Clear all-purpose household cleaner (without bleach or bleach alternative)
Clear dish soap (without bleach or bleach alternative)
Clear, unscented ammonia
Dry-cleaning solvent (such as Guardsman)
Extra-fine steel wool (0000 grade)
Fine crochet hook
Paste shoe polish
Soft white cloths (such as terry-cloth towels and old T-shirts)
When it comes to stains, permanent ink is in a category all its own. "A permanent-ink pen in the wrong hands -- say, those of an 8-year-old -- can seem like a violent weapon in the house," says Martha Stewart Living editor in chief Vanessa Holden, who sometimes finds her kids coloring with Sharpie markers that have migrated from her office, the ink leaving a trail on the table. The damage from permanent ink, as the name implies, presents a special challenge.
But Amodex Ink & Stain Remover (amodexink.com.), a nontoxic formulation, is effective at removing ink from most hard surfaces and some fabrics (depending on their fiber content). Apply it to hard surfaces with a soft cloth, leaving it on stubborn stains overnight. For fabrics, use a cotton swab rather than a cloth to avoid smears, working from the back if possible to guard against abrasion; let fabrics dry between cleanings so you can check your progress.
Wax: Let it cool until it hardens, and then freeze it by applying an ice cube in a plastic bag. Scrape off the wax gently with a rubber spatula or a butter knife. Polish away cloudiness with paste wax.
Alcohol: Since it can harm many finishes, act quickly by blotting (never rubbing). Dab any damage with a little ammonia.
Red wine: Cover with table salt, Johnson says. Let sit until the wine has been wicked up. Vacuum, and repeat as necessary. Blot leftover stains with a cloth dampened with water and dish soap.
Oily stains: Mound with baking soda. When oil is absorbed, vacuum. Blot remaining stains with rubbing alcohol or dry-cleaning solvent, Swantko says.
Pulls: Never cut pulls, Johnson says. Use a fine crochet hook or a safety pin to tuck the straggler securely underneath other threads.
Tears: Although tears at seams appear a simple fix, Johnson says that these repairs are best left to an upholsterer with a commercial sewing machine. "No home machine can sew a seam strong enough," she says.
Drinks: Many fresh spills come up with repeated blotting with a damp cloth (use a white cloth to prevent dye transfer).
Wax: Let it harden, and freeze it with ice in a plastic bag. Pull up gently with tweezers. If colored wax leaves a stain on the fabric, blot with dry-cleaning solvent, rubbing alcohol, or a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.
Get inspired by ultra-organized spaces and beautifully-designed rooms.Take the Tour