DIY Stain, Spill, and Odor Removers for the Holidays

Homemade Stain Remover

We’re sharing these homemade stain remover solutions because, holiday gatherings at my house never fail to produce some kind of spills–wine, gravy, or worse. And every year I seem to get pine resin on my hands that lasts forever. While the resin may smell great, it sticks to everything and gets on clothes and other fabrics. Fortunately, there’s a natural solution for almost every problem.

Homemade Stain Remover and Odor Slayer

Most of these solutions can be used year-round, but it just seems like at the holidays I experience more of these problems. Here are some natural tips for taking care of life’s little mishaps:

Pine resin

Also called pine pitch, this resin comes from pine, fir, and spruce trees. It will clean up fairly well when applying oil, such as olive oil, but then you have the grease problem. Here’s a better way – take any citrus essential oil and mix it with a carrier oil. Orange essential oil seems to work the best, although I have used lime with success. I mix it at about 75% essential oil and 25% carrier oil. The carrier can be any oil you would use for skin care such as grape seed or safflower oil. Apply this mixture to the resin and work in well. Towel off what you can and wash your hands. You may need to repeat more than once, but most of the time it comes off with the first try. Note: Don’t apply citrus essential oil to your hands without diluting it, as it is acidic and may be harsh on hands. (Find these citrus essential oils here.)

Red wine

Cold water is best for red wine stains. Soak the shirt, tablecloth, or other affected area in cold water overnight and then wash as you normally would. Once usually does it, but you may need to treat the area again. For red wine spills in carpet, blot the spilled wine immediately. Then apply a small amount of cold water and keep blotting, repeating until the stain is gone.


For grease stains, make a paste with baking soda and water and soak the spot well. If there is a lot of oil, cover with cornstarch and allow it to absorb the grease for a few hours. Then brush cornstarch off and treat the area with baking soda paste. If there is still a lingering stain, use undiluted dish soap on the area and let sit overnight. Wash as usual.


Scrapes and scratches happen at the holidays just like any other time of the year. First, rinse the spot in cold water. Then, soak in hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide will destroy protein based stains without harming the fabric like bleach sometimes does. Wash as usual.


This is another protein based stain that peroxide is effective in removing. Rinse first, then soak in peroxide. Wash as usual.

Food coloring

Creating holiday cookies can lead to hand disaster! If you’re like me and tend to get food coloring on your hands, try soaking them in lemon water. Rinse them off and then wash with baking soda and water. If the stains are stubborn and you can’t wait for the color to wear off (usually just a day or two), try hydrogen peroxide. A soak for 20 minutes should do the trick.

Food odors

Working with fish, onions, and garlic can leave your hands smelly. To remove odors from hands, rub lemon juice all over them, then wash with soap and water. You can also use a coffee based soap, or in a pinch, just plain old coffee grounds. Rubbing your hands on a stainless steel spoon or gadget like this works too. Wash your hands afterwards and pat dry.


I often use cloth napkins at dinner and someone always gets lipstick on them. I swear, I’m switching to all red napkins next year! While that isn’t practical this year at this late date, a quick soak in straight soap works wonders. Rub natural soap into the stain and allow it to sit overnight. Wash as usual. Bright colors on white napkins may take a second treatment.

Musty odors

When I take out my napkins, table cloths and towels for the holidays, sometimes there is a lingering musty odor. To combat this, I wash them and use vinegar for a rinse. Then, weather permitting, I hang them outside for more freshness. Overnight in freezing temperatures works well for any odors that may be left after storage.

How do you naturally treat these stains and odors? Share below!


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  1. After washing and drying the items, I then take a clean washrag, sprinkle a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil (you can use your favorite essential oil smell), place it in the dryer, and then turn it on for 10-20 minutes on “AIR DRY.” That part is important. The heat of the dryer will eliminate most of the essential oil scent, but air dry will just infuse the scent throughout your clothes.

  2. The only thing missing here is a solution for cleaning chocolate stains. Children love chocolate and around the holidays, there are a lot of sweets. When I want to get rid of carpet chocolate stains I usually first try to vacuum them. After that, I spray the stain with my own homemade cleaning detergent with vinegar and lemons. Leave it for 5 minutes and then rinse with warm water.