Chocolate, costumes, and spooky decor all make Halloween an enjoyable time, but what’s not so fun is the mess this holiday can bring. With the focus on kids, things often get out of order quickly — think candies spilled on the floor with abandon and fake blood where it shouldn’t be — and it starts to seem like the mess just might be the scariest part of the night. Pumpkin guts and unsightly chocolate smudges can mess up your clothes and furniture, but thankfully there are some specific cleaning hacks you can use to erase the day’s most stubborn stains and get back to enjoying all the spooky fun. After all, shouldn’t you be spending more time deciding on what last-minute costume you’re going to choose and what candy you’ll give to trick-or-treaters than thinking about how you’re going to keep your home tidy?
Conquer melted chocolate with hydrogen peroxide.
To remove sticky chocolate stains, just combine two parts of three percent hydrogen peroxide to one part water, and gently dab the stain. The hydrogen peroxide will break down the fats in the chocolate, removing the stain instantly. If you’re worried about the peroxide bleaching the fabric, simply opt for white vinegar instead.
Lift costume makeup with an easy pretreatment.
Halloween makeup is oil-based, making it hard to remove from fabric. When it comes to getting rid of these stains, dish soap is your best bet. “Scrape off the excess makeup, then run the garment under cool water, add a few drops of dish soap to the stain, and rub it in,” advises makeup artist Linda Granillo. Set the garment aside for 20 minutes while the soap works its magic, then toss it in the washer.
Make fake blood stains disappear with club soda.
That vampire costume was a hit, but it left a trail of “blood” on your shirt. Simply pour club soda over the red stains and let it sit for a minute, then blot. The soda’s mild acidity cuts through the fake blood’s corn syrup base, and its carbonation agitates stains, lifting the dye right out.
Erase pumpkin stains with white vinegar.
“If juice from your jack-o’-lantern gets onto your carpet or clothing, just mix a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water and spritz it onto the stain,” advises botanist Sarah Beaumont, CEO of Indoor Home Garden. “The vinegar will help break down the orange pigments, so when you rinse the garment with cold water, the stain will vanish.”
Banish candle wax with a handful of ice cubes.
Tried to light your house like a haunted mansion but wound up with candle wax on your tablecloth or carpet? “Just toss a few ice cubes into a plastic bag, then place the bag on top of the wax,” suggests property restoration expert Steve Elliott. “Once the wax hardens, simply scrape it off with a butter knife.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.