If you've just googled "how to remove red wine stains," our guess is that you were terrified to serve red wine at your dinner party, and then the worst happened. Someone ended up gesturing too wildly or clinking glasses too forcefully (both unfortunate, but also, we must say, signs of a successful soirée), and now there's a scarlet stain on your upholstery and your new dress.
What to do? Enter Vanessa Da Silva, a certified sommelier and the wine studies coordinator for the International Culinary Center. Here, she reveals how to remove red wine stains (and in what circumstances you should give each of the methods a try). All you need are a few household items you already have on hand to get rid of those rosy rings on your tablecloth or drops of Merlot on your rug—until the next party, that is. Read on for Vanessa’s tips and tricks to getting wine out of your furniture, carpet, and clothes. No matter how you go about this, there are a few basic rules to go by.
Wine Stain Removal Tips:
1. Be sure to dab the stain
“It's generally accepted in all these methodologies to dab, not rub, as this will only spread the stain and possibly damage the material which has been stained," she says.
2. Treat the stain immediately
To avoid a permanent purple spot on your tablecloth, deal with the spill as soon as possible so that it doesn’t set. Dried stains are much harder to remove, so improve your odds of success by treating the mess while it’s fresh.
3. Wash or dry-clean the item once the stain is removed
"It's also always a good idea to wash or dry-clean the fabric after any of these tactics, if possible," Vanessa says.
How to remove red wine stains:
1. Club soda
"This is the go-to restaurant solution," says Vanessa. "It's readily at hand, and by diluting and lifting the stain quickly, you can avoid any hard-set, lasting stains. A better alternative would be using club soda with hydrogen peroxide, which boosts its stain-removing ability."
Vanessa recommends going this route for carpets and upholstery: "Generously pour salt onto the still-wet stain; the absorbent salt will leach the red wine from the fabric. I've also heard of restaurants using salt and club soda in conjunction by first diluting the stain with club soda, then absorbing the rest of the liquid with salt." Once it’s dry, just vacuum up the salt.
3. Wine-away wipes
"I worked at a restaurant that kept these wipes in the back for red wine spills," says Vanessa. "The website doesn't give their secret formula, but the mother-daughter founders have found a fail-safe for nearly all red wine spills and stains. It somehow magically lifts both fresh and set stains."
4. White wine
Yes, you read that right. "The last resort, the Hail Mary play," says Vanessa (i.e., attempt this method with caution). "I used this only once, when I accidentally stained a friend's new white couch. I had heard that white wine could erase the damage of red wine. This works only when applied right away. First we dabbed white wine generously onto the stain, then we packed on some salt to soak up whatever remained. It worked, though I have no idea why or how, nor do I know if it would work on dried stains. Luckily, I haven't had an excuse to try it again!"
Feature Image: Unsplash