How to remove wine stains


If you like to enjoy an occasional glass of wine regularly, then you’ve probably dealt with a wine spill before. Fortunately, wine stains can be removed using common household products you most likely already have, including: salt, club soda, distilled white vinegar, liquid dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda.

Red wine is the most notorious stain culprit because of the tannins that give it its red pigment. If not treated quickly, red wine can lead to permanent stains. However, this doesn’t mean white wine or rosé wine don’t stain as well. White wine can leave stains, especially if left untreated for a long time.

As with any other stain, for successful results, acting fast is key. The first step is to blot out as much wine as possible using an absorbent piece of dry cloth. You can even add water as it will dilute the wine. Keep blotting until you get rid of the excess liquid, then use your choice of cleaning agent to work on the stain.

Ingredients to remove wine stains

Luckily, most of the items required to get rid of wine stains are household products that you probably already have in your kitchen or bathroom. They include:

  1. Bleach
  2. Club soda
  3. Baking soda
  4. Distilled white vinegar
  5. Liquid dishwashing soap
  6. Hydrogen peroxide
  7. Table salt

The best method you use depends on what type of fabric you’re dealing with, where the stain is located, and what color the stained material is. There are a few different effective approaches.

How to remove wine stains from a white shirt

To remove wine stains from a white shirt or any white clothing, using bleach or baking soda paste works best.

Prefer videos? Check out the How2RemoveStains channel.

Using bleach

Bleach cleans through the process of oxidation, meaning it breaks down organic compounds such as stains, in this case, to lighten them. This comes in handy in removing red wine tannins on your shirt that cause the stains.

To use bleach to get rid of red wine stains on a white shirt, you will need the following:

  • 1/4 cup of bleach
  • A basin of water
  • An absorbent cloth

Procedure:

  1. Blot any excess wine up with a clean cloth.
  2. Put the quarter cup of bleach into a basin of water.
  3. Soak the stained area in the bleach water. If it’s a red wine stain, you can consider soaking the garment in hot water to dilute the red stain.
  4. Let the white shirt soak for ten minutes in the bleach. The stain should start disappearing.
  5. Launder the white shirt as usual, separately from colored clothes as bleach left behind could have bleaching effects on the colored clothing.
  6. Hang your shirt out to dry to verify the stain is completely gone.

Using baking soda

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a must-have if you are a clean freak! It has excellent stain removal properties, and for wine stains, it works by dissolving the red pigment in the red wine while also eliminating the odor.

To use baking powder, you will need the following:

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • A microfiber towel

Procedure:

  1. Mix the baking powder and water to form a thick paste-like solution in a bowl.
  2. Soak the stained area in water to remove any excess wine liquid.
  3. Apply the paste to the stained area and leave it to sit for five to ten minutes to act on the stain.
  4. Take a slightly wet microfiber towel, and use it to remove the baking soda paste from the cloth. If the stain is still visible you can repeat the procedure until the stain gradually disappears.
  5. Wash as usual
  6. Hang out to air dry.

How to remove fresh wine stains from clothes

Fresh wine stains can be removed from clothes using hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, distilled white vinegar, or simply powdered laundry detergent.

Hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap for colored clothes

Hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap are highly recommended for removing stains from brightly colored clothes. Liquid dishwashing soap contains a mixture of surfactants designed to break the tension between solids and liquids, making it an effective organic stain remover once you soak this solution into your clothes.

Note: It is highly recommended that you do a spot test first on an inconspicuous area of the fabric before using hydrogen peroxide on the stained cloth. If bleaching occurs, consider using a less aggressive cleansing agent or solution. 

