Wine Stain Removal: Dos & Don’ts

Most of us have either done it or watched it happen. A trip or maybe an inadvertent wave of the hand sends that beautiful glass of cabernet or merlot flying. In a panic, people start rushing to do something – anything – to keep the stains from becoming permanent!

We like to think that everyone has had their furnishings and floor coverings protected by Fiber-Seal (and has our Fabric Care Kit), so a wine spill is less likely to become a catastrophe. We realize, however, that this is not always the case and stains do not magically lift themselves. Let’s take a closer look at how to respond when the big spill occurs.

Why Does It Stain?

While white and rose wines can obviously create stains, we’ll focus here on red wines. Stains from these wines are much more troublesome for the average homeowner.

Red wines are produced from grapes with very deeply colored skins, sometimes appearing almost black. In the process of crushing and then fermenting, prolonged contact with the grape skins releases colored compounds called anthocyanins and tannins.

These compounds give red wine its appealing color in the glass…and its ugly stain on the sofa or rug.

Home Remedies Abound

Like most common spots and stains, there are many different “home remedies” for dealing with wine spills. 

One very common suggestion involves table salt. Pouring an excess amount of salt on the fresh wine stain is supposed to “soak up” the liquid. Left to dry, the salt is then vacuumed away and the wine stain is magically removed.

In reality, the resulting hardened salt/wine mixture can be difficult to break up and remove…and there is almost always a pinkish stain
remaining. The salt does not do a complete job and in some cases the salt that is not removed can cause damage to backing materials, thus reducing the useful life of a fabric or floorcovering.

Sprinkled on top of the fresh wine stain, the color will change from red to pale grey. White vinegar is then applied using a cloth, leaving it to dry. The dry residue is later vacuumed out. When we tried this method, we ended up with a mess… and a reddish-gray stain remaining. Also, vinegar is a strong acid and it can cause damage to cellulosic fibers like cotton and linen.

One of our least favorite home remedies for red wine stains is… white wine. White wine is not an innocuous stain removal liquid. The white wine you pour onto the fabric or carpet only adds to the residue that eventually needs to be removed. Otherwise, the area will end up with an odor and/or attract soil down the road.

Of all the home remedies, the one that might make the most sense is club soda. Essentially, blotting up all of the excess wine and then carefully applying club soda is just rinsing the stain with carbonated water. Even though it doesn’t usually work completely, damage is rare.

OxiClean Warning

Another commonly suggested stain remover for wine spills is OxiClean® Versatile Stain Remover. When mixed with water, this powder creates an oxidizing detergent that is supposedly effective on a wide variety of stains. 

Unfortunately, OxiClean has two potential drawbacks: it is a relatively strong bleaching agent and it is highly alkaline. Not only can this product create unwanted bleaching of fabrics and floorcoverings, but its pH (up to 11) is too strong for many fabrics and dyes. Even the product label cautions: “Do not use on wool, wool blends, silk, silk blends, leather or on fabrics labeled dry clean only.”

What We Recommend

Wine stain removal should start with a few basics:

  • First, blot up as much liquid as possible, being sure to use paper towels or white cloths. Never use colored napkins or towels that might bleed.
  • After pretesting in an inconspicuous area, apply a mild fabric-safe detergent (such as our “pHnominal”). Blot gently. Do not rub.
  • If color remains, it may be time to call a professional. Aggressive spotting attempts can often leave abrasion damage or bleached out areas.

We Can Help!

Fabrics and floor coverings that are protected by Fiber-Seal’s proprietary treatments are a step ahead when mishaps occur. Add our world-class, no extra charge service and you’ve got a one-two punch that’s more than a match for most stains

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