Every season has its joys—and its laundry challenges. Winter brings with it the promise of sparkling blankets of white snow, warm, cozy evenings by the fire, and festive holidays with family and friends. But with it also comes a host of clothing mishaps like salt, slush and food stains.

How do you keep your clothing and shoes fresh, winter after winter? Here are a few stain removal tips for three of the hardest winter stains.

Skip the Salt

Rock salt or sodium chloride, magnesium carbonate, and calcium carbonate can do wonders for melting snow and ice, but it can wreak havoc on your clothing. Of course, the best way to keep stains at bay is to wipe the salt off as soon as you come in from the cold. This way, it won’t have a chance to set into the fabric and stain. It’s when salt is left on clothing for a while that it can weaken fabric, especially wool and silk. To get stains out of clothing and shoes, follow these easy steps:

  1. Check the care instructions. Is the garment washable? If it is, continue to step 2. If it must be dry cleaned, take it to your dry cleaner or use a home dry cleaning kit. If using a kit, dampen the salt-stained area with a light mist of water and blot away as much moisture as possible. If the stain remains, treat it with the stain remover that came in the kit before tossing the garment in the dryer.
  2. Rinse or soak the stained area in cold water as soon as possible. If the salt has dried and stains have set in, brush off the salt with a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush as much as possible. This way, you can remove the salt without driving it into fabric. Then soak the garment overnight in cool water.
  3. Wash as usual in cold water with your regular detergent.
  4. Stain won’t budge? Use a solution of one tablespoon white vinegar and one-quart water. Moisten a clean cloth or towel with this solution and blot on the stain. Follow up with a dry cloth.

Leave Slush Stains Behind

Melted snow makes for easier walking and driving, but it can also add up to a big mess. What exactly is slush? It’s small ice crystals and liquid water, dirt and other materials from the ground. Get that on your winter white coat or pants, and slush can dull your holiday look. Fortunately, you can make a clean break of slush with these stain removal tips.

  1. Brush away snow and slush, and then vacuum any remaining residue.
  2. Mix a solution of 1 cup of table salt to 1 quart of water.
  3. Work the solution in to the stained area using a soft bristle brush.

A Spot of Hot Chocolate and Cranberry Sauce

There’s plenty of good cheer to go around during the holidays, with family favorites like hot chocolate and cranberry sauce. If a drop or two end up on your clothing, no worries. Here’s how to get these stains out.

  1. Blot, don’t rub, is the rule of thumb. Use an absorbent paper towel to blot as much of the chocolate or cranberry sauce stain as you can.
  2. Flush the stain from the reverse side using a lot of cold water. Do this as soon as possible.
  3. Apply laundry detergent to the spot and let it absorb for a few minutes. However, for cranberry sauce (or wine), if the care instructions allow, use a stain remover on the spot instead of laundry detergent to lift the pigment from the fruit.
  4. Wash as normal.

Wearing silk? Leave the spot cleaning to the experts. Take the garment to your dry cleaner.

When It’s Time to Wash

With these stain removal tips and tricks—there’s simply no better way to refresh and care for your clothes this winter, and every winter.