Spilling a glass of red wine on your beautiful beige carpet is every homeowner’s nightmare. Maybe you were having a dinner party, and one of your guests got a little too rowdy. Or perhaps you have a few too many glasses of Pinot Noir yourself and knocked the bottle over. Spills happen. But getting red wine stains out of the carpet can be a real headache.
However, don’t call a professional carpet cleaning service just yet. There are various ways you can remove red wine stains yourself, with ingredients you probably already have in the cupboard.
Why does red wine stain?
It seems like red wine stains are more common than other types of stains, as you’re constantly hearing about them. Red wine doesn’t necessarily stain more than other beverages. Still, a few factors make red wine stains especially difficult to deal with.
Most obviously, red wine is usually more likely to spill than other beverages because the person handling the wine is tipsy or intoxicated. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s ability to communicate with the body. This inebriation can cause difficulty with balance and coordination. People who are experiencing difficulty with coordination are much more likely to spill their drinks.
Red wine stains more easily than white wine for obvious reasons: the color. White wine is made primarily with lighter-colored grapes, and the skins are removed before fermentation. Red wine is made with darker red or black grapes, and the skin, seeds, and sometimes even stems remain on the grapes during fermentation. This is where tannins come from, hence why red wines have them and white wines don’t.
Red wine is red because of anthocyanins, the pigment found in red grapes. The tannins in red wine lead to astringency, which is one of the reasons people love to drink it. Still, unfortunately, this astringent quality helps the pigment bind to surfaces, such as teeth, leading to staining. The acid in red wine can also make certain surfaces more porous, making them more prone to staining.
All of these factors make red wine stains difficult to remove. However, with the right knowledge and tools, and a little elbow grease, you can absolutely get the stain out and have your carpet looking brand new again. Read our previously published blog article for tips on getting red wine stains out of other surfaces.
How to get a fresh red wine stain out of carpet
So, you’ve just spilled a glass of red wine on your carpet. It’s a panic-inducing moment, but you can take comfort in the fact that fresh red wine stains are easier to remove than old red wine stains.
Start Right Away
Our first tip is to act quickly. The less time you give the wine to absorb into the fibers of your carpet, the better. So pause whatever you’re doing, and begin cleaning the stain as soon as possible.
Before you break out the heavy-duty cleaning products, try cleaning the stain with water first. On fresh stains, just plain water can be shockingly effective. Grab a spray bottle, a wet washcloth, or a cup of water, and pour it over the affected area. Be careful not to completely saturate your carpet, just cover the stained area lightly.
Blot, don’t scrub
Now, it’s time to blot the stain out. It’s incredibly important to remember to blot, not scrub. Scrubbing can drive the stain further into the carpet fibers. The friction can even heat the fibers and chemically bond the stain to your carpet. You want to blot the stain away with paper towels or a dishrag, so you can pick up as much of the pigment as possible and remove it from your carpet. If it’s a large stain, begin blotting from the outside and work your way in to stop the stain from spreading. Once you’ve blotted up all the moisture, re-wet the carpet slightly and repeat the process until the stain is no longer visible.
Dilute the pigment
Once you think the majority of the stain has been blotted up, and you can no longer see the red wine, pour just a few drops of cold water where the stain was. This will help dilute whatever pigment is left and show you if there is any wine remaining. If you see more red wine, repeat the blotting process until it disappears.
If you have some club soda on hand, that’s a great option to try. Once you’ve blotted away as much of the red wine as possible, pour the club soda over the stain, and let it fizz, and soak for at least 10 minutes. The carbonation will help to dissolve the red pigment. After you’ve let it sit, use a sponge or towel to blot up the liquid, and repeat as necessary. Make sure you’re using plain club soda without any coloring agent added, or you may end up with another stain altogether.
How to get a dried or stubborn red wine stain out of carpet
So, you tried removing your stain with water, and it didn’t completely get it out. Or maybe you’re dealing with an older stain. Either way, there are various methods you can use to deal with these more stubborn, difficult stains.
The salt method
This method involves exactly what the name suggests: pouring salt on the stain to remove it. The key to this method is to re-wet the stain before you apply the salt. A little bit of water goes a long way; remember not to saturate your carpet all the way down to the carpet pad.
After you’ve re-wet the area:
- Apply a generous amount of salt all over the stain.
- Do not scrub or blot the salt into the carpet.
Let the salt work its magic, and leave it untouched overnight.
In the morning, you should notice that the salt appears crystallized and pink. Once all the moisture is dry, scoop up the excess salt, and vacuum the area.
The vinegar method
For this stain-removal method, you’re going to need some white vinegar, some dishwashing liquid, and a good amount of warm water. In a large cup, mix together one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and two cups of warm water. Apply this mixture gently to the stained area. Again, don’t oversaturate or pour the entire cup of liquid onto the stain. Only use enough to gently wet the stain.
Once your stain is wet, grab two rags: one wet and one dry. The wet rag will help you dab the mixture into the carpet, and the dry rag will help you remove the moisture and pick up the stain. Repeat this process, applying more of your vinegar mixture as needed until the stain is gone.
The baking soda method
There are a few different ways to use baking soda to remove a red wine stain. First, you can use the baking soda exactly as you’d use salt in the method above. Re-wet your stain, apply a generous amount of baking soda to the area, and leave it overnight. You can also mix one part baking soda with three parts water and apply the mixture that way.
If your stain needs a little more power, try mixing ¼ cup baking soda with one tablespoon of white vinegar. This will get really fizzy, so act quickly and apply the mixture to your carpet. Cover the stain completely, then let it air dry before re-wetting with plain water and blotting again.
The dish soap and hydrogen peroxide method
For this method, you’ll need two common household items: dish soap and hydrogen peroxide. It’s extremely important to note that hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, so this should only be used on a very light-colored or white carpet. Always begin by applying this solution to a very small area of the stain first to ensure it won’t bleach the color out of your carpet.
For your cleaning mixture, combine three parts hydrogen peroxide with one part dish soap. Once you’ve tested to make sure the mixture won’t remove the color for your carpet, apply all over the stain, and let soak for at least an hour. You should notice the stain beginning to fade right away. Dab the solution into the stained area with a rag if needed. Once the stain has lifted, rinse the excess solution with a clean wet cloth, let air dry, and vacuum.
Spilling red wine on your carpet can feel incredibly overwhelming. It’s a notoriously difficult stain to remove, especially if your carpet is light-colored or white. The key is to act quickly and not to panic. There are many ways to easily and gently remove red wine from the carpet, using ingredients you probably already have in your cabinet.