Keeping your house clean when you have a family is difficult, to say the least. But if you’re actively trying to sell your home and juggling impromptu home tours, housekeeping can become a nightmare. How can you keep your home clean and in tip-top shape throughout the day-to-day chaos? Our go-to guide shares valuable (and easy!) tips and tricks for removing all the spills and stains of your life—including removing stains from walls, floors, carpet, and upholstered furniture.
You love your home and you love your kids. So wouldn’t it be great if you could keep one clean and looking nice (that would be your home), while still allowing the other to be happy, active, and creative (you guessed it: the kids)? You can, with these simple tips for quickly removing today’s new stains and preventing future ones.
Remember: Always test your stain remover on an inconspicuous spot before proceeding.
Removing Stains on Walls
Crayon. Pour a small amount of dry-cleaning solvent on a clean terrycloth towel and apply to the stain. (Important tip: don’t try this with antique wallpaper; it will damage the surface.) Or, as an alternative, try a wall eraser; it works like a charm on crayon marks.
Dirt and Grime. Wet a wall eraser, then rub gently.
Grease. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of soap in 1 cup of warm water, and wipe. Rinse with clean water, and blot until dry. For tougher stains, use 1/3 cup of white household vinegar with 2/3 cup of water instead.
Permanent Marker. Gently apply a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol, or spray with hairspray, then wipe any resulting drips.
Removing Stains on Tile Floors
Blood. Dab the stain with hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach.
Juice. Wash with detergent and hot water, then blot with hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach.
Gum. Place ice cubes in a sealed plastic bag and lay the bag over the gum. Once the gum has been solidified, use a crafts stick and gently scrape away as much of it as possible. Remove what’s left with a nonflammable paint thinner.
Ink. Soak a clean cloth with diluted bleach and lay it over the stain. Let stand until the stain disappears, then rinse well.
Removing Stains on Vinyl Floors
Black Shoe-Heel Marks. Rub the stained area with an art gum eraser or nonabrasive scrubbing pad and nonabrasive cleanser. As an alternative, try rubbing with regular toothpaste. If stain still remains, try rubbing alcohol (91 percent isopropyl from a drugstore).
Crayon. Rub with lighter fluid or odorless mineral spirits.
Fruit Juice. Wash the area with a mild bleach solution of 1/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. If the stain remains, try rubbing alcohol.
Paint. Promptly wipe up wet spills. When the stain is dry, carefully scrape it with the plastic edge of a thin spatula. Remove residue with rubbing alcohol. If the stain remains, rub it with lighter fluid or odorless mineral spirits.
Permanent Marker. Lightly rub with lighter fluid, odorless mineral spirits, or rubbing alcohol.
Removing Stains on Carpet
Crayon and Colored Pencil. Scrape as much of the crayon or colored pencil out of your carpet as you can with a dull knife. Lightly spray the area with WD-40 and let it sit for a few minutes. Brush the area with a stiff brush, then wipe with a white cloth towel. Spray the stain with WD-40 again, then apply some liquid dish detergent to the area. Work it in with the brush, then wipe with a damp sponge. Blot using a clean, dry towel.
Permanent Marker. Moisten the stain lightly with rubbing alcohol or hairspray and lightly blot with a white towel to transfer the marker to the towel. Repeat as often as needed to remove the stain. Moisten the area with water, then blot with a clean, dry towel until dry.
Juice. Spritz with club soda, then blot. Repeat until the stain is gone.
Soft Drinks. Spritz with white vinegar, then blot. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone.
Blood. Treat immediately if possible. Apply cold water or club soda and blot with clean cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.
Urine or Vomit. Apply a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Rinse and blot or wet-vac the area until dry.
Mud. Let the mud dry, then vacuum up as much of the dirt as possible. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid hand-dishwashing detergent with 2 cups of warm water. Sponge the stain with the solution with a clean white cloth, then blot until the liquid is gone. Repeat until the stain is gone, then sponge with cold water and blot dry.
Remove Stains on Upholstery
Felt-Tip Marker. Combine 1 tablespoon of liquid hand-dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 2 cups of cool water. Sponge the stain using a clean white cloth and the solution. Leave it on for at least a half hour, continuing to sponge more of the solution on every five minutes. Flush the area with cool water, then blot until all the liquid is gone. Sponge the stain with rubbing alcohol next, then blot. Sponge with cold water and blot again until the water is absorbed.
Blood. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid hand-dishwashing detergent with 2 cups of cold water. If the blood has dried, brush it well to remove as much of it as possible. Sponge the stain using the solution and a clean white cloth. Blot until the liquid is gone. Continue to apply the solution and blot until the stain disappears. Then sponge with cold water and blot the area dry.
Mud. Allow the mud to dry, then vacuum up as much of the dirt as possible. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid hand-dishwashing detergent with 2 cups of cool water. Sponge the stain with the solution using a clean white cloth. Blot the area until all the liquid is gone. Continue to apply the solution and blot until the stain is gone. Finally, sponge the area with cold water and blot dry.
Oil-Based Paint. If the stain is fresh, scrape off as much of the paint as you can, then blot the rest using a clean white cloth. Blot the stain with turpentine and a clean white cloth, and tamp the area to break up the paint. Continue to apply the turpentine, then tamp and blot until the paint stain is gone. Sponge the stain with waterless hand cleaner.
Preventing Future Stains
Since there’s only so much you can do about stains in your home (adults make them too, after all), try these helpful ideas to prevent stains from happening in the first place.
- Pick forgiving materials: Consider couches and chairs with some pattern, color, and texture to help hide spills and general daily wear. Easy-care options could include vinyl, ultrasuede, twill, velvet, and other fabrics with synthetic fiber for more durability. And, of course, insist on a stain-resistant finish for all upholstery. As an alternative, use washable slipcovers.
- Go with easy-to-clean finishes: Select indestructible materials and finishes for walls and surfaces, such as a wipeable paint in satin or semigloss that will sponge clean quickly and easily. Cover windows with simple wipeable blinds or Roman shades. And choose flooring that cleans up easily and quickly with a damp mop, such as tile or vinyl.
- Stay ready for the inevitable: Keep wipes, cleaners, and stain removers in various key areas around the home so that a quick-and-easy cleanup is possible. A speedy response may make all the difference in terms of whether or not a spill becomes a permanent stain.
- Include the kids in the cleaning process: Get the kids involved early on with clear, age-specific cleaning tasks. This will help them understand the consequences of making a mess. And they will learn to value a clean home, something that will serve them well when they become adults.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens. Used with permission. ©Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com. All rights reserved.