In your wine drinking career if you haven’t already spilled red wine on your carpet or clothing, you will at some point. It happens to the best of us.
In today’s blog article we’ll examine the do’s and don’ts of stain removal. I got interested in the subject when I found a bottle of “Wine Away” Red Wine Stain Remover in a cupboard at home. I instantly thought that it would be a great topic for a wine blog article.
In doing research on wine stains I found there were some common items and general comments that kept popping up in my research. We know that a red wine’s color is completely natural, coming from grape skin pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-cy-a-nins). The color of red wine also contains chromogens (chro-mo-gens), the primary substance in many plants that is responsible for dyes.
With this chemical make-up in red wine it might seem we don’t have a chance in cleaning up a wine spill. But hold on…there is hope.
Once the wine hits the fabric, be it your white carpet or shirt/blouse, it begins to sink into the fibers and it moves in two directions: 1) down into the fabric and 2) outward increasing the size of the spill area. All fabrics are highly porous so wine soaks in quickly.
Tips on Getting Out Red Wine Stains
Listed below are some do’s and don’ts and the steps to cleaning up or removing the stain:
- Do not panic. As hard as it might be NOT to panic, even if the spill is on your new $30,000 Persian rug, keep a calm head.
- Don’t wait too long. Although it may be tedious or impossible to attend to the stain immediately, it isn’t recommended to wait very long to take care of it. You want to avoid the wine setting up in the fabric, as it will become more difficult or impossible to remove 100% of the stain.
- Don’t scrub the stain. The scrubbing action will cause the stain to spread out even further. Scrubbing also applies pressure, pushing the wine further down into the fabric. This is more important if it is on carpet or furniture, not on your clothes.
- Don’t apply heat. The last thing you want to do is let the stain dry. Direct heat will cause a chemical process that will cause a permanent stain. Don’t wash it and then use a hair dryer to try and dry the stain area. Don’t put any clothes that have been stained in the clothes dryer before a pre-wash cleaning method has been used or performed.
There are, I have discovered in my research, a number of methods used or recommended for removing red wine stains:
- Commercial red wine stain removers. There are a number of red wine stain removers on the market. If you can’t find any in your favorite wine shop they are available over the internet. The one I am familiar with and use myself is called “Wine Away” Red Wine Stain Remover. It is considered one of the best on the market and costs about $10.00 for a 12 oz. spray bottle. Another good thing is it comes in a variety of sizes, even a small spray bottle you can travel with.
- I phoned Amir Pouya at Direct Rug Imports and asked his advice on cleaning methods. Amir suggested using white vinegar or club soda on the stain. He also mentioned to blot the stain and then cover it with a dry cloth or piece of paper towel to soak up all of the liquids.
- Gareth Ferreira – Sommelier – responded to the question for a reader in Decanter magazine as follows: “Blot up as much of the spill as possible with a solution of dishwashing detergent, white vinegar and warm water.” His advice also included not to smudge or rub the stain, but rather blot it. He further recommended acting as quickly as possible.
- The best approach to cleaning up the stain is to apply a dry, powdery material to the stain. The best materials in order of preference are:
- Table salt
- Baking soda
- Sodium percarbonate
- Granulated hydrogen peroxide
- Dry soap powder
- Talcum powder
- Kitty litter
These dry materials will pull the red wine out of a spill. Apply a generous amount of table salt (your best option) to the stained area. Let the salt settle for a few minutes. Then clean up the salt. Be careful how you do the clean up. I recommend a small hand broom/brush and a dust pan. You can also use a vacuum but be careful not to rub the stain or make it hot by going over and over it.
Additional Methods for Dry or Tough Stains
It may be that the salt treatment or commercial liquid or spray may not have completely cleaned up the stain. There are a couple other cleaning methods to try:
- Dry heat is different from wet heat. Remember we said don’t use the hair dryer. However, very hot (boiling hot) water is a great cleaning agent. This may cause the red wine to dilute and loosen from the fabric, making it easier to clean. Again, blot up the excess hot water, don’t scrub.
- Applying a mixture of 50/50 club soda and white vinegar will actually help break up the wine and make it much easier to blot up.
- A third method is to apply a mixture of dishwashing liquid and hydrogen peroxide. The recommended mixture is three parts hydrogen peroxide and one part dishwashing liquid. Apply this mixture to the stain and let it sit for 20 minutes to one hour. Then, blot clean before attempting to fully wash out the mixture.
There is no guarantee that these methods will remove your red wine stain 100%. But keep trying and remember to have at least two of the substances mentioned on hand at all times. Also remember time is of the essence!!
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- March 3rd – National Mulled Wine Day
- April 17th – International Malbec Day
- May 4th – International Sauvignon Blanc Day
- May 9th – National Moscato Day
- May 21st – National Chardonnay Day
- May 25th – National Wine Day
- June 11th – National Rosé Wine Day