Do You See What I See? Study Finds the Top Stains of the Season

From gravy to candle wax, new research from the IICRC shows two in three Americans have had their floors or upholstery stained during the holidays

VANCOUVER, Wash.--()--Before you roll out the red carpet to family and friends this holiday season, you may want to put a professional cleaner on speed dial. While the holidays typically invite merriment and goodwill, they can also invite a host of spills and stains in at least two-thirds of American residences, according to the results of a new study from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). The study, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of IICRC from Nov. 13-17, 2014 among 2,014 adults ages 18 and older, looked at the top stains of the season. The most commonly found type of holiday stain? It’s a tie between chocolate and fruit punch.

“Holiday planning generally focuses on the food and decorations that make our homes and businesses feel more festive,” said Tony Wheelwright, Chairman of the IICRC. “Our research shows that these substances have ended up on our floors or upholstery. If they aren’t properly treated, these stains can leave you with a lasting memory long after the holiday season has passed.”

According to the survey, the top five holiday stains Americans have encountered on their carpets, rugs, hard floors or upholstery during the holiday season include:

• Chocolate

  26 percent

• Fruit punch or dye-based drink (e.g. Kool-Aid)

26 percent

• Grease

23 percent

• Red or white wine

21 percent

• Candle wax

19 percent

Other frequent holiday stains include vomit (18 percent), beer (16 percent), gravy (15 percent) and butter (10 percent).

Additional key insights from the study include:

  • People in the Midwest are more likely to have encountered vomit stains (23 percent) than those in the Northeast (15 percent) and West (14 percent)
  • Stains from cranberry sauce are more likely to have been found by people in the Northeast (11 percent) than in Midwest (6 percent)
  • Younger people (ages 18-34) are more likely than those age 45-54 and those age 65+ to have encountered stains during the holiday season (74 percent vs. 63 percent and 59 percent, respectively)

To treat and remove most stains, the IICRC recommends using a three-step process of “blot, dilute and blot.” First, blot the stain with an absorbent towel to remove excess liquid or material. Next, dilute the stain with water, which is safe to use on most fabrics. Finally, blot the spot again to remove any excess water. Once you’ve treated the spot, cover it with a folded towel and place a heavy object over it to help absorb any additional liquid.

“This approach will treat a majority of stains, but when all else fails, you should call in a professional to limit further damage,” adds Pete Duncanson, Chairman of the IICRC Instructors and Schools committee. “Certified carpet, hard floor and upholstery cleaning professionals will have the right tools, equipment and knowledge to remove your stains and restore your floors and upholstery to their pre-holiday beauty.”

For more information about the IICRC or to locate a professional IICRC-certified carpet or upholstery cleaner in your area, please visit

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of IICRC from November 13-17, 2014 among 2,014 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jennifer Petersen at or by phone at 312-664-1532.


The IICRC is an international, ANSI-accredited standard-development organization (SDO) that certifies individuals in 20+ categories within the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. Representing more than 54,000 certified technicians and 6,000 Certified Firms in 22 countries, the IICRC, in partnership with regional and international trade associations, represents the entire industry. The IICRC does not own schools, employ instructors, produce training materials, or promote specific product brands, cleaning methods or systems. For more information, visit


Mulberry Marketing Communications
Jennifer Petersen, 312-664-1532

Release Summary

What are the most common stains of the season? From gravy to candle wax, new research shows two in three Americans have had their floors or upholstery stained during the holidays.


Mulberry Marketing Communications
Jennifer Petersen, 312-664-1532