Red Wine Stain Removal: Step-by-Step Instructions for Any Surface

Updated: Jun. 26, 2024

These expert strategies for red wine stain removal will help you get the reddish-purple stuff out of anything

Sitting back on a gorgeous couch or mingling at a crowded party is all fun and games until that glass of red wine in your hands ends up where it shouldn’t. Spills happen, but dealing with a red wine stain is one of those panic-inducing moments that sends you into a wild scramble for the nearest paper towels. Here’s the good news: Red wine stains don’t have to be forever! As long as you follow the right steps for red wine stain removal, those vino mayhem memories will fade away, along with the splotchy spot of color.

For the full rundown on how to remove wine stains from every surface, we spoke to three experienced cleaning professionals who have dealt with their fair share of spills and stains on clothes, countertops and more.

About the experts

  • Trish Duarte is a home cleaning professional and owner of MaidPro in Murrieta, California.
  • Donna Smallin Kuper is a certified house cleaning technician and author of  Cleaning Plain & Simple.
  • Sharon Garcia is a cleaning expert with a large following on TikTok, the founder of Next Level Cleaning and the resident expert for Fabuloso.

Why red wine stains so easily

A goblet of Pinot Noir is basically five ounces of dye in a glass, which makes red wine stain removal so difficult. “You probably know there are tannins in wine, but it is the chromogens and tannins together that make wine so likely to stain,” explains Trish Duarte, a home cleaning professional and owner of MaidPro in Murrieta, California. “While the chromogens produce the vibrant color in red wine, it is the tannins that help them to stick—and increase the likelihood of staining.”

Red wine stain removal tips

hand blotting red wine stain on a rugTMB Studio

No matter what you’ve spilled your Cabernet or Shiraz on, experts say you should follow these three basic rules for getting a handle on wine stains:

Act fast

As soon as the wine hits your couch, carpet or khakis, it begins to spread outward and downward into the upholstery or fabric. That’s why your best chance of getting a red wine stain out completely is to attack it when it’s fresh, explains Donna Smallin Kuper, certified house cleaning technician and author of Cleaning Plain & Simple.

Don’t scrub

Rubbing and scrubbing can push the wine deeper into the fabric or upholstery, cause it to spread and potentially damage the fibers. Instead, blot gently.

Spot test

Before applying any cleaning solution to your stained surface—be it countertops, carpets or your couch—always run a spot test. Sharon Garcia, founder of Next Level Cleaning, says, “It’s essential to test the stain removal method in an inconspicuous spot to ensure it won’t cause any damage or color fading.” Then wait 30 minutes before proceeding—if there’s no color change or damage.

How to remove red wine stains

There are many ways to remove red wine stains, depending on what you have on hand. Whichever method you choose, start by blotting the stain with a clean, dry, light-colored paper towel or microfiber cloth. Some stains may require multiple treatments—the key is to not let them dry completely between treatments, as that can set the stain. Make sure you check laundry labels before attempting any treatment on clothing.

Remove red wine stains with club soda

“I have been cleaning up stains for more than half of my life and suspect the effervescence of the club soda helps release some of red wine’s sticking power,” Duarte says. She notes that club soda tends to be more effective on synthetic carpet fibers than natural textiles. Fabric care expert Mary Marlowe Leverette recommends using plain cool water to dilute the red wine stain if you don’t have club soda. “Diluting the wine with water will produce similar results,” she says.

Remove red wine stains with baking soda

Baking soda can help target stubborn stains like wine and ink stains and lift them out of fabrics. For hard surfaces, it acts as a mild abrasive agent when mixed with water to create a thick paste.

Remove red wine stains with dish soap and hydrogen peroxide

Dish soap or hydrogen peroxide won’t work on their own, but together, they make a potent pair—so potent, in fact, that the duo should only be used on light-colored fabrics. “Hydrogen peroxide has a bleaching effect on dark-colored clothing, carpet or upholstery,” advises Leverette. If you do decide to use it, “be sure the hydrogen peroxide is fresh (has some fizz), or you are simply treating the stain with plain water,” she adds.

To use dish soap and hydrogen peroxide to remove a red wine stain, after blotting the stain, combine a few drops of dish soap with hydrogen peroxide, Garcia says. Run a spot test, then apply the mixture to the stain and let it set for 15 to 20 minutes. Blot gently, then repeat as needed before allowing the fabric to air-dry.

