Fast solutions to get rid of tricky stains

LOS ANGELES Food and drink that ends up on your floor can turn into permanent stain in a hurry. We teamed up with Consumer Reports to find ways to ward off stains that won't cost you a lot of money.

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The pros at the dry cleaners make it look so easy. You drop off that stained tablecloth and, poof, you pick it up stain-free.

But Consumer Reports resident stain expert Pat Slaven says with a few simple products, you can get most stains out at home.

Take cranberry sauce - a holiday favorite - but not on your carpet. Pat recommends mixing one teaspoon of clear or white detergent with a cup of warm water. Then blot the stain.

"If there's still a little bit of a mark left, try a red-dye remover like Didi Seven," said Slaven.

Gravy drippings on your tablecloth?

"Mix up a bit of Fels Naptha with water and use it to pre-treat oily stains," said Slaven.

Then wash as usual. And what about red wine? If it spills on your carpet, first blot the excess with water, then a detergent solution. If that doesn't work, try hydrogen peroxide to lift out the color.

But with red wine on your clothes, pretreat it with a laundry booster like Shout or Spray 'n Wash. And don't make the mistake of ignoring white wine spills or champagne and ginger ale. You'll be sorry later on.

"We spilled white wine on this carpet swatch about a year ago. Eventually the sugars will caramelize and leave this," said Slaven.

So while the dry cleaners may be the pros, with a few key products you may be able to get stains out like a pro. And save some money while you're at it.

Another tricky stain that turns up around the holidays -- candle wax. For washable fabric, you can pour boiling water through fabric. For non-washables, you want to sandwich the fabric between paper towels and then run a warm iron over the wax.

And, we found hundreds of other ways to remove stains, including mascara, juice and tea stains, even salsa stains.

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