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Sarah Ward

How to Remove Red Wine Stains | A Guide For Red Wine Lovers

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So, you've mixed up a lamb wine pairing, spilled some wine and now you're running around trying to prevent a permanent red wine stain from setting, right? First, calm down, wine stains can happen to the best of us. Second, if you're on a diet, you can consider the spill a chance to avoid the calories in red wine. Third, we've got you covered, just follow our wine stain removal guide below.

In this post, we'll walk you through the materials and steps for cleaning the most common surfaces of wine stains.

But first, remember, proper handling of wine is the best way to prevent a red wine stain from happening in the first place. So, if you need help pouring wine or want to know how to open a wine bottle we've got guides for those too.

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General Red Wine Stain Removal Tips

We'll go into more specific instructions below, but here are a few tips for removing wine stains from any material.

  • Get a move on. Time is of the essence when tackling a wine stain, no matter the surface. The longer you wait the more time wine has to work its way deep into the fibers and latch on. Just as time can fix bottle shock in wine, it can let wine sink into the deepest of fibers.
  • Different fabrics call for different products. We'll cover this more below, but don't assume that there's a one-size-fits-all solution for wine stains. Save the bleach for white clothes and worst-case scenarios only. We've also made it easier for you to pick the best tool for the job with our list of the best wine stain removers.
  • Dab, dab, dab. We're not talking about the dance craze from 2015, we're talking about making sure not to scrub a wine stain. This may feel counter-intuitive, but scrubbing a stain only sets it in more and spreads it. Dabbing, or gently pressing against a stain with a cloth, will pull the liquid out and away from the fabric.
  • Check for stains regularly. Whether you're drinking wine at home or you run a restaurant, you don't want to find a stain days after a spill. This is particularly easy at home, but restaurateurs and managers can add a stain check to their normal restaurant cleaning checklist.
  • Keep it wet. No matter what conventional thought says, don't use a blow-dryer or other heating device on a stain. Dry heat will set the stain faster than time alone and make your job much more difficult.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Carpet

Let's start with the big one: how to remove red wine stains from carpet. Whether you have a thin, cotton rug or a full 1970s shag carpet, wine stains are no laughing matter. You don't want to be stuck with a deep red tannin stain on a beige carpet. Luckily, there are a few simple solutions that can be used to handle the worst of stains.

  1. Grab your kettle. Unlike dry heat, hot water poured onto a stain has a great effect. The water may spread the stain a small amount but will pull the stain toward the surface, allowing you to dab it away.
  2. Get salty. Surprisingly, you can use common table salt for stain removal. Just sprinkle salt onto the stain and then dab off. Acting like a sponge, the salt will pull the wine away with it.
  3. The old standby. Club soda is the cure to many things, nausea, dry mouth, and wine stains. Instead of boiling water pour on some club soda, dab and repeat until clean.

There are a few special notes for rugs and carpets, though. First, cleaning a rug will always be easier than a carpet, thanks to its mobility. Drag that rug into a shower or outdoor space and save yourself the trouble of additional cleaning. Second, material is key when looking for chemical-based cleaning products to use for tackling red wine stains on carpets and rugs.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Cotton Rugs:

Cotton rugs and harsh chemicals do not mix. Stick with boiling water or a solution of vinegar for these rugs or be prepared to buy a new one.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Wool Rugs:

Wool rugs tend to be thicker and not as forgiving of intense chemical treatments. Water, salt, or vinegar solutions are best here.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Synthetic Rugs:

Commonly used in outdoor rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting, materials like nylon and polypropylene can withstand stronger cleaning than their organic counterparts. Use a non-chlorine bleach or stain remover, followed by additional dabbing.

Knowledge is power. Always check the attached care instructions on a rug before choosing the supplies for tackling a stain.

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How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Clothes

Don't throw your favorite shirt away just because it has a big red wine stain on it. Most clothing can be stain-free after just a few simple steps.

  1. Chill out. We don’t mean to freeze your wine (though you certainly can). Unlike with a rug, cold water is the best choice for clothing. Just pour some on the red wine stain and begin dabbing away to remove the surface parts of the stain.
  2. Bake it off. Not literally, but by using baking soda. In addition to salt, you can mix baking soda with water and apply it to the stain. Then, just dab it away, pulling the deeper stains along with it.
  3. Toss it in the wash. The final step is to put a liberal amount of detergent directly on the stain and run it through the washer. Check it after one cycle and repeat as necessary. You can also use the washing time to sit down with a good book and learn about wine.

