Glass of red wine lying on a cream jumper
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How to get red wine out of clothes

If red is the colour that spells Christmas, then red wine is the beverage of the season, whether in the form of warming mulled wine, or as the accompaniment to your carefully curated festive menu. It’s all part of the glorious package of cold weather, roaring fires, great food, and loving, convivial company. But more red wine drinking means more red wine splashes and spillages. That’s why we’ve put together our hacks for getting red wine out of fabrics, so your table linens, upholstery and clothes can enjoy the festivities too!

Work fast 

Work on the stain as soon as possible. Red wine will sink and settle into the fibres of the fabric, and will eventually set and become more difficult to remove. 

Apply a dry materialSalt being poured over a red wine stain on a white shirt

Image source: Odyssey Cleaning

Dry materials will ‘pull’ the red wine out of the fabric’s fibres. Simply sprinkle the material over the stain to absorb the wine and lift the colour away from the surface. After gently blotting the stain to remove what you can, try dabbing it with a little cold water, then spread the material over the affected area, letting it sit for at least five minutes, and blot it away. 

The following dry materials will work, with ordinary table salt being the most effective:

~ Table salt

~ Baking soda

~ Talcum powder/baby powder

~ Cat litter (we’re serious)

Soak in boiling water

Applying a dry material may be enough to completely remove a red wine stain, especially if you act quickly, before the stain can set. But you may need to take further measures. One trick is to apply boiling water. Though it may appear to cause the stain to spread, it actually dilutes it, causing the red wine molecules to lose their cohesion with the fabric. 

Mix white vinegar with club soda Red wine stain on a white shirt with glass lying on top

Image source: Shutterstock

For something stronger than boiling water, try mixing a solution of equal parts white vinegar and club soda. The minerals added to club soda (potassium bicarbonate and potassium sulphate) help break down red wine molecules, making the stain easier to blot. 

Soak in boiled milk

After boiling a potful of milk and letting it cool, soak the stained item in a milky bath for about 30 minutes, before rinsing with cool, clean water. Milk works as a solvent due to its absorbent properties (the higher the fat content, the more effective the stain-removal). 

Mix your own natural oxi cleaner Red wine stained shirt lying in a bucket with a stain removal powder over the top

Image source: The Spruce

The final solution we recommend should work well even on dried red wine stains. Mix 1 part washing soda with 1 part hydrogen peroxide (you can find these in most grocery stores). Apply the solution to the stain, let it sit for 20-60 minutes, then blot it away.

So now you know what to do to get rid of red wine stains. Here’s what not to do. 

Tip #1: Don’t scrub 

Scrubbing will cause the stain to spread outward even more, pressing the wine even deeper into the fabric. So be sure to blot rather than scrub the stain. 

Tip #2: Don’t apply dry heat

Dry heat alters the chemical process that the stain undergoes upon drying, and will make it nearly permanent and painstaking to remove. That means no tumble dryers or hair dryers!

Tip #3: Don’t apply white wine

White wine is often considered the best way to dissolve the anthrocyanin compounds which give red wine its colour and ability to stain clothing. But it’s not a cleaning agent, nor will it counteract the dyeing agents in red wine. It may even cause the red wine stain to spread out even further. Try the more effective liquid measures we recommend above. 

Tip #4: Don’t apply without testing 

When applying anything to your fabrics, whether dry or liquid, always test it on an inconspicuous area first, and only proceed if it leaves no visible mark or lasting damage. 

With this in mind, you can enjoy your red wine without the fear of a splash or spillage!


Cover image by The Woolmark Company

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