‘Tis the Season for Spills: Best Party Cleaning Tips
One of the best parts about the holiday season is the return of favorite holiday food and drinks. Whether your taste runs to the traditional – mulled red wine and roast beef– or the sweet and simple – eggnog and honey glazed ham – there is always something wonderful to eat and drink. And clean. Because any self-respecting hostess knows the ultimate sign of the season is the need to clean like never before.
There’s the initial “get the house ready for guests” cleaning, followed by the “drunk aunt just spilled red wine on the Moroccan rug” cleaning, which is closely followed by the “new baby smeared chocolate sauce on the new couch” cleaning. Don’t panic in the face of emergency spills. We’re sharing our best tried and true party cleaning tips so you can eat, drink and be merry, the way the holiday season is meant to be enjoyed.
Get prepared before the party starts
Almost any cleaning disaster can be solved using one of five super ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, salt or lemon. Sometimes all five at once will do the trick. Knowing that you’ll need at least one and probably all five before the night is over, save yourself some time and prepare the cleaning solutions in advance. Mix a little baking soda with some warm water in a reusable spray bottle. Cut some lemons and have them ready to go in the fridge. Keep the bottle of peroxide handy along with a microfiber cloth. Just like the Boy Scouts, your party motto is: Be Prepared.
Understand the science behind the red wine stain
We all know that chocolate and red wine are some of the biggest stain offenders, but did you know that the reason why red wine causes a stain is because it is actually made from grape skins containing a food coloring pigment called anthocyanins. This pigment is what creates the chemicals that are used to dye fabric, which means that when red wine is spilled you are essentially dying the textile it lands on.
Knowing that, we have to fight fire with fire and in essence dye the textile back to its original shade. We do that using a combination of equal parts detergent and peroxide applied to the stain. For best results we recommend applying a thick layer of salt over the stain to lift as much of it as possible, then finish with the detergent and peroxide solution.
Avert an eggnog disaster
The creamy texture eggnog is famous for is a result of eggs and cream, two ingredients with the unfortunate tendency to stick, stain and stink up any surface they come in contact with. It’s almost guaranteed that one of your party guests will get a little rambunctious and eggnog will end up on the counter, the couch or the carpet. As with every emergency spill, the secret is acting fast. When eggnog dries it takes on the consistency of super glue so save yourself endless scrubbing later with a baking soda and warm water cleaning solution. Spray it on the spill and allow it to break up and soften the heavy creamy texture of the eggnog before you wipe it away. It’s fast acting and odor-resistant so you won’t be left with that sour milk smell for days after the party.
Chocolate is best cleaned with enzymes
The only thing more fearsome than a red wine stain is a chocolate stain. That’s because chocolate is made with dairy – an enzyme-based ingredient — that grips surfaces and can be stubbornly resistant to regular stain removal products. Luckily, peroxide, baking soda and (when all else fails) digestive enzyme tablets work to break up tough stains by dissolving the enzymatic bonds. To green clean a chocolate disaster we suggest soaking the stain in hydrogen peroxide (spot test first) for up to 15 minutes. Then mix up to five digestive enzyme tablets (buy them at any natural foods store) with cold water and apply to the stain. Allow to set for 90 minutes and then rinse completely with cold water. If the stain persists, repeat the process until it disappears.
Most importantly, relax and have fun. Nature has provided us with dozens of effective ways to remove stains – even if you have to wait until you clean up the next day – but you can never replace the time spent with family and friends. Happy holidays from our family to yours!