Whether you’re having a pumping house party or a night of girl talk with a few close friends, it’s easy to lose control of your glass after you’ve had a few drinks.
As you throw your head back in laughter with the girls, a splash of red wine seemingly jumps from your glass, landing on your fluffy light carpet.
Even though your tipsy, bleary vision, you can tell this stain is a big deal.
But as heart-stopping as any stain out there can be, red wine does not have to be the end of the line for your precious carpet.
With quick action and a little persistence, you can apply a number of effective techniques to tackle this blood-red stain.
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Related: How to get more stains out of carpet
When you find yourself faced with a dreaded red wine stain, the key is to act quickly and respond to the stain while the spot is still wet.
Easier said than done, I know, when you’re a bit tipsy in the first place!
But if you can pull yourself away from the buzz of the party as soon as that glass hits the floor, your carpet will stand a much better chance of recovery than if the stain is allowed to set without treatment.
Stains that are allowed to set become more deeply embedded into the fibers of your carpet and can be more difficult to lift.
Wet stains are also easier to remove than dry stains, so setting to work while the stain is still wet is imperative.
Start with blotting
Begin by dabbing the spot gently with the most absorbent material you can find. Ideally, you would use a cotton terry cloth, which is quite absorbent, but you can also use a paper towel if that’s the most absorbent option you have on hand.
It’s important to blot the stain, rather than rubbing or scrubbing the area.
While it would seem as though rubbing vigorously would work to remove your stain, the opposite is actually true; scrubbing can actually rub the stain deeper into your carpet’s fibers, making it even harder to get the stain out.
As you blot the stain, your cloth will begin to absorb the wine, becoming stained itself. Shift to use an unaffected area of the cloth, as this helps to avoid re-depositing any of the stains into your carpet.
Once you have absorbed as much of the stain as you can through blotting, you can try applying a small amount of water to the remaining stain to dilute the stain and potentially absorb a bit more before moving on to other methods.
Use a little salt
It’s been said, “Never pour salt on a wound,” but when it comes to a red wine stain, the opposite may be true.
If you’ve absorbed as much of the stain as you can through blotting and diluting, you’re going to need to try a few other stain removal techniques, and salt may be your best ally at this point in your stain-fighting game.
One effective method for removing red wine from carpet is to pour a little salt on the area. Salt can be effective at lifting the stain out of your carpet’s fibers as it works to absorb the liquid.
Before pouring salt on your wine stain, however, be sure to lightly wet the area.
Then, once the stain is thoroughly moistened, pour a moderate amount of salt to the area affected by the stain.
Don’t rub or scrub the salt. Simply let it sit overnight, working to absorb as much of the stain as possible.
When you return in the morning to check your stain, the salt should appear pink, having absorbed some of the liquid.
You can then use a vacuum cleaner to pull up the salt from your carpet and assess whether or not any stain remains.
Often, for a stain that was attacked early and blotted thoroughly, this salt application technique will suffice to remove the remainder of the stain.
Some may even find it beneficial to apply salt to the stain right away as soon as a spill occurs, as it can actually help to prevent some of the stains from setting into your carpet into the first place.
Another product that is often used during this process is club soda. The carbonation from the club soda may be helpful for lifting the stain from your carpet.
Some will even recommend squeezing lemon juice onto the red wine stain after blotting, but before applying salt. Lemon can act as a bleaching agent, helping to whiten the bright red blemish, while the salt goes to work absorbing it.
Simply squeeze some fresh lemon juice or some pre-bottled lemon juice onto the stain and then apply salt, as described above.
Allow it to set along with the salt. The lemon juice will work to lighten the stain, while the salt absorbs it. Rinse with cold water and blot the spot to dry.
As intimidating as a red wine stain on the carpet can be, quick action using blotting and salt can often be all you need to rescue your carpet from a wine spill.
For tougher, persistent stains, however, there are additional steps you can take with just a few items you likely have on hand at home.
Vinegar and dish soap
If your stubborn stain remains, it’s time to deploy the next weapon in your arsenal: vinegar.
Despite its pungent aroma, vinegar can often prove an effective and natural cleaner, and wine stains are no exception.