Remove red wine stains with salt

hand pouring salt on a red wine stain on a rugTMB Studio

“Surprisingly, a simple solution lies in your spice cabinet—salt,” says Garcia. “The salt not only absorbs the wine but also works to lift it from the fabric.” Apply generously and then let the salt set for 15 to 30 minutes, before vacuuming.

Remove red wine stains with white vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is a good choice for getting red wine stains out of clothes, but Duarte notes that it can’t do it alone. She recommends a mixture of 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tablespoon clear laundry detergent and 1/4 cup water. Pour the solution on the stain and let it sit for about five minutes, then rinse completely with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

Remove red wine stains with professional cleaning products

Sometimes, your best bet is to just reach for professional cleaning agents designed to target red wine stains. Duarte says that her favorite options include oxygenated cleaners and washing sodas, which help oxygenate the material and lift the stain to the surface for easier removal. For the best results, follow the instructions on the product’s label to a T.

How to get wine out of clothes

red wine stain on a denim shirtTMB Studio

Knowing how to get red wine out of clothes is essential, especially if you love a good Merlot. And remember, the faster you attack the stain the better chance you have of removing it completely.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Paper towels or microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Preferred cleaning agent
  • Laundry detergent

Step 1: Blot

Gently blot (don’t rub!) the stain with a paper towel or clean white cloth. Keep switching out dirty towels or cloths for clean ones, and continue blotting until no more liquid is absorbed.

Step 2: Apply your cleaning agent

Apply one of the cleaning solutions from our list above. Check clothing labels before attempting any method, and always test it in an inconspicuous area of the garment, like an inside seam. If one method doesn’t work, try another. Remember: Don’t let the stain dry completely between treatments.

Step 3: Launder

Once the stain is removed, launder the garment as normal, using cold water. Before you even think about drying the item, inspect the stain. “If you’re happy with the result, let it air-dry,” Duarte says. “When fabric is wet, it may appear that the stain has disappeared; but when it dries, you may see it’s still faintly there.” The heat from the dryer will set the stain more permanently than air-drying.

How to clean wine from carpet

Follow these steps for how to get red wine out of carpet.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Paper towels or microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Salt or baking soda or club soda

Step 1: Blot

Remove as much of the wine as possible by blotting with a microfiber cloth or paper towel. Switch to a new cloth as often as needed, until all the wine is absorbed.

Step 2: Cover with salt or baking soda

Sprinkle the stain liberally with salt or baking soda to help soak up the remaining red wine. For synthetic carpet fibers, Duarte says that club soda is a good option. Let it set for 15 to 30 minutes.

Step 3: Vacuum

Vacuum up the salt or baking soda. Repeat the process if necessary. Once the stain’s completely removed, allow the carpet to air-dry. Don’t place anything on top, and try not to walk across the area.

How To Remove Red Wine Stains From Carpet Infographic

How to remove red wine stains from tablecloths and fabric

Duarte has a unique technique for removing red wine stains from sturdy fabrics, including heavy cotton and polyester. It also works on berry stains from things like strawberry juice or cranberry sauce, she says.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Bowl
  • Club soda
  • Detergent
  • Hot water
  • Washing soda

Step 1: Pour club soda

Center the stain over a bowl, then slowly pour club soda over it, checking to make sure it’s draining through to the bowl below. This technique allows the club soda to reach the stain directly versus the fabric as a whole, Duarte says.

Step 2: Launder

Toss your item into the washing machine, following the instructions on the item’s care label.  “You’ll probably see that remnants remain, but the stain should have lightened quite a bit.”

Step 3: Sprinkle washing soda

Lay the cloth back over the bowl, centering the stain. Wet the stained area with cold water, sprinkle washing soda directly onto the stain and let it set for about five to ten minutes. “You may feel a bit of warmth coming from the treatment as the washing soda goes to work. That just means that it is doing its job,” Duarte says.

Step 4: Pour hot water

Next, pour very hot, but not boiling, water over the stain. Work your way from the outside of the stain toward the center, then launder again. If you’re happy with the result, let it air-dry. If not, repeat the above steps.

