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10 Holiday Survival Tips For Floors & Decor

Every year after the holidays are over, without fail we get the same frantic calls about the damage done on carpet, upholstery, stone, and hardwood. These suggestions and tips will go a long way in helping you to avoid these common mishaps, and let you know what to do if they happen.

The holidays are a time for relaxation and fun, but they can also wreak havoc on your beautiful floors and surfaces. Stay focused on the good times this holiday season while taking some common sense precautions! The things you treasure will thank you for it. Here are some holiday-related tips that you should follow to keep your floors and decor looking great:

Tip #1: Place a tray under open wine, champagne, and liquor bottles on your stone countertops.

A charcuterie board is a great option and it can be fun to decorate underneath and on it! Let the tray keep the spills off your stone to preserve its beauty. If spills do occur clean them up as quickly as possible.

This simple ounce of prevention will go a long way to prevent damage. Some spills on stone counters can result in stains and etch marks. Etching is actually damage on the surface of the stone caused by acidic spills, and won’t be able to be removed with just cleaning. (Note —vinegar is NEVER a good cleaner for stone because it will etch the surface! And etching will need a professional to fix it. So just avoid vinegar altogether!)

Tip #2: Avoid Common Christmas Tree Mishaps.

Bringing the tree in and out. Needles on Christmas trees are abrasive and can scratch your marble or hardwood floor finish, so don’t drag trees across them. Needles on carpet can be a nuisance as well. When they drop they easily get ensnarled in the carpet. Sap from the tree can be a problem also.

To move the tree in and out put a protective paper, tarp, or blanket down (something padded is probably better). And off-weight it a bit so the weight of the tree is not dead on the floor surface.

By having something between the tree and your floor you avoid potential scratching and lessen the chances of dealing with a big mess of fallen needles and sap.

The clean up will be simplified, resulting in less vacuuming and less chance for sap to cause you problems in the future.

Be careful when watering. Overwatering can damage carpet, hardwood, and even LVP. Minerals from plant water can stain carpets or leave a dark mark on hardwood floors.

Regarding the water in the tree stand, make sure the stand (which has water in it) doesn’t leak. Then, be careful when filling it, don’t overfill the stand. (It’s a good idea to get one of the extended funnels for watering, the one you place in the back of the tree, and leave it there. Hide it. These handy funnels make watering the tree a whole lot easier than bending over to water it. Bending down, working around the lower brances, the tree skirt, packages or even the train set might be akward and increase the chances of spilling water on the floor.

Tip #3: Don't Set Your Train Set Directly on the Carpet.

Make sure the trains under the tree sit on the tree skirt and not directly on the carpet. The graphite can transfer from the train track onto the carpet, and may or may not come out. Just ask our good client and friend Dave G. about the fallout that happens if you don’t! 

Dave and his wife had a picture book Christmas tree. All decorated near the fireplace, with the tree adorned with ornaments, and the trains appropriately set up, it was Christmas festive. However, the trains sat directly on their white carpet. 

With the holidays over they got the tree down and the trains packed up. But in doing so they discovered a gray tinge of discoloration under the entire train track. Quickly calling us we arrived and explained that the graphite (like bike grease), is not a good thing to let get on the white carpet. Being an oily-based contaminant it may have become a permanent stain left behind. So using our solvents (don’t do this yourself, you could damage your carpet even worse) we gently dabbed the graphite off. In the end, we advised Dave to simply place a tree skirt under the track to keep that from happening again!

Tip #4: Prevent Candle Wax From Dripping Onto Your Surfaces.

Menorah Candles. As children and families gather with excitement to light the candles, be careful the wax doesn’t drip onto things like tablecloths, carpets, counters, or other stone surfaces.

Although Menorah candles are traditionally not laden with dyes, the oils in the wax that drip on the surface can still absorb and leave a stain. Candles with dyes can make it even worse.

