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What is the Best Way to Remove Red Wine Stains?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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It is difficult to remove red wine stains because red wine contains tannins, which give the liquid a rich, vibrant color. Cotton, polyester and other fabrics easily absorb these tannins and, once absorbed, they bond to these materials. This property is the reason that red wine spills stain. In order to remove the stains, you need to break or weaken the bond between the tannins in the red wine and the material.

There are several easy ways to do this, most of which involve applying harsh chemicals, but these methods destroy the fabric. In order to remove red wine stains but keep the material intact, there are specific steps that you need to follow.

Remove as much of the red wine from the material as quickly as possible by blotting the spot with any absorbent material — paper or cotton towels work best. Place a piece of the towel on the front and back of the material and press down quite hard. Hold it for two to three minutes to absorb the wine. Remove and replace the towels and then repeat the process.

Place a clean towel at the back of the material. In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon (5 ml) liquid laundry detergent with 1 cup (240 ml) hydrogen peroxide. Wearing gloves, take a clean towel and dip it into this mixture. Use the wet towel to blot the stain, which will break the bond of the tannins. The towel at the back will absorb the excess liquid, so that the material is not ruined.

To remove red wine stains, repeat these steps two or three times. Rinse the spot thoroughly with cold water to remove the hydrogen peroxide. Wash the entire item with liquid laundry detergent. The stain should now be gone. If not, apply a concentrated detergent paste to the stain and let it sit for one to two hours before rewashing.

If the red wine stain is in carpet, it is important to treat it as soon as possible. Blot the spot to remove the excess liquid. Use the suction function on your vacuum cleaner, if available, to pull up the liquid that has moved below the surface level.

Place an absorbent towel on the spot and place a heavy book on top of it so that the pressure will help to move the liquid into the towel. Apply the detergent and peroxide mix to the carpet, then remove it after two to three minutes using a moist towel. When removing stain from a carpet, be careful to restrict the amount of liquids used, as it may increase the size of the stain.

There are two types of red wine teeth stains: temporary and permanent. To remove the temporary stains that appear immediately after drinking wine, it is best to rinse your mouth with fresh water and eat bread. These two steps reduce the acidity in your mouth and remove the purple stains.

For permanent stains, see your dentist and ask about teeth whitening products. Do not use any home-based products, as wine can erode the enamel from your teeth. Your dentist is the best person to advise you on the options available to you.

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Discussion Comments
By anon340527 — On Jul 03, 2013

I thought everyone knew that the best way to remove a red wine stain (at least off fabric) is with white wine. Try it. It's like magic!

By candyquilt — On Jan 25, 2013

Bleach works for red wine stains. There is also a product called wine-away that's supposed to work. I personally haven't tried it.

By ysmina — On Jan 24, 2013

@alisha-- Oh boy! Removal of red wine stains from carpet is difficult, but walls are a whole different issue altogether. You might actually have to repaint it.

Before doing that though, try wiping with equal parts water and bleach. If your walls are white, this will probably work. If it's a different color however, it might damage the paint and you will probably end up repainting it in that case.

By discographer — On Jan 24, 2013

@anon77976-- Wow, that sounds great. Does that work for walls too?

My six year old accidentally bumped into our coffee table and the wine glass tipped and spilled wine on the wall. I wiped it with a wet cloth right away but it didn't do any good.

I've been scared to try a stain remover because I'm afraid it will damage the paint.

By Windchime — On May 11, 2011

I drink a lot of red wine and am a bit paranoid about staining my teeth. My friend suggested I look online for a special wipe that removes the tannin quickly and easily. I am now a convert, and just wish there was something similar for tea and coffee, both of which do the same damage.

By Penzance356 — On May 10, 2011

@angelBraids - I'm quite clumsy so spilling wine and dealing with stains removal is something I have to do often.

The best tip I ever got was to use white wine! Soak the affected area in that for a while. Later you should make a paste with baking soda. (Not runny, use enough to make it thick.) Put the paste on the stain and keep it moist with a spray of water every so often.

After a few hours just wash the garment as you usually would and 99% of the time the red wine stain will be gone. I hope this works for you.

By angelBraids — On May 07, 2011

Last night I went to dinner at a local restaurant. Just after bringing our drinks another waiter tripped and fell onto our table! I was more concerned with helping him up than worrying about how to remove red wine stains from my clothing, so it was a little while before I realized the extent of the damage.

It was too late to blot up much liquid so I braved it out. Now I'm crossing my fingers for a positive answer to this question. Will the tips here work for dried in stains?

The manager already offered to pay for dry cleaning but I'd rather try to fix it myself if possible.

By anon77976 — On Apr 16, 2010

Stain Rx is the best stain remover out there. I have been using it on red wine stains since 1969. Just touch it to red wine, iodine, berries (including pomegranate), fruit punch, cranberry juice, and the stains disappear in a second. Stains such as mascara, lipstick, blood, balsamic vinegar, vanilla extract and others come out with a little massaging and rinsing.

Soak your diamond, gold and platinum jewelry in it for 20 minutes to overnight -- you won’t believe it!

By the way, the University of California – Davis did a study on red wine stain removal and the no. 1, ready to use winner was Stain Rx (a.k.a. Erado-Sol). It killed Wine Away which is available everywhere.

As far as carpeting and upholstery: I use Stain Rx on carpeting and upholstery all the time and have the method down.

First, I vacuum the entire carpet or piece of upholstery being treated. Then I clean the entire carpet or upholstery with my Hoover Steam-Vac (a carpet shampooer is at least as good) plus, I only use warm water - no detergent at all. The Hoover sprays in water and vacuums it out.

For the carpet I use the Steam-Vac and on upholstery I use the Steam-Vac attachments to do this. While the carpet or upholstery is still wet from this step, do the following;

Depending on the size of the stain, put a “dot” of Stain Rx on your fingertip and rub out one stain at a time. After treating a stain, remove all of the soapy residue from that area using the instructions below and go on to the next stain.

Here is the most important part: You have to remove all of the soapy residue using the attachments from the Steam-Vac, carpet shampooer or a wet/dry shop vacuum. *Rinse out all of the soapy residue using water and the vacuum.* If you leave Stain Rx in the area, dust will stick, forming a gray spot in a few weeks. If this happens, just add water and remove all of the soapy residue.

Let dry and marvel at the job you did.

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