How to Remove Halloween Stains to Avoid a Cleaning Nightmare

Don’t let scary stains haunt your fall festivities. These Halloween stain removal tips will help you make frightful messes disappear.

The spookiest season of the year has arrived, and with it comes costumes, candy, and all sorts of fall decorations. These treats and tricks are good fun, but the mess left behind can be a nightmare to clean up. If your Halloween activities result in smeared pumpkin guts, spilled party punch, sticky candy residue, or splotches of fake blood, don't fear. These stains might seem frightful, but a few cleaning tips can help you make them disappear from carpet, clothing, upholstery, and more. This Halloween stain removal guide will show you how to remove seasonal spills, drips, and smudges so you can get back to your festivities in a snap.

child scooping out pumpkin seeds and insides from a fresh pumpkin with jakc-o-lantern markings on a kitchen counter
Alina Bitta/Getty Images

How to Remove Halloween Stains

Make ghastly stains easier to remove by treating them as quickly as possible. For clothing and other machine-washable items, be sure the stain is completely gone before tossing the item in the dryer. High heat can set the stain and ensure it haunts you long after October 31. Use the following cleaning methods to remove some of the most common Halloween stains.

Candle Wax

Candles are great for creating ambience, but melted wax can leave unsightly stains on carpeting, clothing, and furniture. To remove candle wax stains, place a resealable bag of ice cubes over the area until the wax hardens. Gently scrape with a dull knife to break up the wax before vacuuming up the pieces. Place an absorbent paper towel over the stained area and iron on low heat. The wax should transfer to the paper towel. If any discoloration remains, treat the area with a stain remover designed for the type of material.

Fake Blood

A key component of any vampire or zombie costume, fake blood can be dreadful to clean. For drips and splatters on carpet or upholstery, blot the stain immediately with a clean cloth, taking care not to spread the stain further. Spritz the area with club soda and blot until the stain is gone. If the spot remains, treat it with a stain remover product appropriate for the material.

For fake-blood stains on clothing, soak the garment in a solution of white vinegar and water overnight to lift out the stain. For tougher stains, apply white vinegar directly to the stain and let it sit overnight. Wash the item with a laundry detergent containing enzymes ($10, Walmart).


Halloween makeup and face paint often contain difficult-to-remove oils and dyes. Rubbing alcohol can be an effective way to remove face-paint stains on carpet and clothes, but it's important to test it in an inconspicuous area first to ensure colorfastness. Apply rubbing alcohol to the stained area and blot with a clean cloth to lift out the stain. Wash the item in the warmest water safe for the fabric, or dab with a clean damp cloth to rinse.

Melted Chocolate and Candy

To eliminate sticky residue from trick-or-treat goodies, start by scraping the area with a dull knife to lift away solid bits. For melted chocolate or chewing gum, fill a resealable plastic bag with ice cubes and place it over the stained area to harden the remnants before scraping. For carpeting or upholstery, vacuum the area before blotting with a clean cloth dipped in a solution of liquid dish soap and warm water. Work from the outside in to prevent spreading. Let the solution sit for at least five minutes, then blot with a clean damp cloth until the stain is gone. Machine-washable items can be treated with an enzyme-powered stain removal product ($4, Target) before laundering as usual.


Carving jack-o'-lanterns can be a messy business, but learning how to remove pumpkin stains from clothing and carpet isn't difficult. First, clear away excess pumpkin residue by scraping with a dull knife and flushing with cool water. Dip a clean cloth into a mixture of equal parts liquid dish soap and warm water and blot the stain. Wash in the warmest temperature safe for the garment, or blot the area dry with a clean cloth.

Red Wine or Party Punch

Vibrant beverages, including red wine, juice, and punch, can leave behind unsightly stains. On carpet, spray the area with club soda and blot with a clean cloth, repeating until the stain is gone. Soak wine- or punch-stained clothing in cold water for 30 minutes before applying white vinegar to the stain. Wait another 30 minutes, then launder as usual. For stains on upholstery, dab the area with warm, sudsy water and blot dry. Repeat with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water, then follow up with sudsy water again. Dab with a clean damp cloth and blot dry.

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