There’s a Reddit story about a bridesmaid who flung red wine at the bride’s mother-in-law because she wore a white dress to the wedding. It’s probably the only case where you don’t want to clean the red wine spill right away.
The rest of the time? Gotta move fast!
How to get red wine out of clothes? Start by blotting as much excess liquid as you can.
Then you can try several methods:
- Club soda
- Hydrogen peroxide and laundry detergent
- White vinegar and laundry detergent
- Baking soda
Unless you’ve committed an egregious social sin, get on that red wine stain removal. Then pour yourself another glass – but be mindful of knocking it over again!
How Does Red Wine Stain?
Okay – yes, it’s because it’s red, but the science-y explanation has to do with chromogens and tannins.
Chromogems are present in many colourful plants, and they’re the primary substance for plant-based dyes. Meanwhile, tannins are an organic substance used in ink production.
Put the two together, and you get the delightful burgundy stain from red wine spills.
Does red wine come out of clothes? Yes! Thankfully, red wine stains aren’t permanent. You can get them out with a little effort – just remember that the faster you act, the easier it’ll be!
Before Removing Red Wine Stains
Never, ever scrub a stain. It might remove some of the red wine, but the motions will just push the red pigments further into the fabric. Scrubbing will also make the wine stain spread.
Act quickly! Letting a red wine stain dry on fabric will cause it to “set” into the fibres. Then it becomes more difficult to remove, versus a fresh wine stain.
Also, don’t apply heat. This causes the red wine to undergo a chemical process that leads to a permanent stain on your clothing. So no hot air and definitely no putting the garment in the dryer.
And of course, there’s no point applying white wine. It doesn’t “counteract” the purple pigments, and may just cause the stain to spread further. It’s also a waste of a good drink!
How to Get Red Wine Out of Clothes
Before you tackle red wine stains, check the garment’s care label. Some fabrics – especially delicate ones – require specific cleaning methods. You may even need to bring them to a dry cleaner.
Otherwise, pick a stain remover from the list below.
Blot and rinse the fresh red wine stain
For a wet stain, start by blotting it! Use a paper towel or absorbent cloth to blot the red wine stain immediately.
Remember to dab, not rub – otherwise, you’ll make things worse. Keep going until you’ve absorbed as much liquid as possible.
As an optional step, if the fabric is sturdy, you can rinse it in hot water. Wet heat is different from dry heat, or hot air – it won’t cause the pigments to set.
Place the garment over a bowl with the stain centred, then carefully pour boiling water over the entire stain from a safe height. The water will help dilute the pigmentation and push out the wine from the fabric.
Remove red wine stains using salt
Kosher salt if possible, since it has bigger and flatter grains, but table salt will work too.
Sprinkle a generous amount of salt onto the stain, then leave it overnight. The salt will simply soak up the pigments.
Brush off the salt or dab at the stain in the morning. If some pigmentation remains, you can try one of the other methods.
Remove red wine stains using club soda
Club soda supposedly breaks down the dye molecules in wine, but it’s most effective if applied immediately.
Stretch the garment over a bowl with the stained area in the middle, then pour plenty of club soda over it. Let it soak overnight.
This won’t work with soda water, sparkling water, or any other carbonated beverage.
Remove red wine stains using hydrogen peroxide
Only use this on white or light-coloured fabrics, since hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent. Test it on an inconspicuous area first to make sure you don’t damage the garment.
Mix three parts hydrogen peroxide with one part liquid detergent (or dish soap). Apply the solution to the stain and let it sit for 20–30 minutes. Rinse the clothing, then launder as usual.
Remove red wine stains using white vinegar
White vinegar has extensive uses in cleaning – and that includes red wine stain removal.
Apply a few drops of laundry detergent to the wine stain, then soak the area in vinegar. Let the clothing sit in the vinegar overnight.
You can launder the garment in the morning as usual.
Remove red wine stains using baking soda
Baking soda (bicarb soda) will work like salt – it’ll absorb the liquid in the fabric.
Sprinkle plenty of baking soda onto a fresh wine stain and let it sit for 5–10 minutes. When the baking soda becomes soggy with wine, replace it with more.
You can also use baking soda as a wine stain remover with white vinegar. Sprinkle the baking soda onto the red wine stain, then pour vinegar over it. Rinse out the mixture and repeat if necessary.
How to Remove a Dried Red Wine Stain
If you missed some red wine stains on your clothing, don’t worry! Even if the wine stains have dried, you can still clean them up.
Start by rubbing in some laundry detergent onto the stain. Then submerge the garment in cold water for at least 30 minutes, but ideally overnight.
Rinse the clothing in the morning, then use any of the above cleaning methods. Alternatively, you can use a commercial stain remover if the clothing allows it. Launder as normal.
Wine-able Laundry Tips
If all else fails, you can try a commercial stain remover. Just make sure to follow the instructions and test it on an inconspicuous area of the garment first.
To help clean your clothes and keep them soft, toss in a cup of vinegar before running a load.
And of course, don’t do anything that will get wine thrown at you! It’s still better to know how to get red wine out of clothes, just in case, but you gotta minimise the chances – especially at a wedding.