But if you do get a wax spill, here’s what to do:

Melted Wax on Textiles: When candle wax drips onto fiber and fabric it is best to let it solidify and harden. Once that has happened you can carefully remove the wax in chunks (but be careful not to scrape or rub it too hard). Once that is done you can “iron transfer” the rest of the wax onto a thin white rag. For this white tee shirt material is good to use. Place the rag on the wax spot watching closely. Use a hot iron and check it regularly. Don’t scorch it! (Steam mist is good to use for this too.) As the spot is gently heated the wax will migrate to the tee shirt or rag, and out of the carpet or fiber. But again, be careful not to burn it!

Once that is done check for a residual oil ring. To remove that you can try to remove it using a good carpet spotter. This is a good tip, but depending on how ‘oil-loving’ the fabric is you may or may not completely remove the stain. (This means, you may need to call us for professional treatment, to increase the chance of getting it removed.)

Melted Wax on Stone: If you have melted candle wax on stone, refer to our Stain App (under our Caring For It section on the menu) for instructions to remove the wax and any resulting stains.

Tip #5: Adopt a Shoes-off Policy.

Your carpets, hardwood, stone, and floors will love you for it!

High heels on hardwood floors can be brutal. Stiletto and high heels can do thousands of dollars of damage, sometimes in a mere few hours. Not all hardwood floors can withstand the impact of a woman in heels. I saw an $8000 beautiful (soft) hardwood floor ruined by 6 ladies in high heels in about 4 hours time several holidays ago!

The new owner was heartbroken! An OCD kinda guy, he bought a builder’s personally designed custom home, with the pine floors as the showcase. After a New Year’s party, in just 4 hours time he learned the very hard lesson that high heels can damage some hardwood floors in nothing flat! It was a shame and a lasting reminder of a costly mistake learned by a gracious host during a festive gathering. In hindsight, an easy preventative measure would have been if he gently asked everyone to remove their shoes! 

And I am certain there was an $8k ‘learning curve’ price tag attached to it!

Snow and salt. Ice and snow leave puddles on your hardwood floors, and if left the water and salt minerals can damage your finish. Clean water and puddles up as soon as they happen.

Salt particles are abrasive when walked across the floor, as is other snow melt, or even cat litter. They can all damage hardwood floor finishes, stone, or even LVP.  And their grittiness grinds away when it embeds in carpet.

Taking off your shoes at any entryway is just a good practice. Or, at least kicking the snow and salt off of your shoes before you enter is a good way to prevent these particles from being dragged into the interior floor surfaces.

If you decide on a no-shoes policy create an area for outdoor shoes that is a subtle hint for folks to remove them. Lined-up boots by the door or even bins are a good suggestion (and hint). You may be surprised how cooperative your guests will be! to prevent any snow from melting onto the floor.  

Adopt this practice which is common in the ‘high country’ or ‘north country’. Or follow suit with some cultures who don’t wear indoor shoes. To them, it’s also a matter of respect!

Tip #6: Glitter and Gift Wrap

All that glitters is not gold! And neither is pretty paper!

Little unknown fact, until you discover it the wrong way, glitter and pretty wrapping paper can bleed on to surfaces if they get wet. 

The dyes, just like bleeding clothing in the washer, if allowed to get wet can bleed into your flooring and fabrics. Especially vulnerable are carpets, upholstered fabrics, and softer stone surfaces like marble. 

Unsuspectingly, bleeding of paper and glitter easily can occur if wet shoes or boots walk across the floor surfaces close to where the water can leach onto the paper and glitter. You could be asking for trouble. Puddles from boots left unattended near wrapped packages are a common culprit, perhaps near a foyer tree or menorah display. 

Or it can happen as wet shoes make the floor surface wet that glitter falls on. Glitter will bleed as well. Finally, glitter or wrapping allowed to sit on upholstered fabrics or leather can do the same thing. The dyes will bleed into these surfaces too, and may well become a problem stain on them.

So be careful, watch for puddles, wet carpets and surfaces overall. And regarding shoes and boots, because they can cause damage to carpets and absorbent floors, it’s another good reason for a shoes-off policy!