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup liquid dishwashing soap
  • A jug of water
  • Pieces of dry absorbent cloth

Follow these steps:

  1. Blot out any excess wine spills. For red wine, consider adding a little water to dilute the stain, then blot out the excess water to reduce the red pigmentation.
  2. Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing the hydrogen peroxide with the liquid dishwashing soap in the measurements given. You can carry out the spot test at this point on an inconspicuous part of the garment before proceeding. 
  3. Pour the solution onto the stained area.
  4. Let the solution soak on the stain for five to ten minutes to act on the wine stain. 
  5. The stain should start to gradually disappear from the surface of the garment.
  6. If the stain marks are still visible you can repeat the procedure, but ensure that you are careful not to bleach the stained area.
  7. Launder the garments or clothes as usual and hang out to dry.

Using distilled white vinegar and powdered laundry detergent

Using distilled white vinegar and laundry detergent works excellently in removing wine stains from clothes.

The acetic acid in vinegar dissolves organic compounds breaking down sticky build-up. Distilled white vinegar is the best for cleaning as it does not stain fabric. Powder detergents, on the other hand, contain enzymes and surfactants that break down stains. The two form one mean tag-team.

You’ll need the following:

  • 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup of powdered laundry detergent 
  • A gallon of water
  • A microfiber towel

Procedure:

  1. Blot the spilled wine off your clothing with a dry piece of absorbent cloth. You can add water to dilute the stain for a red wine spill or stain.
  2. Apply the distilled white vinegar on the stained area to neutralize the stain.
  3. Then immediately apply the powdered laundry detergent.
  4. Let the mixture settle for a minute or two on the stained area.
  5. Using hot water, launder the garment or clothes. The wine stain should come off the fabric easily. 
  6. If the stain is still visible, you can repeat the procedure to ensure that the wine stain comes off completely.

How to remove red wine stains from bed sheets

If you are a read or work from bed person who enjoys wine occasionally, this is for you. Bed sheets come in different fabrics and with large surface areas meaning stains can spread fast from one corner to another, if you’re not careful. However, wine stains can be removed from bed sheets using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

As we have already discovered, baking soda is a solvent capable of dissolving organic compounds, making it a good cleaning agent for wine stains. Hydrogen Peroxide, on the other hand, is a powerful chemical compound and oxidizer. If mixed with baking soda, the result is a formidable counter-stain force capable of dealing with any set stains.

Please note that you need to first do a spot test on an inconspicuous part of the bedsheet before settling on it as your ingredient of choice.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 cup of baking soda  
  • A jug of water
  • Pieces of dry absorbent cloth

Steps to follow:

  1. Blot out any excess wine spill off the bed sheets for a fresh wine stain. For dry, set-in wine stains, pour a little water to dilute the stain and blot with a dry piece of cloth.
  2. Having done a spot test on an inconspicuous part of the bedsheets with successful results (there was little to no decolorization), sprinkle hydrogen peroxide on the stained region. 
  3. Pour baking soda on the area now covered by the hydrogen peroxide and let it sit on the hydrogen peroxide-soaked stain for five to ten minutes.
  4. You can use your hands to scrub the stained area in a basin of water.
  5. Repeat the process until the wine stain is no longer visible.
  6. Put in the washing machine with other clothes and launder as you normally would.

How to remove wine stains from the carpet

We can’t put our carpet in the washing machine, so what to do when it gets stained? When it comes to removing wine stains from carpet- common salt, club soda, and liquid dish soap come out on top as effective immediate stain removers.

Using table salt and vinegar

Common table salt or sodium chloride is an excellent wine stain remover, this is because of its ability to absorb moisture. Wine being a liquid stain, clearing it with table salt reduces the chances of becoming a set-in stain. It is also mildly abrasive, so when combined with another cleaner like vinegar or lemon juice, the result is a powerful cleansing agent.

