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Prevention and Cure

Cleaning Red Wine Stains
How high you should fill a red wine glass depends on the event. You could be at home relaxing with a glass of wine or you may be hosting a party.

Note that if you are hosting a special wine tasting events then it is best to serve red wine in a wide-mouthed glass that’s no more than one-third full. This gives you plenty of room to swirl without risking a spill.
I recommend filling to one-third even when being more casual as it makes almost all wines taste better. It also makes for a ‘safer’ glass of wine from a spill perspective. That said, if you’re having a glass of wine with dinner, and the wine isn’t the center of attention, it’s OK to fill the glass up to the halfway mark.

The important thing to remember is that you should never fill a red wine glass to the brim, even in casual settings; it will make your wine taste weaker – the flavors cannot be released properly.

Therefore, my first piece of advice is to do what you can to prevent a red wine spill in the first place.

Accidents Do Happen

However, accidents do happen so let’s now examine a stain and the nature of wine.

We need to understand the nature of red wine. We want to note that the red color is completely natural. The grape-based beverage contains chromogens. This is the primary substance in many colorful plants and this substance makes them good as a fabric dye. Yes, a fabric dye (my goodness!). Red wine is essentially made of fabric dye molecules. Red wine also has naturally occurring tannins which is an organic substance used in many ink productions (again – my goodness!) Your red wine stain is essentially a tie-dye experiment gone wrong.

Red Wine Stains - How to Clean Them

The best approach is to deal with the stain immediately. You can take care of a red wine stain in the morning. However, attending to it sooner rather than later is the preferred solution.

Once red wine hits a fabric it begins to sink into the fibers and the liquid moves throughout the fiber and into the pores wherever it can find space. Red wine, like all liquids, will move in two directions: down and outward.

What Not To Do

Do NOT scrub the stain! Scrubbing will help pull some of the red wine out, but actually negatively impacts the stain as it causes it to spread outward even more. Another undesired consequence is that if you apply too much pressure (easy to do), you may push more red wine into the fabric. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a red wine stain on the couch or on the carpet.

DON’T WAIT too long! While it may be annoying to deal with a red wine stain immediately, I recommend dealing with the stain sooner rather than later. Red wine will sink and settle into fibers with time so time is working against you. Eventually, the wine stain may “set” and become much more difficult to remove. Remember red wine can act as a fabric dye.

Do NOT apply heat! The last thing you want is for the stain to dry. If you apply hot air then the heat can affect the chemical process. Applying heat may make the stain permanent (or nearly so). Do not use a hair dryer and do not put any stained clothes in the dryer until after you have removed the stain.

Cleaning Red Wine

Like any liquid, red wine will move toward anything dry that it comes into contact with. Your best first move is to use an absorbent towel and soak up as much red wine as you can without scrubbing or applying pressure. Then use a dry powdery material and apply it generously on the red wine stain. Good dry powdery materials include:

  • Table salt
  • Baking soda
  • Sodium percarbonate, a.k.a. a granulated form of hydrogen peroxide
  • Dry soap powder
  • Talcum powder, which is used for baby powder

Let the salt (your best option), or any other dry, powdery material you use, settle for a few minutes. In some cases, this may be enough to actually remove the stain completely, especially if you acted fast enough. Otherwise, you may need to apply additional methods.

Wet Heat
Wet heat (in this case) is very different from dry heat. Hot water may be all you need to get the stain out. The water may cause the red wine to dilute and spread out a bit, but the hot water will also cause the molecules in the red wine to lose cohesion with the fabric, making it easier to remove.

Club Soda
The minerals added to club soda may actually make it a better alternative than water. These minerals will actually help absorb and break up the red wine molecules, which you can then blot up more easily. You can also apply some white vinegar to the club soda to help improve the result.

Oxygen Bleach
This type of bleach is a very different cleaner than “bleach”. The main ingredients of oxygen bleach are natural chemicals which are sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate. It is completely biodegradable.

It is safe to use on nearly any fabric and to add to laundry loads for extended periods with no damage to clothing. Oxygen bleach turns to water and oxygen when broken down, so it has no negative impact to the environment and is safe for septic systems.

An oxygen bleach is known as “color-safe” or “all fabric” bleach, since it does not degrade most fabric or strip most color if used correctly, though you must still test colorfastness before using. It is very stable and can be kept for over a year with no loss of effectiveness. However, do not store it in metal or organic containers.

Use it in the same step as laundry detergent, which makes it even more effective and combining steps also saves time. It only works well in hot water, but additives can make it effective in warm water.

Do not use oxygen bleach on delicate fabrics such as silk or wool.

Cleaning Red Wine Stains

The team at A Clean Vision hope you never have to deal with a red wine stain. The first step is prevention. Do not fill up the wine glass too far. Allow for some swirling in the glass as this will improve the flavor. A safer glass is filled not more than halfway (or even filled to one-third).

Next, if a red wine spill occurs, don’t panic, use these tips to address the spill. Accidents happen but they do not need to ruin your event.

Give us a call at 802-295-6065 if you live in the Upper Valley and need extra support for keeping your home clean and tidy. We have been providing homeowners of the Upper Valley with top-notch home cleaning services since 1993.