How To Spot-Clean Holiday Spills On Your Area Rug

Wine SpillAh, the holidays. The time for good will and joy, for shopping and gift-giving, for family gatherings and parties galore – and for spilling festive food and drinks on your rugs!

With all the extra traffic your house sees during the holiday season, your area rugs are bound to take some abuse. And while some spills can be caught right away and blotted up, others won’t be discovered until hours later. So what’s a girl to do when she finds a day-old red wine stain on her brand new area rug?

Read this blog, for starters! We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to rescuing your area rugs from disaster following this holiday season, whether Uncle Jim spilled some gravy or your best friend Sarah tipped over her wine glass.


If you do have the good fortune to catch a spill before it has soaked into the fibers of your area rug, grab a clean towel or a nice thick stack of paper towels, and gently blot all the liquid up. Rubbing, at this point, will do more harm than good, pushing the stain deeper into the rug’s fibers.

Wash With Soapy Water

Many commercial area rug cleaners can actually harm your rug, by removing dyes or dissolving protective coatings, so it’s safer to try plain old soapy water first, regardless of how long the stain has been there. Mix a few drops of clear dishwashing soap with several cups of water, and use a spray bottle to apply it to the spot.


Next, mist the stain with warm, clean water, or blot it with a wet towel – and then, blot it again with a dry towel. Be prepared to repeat this step until both the soapy water and the spill residue have been removed from your area rug. Whatever you do, don’t scrub your rug, as this can mat the fibers.

Still No Success?

If blotting, washing, and rinsing haven’t produced the desired results, you may need to try a few other time-honored techniques. Depending on the type of stain, a stronger intervention may be needed:

1. Hydrogen Peroxide: Good for stains caused by berries, candy, chocolate, coffee, red wine, soft drinks, and gravy – basically, most of the foods that make the holidays delicious – hydrogen peroxide bleaches spots away without breaking down dyes in your area rug. Dab it on full-strength, and then wait an hour to see if it brings results. You can repeat as needed.

2. White Vinegar:  As an acid, white vinegar neutralizes alkaline spills like beer. Mix one cup of vinegar with one cup of water, and spray the solution on the stain. Then rinse with water and blot dry. This can also be repeated if necessary.

3. Ammonia:  Not for use on wool rugs, ammonia can be very helpful in removing acidic stains on area rugs made of other materials. Ketchup, mixed drinks, and even cough syrup are all stains that can be lessened by misting the spot with one tablespoon of ammonia mixed with ½ cup of water, and then rinsing and blotting dry.

A holiday spill on your area rug is definitely a less-than-pleasant surprise, but with just a few of these tricks up your sleeve, you’ll have it cleaned up in no time. So when the holidays roll around next year, you won’t have to think twice about whether to serve gravy or red wine again – you can just stock up on the hydrogen peroxide, and tell Uncle Jim and best friend Sarah to go ahead and have a blast.