There are a lot of us who dearly love a glass of good red wine. Whether it’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or some other variety, so long as it’s red, many of us are going to be happy. However, there is one caveat, and that is we hate it when our red wine accidentally spills onto, well, almost anything.

The bold and fruity taste of our favorite red wine is immensely satisfying and nearly always goes down smoothly. However, when a glass of this lovely beverage accidentally slips from our hands and splashes onto the front of our shirt or the carpet, it can stain worse than almost anything else.

Act Fast

When red wine spills onto fabric, you must always act fast. In this article we’ll walk you through the steps you will need to take when your favorite red wine lands somewhere else than on your taste buds.

Other than just a few types of fabrics, most of today’s clothing is highly porous. That means once red wine splashes onto fabric, it starts to sink into the fibers of the fabric quickly, and the liquid moves throughout the fiber’s pores until it finds a space to fill.

Unlike most other drinks, the coloring of red wine is completely natural. The wine is based on grapes and contains chromogens, which is the primary substance in lots of colorful plants. Those chemicals are used in manufacturing to create industrial dyes.

When these liquid red molecules are combined with tannins, the organic substance also used in ink production, the wine essentially becomes a do-it-yourself tie-dye experiment that went wrong when it’s spilled.

The Cleaning Process

While it might be a bother to start dealing with a red wine spill immediately after it happens, we would not recommend that you wait very long. You should definitely take care of it as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, red wine begins sinking immediately into the fabric and settles into the fibers more and more as time passes. Eventually, the stain will begin to “set” and then it becomes almost impossible to remove.

Remember that since red wine is basically a natural dye, it will permanently color the fabric if you don’t quickly stop the process from happening as soon as possible.

  • The first step is that you should not, under any circumstances, begin scrubbing the stain. Scrubbing might help to pull a little of the wine out of the fabric, but it will also spread the rest of it downward and outward and make a small mess a lot larger.
  • Applying pressure should also be avoided because doing so will push the wine down and further into the fabric. (This is especially true when you have a stain on your carpet or a sofa.) And, one more thing. Do not apply heat to the stain.
  • The very last thing you want to do is to let the stain dry, and hot air dries things much faster than cooler air. The heat will also change the chemical process of the stain and make it permanent. You do not want this to happen.

What You’ll Need

Mix up a bowl of homemade stain remover. Do this by combining one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent with two cups of cool water.

  • Dip a clean sponge or absorbent cloth into the mixture and saturate the stain. Sprinkle a little salt onto the wet fabric until the stain is covered. The salt will absorb much of the wine and help you with lifting the stain out.
  • Soak up as much of the wine as possible using a clean sponge, napkin, paper towel, or even a clean absorbent cloth. Blot up as much of the wine as possible. Start from the outside and work inward for the best results. (Do not rub the stain or you will help it to spread.)
  • Continue blotting as long as necessary to remove as much wine as possible. The more wine you soak up to start with, the less you will need to remove later. Don’t let the stain dry. Keep it damp with cool water. (Do not use water that is hot!)
  • Continue to blot with the mixture and squeeze the liquid out into an empty bowl. Repeat the process and continue blotting with the mixture until the red color has disappeared.
  • Brush off the salt crystals to see if any stain is left. If it’s not completely gone, continue saturating the stain with the mixture and blotting until the red is completely gone. (For the most stubborn stains, you may want to add a little white vinegar to the mixture.)
  • Rinse with cold water and blot until dry.

If you still notice any red color remaining, apply a commercial stain remover as a pre-treatment following the product instructions on the label. If a commercial product is not available, make up a paste solution from mixing baking soda and water and then work it into the stain.

Launder the fabric as normal in your washing machine. Be sure to read the garment’s labels first to make sure you are following the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a good quality laundry detergent that can take care of stains, and wash with warm (not hot) water.

If the stain still remains, soak the area once again in cool water and repeat the above process.

Tumble-dry or iron the fabric when you are sure the stain is completely gone. Remember that high heat from your dryer will set any trace of the stain, so hang or air-dry the item wherever possible.

Remember, the sooner you tackle a red wine stain, the sooner you will be able to get the stain out!

Please let us know if this article about removing red wine stains has been helpful to you. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about this or any other home cleaning subject you’d like us to cover, be sure to write to us. And, if you live in the Chicago metro area and are interested in learning more about our home cleaning services and how we can help you maintain a safe and healthy living environment, give us a call. Our number is 708-599-7000. Or, you can contact us online for a free house or office cleaning consultation.