Stains: they are the hallmark of true parenting (and a sure result of a girls-night-in). While you might be able to let a few slide, some of them just could cost you the deposit on your apartment or incite a desire to replace your shag with something more, well, wipeable. We polled our Red Tricycle editors—who know a thing or two about stain-removal—and got together their best tips. Scroll down for 19 simple ways to keep it clean.

photo: security via pixabay

1. Stop wining! You might have heard the tried and true soda water/cold water rinse for red wine but here’s a method our editors swear by: pour boiling water over the red wine stain. Blot it up with a cloth. (Note: do not blot it before without water).

2. Sweaty Betty: Use lemon juice and water on sweat stains. Make a little potion and soak area. Baking soda and water paste can help remove underarm stains on white clothing.

3. Salt! Pour salt on stain to soak up any extra wine, then soak in cold water for 30 min. For blood, 1 hour in cold saltwater. Salt also helps absorb grease stains!

4. Shock It Clean. No, we don’t mean singing perfectly on-pitch to “Side to Side” and shocking the crowd. One of our editor’s turned us on to this product and we are telling you, it removes every carpet stain ever. Including that weird pee stain you only just now noticed and can’t tell if it’s human or pet.  

5. Magic trick: Dump white wine onto red wine. Yes, you have to waste a little white wine but that’s nothing compared to wasting a good Sangiovese. (Yes, we realize this is the third wine stain hack. What?).

photo: trophygeek via flickr 

6. Have another cup: Try white vinegar on coffee stains (on clothing). Soak for at least 8 hrs.

7. Chalk it up: Liquid dish soap is the most effective treatment for oil stains, but a stick of chalk can help absorb it on the quick. Use a paper towel or TP to blot up as much oil as possible then rub the chalk stick on it. Wash as soon as possible. 

8. One word: Oxiclean. (That’s one word, right?) Grass stains have met their match.

9. Paint of contention: If you’ve got paint on the jeans you just couldn’t bring yourself to take off before touching up the walls, try shaving it off with a razor. Super stubborn paint stains from the-people-who-painted-before-you can be combatted with nail polish remover and elbow grease.

10. Rust us: You can remove rust by lightly scrubbing with aluminum foil. Add a little white vinegar to really scrape off stubborn stuff.

photo: fede13 via flickr

11. Shine on: Clean up the gunk and shine up the chrome of your faucets using lemons. You can use a half-lemon or a wedge to squeeze into narrow spots and it works great to get your stainless steel sink to gleam too.

12. You crazy diamond: Use toothpaste to polish your silver rings and get rid of those tarnished stains.

13. Carpet vs. paint party: Hopefully you’ve used water-based paints for your kids, but just-in-case the stain seems to be setting remember your best hope is to keep the area moist. Use detergent (laundry or dishwashing) to make a pasty-scrub and…scrub. And scrub. And blot. And scrub. (Or look on Wayfair for a new throw-rug to cover it up.)

14. Nailed it! If you spill nail polish, carpet or floor, use a microfiber cloth to absorb as much as you can, then continue blotting with rubbing alcohol and microfiber cloth. (Nail polish remover can damage surfaces of hardwoods and other flooring, but you can try soaking the microfiber cloth in a bit of remover before washing).

photo: lightstargod via pixabay

15. Poop, there it is! To clean up poop, dog or otherwise, from carpet you’ll need white vinegar and baking soda. And a lot of paper towels. And probably gloves. Just let the paste fizz and blot, fizz and blot. It’s like a mini-volcano of gross.

16. Speaking of woof: Kids got markers and/or paints and painted your dog? (No, oh, just wait…) If your pooch is light-colored, cornstarch can help lighten the fur back up.

17. Doggy goes boom: You can try your average carpet cleaner or “pet stain remover” but we found nothing takes care of the remains of the day like a laundry stain remover, i.e. extra-strength Shout.

18. And a smile. Pour a can of Coke on a greasy stain in your garage. (Diet Coke won’t cut it, but you can always try.)

19. The Path of Least Resistance: Give up (wear dark colors, or beige if you’re preventing spit-up stains; make sure your carpets are artfully swirly; put smocks on your kids every day).

What are some of your best stain-removing tips? Share them with us in the comments! 

—Amber Guetebier with Kristina Moy, Shelley Massey, Jacqui Boland, Gabby Cullen, Meghan Rose, Sara Olsher, Leah Singer, Erin Lem, Ayren Jackson-Cannady & Chantal Lamers