How to remove a red wine stain from tablecloth

Red wine is one of those drinks that can quickly turn a pristine tablecloth into a stained mess. Whether you’re enjoying a glass of merlot during a fancy dinner party or accidentally knock over a full glass, red wine stains are notoriously difficult to get out. But don’t panic – with the right techniques, you can remove even the toughest red wine stains and save your favorite tablecloth.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for removing red wine stains from tablecloths, as well as some tips and tricks to prevent stains in the first place. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to tackle any red wine disaster that comes your way.

remove red wine stain from tablecloth

Red Wine Stains on tablecloth

Before we dive into the stain removal process, it’s helpful to understand a bit about why red wine is so stubborn when it comes to stains. The pigments in red wine, called anthocyanins, are what give the wine its rich color. These pigments are water-soluble, which means they can dissolve and spread through water-based liquids.

When red wine is spilled on a tablecloth, the anthocyanins quickly soak into the fabric. As the wine dries, the pigments become more concentrated and “set” into the fibers, making the stain harder to remove. This is why it’s so important to act quickly when dealing with a red wine spill.

Additionally, many tablecloths are made from natural fibers like cotton or linen, which can further exacerbate the problem. These materials are more absorbent than synthetic fabrics, allowing the wine to penetrate deeper into the fibers.

The good news is that with the right techniques, you can effectively remove even the most stubborn red wine stains from your tablecloth. Let’s get started.

Removing Fresh Red Wine Stains

The key to removing a fresh red wine stain is to act quickly. The sooner you can treat the stain, the better your chances of getting it out completely.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paper towels or clean, white rags
  • Cold water
  • Salt
  • White vinegar or club soda

Step 1: Blot the stain

As soon as the wine is spilled, immediately blot the area with a clean, absorbent paper towel or rag. Don’t rub the stain, as this can push the wine further into the fabric. Gently blot and dab to soak up as much of the excess wine as possible.

Step 2: Apply salt

Once you’ve blotted the area, generously sprinkle salt over the stain. The salt will help to absorb the remaining wine and prevent it from setting into the fabric. Let the salt sit for 5-10 minutes.

Step 3: Rinse with cold water

After the salt has had time to work, rinse the area with cold water. Avoid using hot water, as this can actually set the stain. Gently blot the area with a clean rag to soak up the diluted wine and salt.

Step 4: Apply white vinegar or club soda

If the stain is still visible, you can try treating it with either white vinegar or club soda. Both of these liquids contain acids that can help break down the wine pigments.

For vinegar, simply pour a small amount directly onto the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before blotting and rinsing. For club soda, pour it directly onto the stain and let it fizz for a minute before blotting.

Step 5: Launder as usual

Once you’ve treated the stain, launder the tablecloth as you normally would. Avoid putting it in the dryer until the stain is completely removed, as the heat can set the stain.

If the stain is particularly stubborn, you may need to repeat these steps a few times before it disappears completely. With persistence and the right techniques, you should be able to get that red wine stain out.

Removing Set-In Red Wine Stains

Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t catch a red wine spill right away, and the stain has time to set in. In these cases, you’ll need to take a slightly different approach to remove the stubborn stain.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Old toothbrush or clean, soft-bristle brush

Step 1: Pretreat the stain

Start by pretreating the stain with a small amount of laundry detergent. Gently rub the detergent into the stain using your fingers or a soft-bristle brush. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes to help break down the wine pigments.

Step 2: Apply hydrogen peroxide

Next, pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain. The peroxide will help to oxidize and lighten the stain. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

Step 3: Sprinkle with baking soda

After the hydrogen peroxide has had time to work, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the stain. The baking soda will help to further absorb and lift the stain.

Step 4: Scrub gently

Using an old toothbrush or a clean, soft-bristle brush, gently scrub the stained area. Apply a bit of pressure to work the cleaning solutions into the fabric, but be careful not to damage the fibers.

Step 5: Rinse and launder

Once you’ve given the stain a good scrubbing, rinse the area thoroughly with cold water to remove all of the cleaning solutions. Then, launder the tablecloth as usual, making sure to check that the stain is fully removed before putting it in the dryer.

If the stain is still visible after this process, you may need to repeat the steps or try an enzymatic stain remover specifically formulated for red wine. These products contain enzymes that can break down the wine pigments at a deeper level.

Preventing Red Wine Stains

Of course, the best way to deal with red wine stains is to prevent them in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you avoid those pesky stains:

  1. Use a tablecloth protector: Consider investing in a clear, plastic tablecloth protector. These can be placed over your tablecloth to create a barrier against spills. They’re easy to wipe clean and can save your tablecloth from permanent staining.
  2. Blot quickly: If a spill does happen, make sure to blot it up quickly with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towels. The faster you can soak up the excess wine, the less likely it is to soak into the fabric.
  3. Avoid red wine: This may seem obvious, but if you’re truly worried about stains, you may want to opt for white wine or another beverage during your next dinner party. Red wine is just inherently more prone to leaving stubborn stains.
  4. Pre-treat tablecloths: You can also pre-treat your tablecloths with a stain-resistant spray or protector. These products create a barrier that makes it harder for spills to set in. Apply them before each use for maximum protection.
  5. Launder promptly: After a meal, don’t let your tablecloth sit for days before washing it. The sooner you can get it in the laundry, the easier it will be to remove any lingering stains.

Recommended Products

To help you tackle those pesky red wine stains, here are a few recommended products:

Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover– Specifically formulated for red wine stains
– Contains natural ingredients like citric acid
– Works on a variety of fabrics
Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover– Enzyme-based formula
– Safe for use on tablecloths, carpets, and clothing
– Comes with a handy application brush
OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover– Powerful stain-fighting formula
– Can be used on a variety of fabrics and surfaces
– Helps lift and remove even set-in stains


Red wine stains may be stubborn, but they’re not impossible to remove. By acting quickly, using the right cleaning solutions, and taking preventative measures, you can save your tablecloths from those pesky purple marks.

Remember, the key is to treat the stain as soon as possible, blotting up excess wine and using a combination of salt, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda to break down the stain. With a bit of persistence, you’ll have that tablecloth looking good as new in no time.

So the next time you’re enjoying a glass of merlot and accidentally spill, don’t panic. Refer back to these tips and techniques, and you’ll be able to effectively remove even the toughest red wine stains from your favourite tablecloth.

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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.