However you arrived at this page—whether your roommate fell asleep with a full beer on the couch, you had a crash encounter at a house party or you just missed your mouth as you went to take a sip of that red wine—it’s time to forget the past and address the epic stain at hand. Here’s how to clean up boozy stains on any material in a jiffy.
Don’t blame your friend who gets clumsy after his third glass of red wine for the stain on your new carpet; you really should have known better than to lay down wall-to-wall white carpeting. Grab a clean cloth or paper towels and blot up as much liquid as possible before it soaks in. Work from the outside in, grabbing fresh towels as necessary, and continue blotting until the towels aren’t absorbing any more of the liquid. Then mix together one tablespoon dish soap, one tablespoon white vinegar and two cups of warm water. Dip a fresh towel in the mixture and blot again, using fresh towels as needed.
Cotton or Linen
If you end up wearing your drink, don’t glare at the offender who bumped you, just get to dabbing with cold water. Once you get access to a fresh change of clothes, soak the stained outfit in a tub or sink full of cold water for at least 30 minutes. Then drain and refill the basin with water and work laundry detergent (or stain remover if you’ve got it) into the stain. Rinse and get that garment in the washing machine ASAP.
Flasked cocktails are key when you’re traveling through a cold winter’s night or posted up in front of a roaring campfire, but slippery ice patches may empty your to-go beverage on your wool coat. Once you get out of the cold, dab the stain with a clean cloth, then go over it again with a cloth dipped in an equal parts mixture of warm water and rubbing alcohol.
It may seem obvious but it bears reiterating: Be careful with silk. Blot stains with warm water, or use club soda if you’re feeling slightly bolder (it’s more effective but harsher). Then let the garment air dry. If that doesn’t work and the stain sets, get yourself some glycerin (used to make soap) and let that sit on the stain for 30 minutes before rinsing gently with cold water.
“Dry Clean Only” Clothes
Leave dry cleaning to the professionals. Dab the stain with a clean towel, then take it to the dry cleaner with your hat (or other stained item) in hand, and be sure to point out the stain.
The backs of couches are not tables, people; do not rest your drink there. If your precious Ikea futon falls victim to an errant cocktail, duck under the couch or flip the marked cushion and take a look at the label. The letter there will tell you how to clean the item: “W” means you can spot-clean with liquid-based cleaners, “S” means dry detergents only, “SW” means you can do either of the above, and “X” means it’s out of your league and it’s time to take it to get professional help. Most stains can be fought with a mix of one tablespoon dish soap and two cups cold water. For tougher stains, mix together a solution of one part white vinegar and six parts rubbing alcohol. Just be sure to test heftier treatments on an unseen corner of the stained furniture to be sure you aren’t just making things worse.