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How to remove red wine stains from clothes, carpets and furniture

A little bit of wine makes you shine, but it can also make you whine if you spill it on something. With the holidays coming, now’s the time to hone your skills for removing these stubborn stains from clothes, upholstery and carpet. To help you out, we invited cleaning pros to share their favorite ways to tackle this common problem. Read on and you’ll impress family and friends with your stain-busting know-how.

First aid for wine stains on clothes (in 3 easy steps)

  1. Act quickly. Treat the stain as quickly as you can. The longer it has to set, the harder it is to remove.
  2. Blot thoroughly. Using a clean white cloth, blot up as much wine as possible starting from the outside in. Do not rub or you might spread the stain. Don’t skimp on this step, advises Becca Napelbaum, cleaning expert at Handy.com. The more of the wine you soak up, the less you’ll have to remove.
  3. Make sure the fabric is color safe. Before using any of the following cleaning suggestions, make sure the item is color safe and washable. All dry-clean-only items should be blotted and taken to the cleaners as soon as possible.

Commercial wine stain removers that really work

Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid, recommends Wine Away, which works on many types of stains. Because it contains only fruit and vegetable extracts, it’s also non-toxic.

In addition to Wine Away, its number one choice, Good Housekeeping Institute found Wine B’ Gone and Gonzo Wine Out especially effective on fabric and carpets. TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager is a fan of Chateau Spill, a biodegradable, chlorine free stain spray.

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Jenna Bush Hager swears by this red wine stain remover

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Jenna Bush Hager swears by this red wine stain remover

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Powerizer, a cleaning agent that doubles as a stain remover, laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent removes wine from both fabric and carpets. Note: It should not be used on wool, wool blends, silk, silk blends, leather or on fabrics labeled dry clean only. As with all stain removers, follow package directions carefully.

5 DIY wine stain removers for fabrics and clothes

1. Salt/Baking soda. Roberts suggests flushing the stain with cold water, then blotting it with a white cleaning cloth to soak up any remaining wine. Here's what to do next:

  • Using a white cloth makes it easier to see if the wine is coming up.
  • Sprinkle salt onto the stain, then wait three minutes before rinsing again with cold water.
  • Blot the stain. Repeat until the stain lifts out completely, then launder as usual.

Napelbaum employs the same method but uses baking soda instead of salt. If the stain remains, she suggests using a laundry pre-treat product and washing as usual.

RELATED: 7 laundry-saving tips we never knew (like a foolproof trick for red wine)

2. Club soda. Napelbaum recommends blotting up as much wine as possible, then flushing the stain with club soda. Repeat until the stain disappears.

3. Ice water/club soda/salt/vinegar. Merry Maids home cleaning expert and franchise owner Amy Bates treats red wine stains that are in color safe cloth with this multi-punch combo.

  • Start by blotting the stain immediately. Next, drape the stained area over the top of a large bowl, securing it to the top of the bowl with a large rubber band.
  • Pour either ice water or chilled club soda onto the stain then generously pour salt on top of the stained area and allow it to sit for five minutes.
  • Pour hot or boiling water onto the stain and let it rinse in the sink. If there are still remnants of the stain, add a mixture of water and vinegar to the bowl and soak the fabric.
  • Launder as usual.

RELATED: How to clean and disinfect your home using vodka

4. Rubbing alcohol. Becky Rapinchuk, Scotch-Brite brand ambassador and author of The Organically Clean Home, suggest rinsing the stained area thoroughly, then dabbing with a little rubbing alcohol to remove the stain.

5. Hydrogen peroxide/dish detergent. Because hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach, test the clothing first in an inconspicuous place before using this method. According to Stainmaster.com, here's an option for removing a wine stain:

  • Apply a mixture of Dawn dishwashing detergent and hydrogen peroxide to the stain.
  • As it soaks into the fabric, the stain should begin to fade. Once it does, launder the item as usual.
  • If unable to wash the item immediately, rinse it completely to prevent weakening of the clothing fibers.

First aid for wine stains on carpet or upholstery (in 4 easy steps)

According to Carolyn Forte, cleaning product expert and director of Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Appliances & Cleaning Products and Textiles, there's a process to lifting stains from carpet or furniture fabrics:

  1. Dab stains lightly, don’t rub or you’ll spread them.
  2. Spritz, don’t pour, water and cleaning solutions onto the stain. Too much liquid can harm a carpet, especially if it is not all removed.
  3. Use several clean cloths instead of reusing the same one.
  4. Cover the cleaned area overnight with layers of paper towels weighed down with a heavy object. This will wick out residual liquid.

3 DIY wine stain removers for carpet and upholstery

1. Baking soda. The key to removing stains from upholstery and carpets is to take action immediately, suggests Napelbaum. Here's how to do it:

  • Using cloths or paper towels, soak up as much of the wine as possible — and when you think you’re done dabbing, keep going for another two minutes! The more of the liquid you soak up, the less of a stain you’ll have to remove.
  • Apply a small amount of cold water to the stain and with a clean cloth or paper towel, dab the stain until no more comes out.
  • Apply a paste of one-part baking soda/three-parts water to the stained area and allow it to dry. Once dry, vacuum up all the paste. If the stain still remains, turn to a professional for help.

2. Club Soda. Rapinchuk suggests, “The quickest and easiest way possible to soak up excess wine is to use a quality sponge. It will absorb the liquid faster than a towel or a cloth would.” Follow that by rinsing the stain with club soda and blotting to remove as much liquid as possible.

3. Vinegar. Four Monks Cleaning Vinegar, which is 20% more acidic than food vinegar, is effective in removing wine stains from carpet. After blotting up as much wine as possible, make a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup salt or baking soda. Rub mixture into the carpet stain and let it dry. Vacuum up the soda/salt. Always test on an inconspicuous part of the carpet first.

RELATED: The 1 ingredient you need to get rid of a blood stain

When to call a carpet cleaning pro

A word about professional carpet cleaning, Mike Buckner, Marketing Brand Manager at Sears Home Services in Columbus, Ohio, cautions homeowners to be realistic when tackling serious stains in carpets and rugs. If a stain doesn’t come out easily, call a pro. “Often, the more that homeowners try to deal with a stain by themselves, the worse the stain becomes. It is the equivalent to putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.”

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