Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apple #410: Removing Red Wine Stains

A few days ago, I was having one of those work dinners with some co-workers and a salesperson who wanted our business. The salesperson got a bit exuberant and knocked over his wineglass. The spill was unfortunately aimed in my direction so that my shirt got splattered with red wine and my new skirt was doused with it.

The now-embarrassed salesman asked the waitress for some club soda, and she brought a towel soaked with it. I used the club soda-saturated cloth to blot my shirt and soak up the wine that had spilled on my skirt. It took a few minutes, but I was very happy to see that the wine disappeared from my clothes and reappeared instead on the white towel.

Club soda: is it magic?
(Photo from Coach Creative Space)

This was my first experience with a red wine spill. I had heard about the club soda trick but never had to try it and I was really amazed to see how well it worked. I was so impressed, I kept using the club soda towel to clean the wine stain off the cloth of the booth where we were sitting. It worked like magic on that, too.

Of course, Apple Lady that I am, I wanted to know why the club soda worked so well.

  • First of all, no matter what you use to clean up the spill, act quickly. The sooner you mop it up, the less chance it has to soak in.
  • Second, you want to make sure you don't rub the stain because that will only encourage the liquid to seek shelter more deeply into the fabric. Blot. Always and only blot.
  • Third, you want to use something that will absorb the spilled liquid more quickly than the thing you've spilled it on. Lots of things qualify as a fast absorbent.
  • Some substances work better depending on the liquid or on the fabric, but there is a basic list of products that generally work well.

This doesn't have to be a disaster. Not with club soda or salt handy!
(Photo from A Cleaner Carpet)

  • Salt -- absorbs all kinds of liquids. It is salt's nature to do this.
  • Baking soda -- does the same, though not quite as well as salt and may get clumpy.
  • Talcum powder -- you probably don't have this sitting around your dinner table, but maybe it is at hand in the bathroom or bedroom. If the talcum powder has perfume or colors added to it, though, use something else.
  • Vinegar and ammonia -- these two together are excellent at removing all sorts of stains, especially smelly ones like pet stains. They get rid of the stain and the odor.
  • I gave you this list before the club soda because two of the three ingredients in club soda are what impart its stain-removing magic:
  1. Water
  2. Carbon dioxide
  3. Salt
  • A lot of people maintain that it's the bubbles (a.k.a. carbon dioxide) that remove wine stains, but in fact, it's probably the salt and the water. The salt helps to absorb the stained liquid and the water helps to rinse the area further.
  • By that logic, salt water would probably also work as a decent stain remover. I haven't tried it myself, but I'll bet it would work.
  • Besides those household staples, lots of people highly recommend these commercial products for removing red wine stains:
  1. Shout
  2. Spot Shot
  3. Wine Away

Wine Away is available in lots of versions, from large sizes to smaller emergency kits.
(Photo from Products With Style)

  • Wine Away was (obviously) created specifically to clean up wine stains. It's made of some proprietary combination of fruit and vegetable extracts so it's non-toxic, and it leaves a citrus scent behind.
  • No product will always remove every stain, especially if the stain has had a chance to settle in and get comfortable. So act fast, blot, and keep at it!

Judith Williams, eHow, How Does Club Soda and Salt Get a Wine Stain Out?
How does club soda remove red wine stains? Scientific American, June 12, 206
Professor's House, Red Wine Stains
Art & Betsey Stratemeyer, How to Remove Wine Stains
Mrs. Clean USA, Cleaning Tips on Removing Red Wine Stains


  1. I've always heard that the club soda solution is the best and thanks for all of the other options.

  2. I love using natural products as vinegar, salt and baking soda for removing stains. It is a lot better for the environment in the house.
    You've written a very good post. It will be useful to a lot of people.


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