Cleaning Tips

How to Remove Stains From Your Favorite Thanksgiving Foods

November 24, 2021

As it’s becoming more commonplace again to gather with family and friends, holiday parties and dinners are quickly approaching. If you’re a cleaning professional, working after Thanksgiving can leave you faced with tough stains from all the delicious food and wine. For stain removal help, check out our tips below for removing stains caused by 5 top Thanksgiving foods.

Professional Cleaning Challenges During the Holiday Season

The holidays can be a busy and stressful time, especially for professional cleaning companies. In fact, many cleaning companies consider their “busy season” to fall before the holidays when homeowners want their properties to look spotless for forthcoming gatherings.

After the holidays, however, professional cleaners have an even bigger job. Lots of food, drinks, and people usually means one thing: big messes.

If you’ve been tasked with cleaning a rental or residence after a Thanksgiving soiree, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of the top stain removal methods for your favorite Thanksgiving holiday foods. Keep reading for our tips and how-to’s.

How to Get Rid of Stains Caused by 5 Thanksgiving Favorites


As a turkey roasts, it’s accompanied by rendered fat and juices that provide flavor and moisture. Albeit tasty, these greasy substances can be tricky to remove from clothing, tablecloths, and upholstery.

To remove turkey stains from clothing and tablecloths:

  1. Make sure there are no solids left on the fabric.
  2. Absorb from the stain as much oil as possible by blotting it with a napkin or paper towel.
  3. For help absorbing the grease, sprinkle some cornstarch onto the stain.
  4. Apply a solvent-based stain remover or heavy-duty liquid detergent to the stain.
  5. Gently scrub the fabric with a soft-bristled toothbrush or rub the fabric against itself.
  6. Let the stain remover or detergent sit for 10-15 minutes or more.
  7. Launder the fabric per the instructions on the label, using the hottest water possible.

For carpets and upholstery, many of the steps above still apply. First, blot the stain to absorb excess oil. With a solution made from 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap and 2 cups of lukewarm water, use a sponge or soft-bristled toothbrush to begin lifting the stain. Next, use a clean sponge or cloth and plain water to remove any soapy residue. Lastly, allow the spot to air dry.


Professional housekeeping and dry cleaning services call gravy a “combination stain” because it consists of both greasy and creamy substances that must both be removed in order for the stain to be completely gone.

Here’s how to remove stains from gravy:

  1. Put a small amount of liquid dish soap on the stain.
  2. Rub the soapy fabric together, and then rinse the area.
  3. After rinsing away the gravy grease and soap, treat the area with a stain remover.
  4. Launder the fabric using the hottest water possible and either chlorine or color-safe bleach.
  5. After washing, ensure the stain is completely gone before drying the fabric.

For stubborn stains, soak the fabric in water mixed with enzyme detergent for an hour or overnight before laundering.

Cranberry Sauce

Picture this: Your Thanksgiving table is set with a brand new white tablecloth and linens. Someone reaches to get a spoonful of cranberry sauce and suddenly spills some of the bright red cranberry juice onto the crisp white fabric.

Whether you prefer canned or homemade cranberry sauce, its deep red color can be challenging to remove from fabrics and carpeting.

Tips for getting rid of cranberry sauce stains include:

  1. Use cold water to flush the stain from the fabric.
  2. For 15 minutes, soak the fabric in a solution of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, ½ a teaspoon of liquid laundry soap, and 1 quart of cool water.
  3. Rinse the area with cool water.
  4. Use rubbing alcohol to blot any lingering stains or discoloration.
  5. Wash the fabric according to the care instructions, using chlorine bleach if possible.

As with any stain, the quicker you start the removal process, the better.

Pumpkin Pie

Steps for removing stains from pumpkin pie:

  1. Remove any remaining pie solids from the fabric, then flush the stain with cool water.
  2. Use a prewash stain remover, or a heavy-duty laundry detergent, to begin the stain lifting process.
  3. Rub the stain remover or detergent into the stain using your fingers or a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  4. Let the stain removal product sit for 15 minutes or longer.
  5. Wash the fabric according to the care instructions, using the hottest water temperature recommended.

Many pumpkin pie recipes call for butter, shortening, and/or heavy cream. This means you may need to use additional stain removing techniques to get rid of any oil stains. Regardless, make sure the stain is completely gone before putting the fabric into the dryer, or the stain may set.


If you’re including red wine in your Thanksgiving festivities, be prepared and know the best ways to remove wine stains so that you can act fast in case of a spill.

How to remove red wine stains from light-colored fabric:

  1. Make a 1:1 solution of liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Pour the solution on the stain and let it sit.
  3. After the mixture has soaked into the stain, launder the fabric following the care label.

Because hydrogen peroxide can bleach darker fabrics, the steps above are best suited for light-colored fabrics. To remove wine stains from dark-colored fabrics, use white vinegar to cover the stain, then rub the area with liquid detergent. Lastly, wash the garment or tablecloth using the hot water setting on your washing machine.

If you spill a glass of vino on a light-colored rug or carpet, review the tips below.

Steps to remove red wine stains from carpets:

  1. As soon as possible after the spill occurs, use a paper towel to blot any excess liquid.
  2. Cover the entire red spot with salt.
  3. Let the salt sit until it soaks up the stain and then dries up.
  4. Vacuum up the salt, and reveal your stain-free carpet.

Happy Thanksgiving, From Taskbird

From the team here at Taskbird, we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Not only are we thankful for helpful how-to’s and professional cleaners — we’re also thankful for readers like you. If you’d like to check out more cleaning tips, our blog is full of additional resources.

Stephanie Kidd Avatar

By Stephanie Kidd