The Best Cleaning Tips and Tricks for a Dinner Party

Try these ten clever uses for everyday household items and you'll have your home party-ready in no time.

Salt removes red-wine carpet stains.

Joshua Scott

Don't cry over spilled merlot. Quickly pour some white wine over onto the spot while it's still wet to dilute the color. Then blot the area with a dry sponge, and sprinkle with salt. Wait about ten minutes before vacuuming up the mess.

Black pepper brightens tablecloths.

Joshua Scott

That new burgundy tablecloth is fantastic... until it fades to a mauve hue after too many washes. To maintain its crisp color, add a teaspoon of ground pepper to the wash load every time it needs a rinse.

Ketchup polishes silver.

Joshua Scott

Drop silverware, candleholders, or jewelry into a small bowl of ketchup for a few minutes. If the item has a tooled or detailed surface, use an old toothbrush to work ketchup into the crevices. Then rinse clean. 

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Hot towels uncork a stubborn wine bottle.


Run a towel under hot water and then wrap around the neck of the bottle. The heat will help the glass neck of the bottle to expand just enough to make the cork easier to pull out. 

Spaghetti sets mood lighting.

Joshua Scott

Out of extra-long matches? Use an uncooked piece of spaghetti to light multiple or hard-to-reach candles.

Aluminum foil sharpens scissors.

Joshua Scott

Stack six to eight layers of foil on top of each other and cut away for sharper shears.

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Baking soda removes coffee stains on fine china.


Don't scratch delicate china with abrasive cleaners. Simply dip a damp cloth in baking soda and buff the stain away. 

Ice cubes remove stuck-on candle wax.


Don't scratch your nice mahogany table by scraping at stuck-on candle wax. Instead, put a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and rest it on the offending wax until it becomes brittle, allowing you to easily peel it off with a spatula or credit card.

Toothpaste removes water rings.


So none of your guests remembered to use coasters: Don't panic! Dampen a cloth and add a dab of toothpaste before gently rubbing the unsightly mark. 

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Walnuts erase scratches on wood.


Rub a the meat of a walnut, pecan, or Brazil nut over the scratch and then vigorously massage the oil into the scrape with your thumb.

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