Stains are a fact of life: no matter how hard you try to keep your clothes, carpets, and sofas clean, accidents will happen, and that’s okay. You’re just need to make sure you’re ready to tackle the most common household stains at a moment’s notice. That way, you’ll be able to limit the damage, if not clean it up completely.

Here, we’re going to share our top five tips for tackling some of the most common stains you’re likely to come up against in your household. Read on to find out more — you’ll be glad you did!

Remove red wine stains with bicarbonate of soda

So, you’ve knocked over a glass of red wine and it’s splashed onto your pristine cream carpet. It might feel like the end of the world, but it’s not: you just have to move fast to prevent the damage from becoming permanent.

Start by blotting the area with paper towels to absorb as much excess liquid as you can, but avoid scrubbing the area, as this will only cause the stain to spread further. Using gentle dabbing motions will be far more effective. It’s also a good idea to add small amounts of cool water as you blot. This will help to dilute the wine, making it far easier to pick up.

Once you’ve taken away as much of the liquid as possible, you need to remove any residue that’s left before it sets, or you’ll risk a permanent stain forming. While many people would have you believe that pouring white wine on the stain is the solution, there are actually far more effective ways to deal with the situation.

If the red wine stain is on a piece of clothing, bicarbonate of soda will usually do the best job of removing it. Simply create a thick paste by mixing three teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda with one teaspoon of water. Rub this into the stain and, once it’s dried, wash your garment as normal. When you take it out of the washing machine, it should be good as new.

If it’s your carpet that is stained, it’s likely you’ll need to use a specialised stain remover. The Vanish Oxi Action Carpet and Upholstery Powerspray is great for this. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter and your carpet will soon be good as new.

Use aspirin to get rid of unsightly sweat stains

If you wear a lot of white T-shirts and shirts, you might have noticed that yellow stains can begin to form on the underarm area over time. This is actually caused by your deodorant, and simply putting your tops in the wash as usual is unlikely to fix the problem. Instead, you can combat these marks using aspirin, as it contains salicylic acid that will do a great job of breaking these stains down.

To tackle yellow underarm marks that have formed on your white tops, create an aspirin paste using five pills and a couple of teaspoons of water. Apply this directly on to any marks you see, leave it for at least half an hour, and then wash your clothing as normal. Your tops should be looking as good as new in no time.

Use hairspray to deal with permanent marker stains

The main difference between permanent and ball point pens is that, while the average biro ink is water-based, the ink in permanent markers is usually oil- or alcohol-based. This makes them water-resistant, which means you’ll need something special on hand to tackle a Sharpie stain — namely a can of hairspray with a high alcohol content. The cheaper brands will usually give you the best stain-removing results!

If a permanent marker has leaked onto a piece of clothing, place the garment on a flat surface with a clean cloth or towel underneath. This will help to absorb any hairspray or ink that comes through the fabric. Then, you can soak a cotton ball in hairspray before firmly dabbing the stained area. Soon, you should start to see the ink transfer onto the cotton ball. Repeat this process as many times as you need to, replacing the cotton wool whenever it gets dirty. Once the stain is gone, wash your clothing as instructed on the label.

If you’re unsure, leave it to the professionals

If you aren’t sure how to tackle a particular stain, or you’ve tried and failed to get rid of one, it might be best to leave it to the professionals — chances are, they will have encountered a similar problem before, and know exactly how to deal with it.

If the stain you’re concerned about is on a piece of clothing, you could take this to a local dry cleaner’s, but this can often be time-consuming and inconvenient. Fortunately, there are now services that can make this much easier for you. For example, Laundrapp allows you to arrange for your clothes to be picked up and dropped off at times that suit you — it’s like Uber for your laundry. So, if you have a busy lifestyle and don’t always have time to tackle everyday stains, or you’re not always sure what approach you need to take, they should be able to help.

Take these tips on board, and you’ll be prepared the next time there’s a spillage in your home. To stop a stain from becoming permanent, you have to act fast. So, make sure you have all of the products we’ve mentioned here on hand, so you’re equipped to deal with any wine, deodorant, or pen stains.