You know the saying... a little bit of wine makes you shine. But when a little bit of wine stains your clothes, upholstery or carpet, it can wipe off the smile off your face very fast.
But don't worry!
Wine is a difficult and stubborn stain always. But with the right guidance, not even the worst wine stain will ever ruin your day!
In this post we're going to take a look at the best way of cleaning wine.
Wine stains can be cleaned off white clothes using bleach; it can be cleaned off light colored clothes using hydrogen peroxide; it can be cleaned off any other clothes using white vinegar and laudry detergent; it can also be cleaned off upholstery and carpets using club soda. And we're going to learn the step by step process of cleaning each one of these stains.
Why do we know so much about wine stains?
First of all, because we love wine! Although... who doesn't?
Second, because earlier this year we conducted a huge experiment. We tried to find the best (homemade) method of cleaning every single type of stain. We tried 8 different methods on 28 different types of stains (ketchup, gum, crayons, dog pee, you name it!). The result was amazing! We published the ultimate stain cleaning guide. It had a lot of success and a lot of people loved it! This is a screenshot of that guide:
But we found that wine was such a difficult stain to clean, that we had to do a more in-depth guide on how to remove red wine stains. Especially because the method is different depending on what fabric it is that you're cleaning.
And here we are! I really hope you find it useful!
First things first... we wanted to know why wine stains are so difficult to remove. So, we found out.
The general principle si simple: Most fabrics are highly porous. That means that (although you might not see them) there are little pockets of air where liquids can get into.
And if a liquid get's into those pours and it evaporates, it might leave chemicals behind that could never go away. That's a stain!
But that's true for all stains. What makes wine truly hard to clean is it's composition. There are two things in particular that make wine so hard to remove:
1. Chromogens. You probably haven't heard much about chromogens, but it's the primary substance in many colorful plants. Still today, this substance is used to make natural dyes.
2. Tannins. I'm sure you've heard about tannins before. It's what causes that dryness effect on your mouth. When someone says that "this wine is young", it's probably because it has high tanning levels.
Anyway, these tannins are also used today as an organic dye. Together with the Chromogens, they make wine the ultimate staining machine.
But don't worry! We'll now get into how to remove wine stains. Before we do though, I would strongly advise you to read the following "General red wine stain cleaning tips". You might find useful information that apply to your particular stain.
Although there are a different ways of cleaning a wine stain depending on where the stain is, there are some common tips or guidelines you have to take into account that are true for every wine stain.
Let's take a look at them before we dive into every specific wine stain. That way I won't have to repeat myself very often. I wouldn't want to bore you!
I know that cleaning isn't a lot of fun, and that you'd probably like to do something else first.
But cleaning a wine stain as soon as possible is the single most important tip I can give you if you want to get all the stain out.
I'm not saying that it would be impossible to clean if you let it sit... but it's going to be so much harder, it's not worth it.
When you're cleaning a wine stain, you might be tempted to try to clean it scrubing the stain. But that's actually a terrible mistake. It might seem faster, but you're really just pushing the stain further inside the pours of the fabric.
What you have to do is to blot the stain. Blot, blot, blot! But don't scrub. Your future self will thank you.
This might seem kind of obvious... but believe me! I wouldn't add it as a tip if everyone did it right.
When you spill wine, the first thing you should do is to try to make sure that the wine doesn't spread all over the place. For example, you might want to protect your shirt, if you'r sweater just got stained. Or protect the cushion pads if your couch just got stained.
You get the idea
This is an important one... Wine stains are almost always cleanable. BUT! If you apply heat to the stain (using an iron or a hair dryer), your chances will drop significantly.
I would even dare to say that applying heat can be the difference between being able to clean a stain or having it there for ever.
And last, but not least...
Don't sprinkle salt to the stain!
I know, I know... you probably read somewhere that pouring salt will help because it will absorb the wine and remove the stain. Except... it doesn't.
For some reason, someone publishing this "trick" some time ago and it has spread all over the internet like a wild fire. But I'm pretty sure not a lot of the people recommending that method have actually tried it. So don't do it!
Red wine (as we said) contains tannins. And tannins can stick for ever to the fabric if salt is applied.
The first thing we're goint to look at is how to remove red wine from a carpet. This is probably the easiest of all the wine stains to treat, although you'll have to act quickly!
The quicker you clean the stain, the easier it will be.
The first thing you have to do is blot the stain. We want to take out as much of the wine as possible.
Once you've removed as much wine as possible, you have to grab club soda. Any club soda will work fine, but make sure that it's brand new. Bubbles are going to play a huge role here!
Great! Now you have to pour the club soda directly on top of the stain. Since you've already removed a lot of wine in the previous step, pouring club soda shouldn't spread the stain. What I guess I'm trying to say is... make sure that you removed as much as wine as possible blotting!
