Most red wine drinkers have experienced at one time or another the horror of seeing a favorite drink spill, creating a red wine stain that is next to impossible to remove. The reason that red wine creates such difficult stains is due to the pigments from the grape skin that quickly attach themselves to fibers. Fear not; there are ways to remove most stains with enough patience and elbow grease.
When attempting to remove the stain, keep these few cardinal rules in mind.
1. Don't let the stain sit long before removal.
2. Blot, don't rub at the stain.
3. Do not dry or apply heat until stain is completely removed.
4. If using a bleaching agent or commercial product, test colorfastness of material first.
5. When material is dry clean only, do not attempt to remove stain at home.
Searching the internet will reveal a wide variety of home remedies such as vodka, milk, boiling water or shaving cream that aren't proven. Here are some methods that will work.
Removing a fresh red wine stain from clothing
Hydrogen peroxide and dish soap – Mix equal parts peroxide and dish soap in a container and sponge or pour over the material. Let sit for one to two minutes and start blotting the stain until it's no longer visible. Wash as usual.
Vinegar, dish soap, and water – Combine two cups of cold water with one tablespoon of dish soap and one tablespoon of vinegar. Repeatedly pour a small amount of the soap and vinegar mixture over the stain, blotting until the stain is gone.
White wine – Not that anyone wants to waste more good wine, but white wine counteracts red wine and is an excellent method to remove stains. Pour the white wine over the red wine stain and blot. Repeat, adding the white wine until the stain is no longer visible.
Salt – When no other options are available, try a bit of salt to stop the stain from spreading. Apply a thick layer of salt until you are ready to remove it.
Commercial red wine stain removers
If red wine stains are a common occurrence, commercial stain removers may be what is needed. Here are some options.
Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover – works well on polyester and cotton as well as carpets
Gonzo Wine Out Stain Remover – has an easy squeeze bottle and doesn't over-saturate when dispensing
Wine Enthusiast Wine B' Gone Ultra – works well not only on fabric but counters as well
Wine Away – a bleach-free product that is safe for pets and children
OxiClean – if red wine stains aren't a chronic problem, a multi-faceted stain cleaner like OxiClean works well
Resolve – for red wine stains on carpets, Resolve Trigger Max is a product that works well to remove the stain
All the methods above may require multiple attempts to completely remove the stain. When the stain is no longer visible, wash as usual, ensuring that the stain has not reappeared before drying. Drying the stain will set the stain into the fabric, making future attempts to remove it futile.