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Removing red wine stains

Red wine stain

Question from BK: Hi Lauren, I often find myself on the dance floor with a glass of red wine and then the inevitable happens… I spill the wine on my clothes! Why the heck is it so hard to get red wine out? I’d dance naked to avoid this situation, though it might get awkward.

In a nut shell: Get off the dance floor, dash to the bathroom, remove your clothes, rinse toughly, dab dry and apply a thick layer of salt (just make sure you pick the salt up from the kitchen before heading to the bathroom or you might have to do a nudie run). Not very practical hey? So what’s a convenient alternative? When you get home, after a steamy session on the d-floor, apply an Oxi product, soak overnight and wash off the next day. Ta da… stain removed. Want a few carpet/couch tips? Read on…

In a clam shell: There are so many myths out there concerning the best way to remove a red wine stain but really, there are only a few methods that work (and let’s face it, not always 100% unfortunately).

Myths – use white wine? No! White wine is fermented grape juice, just like red wine and it’ll stain just like red wine (only not as obviously because it’s transparent). Use milk? Really?!? I’m not even entertaining that one. Use soda water? Sure but it’s just plain water with carbon dioxide in it. Normal water works in exactly the same way.

So after debunking a few myths let’s look at what actually works.

Before applying anything there are a few things you can do to help the situation.

  1. Act immediately! The sooner you get to the stain the better chance you will have of removing it (this could be difficult if you spill your wine during your favourite song. Decision, decisions – remove the stain or keep dancing?!?!).
  2. Rinse the stain with heaps of fresh water (although this might involve getting naked so best to take yourself to the bathroom).
  3. Absorb as much of the wine as possible with a damp cloth or paper towel (this is especially handy if you’ve spilt it on the couch or carpet).

And a few things you shouldn’t do.

  • Don’t apply heat. Hot water will set the stain. Heat should only be useful when the stain has dried and set.
  • Don’t apply a chemical treatment without checking the fabric first. You could totally ruin your top, pants, shoes, whatevs if the fabric needs special care like suede, silk, leather (dry clean only fabrics).

So once you’ve dashed to the bathroom, rinsed well and dabbed up as much wine as possible there’s one old wives tale that’ll do the trick.

Apply salt (this goes for both clothes and carpets/couches). Cover the stain in a thick layer of table salt which will slowly absorb the stain. After a good hour dust the salt off and if the stain is still offensive repeat the process.

Now, there might be a little red tinge left after applying the salt or perhaps you got too carried away dancing (and then sleeping and then curing your hangover with a big breakfast) that the stain dried. What to do with a set-in stain?

Apply an Oxi product (think Napisan or Preen or Sard). Apply the Oxi product to your clothes but not to your carpet or couch as you can’t chuck your couch in the washing machine. If you don’t wash an Oxi treatment off you might end up with discolouration.

Saturate the area with hot water, apply the treatment and then let the Oxi do its thing. Soak for hours or days depending on the stain but make sure you keep checking on the stain as delicate fabrics can react differently to the treatment. Once it’s looking spick and span pop it in the washing machine and voila! Stain removed!

If there’s no Oxi in sight good old washing detergent can be almost just as effective. I’ve been known to use a gentle washing detergent on the couch/carpet too. Only a tinnie bit on a wet cloth and then ensure you rinse the soap off thoroughly or you might end up with another stain.

And when all else fails get it steam cleaned (couch/carpet) or dry cleaned (clothing) and perhaps, in future, when you’re heading to the dance floor opt for a white wine which will be much easier to removing than a red! Easier said than done, I know.


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