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Getting clean after Halloween: top tips for removing stains

Whether your little devils have got tricks or treats in store, these common spills are likely to follow in their wake - use our advice to clean up with ease

Halloween pumpkin

With chocolate, face paint and pumpkins in abundance, the scariest part of Halloween can be the clean up that follows. But fear not – our in-depth tests reveal the best cleaning products to use when trying to remove some of those tricky Halloween stains.

From carpet stain removers to biological laundry liquids, we’ve tested all the cleaning products you’ll need to get your house back in order when Halloween is over, whether you’re facing sheets smudged with face paint or a carpet marked by trick-or-treat chocolate.

How to get chocolate out of a carpet

As your little ghouls devour their well-earned collection of trick-or-treat goodies, the chances of chocolate stains at Halloween is higher than normal. If you do find chocolate trampled into your living room carpet, don’t despair.

Start by letting it solidify, as chocolate is easier to remove when it’s hardened. Once it’s dried out, use a butter knife or spoon to scrape as much of the chocolate off the carpet fibres as you can. Be gentle, as you don’t want to fray the carpet. When you can’t scrape out any more, give the area a quick vacuum to get rid of any stray flakes. Now, it’s time to use a top-quality carpet stain remover.

We test carpet stain removers on a multitude of wet and dry stains, from red wine and tea to chocolate and mud. Choose a Best Buy carpet stain remover and follow our tips to get your carpet looking fresh again:

  • Start from the edge of the stain and work your way inwards.
  • Blot the stain; never rub it.
  • Apply small quantities of carpet stain remover at a time to a cloth. Don’t apply directly to the stain; work into the spot with a small brush or sponge.
  • Thoroughly rinse afterwards to avoid leaving any stain remover residue in the carpet.
  • Finish by drying the area with a hairdryer if possible.
Chocolate stain on carpet

How to get face paint out of clothes and sheets

An elaborate face paint disguise might be one of the best parts of Halloween for your kids, but getting stains on clothes or bed sheets can be a real nightmare. Fortunately, removing them is actually pretty straightforward, and water-based face paints should come out in a standard wash.

Forgo laborious home remedies and put the offending item straight into the washing machine, as a good laundry detergent should do the job, particularly if you catch the stain before it’s had a chance to set in. If the colour has a high pigment, or if the mark is from oil-based make-up, make sure you wash it with a biological washing powder – providing this is suitable for the fabric – as these tend to be better at cutting through greasy stains in our tests.

We’ve been testing washing powders for more than 50 years, so it goes without saying we know a little bit about them. We soil fabrics with an array of stains, including make-up, and replicate standard at-home conditions by washing the stained fabrics with 3kg of cotton sheets, pillowcases and towels, using the recommended dosage of laundry detergent for a normal soiled load in a 40°C wash cycle.

We measure stain-removal power by using a photospectrometer, which shines light on the stains after washing. The more effective the detergent, the more light is reflected back from the fabric.

Laundry detergents vary, so it’s important to choose an effective one. Find out which are the best laundry detergents we’ve tested, and make sure the next washing machine you buy is one of the best, too.

How to remove pumpkin stains from clothes

Kids carving pumpkins

Orange pumpkin stains can be a real devil to get out, but act quickly and they’re a lot easier to handle. As soon as the stain is made, use a spoon or blunt knife to scrape away any solids on the garment. Avoid rubbing it with a rag or tissue, as you risk spreading the stain out and pushing it deeper into the fabric. Next, rinse the item under some cold water. This will help shift some of the stain out of the fabric prior to washing.

Now, get hold of a good-quality biological laundry liquid and apply it directly onto the stains, working it into the fabric. The enzymes in the liquid will set to work on the stain and begin to break it down. Rinse the garment, and then put in the washing machine for a normal cycle.

We test each laundry liquid on a range of stains to see which is best at removing them. Read our reviews to find out the best biological laundry liquid to use.

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