We've all been there. That feeling of abject horror as your hand knocks your wine glass and the contents plummet towards the carpet – and it always seems to be a light coloured carpet! Whether you're in your own home, or worse someone else's, don't panic. When it comes to red wine stain removal, knowing what to do quickly is half the battle. Read on for our top tips to help you get red wine out of carpet so you'll be able to leap to the rescue.
Why is red wine stain removal so hard?
Before tackling the question of how to remove red wine stains, it's useful to know what you're up against. Just what is it that makes it so hard to remove red wine from carpet? Well, it's the fact it is what's called a composite stain; it's made up of lots of different components, a dye, a sugar and a tannin. Removing each of these requires a slightly different process making it more complicated than other spillages. But all is not lost.
What gets red wine out of carpet, and the process you should use, will depend on how long ago the spillage happened, what type of carpet you have, and to some extent what you have to hand.
How to get red wine out of carpet when it's just been spilt
Before you do anything else, grab some kitchen paper or a clean, white cloth and start blotting the spill starting from the outside and moving in to the middle to prevent spreading. Simply press down the cloth gently, do not be tempted to rub or you risk damaging the fibres of the carpet. Be sure to move the cloth around so that you are always using a clean part of it. Not only will you avoid spreading the stain, you will be able to see when the red wine colour stops lifting. Add a tiny bit of cold water to help get as much up as you can.
At this point you need to put something on the patch to aid the red wine stain removal.
What gets red wine out of carpet?
There are a few common household products you can try to remove red wine stains from carpet before you resort to harsh chemicals.
Grab the table salt
Pour a heaped pile of table salt over the entire red wine spill and leave it for an hour before vacuuming it up. This works best if it is done within two minutes of the spill so that the red wine has less time to begin soaking in. It is also much more effective when used to remove red wine stains from carpets made of synthetic materials as they tend to absorb stains slower.
Try soda water
If you have a table of drinks nearby, grab the soda water and begin to pour over the stain. This will dilute the stain, and it is thought that the low pH, or weak acidic nature, due to the carbonation process, helps to lift it better than tap water alone. Use sparingly and continue to blot the excess liquid until the stain has been removed.
Pour a small amount of white wine on top of the red and blot away. White wine can neutralise the red wine to help it lift out of the carpet. You will need to make sure you rinse the white wine from the carpet afterwards though, or you risk leaving a strange odour. A light spritz with some water and blotting with kitchen paper or a clean cloth should do the trick.
Use baking soda from your store cupboard
Use a three to one ratio of baking soda to water, stir into a paste and then apply directly to stain. Work it gently down into the fibres with a sponge. Once the paste has dried, thoroughly vacuum up the residue. A powerful cordless vacuum cleaner will help with this.
Try combining salt and soda water for extra oomph.
How to treat red wine stains that are dry
There's nothing worse than coming downstairs, slightly bleary eyed the morning after a party to find a dark red patch on your light-coloured carpet – if only you'd known it had happened at the time – after all it's vital to remove red wine from carpet immediately, isn't it? Well don't panic just yet. We've got the answer to how to remove red wine from carpet when it's already dried out.
Carefully mix together equal parts 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing liquid. Apply gently to the stain, being sure not soak the area - use gloves to protect your skin. Blot the liquid with kitchen paper or a clean cloth. Once the stain has gone, make sure you rinse the solution gently from the carpet without over-wetting. This works best for light-coloured carpets due to the risk of bleaching - you may wish to patch test your solution in an inconspicuous area before applying to the stain.
Use clear alcohol
Red wine gets its colour because of pigments known as anthocyanins. These are alcohol soluble. Because of this, treating with a clear alcohol such as vodka or white rum can sometimes work to dissolve the dry pigments, allowing you to lift them by blotting with a kitchen towel.
Words of warning for red wine stain removal
Be sure to only use white paper towels or cloths to avoid colour transfer.
When deciding how to get red wine out of carpet made from wool avoid hot water. Much like if you put a wool sweater in the washing machine, hot water will destroy the fibres of the wool and cause it to begin shrinking.
If you are concerned, always consult an expert.