You’ve seen it before — someone reaches for the bread basket, their hand knocks the glass that seemed out of the way, the glass tips (always in slow-motion), until finally it crashes down and … you guessed it, spills the wine.
You might be living with a wine stain from a long time ago, or maybe you just got a new pet that doesn’t understand boundaries quite yet. Regardless, knowing how to remove a wine stain is always a good skill to have in your back pocket.
Who knows, it may even become your new party trick the next time wine gets spilled at a friend’s house! Just make sure you weren’t the culprit … because that’s the ultimate party foul.
Step One: Stock Your Cleaning Closet
The best time to get a stain out is immediately, which means a 30-minute grocery run won’t always cut it. Be prepared and stock your cleaning closet with stain-removing essentials. As an added bonus, these products will remove other stains too, so you’ll always be ready when a spill occurs.
Step Two: Spills Happen
The best thing you can do is absorb as much as you possibly can right away. Whether the stain is on clothes, tablecloths, furniture, or carpets, make sure you use a paper towel or microfiber dish cloth to blot up the mess — don’t rub it in! Simply set on top and press down. Repeat, until you don’t see the towel absorb any more.
Step Three: Grab Your Cleaning Supplies
Salt for Rugs
After you blot up the mess, cover the remaining stain in a thick layer of salt, and wait. Once the salt and carpet are completely dry to touch, use a vacuum to suck up the salt … and the stain!
Cleaning Cocktail for Furniture
Saving the sofa just got a whole lot easier. For a wine stain on furniture, mix 3 parts Hydrogen Peroxide with 1 part dish detergent. Cover the stain completely and wait until it dries. Then, blot up the mess again until the stain is mostly (if not entirely) gone.
Hot Water for Fabric
For loose, color-safe, and heavy-duty fabrics such as tablecloths, placemats, or cloth napkins, boiling water works wonders. Tie a rubber band around the area with the stain, boil water, and then pour over the fabric and into the sink until the wine stain disappears down the drain.
Careful Solutions for Clothes
Cover the stain in white vinegar, then add a dab of laundry detergent and wash in hot or warm water. Another option is to simply dab laundry detergent on the stain, and let it sit overnight. Then use a normal washing machine cycle the next day, and make sure the stain is gone before placing it in the dryer.
For brilliant whites, you might want to consider using bleach for complete coverage. Blot up the stain and try a DIY solution first, then wash on a “Whites” setting with a small amount of bleach according to product instructions.
Additional note: Beware of clothing items labeled as “Dry Clean Only” — these should be blotted with care and taken to the cleaners as quickly as possible.
Step Four: Consider a Commercial CleanerYes, you saw that right. There are cleansers that are marketed specifically for wine stains AND they have great reviews. Wine Away is just one brand that people are raving about, is under $10, and might be a good backup option if any of the DIY solutions above didn’t work.
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.