup from carpet with a spoon, then blot with a microfiber cloth to remove residual ketchup.
- Mix a similar cleaning solution as mentioned above—one cup lukewarm water with one teaspoon dishwashing detergent—and apply to the stain.
- Start with the lightest area—the outside ring of the stain—and work your way to the center, blotting as you go.
- Rinse with water and blot dry.
- If the stain is still visible, apply 3% hydrogen peroxide to the area, but test it first on a tiny section of unseen carpet to make sure there is no color change. Then rinse with water and blot dry again.
How To Clean Up Milk
- Make a cleaning solution from warm water (two cups) and liquid dishwashing detergent (one tbsp.)
- Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the solution, soak up any remaining milk with it and continue blotting until the stain is gone.
- If the stain is still present, you can make a similar solution with warm water (two cups) and ammonia (one tbsp.) instead of detergent and repeat the first two steps.
How To Remove Oil Stains (both cooking and engine)
- Lightly apply rubbing alcohol to the stain and dab until area is fully wet, then let it sit for a few minutes.
- Pretreat stained area with stain remover.
- Wash in hot water (that’s safe for fabric—check the label to be sure).
- Allow to air dry.
- Repeat if necessary.
Upholstery and Carpet:
- First, use a microfiber cloth to blot the oil stain until no more appears on the cloth.
- Sprinkle baking soda onto the stain. Allow to sit on stain for 15 minutes.
- Vacuum up baking soda.
- Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon of white vinegar with two cups warm water. Using a microfiber cloth, immerse the cloth in solution and wring out the excess water.
- Blot stain with damp cloth, making sure to blot, not rub, to avoid spreading the stain.
- Place a fan blowing on the upholstery or carpet to allow the spot to dry.
- If the stain is still present, make your own dry cleaning solvent with:
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- one teaspoon borax
- one teaspoon dry oxygen bleach
- Apply a few drops of the dry cleaning solvent to a clean microfiber cloth and blot the stain.
- Rinse the area with cold water and let dry.
How To Clean Up Paint (house, or any water-based kind)
- It’s crucial when removing paint to get the stain while it’s still fresh—if it dries, it may be impossible for even a professional to remove the stain.
- Rinse the stain with warm water (if the paint is on your clothes, do it from the underside, rather than right on the stain).
- Dab the stain with soap, dish or laundry detergent and running water.
- Rinse and repeat until stain is gone.
- If it’s still somewhat visible, test an unseen area of fabric or carpet with acetone nail polish remover, and if there’s no color change, blot the stain lightly.
How To Remove Pee Stains (and poop, or other bodily fluids)
- Run them through the washing machine, using cold water, with one cup of white vinegar and no detergent.
- Run the load again, this time using the usual amount of laundry detergent and whichever temperature the color calls for.
- Add bleach (if safe for the fabric) or oxygen bleach to the second wash.
- Blot the stain using a microfiber cloth (be careful not to spread the stain onto other parts of the furniture).
- Mix one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with two cups of cold water in a small bowl.
- Add one tablespoon of vinegar (used to disinfect the area) to the solution and gently stir.
- Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the solution and gently sponge the stain, working from the inside to the outside of the stain.
- Using a dry microfiber cloth (with no solution), gently blot the affected area until it’s dry.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the stain is no longer visible.
How To Remove Red Wine Stains
- Blot the area of rug or upholstery immediately with a white microfiber cloth until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- If the stain is already dry, whip up a quick solution of dishwashing liquid (one tbsp.), white vinegar (one tbsp.) and warm water (two cups) to blot away the stain.
How To Remove Soda Stains
- Soak up as much liquid as possible as quickly as possible with a microfiber cloth, by patting the stained area—don’t scrub or it will soak in deeper.
- Create a solution of about ¼ teaspoon of non-bleach laundry detergent and ¼ teaspoon of lukewarm water to form a paste.
- Create a second solution including a 1:2 ratio of white vinegar to water.
- Using a clean microfiber cloth, dip into the detergent mixture and pat the stain gently—wait 15 minutes.
- Using a dry microfiber cloth, pat the soda stain until dry.
- Now take a microfiber cloth and dip it into the vinegar solution. Cover the entire stain with the vinegar-soaked cloth and place a heavy object over it then once again, leave it alone for 15 minutes.
- Blot stain with a clean microfiber cloth, working from the outside of the stain and in towards the center.
How To Remove Soy Sauce Stains
- Create a vinegar solution with one part liquid laundry detergent, three parts white vinegar and five parts cool water, then apply to the stain.
- You’ll want to dab the stain with either a brush or a microfiber cloth until the solution has fully seeped into the stain and surrounding area of the fabric.
- Let the solution sit for five to ten minutes, then blot it with cool water and dry with a microfiber cloth until the stain has disappeared.
How To Clean Up Sugar, Flour, Salt (and other annoying little grains)
Your best bet for anything grainy is a vacuum. But make sure your vacuum is up to the task with these tips:
- Make sure your HEPA filter has been changed within the last six months.
- If the bag is almost or more than ¾ of the way full, empty it.
- Detangle any hairs or strings tangled around the roller brush to not burn out the motor.
- Use a brush or broom to gather residue into a pile before vacuuming.