Carpeted floors are such a comfort, but spills and messes are no picnic. Here are our favorite fixes for those family-room mishaps…

Red-wine stain remover: Yikes! Someone just spilled red wine on your carpet. Grab a bottle of white wine, but make sure it’s champagne. Or another form of carbonated white wine, such as Prosecco. You have to act fast. Blot up as much of the red wine as possible, then pour a little bubbly white onto the stain and blot again with a damp sponge. Wipe up any foamy leftovers, and the red wine should be gone.

If you don’t want to waste your champagne, grab a can of shaving cream (the regular white foamy kind) and squirt enough to cover the stain completely. Let sit for 30 minutes. Gently wipe up the cream, along with the stain. We got the shaving cream tip from our neighborhood liquor-store guy. It works great…and is fun to use, if you don’t mind your carpeted room smelling like a barbershop for a bit.

Pet accidents: Pet urine stains are best treated as soon as possible. First blot up all that you can with paper towels. Once you have done that, spray on a solution of one-third white vinegar and two-thirds cool water. Again blot, blot, blot. Then pour equal amounts of table salt and baking soda on the wet area. Wait until it dries, then vacuum. If a smell lingers, use a commercial odor remover such as Odorzout ( or Febreze (

Some pet messes, including vomit and wet feces, sit on top of the carpet. Don’t rush to scrape up the mess as most people tend to do. That smears the material deeper into the carpet fibers. Instead, pour a significant amount of baking soda onto the mess—covering it completely. Let the baking soda (and what lies underneath) dry overnight and then gently lift up the dried-out mess with a paper towel, plastic bag or plastic knife. Vacuum up the remaining baking-soda-and-mess residue using your vacuum’s hose.

Mud trails: As with the pet messes, let the mud dry, then use a plastic knife to gently scrape off as much of it as possible. If the mud-dirt mixture is super wet, do the baking soda dump (see above). If the rug still is a little muddy after vacuuming up the baking soda, mix two teaspoons of laundry detergent with one cup of water and sponge it on the carpet. Blot with paper towels, rinse with a wet sponge and blot dry with more paper towels.

Note: Never use laundry detergent, dish detergent, shampoo or laundry stain removers full strength on your carpets or rugs, since these products have cleaning agents that can become permanently stuck in carpet fibers, making the area appear dingy even after cleaning. If spills and messes are a common occurrence in your home, a commercial spot-and-stain remover formula, such as SpotShot ( or Carpet CPR (available at Walmart and Home Depot), is a good investment.

Thanks to Linda Cobb, The Queen of Clean, author of Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean, for help with these tips.

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