And in the case you do get stains, the sooner you treat them, the better.  Our Stain App for Stone and Other Hard Porous Surfaces gives step-by-step instructions for treating stains from dyes on stone.

Tip # 7: Clean up spills on carpet and fabric quickly. Be prepared and have a quality spotter on hand. 

Let’s face it. Spills are going to happen!

When you do have a spill, blot but don’t rub it. Blot to absorb the liquid. If it’s red wine, treat the spill with a good spotter, but in a pinch white wine to dab the spot can help. As you do, blot with a clean, dry area of the rag to absorb the red dye into the rag, paper towel, etc.

Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea can also stain. It’s heartwarming to enjoy coffee or hot chocolate but they have red dyes in them, and are very good at staining fiber and fabrics. Tannin in teas also stains easily, and the hotter any of them are the better the chance for stains to be permanently set into the textiles you treasure and love.

Tip #8: Avoid SMOKE Damage. Make sure your chimney flue is open.

Let’s hope it’s only Santa coming down the chimney and not smoke from your fire.

Before you roast the chestnuts on the open fire make sure your fireplace flue is open. Besides the obvious of having smoke back up into your house and ruin your festive gathering, you can also cause heavy soot damage. Besides soiling your fireplace you run the risk of having soot damage affect your interior structure, your contents and beautiful things! 

If you do have soot damage you will more than likely need professional cleaning to remove it.

Tip #9: Make Your Baths and Showers Guest-Ready While Minimizing Potential Damage.

Overnight guests using your shower? Spritzing on neutral cleaner after everyone has showered for the day, then wiping the walls with a squeegee will keep your showers clean without a lot of work. Also, keep the shower doors open a bit to allow for drying will go a long way in preventing mold and mildew. 

Place vanity trays for your stay-over guests to place their perfumes and cosmetics on. 

This will help avoid etching and stains.   

Place a pretty stack of individual paper hand towels on the sink to for drying (some come in a tray, or you can get one specifically for them). There are always Christmas, holiday, seasonal or monogrammed themed towels to be festive.  

And plan to occasionally disinfect bathroom touchpoints, such as handles and knobs. Knowing all too well the reasons why, it is a courtesy to your guests and peace of mind for you to minimize the sharing of germs during the holiday gatherings.

Tip #10: Mitigate Over-indulgence

Vomit, urine accidents, or worse.

As they say, too much of a good thing can come back to bite you. Be it pet or human, overindulging can have damaging consequences. Be it from too much candy, cookies, cheer, or just excitement these accidents can happen. When your home experiences one of these mishaps a quick clean up is important. Make sure to blot the “content” up as much as possible into paper towels, napkins, a white rag or a towel. Don’t let it sit. And do not rub back and forth (you may permanently distort the carpet or fabric). 

For mishaps on stone, hardwood, or even carpet, you could make a poultice with pure table salt and pour it over the spill. Be generous and coat the area, and let it sit. The salt will draw the contaminants out of the surface and into the salt coating (just like an Epsom salts bath does).

Actually, the best piece of advice is to keep the area damp, not soaked. Perhaps wet some white towels, squeeze some mild temperature water back into the spot (not a lot). Cover it with an unused plastic trash liner. Unfold it and cover the affected area. Avoid foot traffic on the affected area. And plan on calling a professional (especially if there is runny or dark matter).  

We have specific cleaning solutions, for instance, enzymes that are formulated just for these problem spills. Along with special wands and hand tools, and professional experience, we increase the chances of removing them before they stain. Time is of the essence here! So it is best to leave it alone with the aforementioned instructions, and don’t wait, call the next day. It’s a fragile time that quickly converts to a lost chance, so the sooner you call the better!  

While you are enjoying the holiday cheer, just know that your friendly floor and surface care pros are only a call away, and will certainly come for mimosas or ‘Bloodies’ (just kidding!)  Call us at (512) 632-1621 or CONTACT US online.