Expert Q&A

Q. After our annual Super Bowl party, you can always tell what people ate from the stains on my sofa and carpet. How do you remove those colorful "leftovers?"

A. It's inevitable: Take a house full of rowdy football fans, add typical Super Bowl fare, and you're bound to end up with green, red and yellow stains all over everything the next day. Here’s how to tackle typical big-game messes like a pro.

Guacamole, onion dip or bean dip Using a dull straightedge, such as a credit card, scrape up as much as you can. Then flush with club soda (the bubbles bring the spill to the surface so you can remove it), blot, wait 10 minutes, then flush again with cool water. Once it’s dry, use a carpet or upholstery cleaner (test first on an inconspicuous area). Avoid removers that contain stain repellents, which can set a stain if you don’t get it out on the first try.

Salsa, pizza, ketchup Red stains set fast and need quick treatment. Use a dull straightedge to lift off as much as possible, and then blot thoroughly with club soda. Finish with a product specially made for red stains (stock up before the party), such as Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover or Red Erase (these also work on red wine and fruit juices).

Chili Sprinkle a heavy coat of baking soda to absorb as much moisture as possible. Then use a straightedge to scrape up the solids. Next, treat with carpet spot remover. For any remaining stain, use red stain remover.

Buffalo wings, barbecue chicken, ribs Using a damp cloth or towel, blot -- never rub -- the stain, then apply a carpet spot remover.

Beer You might not think that beer would create much of a stain. But if it isn’t treated quickly, it will oxidize and turn brown. Blot up the stain, then flush with club soda and blot again. Next, use a carpet spot remover. Then blow-dry to prevent a water ring. This technique also works on clear soft drinks, vodka and gin.

Cleaning expert Linda Cobb is the author of Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean (Pocket 2000).

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