How to remove dreaded holiday food stains, according to TikTok cleaning hacks

An expert at Ruggable did a deep dive into holiday food stains and uncovered which TikTok cleaning hacks actually work on them

hot chocolate spilled on a white rustic table with edible chocolates nearby
(Image credit: Getty Images/Karl Tapales)

Along with merrymaking inevitably comes a mess, and holiday food stains seeping into your favorite area rug can dull the sparkle of the evening. We get it — having guests can be rough. 

Before you surrender to that glass of Merlot that got knocked off the table, allow Therese Germain, product expert at Ruggable, to assist with spills. Germain did a deep dive into TikTok cleaning tips and tricks and uncovered the best solutions for fighting stains, all via FYPs. 

While we can't guarantee a lack of spills, we believe these cleaning hacks and cleaning supplies will help when catastrophe strikes. If that doesn't deserve a "like", we're not sure what does.

How to remove holiday food stains

While it might be easy to learn how to decorate for Christmas without damaging your space, we can't guarantee that the guests you invite for Christmas dinner will be careful while nursing a glass of wine or pouring gravy. So to put your mind at rest, Germain, Ruggable's product expert, has uncovered what to do in common Christmas dinner stain situations, beginning with our favorite: red wine.

Therese Germain

Therese Germain is a product expert at Ruggable, an innovative interiors brand devoted to creating stylish, durable, machine-washable rugs.

1. Red wine


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Of course, the crowdpleaser is likely responsible for the most damage, so you'll want to know how to remove red wine stains...just in case. 

"For acidic stains like wine, the most effective spot cleaning method is a simple mixture of cool water and liquid dish soap," Germain noted. "Wet a clean, color-safe cloth with cold water and dab the stain starting from the outer edge and working inward to prevent the stain from spreading. Then, mix a few teaspoons of dish soap into 1-2 cups of cool water in a bowl or empty spray bottle and dampen another clean cloth with the mixture."

In a Germain-approved TikTok video, @Jeeves_ny pours water and vinegar over the stain, puts a towel over the spill, and irons it, as evidenced above. With three tries, the stain is removed, but Germain warns to avoid this with protein-based stains like gravy.

2. Hot Chocolate


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There's nothing quite like a cup of hot cocoa, just don't expect it all to stay in the mug — especially if little ones are doing the sipping. Fortunately, clean-up is fairly straightforward. 

"Enzyme-based or surfactant store-bought carpet spot cleaners are the most effective at removing chocolate stains," Germain noted. 

In a TikTok video Germain flagged, @omahacarpetcleaning combines ice-cold water and dish soap and gives the chocolate stain a few dabs until it's wiped away.

3. Syrup


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Who doesn't appreciate a pancake breakfast after opening up all of Santa's goodies? It's less enjoyable when syrup makes its way onto the floor, but no sweat — if you can get red wine out of your carpet, syrup is a lot easier, though much stickier. 

"If using liquid dish soap to remove syrup stains, make sure you rinse out all soap/cleaning product residue," Germain recommended. "You can do this by dabbing the area with a cloth dipped in clean, cool water, or pouring a small amount of water on the area and soaking it up with a dry cloth. Repeat this until you no longer see bubbles when you press down or feel a soapy film."

4. Gravy


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We regret to inform you that Christmas table settings might at some point include a mess or two. When a classic turkey dinner is involved, there's no telling where the gravy might go. 

"Use a paper towel to absorb as much gravy as possible," Germain recommended for spills. "To help with absorption, sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda over the spill. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes, and then vacuum up the baking soda. Mix a few teaspoons of dish soap into 1-2 cups of cool water in a bowl or empty spray bottle and apply the mixture to the stain."


How do you get holiday stains out?

Not all stains are the same, and they shouldn't be treated similarly. Acidic stains like wine spills are best treated with a combination of cold water and dish soap, whereas items with thicker consistencies, like gravy, are best absorbed by baking soda first, followed by a dish soap mixture. All stains should be treated differently.

What type of stains cannot be removed?

While it's not impossible to remove difficult stains, the culprits that prove to be the most difficult include red wine, olive oil, coffee, tea, and tomato sauce, to name a few. 

Sometimes, it feels like we do some much prep, and then Christmas is over in the blink of an eye. After the presents have been opened, the leftovers have been consumed, and everything has been put away, you might find yourself wondering: "What the heck do I do with all this stuff?" We spoke to organization experts about how to store Christmas decorations in a small space so they stay neat and orderly until the next holiday.

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.