It happens to all of us oenophiles and newbies alike eventually: the red wine spill. Whether you are at a party, a restaurant or in your own home, it’s bound to happen. To parody a favorite movie line of mine: On a long enough time-line the chance for a spill with any red wine drinker drops to zero. But there are steps you can take in red wine stain removal if you are quick to counteract the stain from setting and ruining your shirt, carpet or whatever fabric the wine encounters.
Removing Red Wine Stains From Clothing
With red wine stain removal, clothes are probably the easiest to address. The important thing is to stay cool. Don’t freak out and start rubbing at the stain with a napkin or paper towel. You want to excuse yourself to a restroom or any place where running water is available. Let’s say a kitchen, to eliminate variables. Take a wash cloth or paper towel, get it damp without soaking it and blot the red wine stain until it stops absorbing the wine. DO NOT RUB the stain. This will spread it out over the fabric and makes matters worse. You just want to remove as much of the stain as possible by blotting the fabric.
Once you’ve pulled all of the red stain that you can, you need to dilute the stain before it gets a chance to dry. The best way to do this is using white wine. White wine will neutralize the red wine stain fast. Don’t worry about getting white wine on the shirt; it doesn’t stain and is easily washed out in the laundry. Many people think that club soda helps, but this is only theory. No conclusive evidence points to anything in soda water can remove red wine stains from clothing. It’s probably a relation of the type of fabric to how fast you apply the carbonated water. White wine however, has the same basic chemical makeup of red wine and easily dilutes it.
Another thing you can try is vinegar. Again, it has the same basic chemical makeup of wine, so it is more likely to help remove a red wine stain than, say, water. You use the vinegar the same way you do white wine. Dampen, blot and dab until the stain is gone. Once you get the stain out you can dab some water on the spot to help kill the vinegar smell. Again a thorough washing will fix everything once the stain is gone.
If you’re in the situation that these things aren’t readily available, you can McGuiver a technique to remove red wine. This consists of some dishwashing liquid and peroxide. A 2:1 mix, peroxide to dish soap. This is more a “for home” recipe as it requires removing your garment and letting it sit for a while, until you are ready to do laundry. This is a time consuming approach though and may take a couple applications before the stain is gone. Your best bet is to not dry the article of clothing until you are sure the stain is gone. Applying Kosher salt (or a salt equally coarse) or baking soda might speed up the process, too; but this falls into the soda water category of approaches for red wine stain removal. I’ve had the best success with white wine.
Remove Red Wine From Carpet
I wish there was some more magic to share, but as with clothing, white wine is your friend. The only difference here is you can’t throw your carpet into the washing machine. So how do you get the smell out? Febreeze, Lysol carpet cleaner, whatever you have around the house that you normally use. The main thing is getting the red wine stain out of the carpet before the stain becomes a permanent mark. There is also a product called Wine Away that promotes easy red wine stain carpet removal. I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t endorse it, but it was hailed by Gourmet magazine and the Good Housekeeping Institute as an effective tool for red wine stain removal.