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Red wine is one of life's simple pleasures and it's even full of healthy antioxidants. But as any vino lover knows, it only takes one wrong move to splash your drink onto your clothing and stain it that recognizable shade of burgundy.
If you usually resign yourself to tossing an item after it's been tinged red, we've got good news: It is indeed possible to make that stain disappear. Whether the stain is fresh, still damp, or has been sitting around for weeks, we've rounded up some fool-proof ways to get rid of a stubborn wine stain. Some methods require only what you have in your cabinet, while others use commercial products that are always good to have on hand.
Before you apply any of these removers, always remember the first rule of wine-related accidents: Never, ever rub the stain. When you catch a stain, blot it with cool water and try to attack the stain. Never toss a stained piece of clothing in the dryer, as the heat will set the stain.
The sooner you treat any spot, the greater your likelihood of getting the red wine stain out.
There's no need to switch to white—these are the best stain removers every red wine drinker should know about.
Dishwashing Liquid and Hydrogen Peroxide
This method is ideal for both new and old wine stains. You likely have these cleaning products around the house already, so it's great for emergency spills. Simply mix together equal parts hydrogen peroxide and dish soap and pour the solution on top of the stain (the combination of the two cleaners breaks up the color of the drink). Allow it to sit on the fabric for up to 30 minutes. Continue to add more of the solution until the stain disappears—no scrubbing necessary. Once you see the stain fade, put the fabric in hot water to dissolve it further, and then rinse with cold water. Never use a dryer until you're sure the stain is entirely gone.
If you caught the stain as soon as it happened, reach for that club soda. Club soda can break down the wine's dyes and help the stain disappear. Blot club soda onto the stain and let it soak overnight. If you're lucky, this will dissolve that fresh wine stain and you won't have to attack it with other methods.
Keep a bottle of club soda on hand for any party, especially when you're serving wine to your guests.
For stubborn stains, rubbing alcohol is another go-to. Using a sponge, carefully blot the alcohol onto the stain and then wipe dry with a damp cloth. The red wine color should begin to dilute as you blot the rubbing alcohol.
Salt and Hot Water
For fresh stains, blot as much as you can up with a paper towel and then cover the entire stain with salt. Let the salt soak into the fabric and then put boiling water on it. Pour the water from about eight inches or so above the garment—the height allows you to "push" the wine out of the fabric. Then, wash as usual.
The salt and hot water method is also very helpful at getting wine stains out of a carpet. Simply use a vacuum to pull up the salt after it's absorbed all of the wine.
The Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar is one of those stain removers you should have in the house at all times for nearly every type of stain. To remove red wine, wet the item that's dirty, rub the bar directly onto the stain, and then wash as normal. You can use hot or cold water after this bar, but don't dry until you're sure the stain is gone.
Side note: This cleaner is so strong that it can even remove poison ivy resin off fabrics, so you're in the right hands with this stuff.
Stain Remover Spray
As the name implies, the stain remover spray Wine Away was specifically designed for wine stains and removes them naturally. Spray the affected area liberally, and simply let it sit for about 20 minutes. Make sure you put a piece of cardboard or another barrier between the stained and unstained sides to avoid spreading the stain). If you see the color change from red or pink to blue, just keep waiting. Rinse a bit, repeat spraying if necessary, and watch the stain go away before your very eyes.
How to Get Dried Red Wine Stains Out of Clothing
We've all been there—we spill a little bit of red wine at a party and think, "I'll just get to it when I'm home." Your best chance of getting a red wine stain out of clothing is catching it as soon as it happens. But if it's already dried, have no fear.
A dried wine stain will require more patience, and you may need to work at the stain a few times. If your stain is already dried, start with the dish soap and hydrogen peroxide method below. If that doesn't work, you may want to splurge on Wine Away or Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar.
Best Water Temperature for Washing
Whether you use cold or hot water on that wine stain will depend on how long it's been sitting. Most wine stains will respond very well to hot water, especially after treatment with one of the above methods.
That said, an old wine stain has a better chance of removal after it has been soaked in cold water. Fill a bucket with cold water, place your fabric in it, and let it soak for 30 minutes before attacking it with one of the above methods to loosen the stain and give you a better chance of removing it.
Snopek L, Mlcek J, Sochorova L, et al. Contribution of Red Wine Consumption to Human Health Protection. Molecules. 2018;23(7). doi:10.3390/molecules23071684