Collect the following:

  • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • 2 cups of distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups of lukewarm water
  • Dry absorbent cloth

Procedure:

  1. Blot off excess wine spill on the carpet using the dry piece of cloth. For red wine, add water to loosen the pigmentation, then immediately blot dry the excess water to prevent it from spreading to areas unaffected by the stain.
  2. Sprinkle salt over the stained area, then spray a little water to soak the salt and let it sit for five minutes. The salt solution will get rid of all the wine stains.
  3. Afterward, take a damp cloth and blot off the excess water with salt residue.
  4. Take vinegar and pour on the stained area, by now the wine stains will have started to fade off because of the salt.
  5. Leave for about 20 minutes to allow the vinegar to work on the wine stain.
  6. Take a soft-bristled brush then start to work gently on the stains.
  7. This should clear off any remaining visible stain.
  8. Rinse with fresh clean water then blot dry with a dry microfiber towel.

Note: This method works on mild stains. In case the wine stains are still visible, you can use a stronger ingredient like a vinegar, baking soda, and liquid dish soap paste.

Trying Club Soda

Club soda is essentially water and carbon dioxide mixed, coupled with some salts making it a weak acid. This property allows it to discolorize stains, making it excellent for removing fresh red wine stains. It works even better with synthetic carpets as these absorb wine slowly, giving club soda time to work on the stains.

 You will need the following:

  • A bottle of club soda
  • Dry absorbent pieces of cloth
  • A Jug of water

Note: The amount of club soda required will depend on the size of the stain.

Procedure:

  1. Blot the excess wine spill with a dry absorbent piece of cloth (as previously mentioned, you can add water to dilute the stains for red wine to make it easier to clean or remove the red pigment in the wine spill).
  2. Pour club soda onto the stain and proceed to blot again with the dry cloth.
  3. Once dry, if the stain is still visible, you can blot again with club soda and dry again with a fresh piece of dry cloth until the stain gradually disappears.
  4. If you are worried about the club soda leaving marks on the carpet after a prolonged time, you can blot with water to rinse the club soda.
  5. If some of the stains are still slightly visible, use powdered detergent to finish off the job.

Liquid dish soap and vinegar combo

Liquid dishwashing soap contains a mixture of surfactants designed to break the tension between solids; this property is what makes liquid soap an excellent stain remover.

Vinegar, on the other hand, is made from acetic acid. Acetic acid dissolves organic compounds, breaking down sticky build-up. Distilled white vinegar is the best for cleaning as it will not stain your carpet.

You’ll need the following:

  1. A tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap
  2. 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar 
  3. Two cups of warm water
  4. Dry absorbent cloths

Follow these steps:

  1. Ensure you have blotted out any excess spill on the carpet before you proceed to clean to make it easier to remove the stain if it is still fresh. You can add a little water to dilute the red wine to remove the excess pigmentation.
  2. Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing the liquid dish soap and vinegar with the two cups of water in a container. Measurements depend on the size and amount of the spill.
  3. Pour the solution on the stained area and let the solution sit on the stain for five to ten minutes to act on the wine stain. 
  4. Take a white piece of cloth dipped in the solution and blot the stained area repeatedly.
  5. Keep doing this until the stain is no longer visible.
  6. Dry the area with a dry absorbent piece of cloth. Sprinkle cold water on the area to rinse then dry again 
  7. If the stain is still visible, repeat the process until the stain gradually disappears.

Commercial wine stain removers 

If homemade remedies are not your kind of thing, or you happen to be a serial wine spiller, you might consider going for commercial cleaning products specifically made for removing wine stains from fabric.

Wine Away, Wine Off, Chateau Spill, Oxi-clean, and Whip-it all come with high recommendations for removing wine stains. They are available at most local retail stores or online and most have ingredients that make them eco-friendly.

It is advisable to first read the manufacturer’s instructions because different types of fabrics such as cotton, wool, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and acrylic have different cleaning instructions whether you are cleaning clothes, bedsheets, or carpets.

