Hosting a Christmas Party? Here’s How to Protect Your Carpet From Spills

It won’t be snowing here in Phoenix anytime soon, but there are other signs that Christmas is coming. Holiday classics are on the radio, colored lights are adorning the houses on my street, and invitations to my annual party are in the mail. Another sign that Christmas is coming: I’m getting ready to tackle holiday-party spills on my nearly-white carpet.

If you said that it wasn’t a good idea to install an almost-white carpet in my home, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. I do have to take great care to keep my carpet looking clean. I vacuum twice a week, and have my carpets professionally cleaned twice a year. (And if you’re invited to my party, I’ll be there to take your shoes at the door.) But probably the most important thing that I do is attend to every spill and stain as soon as it happens.

If you’re committed to stopping whatever you’re doing to deal with a spill or a stain, the battle’s half won. Winning the other half of the battle requires you to know how to tackle the most common kinds of stains. Once you know what kind of tools you need, you’ve also got to keep them on hand. Want to do as I do this holiday season, and keep stains out of your carpet? Here’s how to deal with some of the most common stains.

Red Wine

White carpeting and red wine may not be a match made in heaven, but you’ll always find them together at my Christmas party. (Hopefully not too close together.) That’s why I’m always ready for a red wine spill. After a spill, I immediately start blotting up the wine with a plain white paper towel. I work gently, because the idea is to pull the wine up, not pull it down. I keep blotting until the towel is pulling up very little red. Next, I mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar with a dash of dishwashing soap.

I continue to blot, gently, until the stain is gone or until the blotting is no longer pulling up any red. If part of the stain remains, and you can’t pull any more out, stop what you’re doing and call a professional. (I call Dr. Chem-Dry – the company that already drops by every six months for a cleaning.) The earlier a professional cleaner can attend to the stain, the better the chance it will be removed. Wine is among the toughest stains, but this course of action has never failed. Sometimes, I’m even able to get the stain up without any help.

Coffee

Another staple at my home as well as my party is rich, dark coffee – something that definitely stands out against light carpet. Tending to a coffee spill isn’t much different than dealing with red wine. You’ll need a plain white paper towel. You’ll want the same mixture of warm water, white vinegar, and dish soap. You’ll want to gently blot stains until they disappear. And you’ll want to call your cleaning pro right away if you can’t handle that stain.

For whatever reason – probably because my coffee mugs are bigger than my wine glasses – coffee spills tend to be bigger than wine spills. So it’s worth mentioning here that, should you have a lot of liquid to pull up, be sure to swap out paper towels once they’ve been blotted down. You won’t want to push wet towels into the carpet. Plan on having a lot of paper towels on hand before any party.

Grease

While I hate to use the term grease in relation to the food I serve at my parties, the shoe fits. And when guests are walking around with meats, cheeses, and all of those other saucy or oily foods that I serve, some are bound to end up on the floor. While the basic ingredients for dealing with grease stains on carpet are almost the same, there are a couple of key differences.

First, you’ll want to swap out the vinegar for more dishwashing soap in your cleaning solution: Plan to mix one part soap to four parts warm water. You’ll also want to apply the cleaning solution to some paper towel, and press it into the stain for five minutes before beginning the bottle process. Both the extra soap and the extra time are needed to loosen and break down the grease to the point where it can be blotted away.

While I’m no carpet cleaning expert, I have managed to keep a white carpet looking great for a few years now. Do as I do – and quickly – and both you and your carpet will do just fine the next time you host a Christmas party.