Attack Spills Before They Soak In
It would be nice to serve only clear liquids at a birthday party, but kids get antsy if all you give them to drink is distilled tap water. It just doesn't have the right birthday spirit. But it also doesn't seem fair to the hostess that most kids' drinks -- especially fruit punches with artificial dyes -- pack the potential to ruin clothes and carpets.
With any spill, you've got to clean it up quickly before it penetrates any fibers. Blot with a clean cloth to absorb the spill, then mix a mild detergent with some warm water, and dab it again with a moist sponge. Finish by blotting with vinegar to keep any remaining liquids from setting, and dry the area with a clean towel.
How many times did we just use the word blot? OK, so you got the message. Be gentle with spills! Those that aren't treated mildly will just absorb into clothes or carpet, making them impossible to get out later. That's when you've got an official stain on your hands.