How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Anything

Updated: Apr. 19, 2023

Wine is one of life's greatest pleasures—until that glass goes tumbling and merlot ends up everywhere. But all hope is not lost! We'll show you how to remove red wine stains from anything.


We’ve all been there. While enjoying a glass of cabernet or syrah at dinner or a party, someone inadvertently hits the glass and red wine ends up all over your crisp, clean white shirt or your friend’s brand new light colored carpet. Gah!

Why does red wine stain so easily? Just like in coffee, tea, berries and dyes, chromogens are the culprits. These compounds cause pigmentation and easily bind to fabrics and even teeth. (If you’ve ever had someone describe a red wine as “inky,” you get the gist.) The good news is that you can remove a red wine stain, often with things you already have on hand.

There are some basic rules to follow. First, act fast. As soon as red wine hits the couch, carpet or skirt, it spreads outward and downward into the fabric or upholstery. It’s best not to wait and deal with it later. When working on the stain, don’t scrub—blot. Rubbing will only push the wine stain deeper into the fabric and cause it to spread. Adding a bit of baking soda or salt can help sop up some moisture, but be careful. Leaving salt on too long might actually set the stain.

Here are more tips for red wine stain removal.

wine stain on shirt
Alaina DiGiacomo/Taste of Home

How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Clothing

All is not lost if you’ve spilled red wine on your favorite blouse or your boss’s jacket. First, blot the stain with a clean napkin or paper towel. If accessible, dab with a bit of sparkling water or white wine. Yes, you heard that right: Like bubbly water, white wine can help push the stain out of the fabric. Dab again with a dry napkin.

Wine removal sprays can help, too, and are best if used immediately. Things like Wine Away, one of the most popular (you’ll see it at almost every good wine tasting room!), as well as Chateau Spill Red Wine Remover or Dr. Beckmann Stain Devils Fruit and Drink will even help after the wine stain dries. If fresh, blot the wine stain as much as possible, and use any of these as directed on the bottle. PS: These all work on other stubborn food stains, like tomato sauce, fruit punch or berry juice, too!

When it’s time to wash the garments, try spraying the stain liberally with hairspray or one of the wine stain removers. Leave it for a few minutes, then blot to remove any remaining color. You can also use any great spot treatments, like the classic Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar and Stain Remover or one of our Test Kitchen-tested best stain removers. If some residue remains, try soaking the fabric in an oxygen stain remover like OxiClean before washing again.

red wine stain on carpet
Alaina DiGiacomo/Taste of Home

How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Carpets

Like clothing, the faster you act when red wine spills on carpet, the better. If possible, immediately blot (don’t rub!) the wine with a dry towel. Then add salt or baking soda to stop the moisture from spreading out, and vacuum up the residue. From there, you can use any number of household items to try and remove the red wine stain.

If you know how to clean food stains, the same rules apply here, too. Try adding club soda or vodka to the stain, waiting a few minutes, and blotting it away with a dry towel. Dish soap is also your friend. Mix 2 tablespoons dish soap with 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 cups water, pour a small amount on the red wine stain, and blot with a clean cloth.

You can also try spraying the stain with one of these solutions, covering the stain with a damp white towel (that you don’t mind staining), and going over it for a few seconds with an iron on the lowest setting. When the stain is almost gone, cover it with a dry towel, weigh it down with something heavy like a cast-iron pan, and allow it to dry overnight. Again, if the DIY solutions don’t work, a good stain remover might.

Red wine spill staining sofa
Adam Gault/Getty Images

How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Upholstery and Other Sturdy Fabrics

Similar to carpets, if wine spills on a couch or upholstered chair, first blot the moisture away. Salt or baking soda applied to the stain will help to keep it from spreading; just make sure to vacuum the residue before applying any other techniques.

One easy mixture for quick red wine stain removal from upholstery: Mix three parts hydrogen peroxide with one part dish soap. Apply it to the stain with a clean cloth, wait for 20 minutes or up to an hour, and blot away with a clean, damp cloth.

For other sturdy fabrics, like denim, curtains or table cloths, use hot water. Cover a bowl with the stained fabric, making sure it’s pulled tight. Carefully pour boiling water through the spot from about 2 feet above. Then wash the fabric with detergent in the hottest water allowed, according to the care label.