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Fast First Aid for Holiday Messes

Raid the pantry or medicine cabinet for quick-fix remedies that will have you back to your guests in no time

Red Wine on a Tablecloth

Illustration by Traci Daberko

Chase it with a splash of white wine while it's still damp, to help neutralize the stain. Then cover with baking soda and let sit for 5 minutes to absorb the remaining liquid. Rinse over the sink with boiling water.

Oily Spill on Carpet

Illustration by Traci Daberko

Blast spots left by salad dressing or gravy with shaving cream, working it in with a clean rag or an old toothbrush to help absorb the grease. Once dry, rub with a soft, damp cloth.

Scuffs on Hardwood Floors

Illustration by Traci Daberko

Scrub 'em out with a little white (non-whitening) toothpaste and an old toothbrush—the combo works as a gentle abrasive. Wipe up the paste with a damp cloth, then buff the floor to a shine with a tiny bit of olive oil.

Greasy Finger Marks on Upholstery

Illustration by Traci Daberko

Sprinkle the spots with cornstarch to help absorb the grease and lift the stain from the fabric. Leave on for a few minutes, then vacuum it up. Repeat as needed.

Mystery Mark

Illustration by Traci Daberko

Your guests left a stain on carpeting or upholstery but you've got no clue what it is? Dab on a teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide mixed with a little cream of tartar or white (non-whitening) toothpaste and rub with a soft cloth.