One of the best things about the 80s was that just about everyone drank white wine. People partied with abandon, and a splash or spill was hardly acknowledged because white wine doesn’t stain (or if it does, it’s very easy to fix). Now, 40 years later, red wine is all the rage, and hosts spend most of their parties watching for any that might hit the carpet or couch, ready to race to the scene armed with cleaning solutions.
There are numerous over-the-counter stain removal products, but you’ll fare just as well following a simple protocol and using common household items to get rid of unsightly red wine stains.
Dab, Don’t Rub
Although your first inclination may be to rub the stain, you never want to use that method. Rubbing not only spreads the stain around, but can also end up damaging the same materials you’re trying to save. Instead, use a thick towel or several super-absorbent paper towels to dab the stain until the wine is absorbed as much as possible and is barely damp.
Deal With It Right Away
Treat the stain immediately to prevent it from drying, which makes it much more difficult to remove. The longer it sets, the harder it is to make disappear.
The most popular and effective home solutions can usually be made from products found in your pantry and medicine cabinet: club soda, hydrogen peroxide, salt, white wine, white vinegar, and baking soda. One, highly recommended for tablecloths, uses only water.
Bring tap water to a boil in a tea kettle or small saucepan. Then place a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl in the kitchen sink. Stretch the portion of the fabric that is stained over the bowl until it’s taut and secure it with a rubber band. Pour the boiling water over the stain from 10 to 12 inches above the bowl, and viola! The stain should be gone.
White Vinegar and Laundry Detergent
Saturate the stain in white vinegar, which naturally counterbalances the purple and red pigments in red wine. Rub in liquid detergent right away and then wash the item in hot water in a machine or by hand to eliminate the stain completely.
Bleach should never be used full-strength on colored fabrics, but it does work really well for removing red wine stains from white fabric. Just soak the fabric in bleach for about 10 minutes, launder it well in hot water, and the stain will vanish.
Club Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Flushing the stain with club soda is typically the fastest and easiest solution at a social gathering. Just grab a bottle and saturate the stain as soon as possible. If you have hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet or home first aid kit, mix it with the club soda for an extra strong stain removal solution. Straight, full-strength hydrogen peroxide works great on white carpet that has no dyes in it, but it’s not recommended for other fabrics.
Salt and Club Soda
Salt is an especially effective stain remover on upholstery and carpets. Pour some directly from the carton onto the fresh stain to leach the red wine from the fabric or carpet. For an extra boost to remove a stain, saturate the stain with club soda and then cover it with lots of salt. After it dries, simply vacuum up the salt, and the stain should follow suit.
White wine may not be the beverage of choice these days, but it’s still a great way to remove stains caused by its alter-ego. Of course, it’s only effective when used immediately after the spill. Start by dabbing using a white wine-soaked cloth and then generously cover the spot with salt to finish the job.
Baking Soda Paste
This works best on fresh stains but is also effective on fairly new but somewhat dried ones. Combine three parts baking soda with one part water. Cover the stain with the resulting paste, let it completely dry, and vacuum up the residue afterwards.
Soap-Peroxide Cleaning Solution
Some consumers swear by a red wine stain remover made from two parts hydrogen peroxide mixed with one part clear hand dishwashing liquid. Remember, using colored dishwashing liquid will just replace one stain with another. Saturate the stain with the mixture and then blot it with plain water until the soapy residue disappears.
Notable Commercial Stain Remover
There are many general stain removal products on the market, but one specifically formulated for wine stains, Wine-Away wipes, gets especially high marks from customers. The wipes were invented by a mother-daughter team and are reportedly outstanding at removing both fresh and set wine stains.
To make your party more enjoyable and reduce stress, have one or more of these remedies at the ready before your guests arrive. Everyone will be more relaxed, and perhaps even more careful to avoid spills.