With the holiday season come surprises of all sorts… and not all of them the kinds wrapped in a bow. Unexpected messes come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes it’s hard to know how to manage them in the middle of a rush.
Never fear. Below are five common holiday-related cleaning “emergencies” and tips to tackle them quickly and efficiently.
Emergency: Oops! Someone spilled red wine on your favorite tablecloth.
Fix: If you’re in the middle of your meal, place a clean dry paper towel or napkin over the stain to soak up the excess liquid. Once the table’s cleared, place a clean cloth behind the stain and pour a small splash of club soda on the spot and re-blot it with a dry paper towel or napkin. Do not scrub. If there’s still a trace of wine, shake baking soda on the spot and allow it to soak up the rest of the liquid. When it’s dry, brush it away and launder.
Emergency: The turkey’s made your Thanksgiving dinner guest too tired to travel and she decides at the last minute to spend the night.
Fix: Set the bed in the guest room with fresh linens. Place a set of towels and travel-size toiletries nearby. Give the bathroom a thorough once-over; wipe down surfaces and replace any toilet tissue or soap that’s running low.
Emergency: You’re at a party and notice you’ve got lipstick on your shirt.
Fix: Don’t scrub it! You’ll only work the stain into the fabric, and the more red pigment in the stain, the trickier it can be to remove. Don’t try to clean the stain yourself if the garment is dry clean only. If your shirt can be safely laundered at home, you can pre-treat it with hair spray. Dab the spot with degreaser (liquid dish detergent is a good option), let it sit for 15 minutes, and launder as usual.
Emergency: You’re baking cookies with the kids and spill sugar all over the kitchen floor.
Fix: Don’t get out the mop – add water to sugar and you’ll only end up with a sticky, syrupy mess. Instead, sweep it up with a broom and dustpan or the vacuum attachment (use the suction-only setting, or the spinning agitator brush may send sugar flying all over your floor).
Emergency: A pot boiled over and burned minutes before your guests arrive, and now the house stinks.
Fix: Open a window if you can, and turn on a fan to circulate the air. Throw some cinnamon sticks, citrus peels and water into a sauce pan on a different burner and turn it on low heat, allowing it to simmer but not dry out – the smell will gradually replace the scorched smell with a wonderful, clean scent. Don’t try to clean the burned drips until the surface of the stove has cooled. However, stick the muck-covered burner into a sink full of warm, soapy water to help loosen the charred mess until you’re ready to deal with it.
There’s no reason to panic when you have a mess to deal with right before company arrives. Most holiday cleaning emergencies can be dealt with just a few supplies and a little bit of effort.