How to Help Your Home Survive the Holidays

By: Danny Lipford

Thanksgiving dinner table.

Everyone loves decorating and entertaining over the holidays, but the constant influx of visitors can take a toll on your home. Here are some suggestions for dealing with the mess and repairing the damage that’s left behind.

How to Remove Stains from Carpet and Flooring

With holiday cheer in full swing, spills and ground in grime on your carpet are a given. When trying to clean up a mess on your rug, it’s important to tackle the problem as soon as possible and plan on having to treat the stain several times to remove it.

Red Wine and Food Stains

Start by blotting the spill with paper towels or a clean cloth to soak up as much as possible, or use a wet/dry vac to suck up spills and food. To remove any remaining stain, try one or more of the following options:

  • Apply white wine to dilute a red wine stain, followed by additional cleaning.
  • Wet down red wine stains with club soda, then blot or vacuum the spill to remove.
  • Combine 1 teaspoon dishwashing soap with 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl. Soak the spot with the solution, allow it to remain on for several hours, then blot or vacuum up the residue. CAUTION: Hydrogen peroxide may bleach colors, so test it on an inconspicuous spot first.
  • Combine 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 3/4 cup water and use sponge to gently clean rug or carpet.

Chewing Gum

Gum can be hard to remove. The trick is to cool the gum to harden it or heat the gum to soften it before attempting to remove it. Here are your two options:

  • Place an ice cube in a plastic bag on the gum until it hardens, then scrape the gum from the carpet using a dull knife or expired credit card.
  • Use a hair dryer to heat the gum, then use a plastic bag to pull it off.

Candle Wax

Candle wax is easier to remove when hot or cold as well. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Harden the wax with an ice cube in a plastic bag, then carefully scrape it off with a dull knife or expired credit card.
  2. Apply paper towels to the spot. Use a clothes iron to heat up the wax which is then absorbed by the paper towels. Change out the paper towels until all the wax has been removed.

How to Remove Water Stains on Table Tops

Water stains on wood can be divided into white or dark stains. A dark stain means the water has penetrated through the finish into the wood and is hard to remove without stripping and sanding the surface. White stains indicate the water is trapped between the layers of finish or under was. Try these methods to eliminate white water stains:

  1. Try waiting a day or two to see if the water stain will dry out and disappear on its own.
  2. If not, try covering the stain with mayonnaise, leave on overnight, and wipe off.
  3. If it’s still there, wipe the top down with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits to remove any wax that might have trapped the moisture.
  4. Try wiping the spot lightly with a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol. Don’t overdo it, as alcohol can soften some finishes.
  5. As a last resort, place a dry cotton cloth over the stain and go over it with a warm iron (no steam). Heat it enough to cause the moisture to evaporate but not so much as to damage the finish.

NOTE: Test solvents on an inconspicuous spot on the furniture first, to be sure they won’t damage the finish.

How to Repair Dings on Furniture and Wood Floors

Touch-up kits and markers are available to repair small scratches, nicks, and dings on wood floors or furniture, or you can try these homemade fixes:

  • Go over the scratch with a furniture touch up pen that matches the color of the finish, wipe off any excess with a cloth before it dries. A brown permanent marker will work as well, if you can find the right shade to match the wood.
  • Rub the spot with a matching color shoe polish on a soft rag, let dry and wipe off any excess.
  • Fill nicks and small gouges with wax filler sticks that match the color of the finish, use a soft cloth to remove any excess. Brown crayons will work as well. If you don’t have an exact color match, a darker color blends in better than a lighter one.
  • Fill deep gouge with color matched wood putty, or by mixing a bit of sawdust and colorant with epoxy glue.
  • Fill gouges by melting a matching colored shellac burn-in stick on the surface using a match, lighter, soldering iron, or burn-in knife. Carefully scrape off any excess with a sharp chisel, then smooth the surface by applying additional heat.

How to Repair a Broken Ornament or China

Here are some tips for repairing a cherished Christmas ornament or family heirloom china:

  • The best glue to use is either instant glue or clear 5-minute epoxy, since they require shorter setting times when holding irregular objects in place by hand.
  • Weldbond and EcoGlue are nontoxic glues that can also be used for gluing broken objects.
  • To hold irregular objects in place while the glue sets, try molding modeling clay around the item.
  • Spring loaded clothes pins and rubber bands work great for clamping small objects while the glue is setting up.

Finally, remember that accidents happen to everyone, so try to keep your cool and enjoy the spirit of the season!

Candles burning on a mantel

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