How To Remove Red Wine Stains

How to remove a red wine stain may be a difficult task as grape and berry stains are among the most difficult to remove. To make matters worse less expensive wines contain dye to achieve the coloring the manufacture desires.

You’re thinking “who cares”? At this point, you have a red wine stain and you need to remove it.

Evaluate & Test

As always first evaluate the material and color. Is it cotton, silk, wool, synthetic, or a manufactured material like rayon. For the most part you can wet any material if done properly; but washing it is a different issue. The other thing to evaluate is color.

Testing 1-2-3:Test the color in a hidden area to see if it’s colorfast. Depending on how much color you will lose or can afford to lose and the type of material will determine how you will handle the garment.

Examples: white cotton is the easiest to handle, but colored (black, blue, red) cotton is an entirely different story. A colored silk will be the most difficult to handle (not because of the material, but because most colored silks are not colorfast) whereas a white silk is not so difficult.

Can We Start Yet? (Stain Removal)

The best thing to do if you spill wine on yourself, red or white, is to immediately blot off as much as you can with a dry white towel. Then proceed to blot it alternating between a wet white towel and a dry white towel. While the wine is wet, it is much easier to remove than after it has dried. This rule applies to all liquid stains such as wine, coffee, soda, and tea. I would recommend this technique for most stains. Using this technique should have removed approximately 80%-90% of the stain without having to use any additional products.

For the remainder of the stain or if the wine has dried, then we will need to use products to remove the stain. For acidic stains like wine, coffee, and tea try not to use an alkaline product (most soaps and over-the-counter stain removers are alkaline). Changing the pH of the stain can cause some stains to set.

Using a Product

The product we normally start with is distilled white vinegar. Apply a small amount directly onto the stain and let it rest for a few minutes. Blot off with a wet white towel followed by a dry white towel. Look at the white towel to see if there is any color loss. If the stain starts to dissipate, then repeat the process again. If we are not achieving any results, then we will need to resort to stronger products.

Need Some Muscle

Enzyme stain removers can be found in the laundry department of most grocery stores. Use the same technique as with the vinegar. Apply as small amount onto the stain; wait a 15-30 minutes and then blot it with a wet white towel followed by a dry white towel. If the stain starts to dissipate, then repeat the process again. We can also soak the entire garment in the enzyme to prevent color loss from a specific area.

Need a He-Man (even stronger product)

If none of these techniques are working, then we may need to use a product with mild bleaching action to remove the remaining color from the wine stain. The following are two types of product we can use: either a 3% hydrogen peroxide (purchased from the pharmacy) for direct stain removal or sodium percarbonate (oxiclean) for soaking the entire garment. These products can be safely used on colored garments, if handled correctly.

If the garment is colorfast, then apply a small amount of the 3% hydrogen peroxide on the stain and let it set for a few minutes, then blot with a wet white towel followed by a dry white towel. Look at the towel to see if there is any color loss. Repeat again if the stain is starting to dissipate.

If the garment is not colorfast, then determine how much color you will lose by testing it: apply the product to a white towel then dab a hidden area. Look on the towel to see the amount of color that has come off. If the entire garment lost that much color, will it be acceptable to you. If the answer is yes then we can proceed to soak the entire garment in the product, if the answer is no then do not continue.

Secret Soaking Formula

Are We Done Yet?

When done with the stain removal process, whether we blotted the stain or soaked the garment, always clean the entire garment. Never leave garments unclean after using spotting or cleaning products. Over time the spotting agent can discolor, or yellow, and weaken the material.


Karl Huie

Pacific Heights Cleaners in San Francisco and Sausalito is your non toxic alternative to solvent dry cleaning,

proudly leading the way in garment care today and into a healthy future.

Marin and San Francisco’s 1st Certified Green Dry Cleaner using a Eco dry clean non toxic system.

Other Articles of Interest:

How to Evaluate Materials and Test for Colorfastness

How to remove a Salad Oil stain

How do I prevent Shrinkage and Color Fade?

What water temperature do I use for washing clothes? Hot-Cold or Warm?

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “How To Remove Red Wine Stains”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>