How to Get Red Wine Out of Clothes: 7 Removal Methods

Even if the stains are old, these tried-and-true methods can save your clothes

How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Clothing

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $10

Red wine does come out of clothes but the stains are notoriously difficult to remove. If possible, treat a wine stain immediately—the older it is, the more stubborn it will be. The good news is that most wine stains can be completely removed, or at least reduced, with common household cleaning solutions. Keep in mind that you should never put a wine-stained fabric in a hot dryer, as the heat will set the stain and make removal almost impossible.

Read on to learn how to get red wine out of clothes, including when to wash clothes using hot or cold water, what takes fresh red wine out of fabric, and removing stains that have "aged" on your favorite clothes.

2:25

5 Secret Stain-Busting Fixes for Red Wine Stains

Stain Type Tannin-based
Detergent Type Household stain removers, laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold or Boiling
Cycle Type Varies depending on the type of fabric

Before You Begin

Wine stains are tough to remove, so be prepared to try—and try again. All of these methods can be effective, so start with a cleaner you have on hand. It helps to know what makes red wine so tough to remove. Red wine contains tannins, a natural substance found in plants, like red grapes, that stains anything it touches, including absorbent fibers (it's also used in leather dyes and inks). Fresh tannin-based stains are somewhat easier to clean than set-in tannin-based stains.

Tip

A wine spill can permanently stain clothes if the garment is placed in a hot dryer. For best results, try one of the methods below to remove as much of the pigment as possible before laundering and drying.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Paper towels or clean cloths
  • Dull plastic knife or credit card

Materials

  • Kosher salt
  • Club soda
  • White vinegar
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Commercial stain remover (optional)
  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar

Instructions

How to Treat a Fresh Red Wine Stain

Begin by blotting the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel. Press gently and dab—do not rub. Scrubbing will set the stain. Once the stain is blotted, you're ready to treat it using one of the following non-toxic home cleaning solutions.

immediately blotting a red wine stain

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  1. Kosher Salt

    Sprinkle salt generously onto the stain (kosher salt has bigger, flatter grains than table salt with more surface area for absorption). Then, try one of the following options:

    • Leave the salt overnight to soak up as much wine pigment as possible.
    • If the fabric of your clothing is sturdy, like denim jeans or heavy linen, place the fabric over a bowl so the stain is centered; if necessary, secure the fabric with a rubber band. Then, carefully and slowly pour boiling water over the wine spot from about 8 inches above to allow the force of the water to help push out the stain.
    • If the stain has vanished, launder the clothing as usual.
    applying kosher salt to a wine stain

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  2. Club Soda

    Pour a generous amount of club soda over the stain and allow it to sit overnight. Do not replace club soda with seltzer or any other carbonated beverage. While there is no solid scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of club soda, plenty of personal anecdotes insist it works—sometimes.

  3. White Vinegar and Laundry Detergent

    This method is a good way to get red wine out of white clothes and other fabric items. Cover the stain completely with white vinegar and as many drops of liquid detergent as needed. The vinegar neutralizes the red and purple pigments in the wine, while the detergent helps clean the fabric. Let the fabric sit overnight.

  4. Dishwashing Liquid and Hydrogen Peroxide

    Mix hydrogen peroxide and dish soap (3 parts peroxide to 1 part soap). Test a small amount of the solution on an inconspicuous area, as hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent. If your test spot looks fine after drying, pour the mixture onto the stain and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Wash the garment immediately or rinse it with cold water.

  5. Laundry and Cleaning Products

    Try professional stain removal products. Soak clothing in OxiClean powder mixed with the warmest water your fabric can handle. Other choices include Biokleen's Bac-Out Stain and Odor Remover, Ecover Stain Stick, and Spot Shot. Several sprays are made specifically for removing red wine stains, such as Chateau Spill and Wine Away. Always read the labels for correct soaking times and other directions.

    Tip

    You may need to resort to chlorine bleach for red wine spills on pure white clothing and other all-white linens. Cover the item in bleach for 10 minutes then launder it in hot water to remove the stain. (If you prefer, cover only the stain in bleach but covering the entire item can result in a more uniform cleaning.)

    oxygen bleach soak

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  6. Baking Soda

    A dry ingredient such as baking soda used on a fresh wine spill can pull the liquid out of the fabric. A liquid naturally wants to soak into anything dry, pour a liberal amount of baking soda on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes to absorb the wine. As soon as the baking soda becomes damp or soggy from the wine, use a dull knife or the edge of a credit card to remove it and replace it with another liberal amount of fresh, dry baking soda to continue soaking the wine up.

    Another method is to pour baking soda to cover the fresh wine stain. Then pour white vinegar over the stain to cover it. The bubbling action of the baking soda and white vinegar may dislodge the wine stain from the fibers. Blot up or rinse out the baking soda and vinegar in cold water after the bubbling stops and repeat if necessary.

How to Treat an Old Red Wine Stain

If you have a red wine stain that you did not treat immediately, you may still have luck removing or reducing it. An old wine stain needs a long soak in cold water to have a chance of removal.

  1. Rub Stain with Soap

    Start by rubbing a liberal amount of liquid laundry detergent or dish soap on the stained area.

  2. Soak Item

    Next, submerge the clothing in a bowl or bucket of cold water to soak for 30 minutes or overnight.

  3. Apply Stain Remover

    Apply a stain remover (per the label's directions) to the wet stain and wash the piece of clothing on a normal cycle.

When to Call a Professional

If the garment is labeled dry clean only, take it to your dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to help your professional cleaner choose the proper treatment. The same applies to a red wine stain that damages silk or vintage upholstery; you need to contact a professional cleaner, or else you are likely to do more damage if you try to remove the stain yourself.

Additional Tips for Handling Red Wine Stains

If your results are unsatisfactory, try another of these cleaning techniques. Because wine stains are stubborn, and fabrics differ in their fiber types and permeability, multiple methods—and repeated steps—may prove more successful than just one attempt.

Just remember—after washing, do not machine dry your garment until the stain has vanished (or is greatly reduced). After drying, the stain will set and may never fade.