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Removing Red Wine Stains

Written by Jennifer Jordan
Filed Under: Wine Lifestyle

There are few things that will send a clean freak into a nervous breakdown like a red wine stain: red, red wine, when it's spilled on the table and running onto the carpet, doesn't make you feel so fine. No matter what UB40 says.

But, luckily, there is hope. Take it from me, I'm an expert in stains.

Now, my self-proclaimed "expert status" isn't because I spill a lot of red wine, if I feel like there's going to be a spill, I'm not above using a sippy cup as intervention. Instead, my status is deserved because I have a dog with a penchant for confusing the living room with the outside lawn. On occasion I can catch her before she stains my carpet - her sniffing around or asking for a magazine (Dog Fancy) are sure signs that she's about to leave a mark - but more often than not, she shows her love for me in piles…large, stinky piles.

Though red wine and dog accidents aren't made up of the same ingredients, at least not until my dog starts spilling her wine, they both stain, and stain quickly. Yet, red wine may be the worst of the two evils. It seems to flock to white carpet like a moth to a flame.

Still, even the reddest of wines on the whitest of carpet isn't the end of the world. There are ways to get rid of red wine stains…and you might not even have to move the furniture in a "cover up operation" to do so.

Act Quickly: Picture this- you're hosting a dinner party and, out of the corner of your eye, you see a glass of wine begin to fall to its death. You yell "Noo-oooo," and dive to save it, shoving your great grandmother out of the way in the process. No matter how quick you are, the wine is quicker and you suddenly realize it's too late: you shrug your shoulders, refill the glass, and state that you'll clean the stain up later.

As noble as your acts of intervention were, saving the stain for later is where you are making your mistake. Stains are most likely to be removed when they are fresh: the longer they sit, the stronger they become. Instead of waiting till the party is over, take a few minutes and get to the carpet before it drinks the wine in…and asks for another.

Resist the Rub: Whenever you see a stain, your first desire is probably to rub it, rub it out of the carpet and out of your soul. However, rubbing doesn't get wine out of the carpet, it only spreads it around and forces it to seek solace within the deepest of carpet fibers.

Instead of rubbing, simply blot the stain with a dry paper towel or a dry rag. Using a wet paper towel or wet rag can help add to your troubles by giving wine the tools it needs to spread; watered down wine, whether in your glass or in your carpet, is the same thing: no good.

Use Specialized Cleaners: If you are what we call "a spiller," you may be wise to invest in a few industrial strength stain removers. For red wine, Oxy Clean and Wine Away are two of the best on the market. They are simple, easy to use, and a red wine stain's worst enemy: stains shake when they see these cleaners approach. Trust me, I've seen it happen.

If you don't have any Oxy Clean or Wine Away on hand, try mixing liquid dish soap with a cup of Hydrogen Peroxide (or club soda). After blotting the stain with a dry towel, use a sponge to dab it with your dish soap / hydrogen peroxide creation, or, as we like to call it, H2Oap.

Fight Red with White: Some people swear that the way to get rid of red wine stains is simple: fight fire with fire, a different color fire. Pouring white wine on the red wine stain forces it to neutralize, causing it to come up easily. This route, however, requires you to willingly pour out white wine. If you can't force yourself to do this, don't worry: you're not alone. Baking soda and salt may also help to keep the red wine from setting, and they are a lot easier to part with than a bottle of Chardonnay.