You’ll need the following:

  • A commercial stain remover
  • A jug of water 
  • A microfiber towel

Procedure:

  1. Blot excess wine spill using a dry piece of cloth. Always remember to soak the area if it is a red wine stain to make it easier for the wine stain to come off.
  2. Dry the area with a dry microfiber towel.
  3. Apply or spray the commercial wine stain remover as per manufacturer instructions.
  4. Let the commercial stain remover sit on the stained region for a while before proceeding to launder as usual.
  5. Using a dampened piece of cloth, blot off the commercial stain remover.
  6. The stain should gradually disappear. Continue to blot and switch to a drier cloth to dry the area.
  7. Afterward, let the area air dry.

Getting professional help

If all else has failed, you can always consider getting help from professional services like professional cleaners or laundry experts. They come with experience in handling different types of fabrics and set stains.

Laundry experts will save you the risk of ruining your clothes. Though it will come at a price, you will look and feel priceless!

Carpet or floor professional cleaners, on the other hand, come with special tools and have access to good cleaning ingredients. They will have your carpet or floor looking as good as new. Unless it’s a set-in stain that is completely beyond them, they should be able to do a great job. If not, they’ll get you somewhere close.

Frequently asked questions about wine stains

Can I use paper towels to blot wine spills?

You can use paper towels to blot wine spills depending on the fabric, but it is not recommended. Paper towels are less likely to absorb as much spill as a dry absorbent cloth would and can even lead to the stain spreading even farther. Secondly, paper towels can start falling apart, leaving behind loose paper residue, making your stain removal process more difficult.

Can I use hot water to remove wine stains from carpet?

No, you should not use hot water to remove wine stains. It is not recommended because some carpet fabrics, like wool, will react negatively with hot water.

Also, since a wine stain is an organic compound, it will loosen up when it comes into contact with hot water, making it spread and attach itself more tightly to the carpet fiber once dry if any residue is left.

It is advisable to use cold or lukewarm water, depending on which specific cleaning agent and stain removal approach you use.

Can white wine stain as well?

Yes, just because it’s white doesn’t mean it will not leave a stain behind. White wine can leave pretty noticeable stains, especially on brightly-colored carpets. If not acted upon quickly, the white wine stain will turn brown. The best way to work on a wine stain fast is to blot excess wine away and then use saline solution.

Which is the best method for set-in wine stains?

The best method for set-in wine stains is a combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. This combination is the most reactive, so it should be used with caution. Make sure you do a spot test on an inconspicuous part of the carpet as hydrogen peroxide is known to be a powerful oxidizer and can decolorize the stained area.

If hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste do not work, you can try commercial products like Wine Away or Wine Off. And if everything else does not work, you may need to get professional help.

Which is the best commercial product for wine stain removal?

For commercial products that are best for wine stain removal, I would suggest checking the ingredients used in making them. Check if they are eco-friendly or not, and the type of fabric you are cleaning against the manufacturer’s instructions. This way, you make an informed decision that is safe for your carpet and will get the job done.

How can I prevent wine stains?

The best way to prevent permanent wine stains is to immediately work on the stain after it occurs. Blot and soak off the excess wine, then apply any of the above methods. If you, however, find that you can’t control wine spills around your house, it might be time to consider having a designated area for taking your drink.

Wrapping up

A glass of wine after a long day is like putting on sunglasses on a bright sunny day; it makes the glaring rays of the sun of life bearable. However, wine drinkers need to be careful that while unwinding, they don’t get carried away and end up staining their clothes, furniture or belongings.

Whenever you have guests over or a party featuring wine lovers, make sure you have dry pieces of cloth close by or lots of salt, as accidents do happen. You can also choose to make it a controlled environment where no carpet is around. Better to be safe than sorry.

In case of wine spillage, the above methods will do an excellent job in getting rid of the wine stains. Most of them use everyday household cleaning products that are cost-effective and eco-friendly. Alternatively, you can opt to get a commercial wine stain remover.

Any of the methods explained above will come in handy when the inevitable happens cause we all know it someday will.

Happy cleaning! Let us know which of the methods above work best for you.

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