How to get rid of Christmas-related stains, according to experts

A step-by-step guide to removing 10 common Christmas stains

How to get rid of Christmas related stains
(Image credit: Designers Guild / Birdie Fortescue / Birdie Fortescue)

The festive season brings a host of joyous memories, but also occasionally leaves behind some unwelcome stains. 

These traces of the holiday aftermath should be dealt with swiftly to ensure no permanent damage comes to your home. So, if you're deep cleaning your home after Christmas, it's likely you'll need to know these cleaning tips.

Our experts share their step-by-step tips for getting rid of Christmas-related stains. Remember that these methods may depend on the fabric you are cleaning.

'As Christmas festivities commence, the joyous atmosphere can be dampened by the inevitable spills and stains that come with the season. Red wine, cranberry sauce, gravy, wax, soot, and tree sap are just a few of the culprits that can mar your Christmas décor,' says Allen Civlak, Owner of  Mary’s Kitchen Flour Sack Towels.

'The key is to act quickly and use the right cleaning method for the type of stain. With a little effort, you can keep your home looking its best throughout the holiday season.'

1. Red wine stains

long table setting for special celebration gathering with handpainted tablecloth idea

(Image credit: Emma Lee / Twig Hutchinson)

'Red wine stains are notorious for their pigmentation and acidity,' says Ocean Van, owner of Coco Laundry. This is how they recommend removing this tricky stain: 

Step 1: Blot the stain immediately with a clean cloth to prevent further seepage.

Step 2: Sprinkle salt or baking soda onto the stain to absorb more liquid.' 

Step 3: Mix one tablespoon of dish soap with two cups of hydrogen peroxide. Apply the solution directly to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before washing.' 

Step 4: Rinse your fabric with cold water. 

2. Grease and gravy stains

Colorful bright christmas table with presents and decorations

(Image credit: Designers Guild)

Step 1: Blot the stain with a clean cloth to remove excess grease.

Step 2: Sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder on the stain to absorb grease.

Step 3: Brush off the powder and apply a mixture of dish soap and water. This solution emulsifies the grease, making it easier to lift during the wash.

Step 4: Launder as usual.

3. Cranberry sauce

candle lit dining table with rattan chairs

(Image credit: Birdie Fortescue)

Step 1: Scoop off excess sauce with a spoon or knife.

Step 2: Rinse the stain with cold water.

Step 3: Pre-treat with a mixture of vinegar and dish soap.

Step 4: Launder as recommended for the fabric.

'Cranberry sauce introduces pigments and tannins that can result in stubborn stains. A cold water rinse minimizes stain setting, while the vinegar acts as a mild acid, countering pigments and enhancing the efficacy of the liquid laundry detergent during pre-treatment,' explains Ocean Van.

4. Candle wax

green and purple christmas wreath

(Image credit: Future, Simon Brown Photography Ltd)

Step 1: To clean spilled wax, allow it to harden, then carefully scrape off excess wax with a blunt knife.

Step 2: Place a brown paper bag over the wax and gently iron over it on a low heat setting. The wax will transfer to the paper.

Step 3: After removing the bulk of the wax, treat any remaining stain with a mixture of vinegar and water.

Step 4: Launder the item as usual.

5. Christmas tree sap

traditional christmas tree decor in cozy living room

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: Freeze the sap with an ice pack or ice cubes in a plastic bag.

Step 2: Once the sap is hardened, scrape it off with a dull knife.

Step 3: Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a cloth and gently rub the affected area.

Step 5: Gently scrape off the sap with a blunt edge.

Step 6:  Launder the item as usual.

'Rubbing alcohol can effectively dissolve sticky pine sap from surfaces like wood,' says Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning. 

Karina Toner
Karina Toner

Karina is the Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a trusted maid service based in Washington D.C. The team has over five years of experience providing top-quality cleaning services for both residential and commercial clients. Karina oversees every aspect of the business, ensuring that every client gets the same top-notch service and a spotless clean every time.

6. Glitter

Grand traditional living room with fireplace and foliage on mantelpiece

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

Step 1: Use a lint roller or sticky tape to effectively pick up stray glitter or tinsel from various surfaces.

Step 2: If glitter is embedded, press a mixture of water and liquid dish soap onto the stain with a cloth.

Step 3: Rinse and launder according to fabric care instructions.

7. Chocolate stains

Cozy dining room with rustic festive dining table

(Image credit: Amanda Reynal, photography by John Bessler)

Step 1: Scrape off excess chocolate with a butter knife or spoon.

Step 2: Rinse the stain with cold water from the back of the fabric.

Step 3: Pre-treat with a mixture of dish soap and water.

Step 4: Launder according to fabric care instructions.

'The cold water and liquid laundry detergent mix acts as a surfactant, breaking down fats and cocoa solids for efficient removal during a warm water wash,' explains Ocean Van.

8. Ink stains

corner of boston home filled with antiques

(Image credit: JARED KUZIA)

Step 1: Place a paper towel under the stained area.

Step 2: Dab the stain with rubbing alcohol using a clean cloth.

Step 3: Blot the stain until the ink is absorbed by the paper towel.

Step 4: Launder the item following care instructions.

9. Coffee or tea spills

An ornate coffee cup being filled with Turkish coffee

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Coffee and tea contain tannins and pigments that leave noticeable marks on fabric,' explains Ocean Van. 

Step 1: Immediately blot the effected area to prevent further spreading. 

Step 2: Use a mix of cold water and liquid laundry detergent to pre-treat the fabric. This will counter tannins and pigments during a warm water wash.

Step 3: Launder as usual.

10. Soot stains

Pottery Barn cozy Christmas living room, decorated fireplace

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Step 1: Don't attempt to brush away fine soot particles, as this may cause them to spread. Instead, sprinkle baking soda or corn starch over the soot stain to absorb it. Then, use the nozzle attachment of your vacuum cleaner to gently pick up the soot residue.

Step 2: If the soot stain is on your clothes, wash them as usual at a temperature suitable for the fabric. Keep the laundry load small to allow clothing to move freely during washing. Avoid using fabric conditioner until all odors have been removed, as this will only mask them.

Remember to always test any cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't cause any damage to the fabric or surface.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.