How to Successfully Take Care of Red Wine Stains

It’s an all-too-common occurrence. We’re enjoying a nice evening with friends or a relaxing after-dinner glass of red wine, and everything seems just perfect… maybe too perfect. It’s when everything seems like it’s going swimmingly when tragedy most often strikes —the dreaded red wine spill.

But there’s no need to panic. Although it might seem impossible to get such a bright red stain out or your shirt, carpet or whatever household item was unfortunate to be in the line of fire, removing it is actually quite doable. Just use the following tips and avoid the many common misconceptions.

How to clean spilled red wine

Timing is Everything

The one factor that may have the biggest impact on how well you can remove the stain is time.

The faster you start working on the spill, the better your chance of getting rid of the stain completely. Right after a spill, we often waste time just panicking and frantically trying to figure out what to do. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re in panic mode. For this reason, go over in your head what you’ll do if a spill occurs and make sure you have the tools you’ll need should a spill occur before inviting your friends over to share a bottle of merlot.

Specialized Wine Stain Removal Products

If you really want a sure-fire way to remove red wine stains, use a product designed especially for that purpose. These stain removers are formulated specifically for red wine, so they will likely be more effective than household products. They also come with specific directions, so you can have more peace of mind that you won’t cause more damage than you fix.

Many of these products, such as Wine Away Stain Remover, are bleach-free and non-toxic, so they’re safe for use around children and pets.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Misconceptions abound when it comes to treating red wine stains. A common piece of advice says to apply salt to pull the stain out of the material. In reality, however, this will set the stain, making it nearly impossible to fully remove.

You may also have heard that you should apply hot water to a spill right after it occurs. Although this method works for many other kinds of stains, when red wine is involved, it may cause the stain to set. Cold water is a better option.

Another common red wine removal mistake is rubbing the stain instead of blotting it. Although this is standard cleaning advice, it’s easy to forget it when you’re in the moment trying to save your carpet. Just remember that rubbing the stain might push it deeper into that carpet. Instead, blot it.

How to clean a red wine spill

Using Household Items

Some typical household items can be useful for cleaning up wine spills and preventing stains. If you need something just a bit more heavy-duty that cold water, try using club soda and white vinegar. The minerals in club soda help to break down and absorb the red wine. Add a little bit of white vinegar for an extra punch.

For stains that have been sitting for awhile, try using an oxi cleaner. Any type of oxi product will help break up already-dried stains. Apply it to the spot, wait for 20 minutes to an hour and then blot it up.

While household items can help clean up stains, be careful what you reach for. Using the wrong kind of substance on the wrong material can not only make the stain worse but also damage the carpet, piece of furniture or article of clothing with the stain on it.

Preventing Spills and Stains

Perhaps the best method for protecting your home from wine stains is preventing spills in the first place. This, however, is easier said than done.

When you’re pouring wine, always do so over a counter from which you can easily wipe up any spills. Once you’ve got your glass, choose a dedicated spot to place it that’s sturdy and isn’t likely to get bumped but is still easily accessible. Avoid placing it elsewhere, even for a second. If you do want to move your spot, check to make sure the area isn’t too risky before setting down your glass.

Although spilled wine can be a disaster, it doesn’t have to be. Plan ahead, take preventative action and follow these cleanup tips if a spill occurs, to keep your home free of wine stains and your mind free of worry while you enjoy your favorite red wine.


About the author: Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!


  1. I hate to differ with you, but I have been drinking, and spilling wine for many years. Get to the stain as soon as possible, blotting any excess. Then apply salt and since it’s so cheap, scoop it on top and press down lightly over the entire area. Allow to sit for 30 minutes (or 2 glasses of wine) and then brush off. Apply an equal amount of salt again, pressing it into the fabric. Have 3 more glasses of wine! When you awaken in the morning, shake off the salt and the stain is gone. Unfortunately, the hangover will last several hours!
    – Richard

  2. Wine Away has saved our oriental rugs on more than one occasion!
    I keep a few bottles. The liquid works better than the spray. I have tried the “me too” products but they do not work! Wine away is at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
    – David

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