Happy New Year: Post-Holiday Rehab
If you’re like most people, chances are good that you did some entertaining during the holiday season. Though the Christmas decorations are down and the candy, cookies and treats devoured; there are probably telltale signs that remain that have left your home a little worse for the wear.
Some of the most common post-holiday household “wear and tear leftovers” include indentions in carpeting from the Christmas tree stand and rearranged furniture; drops of candle wax on carpet, upholstery, mantles and tabletops; carpet and flooring spots and stains; and white rings and/or dents on dining tables and other fine furniture.
Getting your home back into shape and curing some of the common post holiday woes could be a daunting task were it not for the simple solutions that we have collected over the years. So, take heed and say goodbye to the “post holiday cleaning blues.”
Curing dented carpet: You’ve taken your Christmas tree down and put your furniture back into place only to discover that your carpet is dotted with dimples that weren’t there before the holidays. You’ve tried vacuuming and still no luck. All you need is a clean white terry cloth and a cloths iron. Lightly dampen the cloth, place it over the affected areas – one at a time – and, with the iron on medium heat, iron over the cloth for about 30 seconds. Remove the iron and cloth – allow the carpet to cool slightly – and “rake” the fibers using your fingers. The steam generated by this process will help the fibers regain their original condition. More than one treatment may be required for stubborn areas. If this solution doesn’t do the trick, a good steam cleaning is in order. You’ll get two for one with a steam cleaning – no more dimples, plus, the holiday spots and spills will be a distant memory.
Carpet Spots and Spills: If you don’t have dimples in your carpet, but you do have stains, we have just what the doctor ordered. Red wine is one of the most common post party cleaning challenges. There’s a simple process that can be used, though it may take a several attempts to completely eliminate the stain. Pour a liberal amount of table salt directly onto the wine stain, letting the crystals soak up the wine. Vacuum up the salt, then pour club soda (or water) onto the spot and blot with paper towels or even a clean terry-cloth. Repeat this process until the stain is completely removed. Keep in mind that this process is meant to be used on a fresh wet stain. It probably will not work on an old dried stain.
For chewing gum, put ice cubes in a plastic bag and freeze the gum in the carpet. When it’s hard, scrape it with a butter knife. For greasy stuff like lipstick, blot up the excess, and then use dry-cleaning fluid. For pet stains, blot any excess with paper towels, and then use a mixture of laundry detergent, ammonia and white vinegar. For shoe polish and ink stains, dab with paint thinner. For fruit juice and soft drink spills, mix one teaspoon of both laundry detergent and white vinegar in one quart of warm water, and sponge well. For burns, trim off fibers, and, if needed, glue in some extras from the edges.
Many carpet manufacturers offer free stain-removal pamphlets as part of their customer service program. If your particular carpet manufacturer does not offer this service, check with the folks who installed the carpet for you. They may offer a generic stain-removal guide that works effectively with the kind of material that was used to manufacture your particular carpet.
Cleaning Up Candle Wax: Who doesn’t love a home filled with the warm glow and marvelous fragrance that holiday candles provide? The problem is that with candles come wax and spills on carpet, upholstery, mantles and other surfaces. Removing candle wax is really pretty simple. All you’ll need is a brown paper sack and a clothes iron. Start by removing the excess wax by using a wooden popsicle stick or a dull butter knife. Chilling the wax with an ice cube first will make scraping it off a lot easier. Sweep up what you have removed and place the brown paper bag over what remains. Next, place the iron — set on medium-high heat — onto the paper sack and work it back and forth, not allowing it to rest in place. You will be amazed to see the wax drawn in by the paper sack. Use different sections of the sack to draw in all the wax and to prevent spreading it. Though this solution will work especially well on carpet and fabrics, it can be used on flooring and furniture as well. Just be sure to use less heat or substitute the iron for a blow dryer.
Getting the White out of your Ring: It simply wouldn’t be the holidays without white rings on the dining room table or other fine furniture. Contrary to popular belief, a white ring results from damage to the waxed finish and not to the wood. Here’s a trick to remove those nasty rings. First, make sure that the surface is clean and dry. Next, place a small amount of mayonnaise directly over the ring. Cover the area with a piece of plastic wrap and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and lightly rub the mayonnaise into the finish using a nylon scouring pad and working in the direction of the grain. Wipe up all the mayonnaise with a soft cloth and restore the luster to the area with some lemon oil or paste wax.
Dealing with Furniture & Flooring Dents: Dents in furniture and flooring run a close second to white rings. An errant fork, knife, plate or platter can leave quite an unsightly mark. Before you attempt to fill the dent with furniture putty, try getting the dent to disappear on its own with this magic trick. Dents are only depressions in the surface; the fibers of the wood aren’t broken, and if it’s only crushed or pushed-in, it’s a fairly simple repair. But with a gouge, the fibers might be torn, and wood might be missing. A small gouge can be filled with colored wax, wood compound or putty. Often, for a really good match for a deep gouge you’ll need the help of a pro. But if it’s just a simple dent, try “steaming.” Here’s how: put a drop of water in the dent and cover it with a soft, dry cloth. Then apply a hot iron for a few seconds. If it’s still there, do it a few more times. If it doesn’t come up, it’s a gouge. Give it a try. You’ll be surprised how steaming can make dents disappear.
With your home back in shape you can really have a happy new year!
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