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This is how to banish food stains from your living room

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 20/03/2019 Emilie Martin
a group of people sitting at a table © Dean Mitchell - Getty Images

Front room. Lounge. Sitting room. Living room. Whatever you call yours, the chances are you'll occasionally end up eat in it. In fact, over half of us have eaten a meal in our living room in the last month and a third of us have enjoyed a takeaway in there, research by retailer John Lewis has shown.

Whether you like to graze in front of the goggle box, or you have a dining area in your living room, the eating habits revealed by the survey can wreak havoc on carpets, rugs and soft furnishings.

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If this is a familiar issue in your household, we’ve got the know-how you need to take on common food stains with confidence. 

Back to basics

Whatever you’ve spilled on the carpet, rug, throws or sofa cushions, there are three golden rules you should always follow, says Verity Mann, Head of Testing at the GHI:

1. ACT FAST

Spilled Food In Kitchen © ShutterStock Spilled Food In Kitchen ‘The longer stains are left to dry into fabric, the harder they will be to remove,’ she cautions. ‘Gently scrape off any bits that are left on the surface of the fabric or carpet with a knife before treating.’

2. BLOT, DON’T SCRUB

‘This is vital for water-based stains. Blot the stain gently using white paper towels or a clean, white kitchen cloth and work from the outside in to stop the stain spreading. Scrubbing can work the stain further into the fibres.’

3. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS

‘This may sound obvious, but when using any stain remover, ensure you follow the instructions carefully,’ Verity advises. ‘And always refer to the care label of washable soft furnishings to give stain removal the best possible chance.’

Red wine on Carpet. © ShutterStock Red wine on Carpet. Bearing those expert tips in mind, this is how the GHI recommends you tackle the following TV dinner disasters.

Grease marks

When your bacon butty has dripped its greasy goodness onto the carpet, or a stray chip has left a tell-tale oily mark on a sofa cushion, reach for the kitchen roll (any paper towel will do, as long as it’s white).

Use it to dab away as much of the grease as possible then lightly sprinkle the stain with talcum powder or cornflower, which should soak up more of the remaining oil.

After a few minutes, use a soft brush to sweep away the powder or vacuum using the upholstery tool.

a close up of food on a plate: Spaghetti on New Carpet © shorrocks - Getty Images Spaghetti on New Carpet

If your cushion covers are removable and machine washable, work a little liquid detergent into the stained area and allow it to sink in for a few minutes before washing according to the instructions.

Dabbing methylated spirit onto greasy marks will also help dislodge them from washable fabrics but be sure to test an inconspicuous area for colour-fastness first, and machine wash afterwards.

For non-foam-backed carpet or rugs, try De.Solv.It to shift grease:

a close up of a device: De.Solv.It Stain Remover 100Ml © amazon.co.uk De.Solv.It Stain Remover 100Ml

amazon.co.uk

£3.50

Takeaway spillages 

Spilt soy sauce from your Chinese takeaway or sushi selection may look alarming but it’s actually fairly easy to remove if you’re quick. Start in the usual way by soaking up as much of the stain as you can with white paper towels. Use a pre-wash stain treatment such as Vanish Gold PowerGel on machine washable textiles before popping them into the washing machine.

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For carpets and rugs, use a general purpose carpet and rug stain remover such as Bissell Oxy Stain Destroyer following the instructions on the packaging. This is also your best bet if you spill curry on the carpet, but you’ll need to act fast; if there’s turmeric in the sauce, it can be one of the hardest stains to remove.

For machine-washable items, dab methylated spirits onto curry stains before running them through the washing machine. Again, you’ll need to test it on a less visible area of fabric first.

Tomato-based stains

Removing anything tomato-based – including pizza topping – from soft furnishings is a tough gig. Treat machine washable textiles with Dr Beckmann Pasta, Pizza and Curry Sauce stain remover following the instructions, before machine washing.

Stain Devils Pasta, Pizza & Curry Sauce © amazon.co.uk Stain Devils Pasta, Pizza & Curry Sauce

amazon.co.uk

£2.47

For carpets, the Bissell spray (above) should do the trick.

Chocolate smudges

Get rid of the evidence of your late-night chocolate indulgence by spot-treating stains on rugs and carpets using Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover, then blot the stained area with white paper towels. Carry on treating and blotting then finish by rinsing the stain with cold water and – you guessed it – blotting again.

Soak chocolate-stained, machine-washable cotton cushion covers and throws in a biological pre-soaking agent such as Biotex for 15 to 30min, dabbing the stain every five minutes or so. Follow-up by machine-washing at 40°C using biological detergent. For machine-washable silk cushions or wool blankets, pre-soak in a solution of washing soda crystals then machine wash at 30°C on a delicates cycle.

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