How to Get Red Wine Stains Out of Carpet, Fabric, and Wood

red and white abstract painting - how to get red wine stains out

I recently spilled a large glass of red wine all over my sage green sofa and light tan carpet. This wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last. This got me wondering what the best way to remove wine stains was.

The first thing that you want to do with a fresh wine stain is to get paper towels and blot up any excess liquid, be careful not to rub the wine into the carpet. If you have carpet cleaner in your house, try that on the stain first. The next best thing is salt. Cover the wine stain in salt and let it dry. As the salt dries, it will absorb the excess wine you can then vacuum up the salt and the wine stain.

Where Does the Red Color Come From in Wine?

The color in red wine comes from color compounds called anthocyanins – color and tannin molecules that form dyes. These are the same molecules used in painting products. Your wine bottle sitting so innocently on the dinner table is a giant bottle of dye. If your new kitten decides to jump up on the table and explore, that 750 mL bottle of dye could soon be all over the table and floor. 

Some red wines are darker than others. Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, is much darker in color than Pinot Noir. This may make some stains harder to tackle than others.

Key Tips to Get Wine Stains Out

Wine is a dye.

This means that the sooner you clean up the stain, the better the chance that you will be able to remove the color from the fabric or surface. Letting the wine sit for too long can make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Act quickly to clean up wine as soon as it spills.

Remember: Never Rub the Stain into the Carpet or Fabric

This can push the color pigment deeper into the fibers, and make cleaning the stain more difficult. Always blot gently at the stain using paper towels or a cleaning rag. 

Use a Light Colored Rag

If you use a cleaning rag, use a light-colored one (white) to avoid accidentally transferring color onto the surface of the carpet or fabric and making the stain worse.

Avoid Heat

Avoid applying drying heat to the fabric. This is especially true if you have a red wine stain on a piece of clothing or a tablecloth. You will want to work on removing the stain before putting the garment into the dryer. Applying heat can change the chemical compounds in the stain and permanently set it.

Here are other tricks you can use. 

White Vinegar + Dishwashing Soap

Mix 2 cups of warm water with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar together along with a tablespoon of dishwashing soap.  Pour this mixture onto the stain. Use a cloth or paper towel  To gently blot up the wine and the water keep blotting until the stain is gone.

Hydrogen Peroxide + Dishwashing Soap

Mix together 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tbsp of dishwashing liquid. Put this on to the stain and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Blot clean and then use fresh water to rinse the area.

How to Get Old Wine Stains Out of Carpet

Maybe you had a raucous night of fun and woke up in the morning only to discover that a guest had spilled wine on your carpet and now you need to clean it up, but now the stain has dried. If you have a wine stain that’s set from a spill and had a chance to dry, try one of these approaches.

  • Pour boiling water on the stain. The boiling water will cause some of the chemical bonds to loosen. Use a chemical fabric cleaner, like Oxiclean, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Dab at the stain with a cloth. Rinse with clean water.
  • Pour club soda on the stain and let it soak for several minutes. Gently blot the stain with paper towels or an old rag.
  • Mix one cup of boiling water with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent. Put this combination on top of the stain and let it soak for about 30 minutes. Take a paper towel or rag and gently blot at the stain. Rinse the area with clean water. Let dry and vacuum once you’re done

Get Red Wine Stains Out of Your Couch

Use a Chemical Cleaner

If you have a chemical cleaner, like OxiClean, try this method first. Apply the OxiClean and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Take a damp cloth or rag with warm water, and dab at the area.

Hydrogen Peroxide + Dishwashing Soap

Use the same method as you would for a carpet stain. Mix together 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tbsp of dishwashing liquid. Put this on to the stain and let it sit for about half an hour. Blot clean and then use fresh water to rinse the area.

Removing Wine Stains from a White Table cloth

how to get rid of red wine stain - wine glass

Wine is intended to be enjoyed with food, so it’s not uncommon for red wine stains to get onto tablecloths. You can try to remove it with your favorite stain remover. 

Vinegar + Laundry Detergent

If you don’t have a stain remover, dab white vinegar directly onto the wine spots. Use liquid laundry detergent and blot it onto the stain and rub it gently. Wash everything in hot water in your washing machine. If the stain is gone, go ahead and dry the tablecloth. If the stain is still there, repeat with the vinegar and detergent treatment.

Dish Soap + Hydrogen Peroxide

Another option is to mix equal parts liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide put this on top of the stain, and rub it gently. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then wash it in the washing machine on hot.

Get Wine Stains Out of Silk

Getting wine stains out of silk will require a little bit more work. If the stain is fresh, take a small cloth and blot it with water. If the stain remains, apply a few drops of white vinegar and try blotting at it again with water. You may need to repeat this step several times. 

Get Old Wine Stains Out of Silk

If you find a wine stain that’s dried on your favorite silk shirt, you’ll want to use 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent that’s safe for silk and mix it with 1 cup of warm water.

Get a fabric rag that can be used to blot at the shirt.

Dip it into the solution and ring it until it’s almost dry.

Lay the cleaning rag on top of the stain and let it soak for 30 minutes. Blot at the stain after 30 minutes with the warm water solution.

You may need to repeat this step several times for stubborn stains.

 How to Get Wine Out of Wood Floors or Wood Tables

If it is a fresh stain, grab a cloth and quickly wipe down the wood. That should be all that you need to clean the area. But some wood furniture is unfinished, which means that if red wine gets spilled on it, the wine can get soaked into the wood and discolor it.

If you own oil soap, this can be a good product that can lift up lighter red wine stains. Oil soap is available and most grocery stores or hardware stores. You will want to follow the directions on the soap, but the general ratio is a mix of 1/4 cup of soap with one gallon of water.

Use a rag or dishcloth to soak up the soap solution and apply it to the stain.

Rub gently on the stain to lift up the color.

White Vinegar + Water

No oils soap? You’ll want to mix together equal parts white vinegar and cold water. Take a rag and dip it into the mixture. Wring out the rag. Place it over the stain and let it soak. Lift up the rag and check on it regularly to see if it’s working.

You may need to blot at the stain with the rag. 

Bleach or Ammonia

You may also use a gentle bleach or ammonia solution mixed with water, but do so carefully. Try it out first on a small test area, as it can affect the coloring of the wood. It will definitely remove the wine stain, but could also affect the wood’s finish. You may need to apply a new finish to the surface of the wood. 

Salt on Wood

You can use salt, but it is abrasive and can ruin the surface of the wood. Do not recommend.

Final Thoughts – Work Fast to Get Rid of Red Wine Stains

Remember, wine is a natural dye. The faster you work to clean up the spill, the easier it will be to avoid and remove the stain from any surface. If at all possible, don’t wait until the morning to try and clean up the stain.

At the end of the day, I had to use a combination of salt and warm soapy dishwater to blot up the stain on my carpet and sofa.

The stains are gone, but I put salt on my grocery list because I know that in my household, at least, I anticipate more red wine stains in my future.

Whether it is on my carpet sofa or blouse, I know that they’re inevitable.

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