It’s not a party until someone spills wine on your new couch, drags mud through your living room or stains your kitchen countertop. A good host knows how to handle these common disasters on the fly. Just remember to act fast and do it with a gracious smile. Check out the tips below.

red wine on sofa

Red wine on a sofa: It’s the classic party foul. Blot area immediately with a clean cloth to soak up any excess liquid. Now here’s a neat party trick: Pour white wine on the spot to neutralize the red wine, and keep blotting until the stain is gone. If necessary, follow up with club soda or a mixture of equal parts liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide is color safe for most fabrics, but just in case, color-test it first in an inconspicuous spot). If the stain is really stubborn, pour baking soda on it, let sit for an hour and vacuum.

Clorox Cleanup Spray

Stains on countertops: The kitchen is inevitably the epicenter of party emergencies. If you wake up the next morning and find your countertop discolored with tough stains such as pomegranate juice, cranberry sauce, red wine or tomato sauce, get out a bottle of all-purpose cleaner with bleach and spray about four to six inches from the surface until thoroughly wet. Let stand 30 seconds and wipe clean.

mud on carpet

Mud on carpet: It’s best to let the mud dry, then vacuum up as much as possible before treating it. If the party is in full swing and you can’t just leave the mess sitting there, immediately blot with a clean cloth rag. Mix a squirt of clear hand dishwashing soap with a cup of warm water, lightly pat the stain until it’s wet, and blot again with a dry cloth. Repeat as necessary. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to rub hard on the stain; you’ll only make it worse.

water stain on table

Water ring on a wood table: Those pretty coasters you put out aren’t just for show, but someone always ignores them. To get rid of water rings, gently rub some non-gel toothpaste in the direction of the wood grain with a soft cloth. Wipe clean and let it dry before applying polish. For even tougher stains, mix equal parts toothpaste and baking soda to use as your cleaning agent. One more party trick: Smear some full-fat mayonnaise on the spot and leave overnight. Wipe off in the morning. Voila!

candle wax on a tablecloth

Candle wax drip on a tablecloth: Don’t fear for Grandma’s linens. Once the wax hardens, scrap off very gently with a butter knife. Put a few layers of paper towels or plain paper grocery bags without ink on them on top of the drip on the tablecloth. Using low heat, iron until the wax is melted and transferred to the paper. Move the iron to a clean spot on the paper towel and repeat until the wax no longer transfers, then wash the tablecloth.