Begin by mixing one tablespoon of vinegar and one tablespoon of dish soap with two cups of warm water. Mix thoroughly.
Apply a small amount of the mixture to the affected area. Avoid pouring the entire two cups onto your carpet. This will over-saturate the area and may be difficult to absorb and dry entirely, leaving you with a mildew issue to boot!
Instead, start small and apply small amounts at a time, adding more as needed if parts of the area remain dry.
You can then use a dry and absorbent cloth to blot the stain and absorb any remaining wine.
Be patient with this step and continue blotting the area as needed until the stain is gone.
If you try this step, be sure to use only white vinegar, not other types of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar, as other types of vinegar can leave additional stains.
Baking soda to the rescue
If the wine and dish soap method fails to remove the remainder of your stain, or if you’d prefer to avoid using vinegar on your carpet if at all possible, then another option is the use of baking soda.
Like salt, this product can also be effective at absorbing any remaining stain.
Combine three parts baking soda with one part water, mixing together to make a goopy paste.
Then, apply the paste to the affected area and let sit until dry.
As the paste dries, it will begin to clump.
Once dry, you then simply vacuum up the now-crusty paste to restore your carpet back to its stain-free state.
Some may prefer to attempt this method first before resorting to the use of vinegar, mostly because the smell of vinegar can be difficult to get out of your carpet. You may solve one problem only to create another!
Hydrogen peroxide for white carpets
If you’re still fighting that stubborn stain and your carpet is white, or very light, in pigment, then it may be possible to apply a solution involving hydrogen peroxide as a later resort.
Hydrogen peroxide acts as a bleaching agent, which can be great for whiting out a red wine stain, but effectively bleaches your carpet.
As a result, it should only be used on a white or light-colored carpet. Do not attempt this approach if your carpet is of a medium to a darker hue.
Even then, it’s still important to test this method on a very small area of your carpet to ensure it will not damage your carpet.
For this method, mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide – about half a cup will do – with a small amount of dish detergent. Mix thoroughly.
Then, take a gentle, but absorbent cloth and dab it into the mixture.
Gently apply this mixture to the entire stain-affected area. Let it sit for a few minutes, which allows the bleaching agent in the hydrogen peroxide to go to work.
Then, apply cold water and use a clean cloth to begin wiping up the hydrogen peroxide solution.
You can then use another cloth soaked in lukewarm water and begin blotting up the remaining solution. Be sure to work with the area until you have absorbed all of the hydrogen peroxide, even if the red wine stain appears to be gone.
Blot dry using a clean cloth.
Sometimes you just need a stain remover
If you’ve exhausted all of your options on this pesky stain, you may find it effective to use a commercial stain remover option to vanquish your growing nemesis once and for all.
Some commercial stain removers can contain harsh or dangerous chemicals, which is why some homeowners may seek to avoid the use of such products in the first place.
But if that stain won’t budge, it may be time to call in reinforcements.
Any commercial carpet stain remover can be useful on wine, but there are actually stain removers developed specifically to tackle wine stains.
Chateau Spill Red Wine Stain Remover Spray may be a good choice for you, as it’s designed with the needs of frequent party hosts in mind. Its concentrated formula goes to work right away on your scarlet stain, avoiding the need for time-consuming home remedies.
If you’re likely to play host to a number of parties, then it may be worth investing in a wine remover spray to ensure you’re always prepared to tackle a spill as soon as it happens.
What if the stain is dry?
But what if you arrive at the scene of the stain too late? How do you get red wine out of carpet once it has dried?
If your wine stain is already dry, this does not mean all hope is lost, but it does mean you may have to work with the stain a bit longer and apply several additional stain removal methods than if you had been able to act right away.
The first step to removing a dry wine stain is to moisten the area pouring a small amount of water over the stain.
Then, begin gently blotting the stain as if it had just happened. This should remove at least some of the pigment from your carpet fibers.
After you find there is no more pink being absorbed onto your cloth or paper towel, you can attempt one (or more) of the steps highlighted above to lift the remainder of the stain.
While a red wine stain is no time for a casual response, it doesn’t have to be a disaster for your carpet, either. With quick, decisive action, a bit of patience, and some trial and error, you can have your carpet restored in no time.