Hosting Hints: How to Handle Accidental Spills

In this 6-part Q&A series, Domestic CEO and Modern Manners Guy tackle thorny questions about proper hosting (and guesting) etiquette. Today: What if your guests (or their child) accidentally spill on your furniture?

Amanda Thomas
2-minute read

Hosting Hints: How to Handle Accidental Spills

by Amanda Thomas and Richie Frieman

Ask the Experts: What’s the best way to handle an accidental red wine spill on your white couch or carpet by a dinner guest or their child?

Domestic CEO: This happens a LOT! First, assume that it is going to happen and prepare for it. Have your couch treated with a stain guard, either by the manufacturer, or with products available at most hardware stores. Also, have towels, stain remover, and a clean-up plan ready to go. If you are prepared, when the spill happens (notice I didn’t say “If” because it will certainly happen at some point in the life of your couch), you will be able to remain calm and go to work cleaning it up.

So when the wine makes its way onto your couch, stress that it’s not a big deal so your guest doesn’t feel horrible, and put your plan into action. If your guest offers to pay for the couch to be cleaned, let them know that you can discuss it the next day, after you are able to see if your action plan was successful at removing the stain. 99% of the time I would not ask my guest to cover the cost of a professional cleaning. The risk of spills was assumed when you decided to purchase a white couch. The only exception for me would be if they were a nasty guest who blatantly had no respect for your home. But chances are, if they were a nasty guest, they won’t even think to offer to pay for the cleaning…which is where Modern Manners Guy comes in.

Modern Manners Guy: I don’t disagree with you on this one, Amanda. And if you can clean the stain to where it’s completely gone, then no harm done. But what if you can’t? In this case, I do think the spiller has a responsibility to pay for the damage. Period.

And if this happens in your home, you should not feel badly about asking someone who ruins your property to pay for it. Yes, you need to say it politely. It's not an easy or fun confrontation, but why should you dip into your pockets to pay for their mistake? And if it's their kid's fault, their pet's fault, or even if their close personal friend Lady Gaga came over to your house and her latest contraption that she calls a skirt knocked an entire bottle onto your rug, no matter what, the guest should pay for it. (Or get Gaga to shell out some of her millions).

Check out More Tips for Happy Hosting:

How to Handle Party Latecomers?

What is Guests Bring an Uninvited Dog? 

How to be a Responsible Guest?

What to do if You Can't Eat Anything at a Party?

Spill photo courtesy of Shutterstock