How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Carpet
Red wine is a notoriously difficult stain to remove; in fact, the very thought of red wine soaking into the pile of a thick, cream carpet is enough to make anyone feel uncomfortable.
But why is it such a nightmare for those of us dedicated to our clean carpets and rugs? Well, red wine contains an intense anthocyanin found in grape skins, which gives foods a highly pigmented red, blue or purple colour. Unfortunately, as most of us will have discovered at one time or another, anthocyanins attach themselves to fabric and carpets very easily.
That said, the fear of spilling red wine on your carpet should never stop you indulging in your favourite beverage. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to removing red wine stains.
There are several ways to go about removing red wine stains from your carpets or rugs, but knowing which one’s right for you is probably going to depend on what you have in your cupboards, and how recently the red wine stain appeared.
The ground rules
Before you do anything to the red wine spillage, read through these ground rules.
The following advice applies to any red wine stain, regardless of your chosen removal method…
It’s not always possible to remove a red wine stain straight away, but when it comes to acting on your stain, it really is ‘the sooner, the better’.
Blot, don’t scrub
Scrubbing a red wine stain will only embed the pigment further into the fibres of your carpet, allowing the stain to spread further. Make sure that you only ever blot the stain for the most effective absorption.
Do not apply heat
Avoid using hot water or even a warm cloth when you’re tackling a red wine stain. Heat must only ever be applied once the mark has been removed, to get rid of any residue left by your chosen cleaning solution.
Check it before you wreck it
When using bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide, be sure to test a hidden area of carpet for colourfastness before applying. Having a stain to remove is one problem, but bleaching your carpet and trying to get it back to its original colour is nigh on impossible.
Plain and simple
Avoid using coloured or patterned paper napkins. Stick to white cloths if you can, and make sure they won’t fall to pieces when wet. You don’t want to end up with papier mâché worked into your carpet!
Avoid detergent and spot cleaners
Don’t use laundry detergent, dishwasher detergents or spot cleaners on your carpet. Not only could they damage the fibres of your carpet, but they are also incredibly difficult to remove. Any other spills or bits of dirt are likely to cling to them, making the area look even dirtier than before.
Avoid chlorine bleach
You should never use bleach or ammonia on wool carpets: it’s likely that you’ll damage the fibres which, again, cannot be reversed. Wool carpets are particularly sensitive to alkalis, so avoid any of the methods that include soap or washing-up liquid.
Two stains are not better than one
If you’re removing a wine stain from a rug with carpet underneath, move the rug as soon as you can. There’s nothing more frustrating than removing a wine stain, only to discover that it’s seeped onto the carpet beneath.
Before we go through your options when it comes to removing a red wine stain, there are a few things you can try, to avoid the problem completely.
Treating your carpet or rug: People tend to have mixed views on carpet protection products, but if you’re prone to spills (particularly if you have young children or pets), then you might want to consider the investment.
Opt for a washable rug: Washable rugs like those available here, give you the peace of mind that comes with being able to throw it in the washing machine if things go a bit pear-shaped.
Be prepared: It’s always worth having some of the following ingredients in the storage cupboard, in case of a wine-related emergency. That way, you can act fast as soon as the incident occurs.
How to remove wet red wine stains
There are several ways to tackle a newly-made red wine stain. Take your pick from the best methods:
The hydrogen peroxide method
• Start by soaking up as much wine as you can with a clean, dry towel.
• Mix soap, hydrogen peroxide and washing-up liquid in equal parts.
• Pour the mixture over the red wine stain.
• Leave to soak for one minute.
• Blot the stain until it can no longer be seen.
The white wine method
• Soak up what you can with a clean, absorbent towel.
• Pour a small amount of white wine onto the red wine stain.
• Blot the area again with a clean towel.
The vinegar method
• Blot the stain with a clean, absorbent towel.
• Mix one tablespoon of washing-up liquid with one tablespoon of white vinegar and two cups of water.
• Use a towel to blot the mixture onto the stain.
• Gently blot the area with a separate, dry towel until the stain has disappeared.
The salt method
• Soak up as much of the wine as you can with a clean, dry towel.
• Pour a thick layer of salt over the affected area to stop it from spreading or setting.
• Once the salt has turned a pinkish colour, scrape away as much of the salt as you can with a spoon.
• Hoover up any remaining salt.
How to remove dry red wine stains
As mentioned in our ground rules, the sooner you try and tackle a red wine stain, the better. Unfortunately, things aren’t always that simple; sometimes you may not notice the spillage right away, or you don’t have the right tools for the job. If that’s the case, check out the following methods for a dry-red-wine-stain-friendly alternative.
The baking soda method
• Pour cold water or white wine (if you have any) over the red wine stain.
• Soak up what you can with a clean, dry towel.
• Repeat until the stain has faded considerably.
• Mix baking soda and water into a thick paste.
• Spread a thick layer of the paste over the stain.
• Cover with a clean cloth, weighed down with a heavy book, and leave overnight.
• Remove the majority of the baking soda with a spoon.
• Hoover up any remaining baking soda.
The peroxide and soap method
• Add two teaspoons of soap to half a cup of hydrogen peroxide to create a mixture.
• Using a clean cloth or towel, blot the mixture onto the stain.
• Repeat this method using a clean area of the cloth or towel until the stain has been removed.
The soda water method
• Pour the soda water onto the stain.
• Blot the area with a clean, dry towel.
• If you have salt handy, follow these steps with ‘the salt method’ outlined above.
Remember: whatever method you choose, there’s never any substitute for professional help. If you’ve carefully followed the advice above and you’re not happy with the results, or you’d rather not risk having a go yourself, then contact a professional carpet or rug cleaner.