Red wine stains don't have to mean the end of your tablecloth, napkins or white shirt. Ordinary dishwashing liquid -- which is formulated to clean food residues -- can take the wine stain away, and it also works on stains from red foods and juices, such as cherries, raspberries, red grapes or beets. The secret lies in prompt action, careful handling of the fabric, and plenty of cold water.
Safe Spill Absorption
If the stain has dried, or is small, and the fabric has already soaked up most of the liquid, place the item in the sink right away before proceeding with the stain removal steps. However, if there's a puddle of wine sitting on top of the fabric, you'll need to first soak up the excess to avoid spreading the stain.
The safest way to soak up a spill without rubbing the stain into the fabric is simply to lay some absorbent material on top of it. For example, you could use a clean, old towel or a thick pad of paper towels. When the towel or paper has absorbed the excess moisture, lift it off the fabric and begin the stain removal process.
Soap and Water Stain Removal
Rinse the stain thoroughly by holding it under cold running water for about 30 seconds. If the stain was dry before you started, rinse it for up to 60 seconds.
Squirt dishwashing detergent onto the wet fabric and spread it over the stain with your fingers. Dunk the item in a sink or basin filled with cold water. Dip it up and down and swish to agitate the fabric, but don't wring or twist it.
Remove the fabric from the soapy water and rinse by holding it under cold running water until all the soap has been rinsed away. Squeeze the fabric to remove excess water.
Roll the item in a bath towel to remove more moisture. Don't wring, twist or press on the rolled towel. Remove the item from the towel and hang it to air dry.
Examine the fabric when it is thoroughly dry to see if the stain has been completely removed. If it has, you can launder the item as you normally would. If the stain is still noticeable, repeat the process or use a commercial stain remover, according to product directions.
If the stained fabric is labelled dry clean only or is otherwise unsuitable for the soap-and-water treatment, your best option is to take the item to a professional cleaner as soon as possible. Soak up any excess liquid by using an absorbent material without blotting or rubbing the stain.