Don’t let these common holiday messes ruin the fun!
Each and every year, say again “I’m not going to go through that again!” Yup, not gonna let the holiday messes get out of control and under our skin. You’d think we’d learn. Sigh. We get all harried and hassled, and before we know it, it’s happened again. Pine needles are permanently embedded in the carpet, waiting for bare feet to come along. It’s almost like the carpet is laying there, grinning and waiting for the screams and swearing. Jolly bright red cranberry sauce stains on the sofa cushion – a souvenir from that late night turkey sandwich. Really! Who could see it with all the lights turned down low, while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Sigh.
But, there is hope.
Pine Needles. It’s the time of year to chop down a perfectly fine tree and drag it indoors where it, obviously, wasn’t meant to be. We recommend putting down an inexpensive, and innocuous, area rug from your local big box store to catch the falling debris. You might also want to have a plastic tarp about tree size and shape to carry it both into and out of the house. This will contain needles enroute. Prevention is much preferable. But, let’s say, that a pack of wild dogs brought your tree in, and possibly removed it. You have no control over this, and you’ll have to punt for solutions.
Cleaning up the few errant pine needles that have been flung from the branches while trying to put the top strand of tangled lights up, is perhaps, inevitable and easy. Keep one of those rubber pet hair cleaners handy during this season, and roll it over the rug occasionally. But, after the tree has toppled over on the first try of mounting the star on top, you may need to resort to stronger measures. Take a roll of duct tape – or whatever tape you have in the garage – and unwinding it from the roll, make a sticky ball of it. Do we need to tell you to roll it into a ball with the sticky side out? That will also pick up needles.
Try and use your vacuum cleaner as a last resort. Pine needles may freshen the aroma of the vacuum, but only while it’s hopelessly clogging it up. If you must vacuum, then do it sparingly, using the rotating brush lightly to loosen the needles from the carpet, then sucking them up with the narrow wand. We’ve also heard tell of these rubber rakes and dog hair brushes being effective, too.
Of course, replacing the carpet on New Year’s Day is always an option.
Have you ever seen what happens when the water from the Christmas tree stand overflows, or spills when the cat jumps into the tree, knocking it into your carefully arranged, heirloom Manger scene? Water that’s been sitting in the bottom of a rusty tree stand doesn’t need to be in your carpet. That’s not a good kind of stain. Again, prevention is key here. We suggest putting a plastic drop cloth – the one you hauled the tree in with – under whatever area rug or white faux snow you’ve spread out under the tree. But, let’s say the wild dog pack (your relatives?) distracted you, and the water got to the carpet anyway. Equal parts vinegar and water should do the trick, neutralizing the stain. You can also call a, um, ‘professional’ … which is why we won’t mention prevention again.
Getting common stains up off of today’s carpets is usually pretty easy if you get them early. A little sudsy warm water applied with a clean soft white rag should do the trick. Remember not to rub. Blot. Blot. Blot.
People are busily coming and going during the holidays – often with muddy shoes and boots. At the risk of sounding like a nag, prevention is key. Putting good quality mats outside each entry door is essential. Adding an inexpensive (disposable?) mat near the inside of entryways is also a good idea. True, it may not match the painting over the sofa, but neither will the mud stains tracked in on the carpet. Regularly sweeping dirt, grit and debris away from entry doors around the house, on a regular basis, will keep a lot of it out of the house.
Now, getting back to that happy cranberry stain on the sofa cushion …
Blot. Blot. Blot. Gently, with a series of damp, clean rags or towels. We also keep a supply of inexpensive, plain (no designs) white ‘bar towels‘ in the garage for just such emergencies – and they make great all-round cleaning rags. You can find these at restaurant supply houses, online or at some big box stores. Blotting – never rub or scrub as that sets a stain – should suffice. But when it doesn’t there are counter-measures.
Take a look at the fabric content tags under the chair or sofa. What? You removed those? Great.
Seriously, those tags will give you an important clue to the type of fabric cleaning methods and products that will work. They use an industry-wide code for type of cleaners.
W= Water-based detergent. S= Water-free solvent, such as a dry cleaning solvent. WS= Use either Water-Free or Water-Based depending on the kind of stain. This is the kind of furniture you should buy if stains may be a problem. X= Where the pirate treasure is buried. No, seriously, X means get professional cleaning help. This says your fabric is very delicate and requires special care. Don’t ever try to clean these products yourself. That’s when you should call us.
Let’s see, now … Cranberry stains should come out with a solution of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar plus two-thirds of a cup of rubbing alcohol. Depending, of course, on the type of fabric. Check that label carefully! Oily stains – like from turkey gravy or mayonnaise, require being sprinkled with cornstarch or baking soda. Let it sit and dry for about 30 minutes, then gently vacuum it away. You can then remove any remaining stain with a dry cleaning solvent.
Again, prevention is key.
Are all the kids going to camp out on the sofa and watch movies? Then go grab and old sheet ( or a giant tarp!), and use it as a sofa cover. Then they can drool and spill to their little hearts content while waiting for the bearded, fat one to arrive.
Finally, have a happy holiday despite the ‘stuff’ that happens. Don’t sweat it, but put it into perspective. Think about how funny it will be in the retelling of it all.
And, of course, call us and schedule a cleaning.