Removing Red Wine Stains

No matter how cautious we are, red wine spillages are commonplace and happen to the best of us, no matter how many safeguards we put in place to prevent them. So, if you’ve done all you can to prevent red wine stains from your soft furnishings and still fall victim to them, the next best thing to do is know how to remove them with ease. 

What is a red wine stain?

Red wine stains are an easy mistake, but a difficult one to clean. The reason for this is that red wine contains a pigment sourced from grape skins, which is part of a larger type of food colouring, known as anthocyanins. Since these have similar properties to fabric dies, they can stubbornly and quickly attach themselves to fabric, resulting in pesky red wine stains on clothes, soft furnishings and worst of all… carpets! 

In fact, wine stains on fabric are especially challenging, since fabrics are highly porous and the liquid immerses itself into the pores, making it deeper and more resilient to scrubbing and cleaning. So, getting rid of a red wine stain is no easy feat. But what can you do and when should you do it to give yourself the best chance of eradicating stubborn wine stains?

When is the best time to remove red wine stains?

Like most stains, it’s best to remove a wine stain immediately. The reason for this is that the longer the stain has to marinate on the surface, the more difficult it will be to remove. 

There is always the temptation to leave a stain to sort out later, especially if you are busy or have people over so are distracted. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to treat the stain immediately, you should try to at least flush the stain out slightly using either sparkling water or soda water. The bubbles within the liquid, whilst not getting rid of the stains entirely, will just begin to push the stain out of the fabric. 

How to remove red wine stains 

1. Protect the rest of your clothes

Before beginning to get rid of red wine stains from your clothes or upholstery, you should first put an old towel, a cloth or a napkin beneath the stained fabric to ensure that it doesn’t soak through to another part of the fabric. When removing red wine stains from carpets and sofas, this step is not possible. 

2. Soak up the excess

Gently and without scrubbing, use a napkin or towel to soak up any excess red wine as quickly as possible. This will eliminate the amount of red one that you need to remove whilst also preventing the wine from getting rubbed further into the material. 

3. Keep the stain moist

If the stain has begun to dry, you may want to make it moist again by adding a different liquid on top. The most effective liquids to use are either white wine (if you have any handy!), cold water, sparkling water or soda water. However, you should refrain from putting any hot liquid on the stain, since this will cause a chemical reaction that will make the stain somewhat irreversible. 


4. Apply salt


Apply a generous lathering of salt to the stain and press the crystals into the fabric, allowing the salt crystals to absorb most of the wine and bring the stain out further from the fabric. Once you have done this, scrape the salt off to see how much of the stain remains. 


5. Repeat the earlier steps


If there is still more of a stain to remove, you should repeat the soaking and blotting process again. 


6. Apply pre-treatment and wash according to instructions


Once you have completed the above stages, apply a commercial stain remover that is suitable for your fabric onto the stain, in line with the fabric and product’s instructions. After this has been applied, launder your fabrics as you usually would in the washing machine, using a reliable and robust detergent that is proven to remove stains. Although, you should avoid using high temperatures when washing these, since they could set the stain instead. 

Unfortunately, some fabrics will not be able to make it into the washing machine (such as your carpets and sofa covers), so you will have to persist in removing the stain with hand-applied mixtures alone. 

If you have exhausted these steps and still don’t know how to get the rest of the stain out, consider using these different mixtures instead:

  • Hydrogen peroxide and washing up liquid 
  • Lemon and salt 
  • Commercial fabric cleaners 
  • Solvent and bar of soap 
  • Baking soda 

Top tips for removing red wine stains 

  • Treat every product in its own right, since certain colour items will be ruined for bleach for example, and certain fabrics can’t be washed using certain products. Do some research first and then decide what course of action to take instead of rushing straight into the removal process.
  • Attempt to keep the stain wet at all times, because it is far easier to remove a wine stain whilst the stain itself is still wet than once it has dried. Likewise, you should avoid putting any heat on the stain, since heat encourages a chemical process that will cause the stain to manifest itself permanently instead. 
  • Be sure not to expose the stain to any sunlight or direct heat, since this will encourage the stain to set instead of move.
  • Remember to dab not rub, since dapping will gently absorb the stain, but rubbing will spread out the stain and press it further into the fabric’s pores. 
  • Despite what many people might think, you should refrain from scrubbing the red wine stain! Whilst it can tease some of the wine out of the material, it can often cause the stain to spread out further in the process, pushing the stain deeper and deeper into the material you are trying to save. 
  • Be persistent! Red wine stains are notoriously tough, so you should expect to repeat parts of the removal process again and again before you get the results you want. 

Professional stain removal 

If you are struggling to remove red wine stains, seek help from a professional cleaning company. Here at End of Tenancy London, our expert team is on hand to help with years of experience behind them and specialist equipment. If you need stains removed from upholstered furniture or your carpet cleaned, contact us and we will be able to arrange an appointment to get your stains removed in no time.

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