Spills and stains seem to be more common when the cold weather hits. Whether you’ve splashed some hot cocoa on a surface or have some lotion marks on your clothes, removing those pesky stains is a breeze. These ordinary household items have extraordinary powers to lift stubborn winter stains in a flash!
Erase hot chocolate spills with salt.
Splash hot cocoa on your couch or car seat? Salt to the rescue, says cleaning expert Ana Andres, co-founder of TidyChoice.com. Simply blot the stain with water, cover with salt, then buff with a damp sponge dipped in laundry detergent. Salt draws out excess liquid, while the sodium breaks down stain-setting pigments, and the detergent cleans away any residual matter.
Lift candle wax with this hot and cold trick.
Taper and votive candles add a cozy glow to your home during chilly nights — but waxy, colorful drips left on your tablecloth or wood top tables can be a pain to remove. To easily get rid of them, first rub the spots with an ice cube (this hardens the wax); scrape off with a butter knife. Then place folded paper towels on the area and press with a warm (not hot) dry iron to remelt and absorb any excess wax and voilà!
Eliminate lotion marks with dishwashing liquid.
That greasy lotion is great for dry skin, but it leaves stains on your clothes! To remove them, stir one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent (it breaks down and lifts grease) into three teaspoons of water and pour onto stain. Pat liquid into the stain with a clean toothbrush, then let sit for two minutes before rinsing with cool water.
Remove salt stains with baby shampoo.
Track road salt onto your once-clean rugs? Stain expert Wayne Edelman, board member for the National Cleaners Association, suggests using baby shampoo. “The gentle formula adheres to salt and lifts it off fibers without damaging the rug,” she says. To do: Fill a 32-ounce spray bottle with water, add one tablespoon of shampoo, shake, and spritz on stains. Let sit one hour, then blot with a clean towel.
Fend off fireplace ash with baking soda.
Tending to a wood-burning fireplace can leave pesky ash stains on your sleeves and nearby carpets. The fix: Sprinkle on some baking soda, which is absorbent and will easily pull ash out of fabric, then let sit for one hour before vacuuming or shaking off excess, says Andres. Finish by wiping with a damp sponge.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.