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.
Blotting, rubbing or otherwise putting pressure on the wet spill can push the wine or fruit pigments into the fibers, making it difficult to completely remove 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
Things You'll Need
Cold running water
Liquid dishwashing detergent
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.
- This method is suitable only for fabrics that are washable and colorfast. Test dark fabrics first in an inconspicuous area to ensure they are colorfast.
- Don't put the fabric in the clothes dryer until you're sure that the stain is completely removed. Heat can set the stain into the fabric.
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.
Jan Burch has written about home, garden, wellness and other topics since 1992. Her articles have appeared in ByLine, Living Natural and New Mexico Woman. Based in Albuquerque, Burch is a Feng Shui consultant and Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner. A life-long crafting enthusiast, she holds a master's degree from the University of California.