Other Methods for Clothing

  • Use hydrogen peroxide. Do you have some hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet? Just how oxygen weakens the bonds in oxidized wine, it helps hydrogen weaken the bonds in a a stain, Mix this in with dish soap in a 3:1 ratio and apply to the stain. After about 15-20 minutes, blot that stain right up.
  • Open your refrigerator. In this case, you're looking for some milk. Don't drink it all yet, save some for the stain. Pour enough on to cover the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then blot away.
  • Break out the bleach. Is the article of clothing you're trying to clean naturally a pure white and you've tried every other option? It may be time to break out that bleach. Apply just enough to cover the stain, allow the bleach to sit for 10 minutes, and then proceed with step 3.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Couch

It can be great to relax after a long day with a nice glass of aged wine. That day can easily be ruined if you spill the wine on your couch. Luckily, most couch stains can be tackled in similar ways as with rugs and clothing.

  1. Stay cool. A couch wine stain should be treated with neither boiling nor cold water. Use cool water to help pull the stain up without getting your couch fabric overly wet and risk further setting the stain.
  2. Lather it up. Liquid dish soap is a good choice for a red wine stain on a couch. Mix in one part soap to two parts water, grab a sponge,  and dab away.
  3. Try some acid. In this case, bulk white vinegar or rice vinegar is your best bet. This can be used with water alone or added to your dish soap mixture for extra stain-removing power.
  4. Fight wine with wine. We know this may seem counterproductive, but hear us out. You can remove a red wine stain with white wine. Just don't use a cooking wine as the added ingredients can be damaging to the fabric. Just like any other liquid suggested, pour the wine on and wait. Dabbing it away should reveal a nice, fresh couch. Also, wine is acidic, so you can consider this option 3 as well.

Don't give up on your couch without trying at least a few of the methods above. You can also keep from fumbling or overfilling your glass by picking up one of the best wine glasses with pour lines.

How to Remove Old Red Wine Stains

Did you miss our advice on time not being your friend when it comes to wine stains? Tsk tsk. Still, there’s plenty you can do to work out old, set-in wine stains. It will take a bit more effort and time, but these steps will work.

  1. Scrub-a-dub-dub. Start by applying a liberal amount of dish soap or detergent on the stain and scrubbing it in. 
  2. Soak it all in. Once again, it’s time to break out the water. Pour cold water onto the stain and soap and leave for 30 minutes. If cleaning clothing, feel free to soak the whole garment in a bucket of cold water. 
  3. Blot away. You know the routine by now. Once the water is done soaking, grab a cloth and blot the stain until it’s dry. If there’s still a spot, feel free to go back to step 1 or move on to the last option.
  4. Go chemical. If you’ve tried steps 1-3 and aren’t making progress, it may be time to break out that chemical stain remover or bleach. Apply to the stain, let it set in, and then blot away.

The older the stain, the more times you may have to repeat these steps. Don’t give up, even the most set-in stains can be defeated if you work hard enough! If scrubbing all day wears you out, pick up a sweet wine and enjoy the wine alcohol content and sugar in wine.

Frequently Asked Questions On How to Remove Red Wine Stains

Of course, the main things you need to know about removing red wine stains are covered in the earlier questions of this article. That said, there are a few other things you may need or simply want to learn more about. These frequently asked questions include:

What home remedy removes red wine?

A classic home remedy when it comes to how to remove red wine stains is hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. A mixture of three parts peroxide and one part dish soap will go a long way on a lot of red wine stains. That said, it's not the only mixture and remedy from stuff you may have sitting around.

Does vinegar remove red wine stains?

If hydrogen peroxide isn't a staple in your home, vinegar will also remove red wine stains in many cases. Generally, vinegar can be used in conjunction with a liquid detergent. The cleaning powers of vinegar never fail to amaze us, and it's certainly a helpful cleaner to have on hand if you love red wine.

Does red wine stain permanently?

You've probably heard a time or two that red wine stains will set and stay forever. That's just not true. However, red wine stains can become permanent if the fabric or whatever has the stain on it becomes heated. This is generally an issue for items that you would clean in the washer. If you get a red wine stain on a shirt or small rug and you chuck it in the washer to start the cleaning process, don't put it in the dryer after! As long as you don't heat up the stained material, while it may take more work, red wine stains can be removed, even if they're old and appear to be set.

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Wine Stains Are No More

Red wine stain removal is no fun, but with these steps and a bit of elbow grease, you should find yourself stain-free.

Now get back out there and pick up some more delicious wine. Just make sure to follow proper red wine storage temperature. Maybe even pick up a brand-new aerator and let us teach you how to aerate wine to get the best possible taste out of your wine.

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