Secrets to dealing with devastating messes

Red wine on a sofa or dog pee on a living-room rug is a special kind of heartbreak, notes ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports. It’s a 50-50 mix of devastation and panic.

But if you know what to do, you can skip the drama and calmly deal with even the nastiest messes on the spot. ShopSmart reveals the following secrets.

Your pooch peed or pooped on your good rug. The secret: Stomp it out. Scrape up poop with firm cardboard, and blot pee onto clean paper towels. Blot the area using a clean sponge dampened with tap water to rinse out urine. Place a folded towel under the rug and blot firmly (stand on it and stomp!) to remove as much liquid as possible. Hit the area with an enzyme-based pet-odor remover, such as Nature’s Miracle. Test first in an inconspicuous spot, then treat both sides of the rug and the pad as the package directs.

Red wine was spilled on your rug, curtains, upholstery or tablecloth. The secret: hydrogen peroxide. Blot up as much liquid as possible with clean, white towels or napkins. Use one on each side of the fabric. Then blot with water, working in the direction of the stain to keep it from spreading. Blot with a dry towel to remove as much liquid as possible. Hit it with hydrogen peroxide. Start on a test spot to make sure the peroxide doesn’t alter the color of the fabric, then use it on the stain.

You’re stuck with a wad of chewing gum. The secret: Bengay. Chill the gum with an ice cube; scrape off what you can. Hit the gum with Bengay. Apply 1 teaspoon of the extra-strength formula, then heat it with a hair dryer. Pick off the residue with a plastic food-storage bag. Blot the area with a solution of 1 teaspoon mild soap (such as Ivory) and 1 cup warm water. Then blot with warm water.

Greasy gravy got on your best tablecloth. The secret: soap and water. Scrape up the gravy with a spoon. Blot with the same mild soap-and- water solution recommended for removing gum. ShopSmart’s tip: Use this technique even if you’re not sure what the stain is. Keep dabbing. Have patience. Most stains will lift, eventually.

Someone, somehow, got blood on the sofa. The secret: water or saliva. Blot it with cool water and a clean cloth — or, in a pinch, even your own saliva, which works as a mild, enzyme-based cleaner. Hit it with hydrogen peroxide. Blot it in. But test in a hidden spot to be sure the peroxide doesn’t change the color of the fabric.

Your favorite chair was marked with ballpoint ink. The secret: rubbing alcohol. Blot as much as you can onto a clean cloth. Hit it with rubbing alcohol, which can dissolve the remaining stain. (Test in a hidden spot first.) You also can use some Amodex, an ink-stain remover sold at supermarkets. But ShopSmart warns that you should be realistic. Ink is a tough stain and may not completely come out.

Chocolate milk or candy, or other gooey stuff spilled all over the place. The secret: laundry detergent. Scrape up the mess right away. Blot the stain using clean towels or napkins. Then blot using a sponge dampened with (not soaked in) plain tap water. If you have hard water, seltzer might be better because the carbonization can help lift the stain. Trample it, placing a folded towel under the rug and blotting firmly (stand on it and stomp) to remove as much liquid as possible. Hit it with an enzyme-based laundry detergent. If a chocolate stain remains, blot with a solution of 1 teaspoon of colorless enzyme detergent (such as Tide Free & Gentle) and a cup of warm water.

2014 Consumers Union Inc.

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