How to remove red wine stains from clothes

Red wine spills can be one of the most dreaded and stubborn stains to deal with, especially when they happen on your favourite shirt, dress, or tablecloth. The deep red pigments in red wine can quickly seep into fabrics and leave behind an unsightly stain that is challenging to remove. But don’t despair – with the right techniques and cleaning products, it is possible to get those pesky red wine stains out of your clothes and fabrics.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for effectively removing red wine stains, as well as provide some helpful prevention tips to avoid stains in the first place. Whether you’ve spilled a glass of merlot on your best silk blouse or your toddler has made a mess of their clothes, these methods will help restore your items to their former glory.

remove red wine stain from clothes

So, let’s dive in and tackle those stubborn red wine stains once and for all!

Why Are Red Wine Stains So Difficult to Remove?

Red wine stains can be particularly tricky to get out because of the chemical composition of the wine itself. The deep red colour in red wines comes from natural pigments called anthocyanins, which are water-soluble and easily absorbed into porous materials like fabrics.

As soon as the wine hits the fabric, the anthocyanins begin to bind to the fabric fibres, making the stain set in quickly. Over time, these pigments can also start to oxidize, changing the colour of the stain and making it even harder to remove.

Additionally, red wine contains tannins, which are acidic compounds that can further set the stain into the fabric. The combination of the pigments and tannins is what makes red wine stains so stubborn and difficult to lift out of clothes, upholstery, and other textiles.

The sooner you can treat a red wine stain, the better your chances will be of successfully removing it. Acting quickly is key to preventing the stain from fully setting into the fabric.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Red Wine Stains

1. Blot the Stain Immediately

As soon as you spill red wine, spring into action. Grab a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towels and gently blot the affected area. Don’t rub the stain, as this can push the wine further into the fabric. Simply dab at the spill to soak up as much of the excess liquid as possible.

2. Run Cold Water Over the Stain

Next, run cold water over the back of the stained fabric. This will help dilute the wine and prevent the pigments from further setting into the fibres. Avoid using hot water, as the heat can actually set the stain.

3. Apply a Stain Remover

There are a few effective stain remover options that can help lift red wine from fabrics:

  • Wine-Specific Stain Removers – Look for commercial stain removers formulated specifically for wine stains. These products often contain enzymes or other specialized ingredients that help break down and lift wine pigments. Some top-rated options include Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover and Puracy Natural Stain Remover.
  • Dish Soap – Dish soap, particularly ones with degreasing properties, can be an inexpensive and effective option for treating red wine stains. The surfactants in dish soap help cut through and lift the wine. Try brands like Dawn or Mrs. Meyer’s.
  • Club Soda – The carbonation in club soda can help lift and dissolve wine stains. Simply pour some club soda directly onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before blotting.
  • Salt – Sprinkling some plain table salt directly on the stain and allowing it to sit for 5-10 minutes can help absorb and lift the wine. Brush or blot the salt away when finished.

Apply your chosen stain remover directly to the affected area and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the formula to work. Avoid rubbing, as this can push the stain deeper into the fabric.

4. Launder as Usual

Once you’ve treated the stain, wash the garment or fabric as you normally would, using the hottest water temperature safe for that material. The heat of the wash cycle will help further lift and remove the wine stain. You can also add a bit of oxygen-based bleach to the wash to help whiten and brighten the fabric.

If the stain persists after the first wash, repeat the entire treatment process before drying. It may take a few cycles to fully remove an entrenched red wine stain.

Tips for Preventing Red Wine Stains

Of course, the best way to deal with red wine stains is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are some tips to help minimize the risk of red wine spills:

  • Be Cautious When Pouring – Pour red wine slowly and carefully, keeping the glass close to the table or surface to minimize splashing.
  • Use Coasters – Always use coasters under your wine glasses to catch any drips or condensation.
  • Wear an Apron – Don when drinking red wine, especially around light-coloured clothing.
  • Blot Spills Immediately – As soon as you see a spill, jump into action and blot the area with a clean cloth to soak up the liquid.
  • Avoid Wearing White – Opt for darker colours when drinking red wine to minimize the visual impact of any accidental spills.
  • Consider Switching to White Wine – If you’re prone to spills, switch to a lighter-coloured white wine, which is generally easier to clean up.

With these preventative measures in place, you can enjoy your favourite red wines with less worry about unsightly stains.

Other Useful Tips for Removing Red Wine Stains

Here are some additional tips and tricks that can help remove stubborn red wine stains:

  • White Vinegar – The acidic properties of white vinegar can help break down wine pigments. Soak the stain in undiluted white vinegar for 30 minutes before washing.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, then apply the solution to the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes before washing.
  • Baking Soda Paste – Make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it into the stain before washing. The baking soda will help absorb and lift the wine.
  • Potato Slices – Rubbing a slice of raw potato directly on the stain can help draw out the pigments.
  • Lemon Juice – The citric acid in lemon juice can help neutralize and lift wine stains. Dab lemon juice directly onto the stain.
  • Stain Stick or Spray – Keep a stain removal stick or spray on hand for quick treatment of red wine spills. Some top options include Shout Fabric Stain Remover and Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover.

Be Patient and Persistent

Removing a stubborn red wine stain may require some elbow grease and repeated treatments. Don’t get discouraged if the stain doesn’t come out on the first try. With the right techniques and products, you can successfully lift even the toughest wine stain.

And remember, the sooner you can treat the stain, the better your chances will be of getting the fabric back to its original condition. So act quickly, and don’t be afraid to re-treat the area multiple times until the stain is completely gone.

With a little know-how and some diligence, you can say goodbye to those unsightly red wine stains and keep your favourite clothes and fabrics looking their best. Cheers to that!

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.