Stuck gum on your shoe
Deodorant streaks on your shirt
A scratched wooden floor or table
Red wine stains
Wayward candle wax
Nail polish stains
If you took a misstep, you probably know you should freeze gum with an ice cube, then try to scrape it off. But if that doesn't work, Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab in the Good Housekeeping Institute has another idea: "Rubbing white vinegar at full strength into gum may soften it enough so you can pry it away."
No, that chalky white mark doesn't mean you have to change, just try this quick fix: "I like to use a well-wrung wet washcloth to remove these stains," says Forte. "I usually have one handy, and the dampness and light abrasion takes the stain right off."
The damage may look unfixable, but the solution might actually be in your pantry: "Fresh walnuts or Brazil nuts have natural oils that help darken the wood to hide scratches," explains Forte. Rub the meat over the scratch in the direction of the grain of the wood, then buff clean with a soft cloth.
No matter how careful you are, it's impossible to avoid the occasional spill if you're a red wine drinker. The Weiman Red Wine Stain Remover ($7, amazon.com), a Good Housekeeping Seal holder, will remove both fresh and dried-on spills from upholstery, carpet, and clothing.
Distracting scuff marks make shoes look junky, even when they're practically brand new. But if your shoes in question are patent leather, you can just rub a pink eraser directly on the marks to remove them.
Forget that clunky iron and ironing board (we're tired just thinking about them). Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus ($17, amazon.com) is definitely faster and easier. The spray coats and relaxes fibers, so all you have to do is spritz onto problems spots and tug to ease wrinkles out.
To fix this work mess, dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol to blot out the pen mark and be sure to put a paper towel behind the problem spot to help draw it out of the fabric. But be careful: "Depending on fabric, it could spread the ink," warns Forte. So make sure the shirt you're treating is made out of washable fabric.
Candles are relaxing, until the remnants end up all over your table. "If wax is still soft, freeze the item to harden the wax," says Forte. Then use a plastic credit card or spatula to pry the wax off of the surface. If your spill is on a tablecloth, treat the fabric by sponging it with a dry-cleaning solvent, then place a paper towel on top of the stain and transferring it out with an iron.
Feels like this happens once a week, right? Next time, grab Forte's go-to stain remover: SHOUT Wipe & Go ($9, amazon.com). It's a towelettes that will prevent most stains from setting into clothes, so you can bust one out for tomato sauce, juice, and more common spills, too.
Say you accidentally spill red nail polish on your carpet. The first thing you should do is blot the excess liquid up, then carefully use (what else?) nail polish remover to attack the color: "Use an eyedropper to apply a small amount of acetone to the stain," says Forte. Blot the drop with a dry cloth and repeat until the stain is removed.
Don't abandon your knotted necklace just because you're in a rush. Sprinkle a bit of baby powder over the knot (or knots!) to help loosen it instead, then use a safety pin to finish pulling it apart. The texture of the powder will act as a lubricant and make the task way easier.