Let the club soda sit there for 5 minutes. The bubbles should help remove the stain. After 5 minutes, blot again with a clean cloth and repeat the process until the wine is completely removed.
Depending on how hydrophobic your carpet is, it might take longer. But it will come out eventually! Keep going!
And that's it! The stain is gone!
This one is quite obvious... but for those of you who don't know... Bleach can clean almost anything! The only problem is... it can also remove dye from anything.
In other words, its great for cleaning clothes (and super fast), but will ruin anything that isn't white.
How should you clean a wine stain from your shite shirt?
Soak the fabric in bleach for 10 minutes and then launder in hot water.
You don't want to put any colored clothes on the washing machine while you're cleaning that stained shirt. The bleach could (and probably will) ruin your other clothes.
This method works great! But we would only recommend it to clean light colored clothes. Why? Because some of the products that we'll be using have a tendency to bleach. And it could ruin darker clothes.
The first thing we are going to do is create the mixture. We're going to mix equal parts dishwashing detergent (hand soap works too, but we found dishwashing to be better) and hydrogen peroxide 3%.
If you don't have hydrogen peroxide you can run to the store to get it or simply buy it online. These are the products we used:
It's now time to pour the dish soap/hydrogen peroxide mixture on top of the stain. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Then launder with warm water.
The stain should be gone!
We like this method for any other clothes because it's not very aggresive and you don't risk ruining it. But it's not as affective as the previous two. So... if this method doesn't work, try the previous method. The one that we recommended for light colored clothes.
Step 1. Cover the stain completely with vinegar. Make sure that you're using white vinegar. The vinegar should help neutralize the purple and red pigments. It's also a very effective cleaner overall.
Step 2. Immediately after you applied the vinegar, rug liquid detergent. Be generous! Let it sit for 5 minutes and the launder in hot water. Hopefully the stain is gone!
This is a super popular method! But it really does work. I know a lot of restaurants that use this method regularly.
Step 1. Gather what you need:
Step 2. Blot the stain. Remove as much of it as possible! The more you remove, the better.
Step 3. Place the bowl under the wine stain and hold it in place using the rubber band. Then pour boiling water to the bowl, through the stain. You can do this a couple of times.
Step 4. Wash it! The stain should be gone.
Last, but not least, we are goint to talk about how to remove red wine stains from upholstery.
This is a toughy, because we might be dealing with very different types of fabric. And we really don't want to mess it up!
So... we're going to try and clean the wine stain using 3 different methods. If the first method doesn't work, we'll keep moving to the next one until the stain is gone. Makes sense, right?
This is exactly the same method we described for cleaning red wine stains from carpet. Check it out here. You basically have blot as much of the stain as possible using a white towel. Then you have to pour club soda over the stain and keep blotting and pouring club soda until the stain is gone. Hopefully this will help!
Method 2: Vinegar and Baking soda
This is a very popular cleaning method that works for many things. And cleaning red wine stains from upholstery is one of them.
As always, you first have to blot the stain until you can no longer remove any more wine. You then have to pour a little bit of baking soda on top of the wine stain (half the amount of baking soda as a rule of thumb). Spread it evenly and pour (or spray) a little bit of white vinegar on top of the baking soda.
The baking soda will react with the vinegar and the mixture will bubble a little bit. Let it sit for 5 minutes and vacuum everything up! Hopefully the stain is gone.
BTW, we recently wrote a post on the best vacuum cleaners of 2021 that is doing great and people are loving it. Just in case you'd like to check it out!
If the baking soda and vinegar method removed part of the stain (but not all the stain), don't go directly to the third method. Repeat the process a couple of times until either the stain is gone or it's no longer working.
This is the same method we previously described to clean light colored clothes. We're going to do exactly the same thing this time with a little twist.
First we'll create the mixture. This time, we'r going to be using 2 parts dish soap for 1 part hydrogen peroxide. We are then going to apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
After 5 minutes, try scrubing the stain gently (this is the one "no scrubing rule" exception).
Once you're satisfied with the result, clean the remaining mixture with water and a clean white towel and you're good to go!
Wine stains can be tricky to clean, but if you clean them right away and use the right method, you can get rid of them easily!
I really hoped you liked this post and I hope I see you around more often! You could maybe consider subscribing to my newsletter. We only send you 1 email a month with the best posts of the month. You can subscribe at the footer of this page!
I'm Tony and I consider myself a carpet cleaning expert! I've tried the 5 most common professional cleaning methods myself, and I've reviewed thousands of carpet cleaning & installation companies. I'm currently exploring the DIY Cleaning and Installation world. It's not that hard and it's a lot of fun!