Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her. Are you still dirty? Subscribe to Ask a Clean Person: The Podcast on Acast, iTunes or Stitcher, and like Ask a Clean Person on Facebook.


My husband’s idiot friend spilled beer all over my sisal rug. Is it doomed and beyond repair? I’ve tried baking soda and a stain remover to no avail. I know sisal rugs might as well not be used in homes that could have dirt/water/food but please help I love it and need it to not look like someone burned it!

There are two things that should be banished from all marital homes: Idiot friends and sisal rugs. That’s not to say that idiot friends and sisal rugs are without merit. Sisal rugs are quite attractive! As are idiot friends, in their way. But they just cause so many problems that you’re better off barring the front door and now allowing either to enter your home.

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But if you are going to allow one or both into your dwelling, it’s a good thing you have me, because help is here.

Beer As a Stain Type, or: Don’t Panic About Beer Spills

Beer is a water-based stain, which means you don’t need to freak out when one happens to (or on) you in the way that you would if you spilled red wine or a pomegranate martini. (God awful stain-y, both of those drinks.) But beer, especially dark or fruited beers, should still be tended to straightaway if it does get spilled on clothing, upholstered furniture, or carpeting.

The First Thing to Do When You’ve Spilled Beer

The very first thing I want you to do when you’ve spilled beer on the couch, the carpet, your trousers, or whatever is to grab for paper towels or dishrags. The absolute best thing you can do about a beer spill is to absorb as much of it as you can before you introduce any sort of detergents, solvents, or other liquids.

It’s crucial to start by blotting up the spill before you do anything else because if you introduce liquid, it will cause the beer stain to spread. So! Blot first, spot treat second.

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Treating Beer Stains on Fabric

You don’t need anything fancy to treat beer stains—diluted dish soap or liquid laundry detergent will do the trick. Here’s how the the operation will look depending on what you spilled the beer:

On washable clothing: Blot up as much beer as you can using paper towels or a dry cloth. Dilute a small amount of dish soap or liquid laundry detergent in lukewarm water. Dip a light-colored rag or sponge in the detergent solution, and dab at the stain, repeating until it’s gone or lightened significantly. Launder as usual, checking to be sure the stain has been completely removed before it goes into the dryer.

If the stain has become set-in, and it’s on the small side, treat the area with a laundry stain removal product like Shout prior to washing. If there’s a large set-in stain, try soaking the item for 60 minutes in diluted liquid laundry detergent like Tide Ultra Stain Release and then laundering as usual.

On carpet (yarn) or upholstered furniture: Follow the same instructions for removing beer stains on washable clothing OR blot thoroughly and follow with a carpet and upholstery cleaner like Resolve. Older, set-in beer stains may require the use of an extraction cleaner like the Little Green Machine or Rug Doctor.

On sisal and other natural grasses: Follow the same instructions for removing beer stains on washable clothing OR blot thoroughly and follow with a dry cleaning solvent like Blue Coral Upholstery Cleaner.

On leather: Wipe the beer using a dry soft cloth and treat the area with a leather conditioner like Cadillac Leather Cleaner.

On suede: Blot up as much of the beer as you can, then treat any residual staining using a suede eraser.

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Green Beer Stains Operate a Wee Bit Differently

Let’s wrap this beer stain primer up on a seasonal note, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means that many of you will be hoisting green beer in celebration. Green beer, you probably know, is made by diluting a few drops of green food coloring in a light beer. The food coloring negates all the rules of beer stains—if you spill green beer, specifically, the stain type you need to treat is dye/ink. And the trick for that is rubbing alcohol. Hand sanitizer, which has a high concentration of alcohol, is excellent at removing all manner of ink and dye stains, so if you’ve got a bottle of the stuff on your person during your SPD festivities—and considering the day, I certainly hope you’ll have hand san around—it can be pressed into double duty as a green beer stain remover.

And, in the spirit of this most spirited holiday, I’ll leave you with a recent column detailing everything you need to know if you vomit on your clothing.



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