WINE 101: How to remove wine stains

This weekend, I was relaxing and watching a movie with some friends and some Rex Goliath Merlot. On my ottoman/coffee table was my wine, a bottle of Mt. Dew, and my cat, Tribble. The lime green upright bottle of Mt. Dew was too much for him to resist, and he knocked the bottle over … giving way to a perfect domino effect of a pretty full glass of red wine spilling on the white carpet.

Luckily, I was prepared for such a disaster, but it made me think that it might be a good idea to go over the ABC’s of wine stain removal, just in case it happens to you.

Catch it early

The most important tip is to keep an eye on what you are doing and what your guests are doing. Red wine stains are easiest to remove if they are caught right away, so pay attention! If you spill wine at someone’s house, tell them right away. Quick action is your best chance for getting the stain out.

Stain Remover

If you frequently entertain with wine or not, it is good to always have some clothing stain remover (such as Shout) on hand, as well as a good carpet stain remover with a sodium perborate (Oxi-Clean) stain removing agent. Both of these will always come in handy with all sorts of food stains as well as guests tracking in dirt or mud from outside. If you have these around, they are your best bet for removing stains from carpet, clothing or your table cloth. Simply follow the directions on the cleaner.

If you don’t have a commercial stain remover available, the best method for removing red wine on most fabrics is a mixture of dish soap and hydrogen peroxide, but there are a few things to consider to make sure your stain removal efforts do not result in disaster. This method works well on plant-based fabrics, such as cotton, linen, and rayon. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, so this works best on light colored fabrics and it is important to test any colored fabrics to make sure they are color-fast before using peroxide. Be sure to use the type of hydrogen peroxide used for cleaning cuts and scrapes rather than the type for coloring hair — that type is too strong. Be sure to NEVER use a colored napkin or paper towel to try and remove a red wine stain.


Dilute the stain with cold water and dab up any excess liquid. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. Dip a sponge in the liquid and gently blot at the stain. Rinse well with water. Repeat until stain is removed.

For colored items, just cold water and dish soap should effectively remove the stain if caught right away.

To remove stains from animal-based fibers such as wool or silk, a mixture of white vinegar, dish soap and cold water is best. Keep in mind that these fabrics are weakened by water, so you should be careful not to over-saturate these fabrics. Alternate vinegar and dish soap until the stain is removed.

If you spill red wine on a table cloth, depending the fabric, sometimes pouring salt on the stain will keep it from setting until the cloth can be removed and treated (after dinner).

On the go

If you are at a restaurant and spill wine on your clothes, an on-the-go stain remover is best, but never underestimate the power of quick action, restroom soap and cold water. Try to obtain a white paper towel or cloth as the brown paper towels in some restrooms can make the stain worse.

Basically, the key to removing red wine stains is fast action, cold water, mild soap and gentle dabbing. If you have a particularly tricky stain, here are some additional resources:

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