How to get red wine out of a couch

If the spill on your couch, mattress or upholstered chair is fresh, follow these steps.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Paper towels or microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Salt or baking soda
  • Fabric-safe cleaning agent

Step 1: Blot

If possible, unzip the couch cushion cover to prevent the stain from seeping into the couch further. Blot out as much of the wine stain as possible with paper towels or cloths, both on the cover and the bare cushion (if any made its way through). Use as many cloths as needed until no more wine comes up.

Step 2: Sprinkle salt or baking powder

Cover the area with salt or baking powder, and let it set for a few minutes to absorb more wine. Then vacuum the excess up.

Step 3: Apply a commercial stain remover

Next, treat the remaining color residue with a commercial stain remover designed for red wine stains. As always, follow the product’s instructions carefully, and test it in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it won’t damage the material, reminds Garcia.

Step 4: Repeat as necessary

Repeat these steps as necessary until the wine stain is gone. Don’t let the wine dry in between these cleaning sessions, since that can make the stain more difficult to clean.

Getting red wine off kitchen surfaces

Many surfaces can become stained by wine, including porous wooden butcher blocks, cutting boards and countertops. Here’s how to nix the splotchy spot.

Wooden surfaces

To get those stains out, wet the wooden surface and sprinkle the spot with salt. Then, use a cut lemon to scrub the salted surface. Wash as usual and allow to dry. You can also use a professional cleaning product intended for wooden surfaces.


For non-wooden surfaces, such as tile or quartz, use a cleaning product recommended for that surface.

As an alternative, Garcia says you can combine baking soda with a small amount of water to create a thick paste. “The paste works to absorb the wine and break down the stain,” Garcia notes. Let it set for 15 to 30 minutes, then use an old toothbrush to scrub the stained area. “This helps to further loosen the stain and lift any remaining residue,” Garcia says. Be gentle, especially on delicate surfaces.

How to remove old red wine stains

Any of the methods above can still work for stains that are old and set in, except for the salt or baking soda methods. They may require extra soaking and repeat treatments, but be patient. One of Garcia’s favorite tricks is to create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and dish soap. “Apply this solution to the old red wine stain, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. The acidity of the vinegar helps break down the stain, and the dish soap helps lift it,” she says.

Best wine stain removers

Whether you entertain often or just enjoy a glass of red wine every now and then, you’ll want to keep one of these pro stain removers in your cabinet. They may be your best defense against stubborn stains.

  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda is one of Duarte’s favorite ways to tackle wine stains on soft surfaces, such as linens. It helps oxygenate the stain to lift it to the surface for easier removal. “You may feel a bit of warmth coming from the treatment as the washing soda goes to work. That just means that it is doing its job. The washing soda is color-safe as well,” she says. Leverette adds, “Washing soda works well to remove stains on cotton fabrics but should not be used on wool or silk.”
  • Vino 911 uses non-ionic surfactants that dissolve the wine’s stain-causing molecules to coat and prevent them from being absorbed into the fabric. It’s all-natural and hypoallergenic.
  • OxiClean has been a long-time favorite of experts, and it comes in three formats so you can get red wine stains—new or old—out of clothes and carpets, whether you’re tackling a major spill or a focused spot. Oxi cleaners, in general, are known for being effective on stains. Oxygen-based, they use sodium percarbonate, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when combined with water.
  • Folex: Folex is a surfactant cleaning agent designed for carpets and fabrics. It helps lift the stain from the fibers so they’re easier to blot. No water is required, making it an excellent option for quick and mess-free cleaning.
  • Wine Away lives up to its name and can be used safely on almost any fabric surface. Non-toxic and biodegradable, it penetrates fibers to break down stains and make them disappear. This women-owned company has been in business for more than 20 years and is consistently recommended by cleaning experts.
  • Fels Naptha Laundry Bar and Stain Remover is still around after more than a century because it works. This powerful bar knows how to get rid of tough stains and deserves a place in your laundry room.

Why trust us?

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece, Lois Alter Mark tapped her experience as a home and lifestyle journalist, and then fabric-care and stain-removal expert Mary Marlowe Leverette gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. We relied on reputable primary sources and experts, verified all facts and data and backed them with credible sourcing, and we will revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.


  • Trish Duarte, home cleaning professional and owner of MaidPro in Murrieta, California; email interview, Jan. 4, 2024
  • Donna Smallin Kuper, certified house cleaning technician and author of  Cleaning Plain & Simple; email interview, January 2021
  • Sharon Garcia, cleaning expert with a large following on TikTok, founder of Next Level Cleaning and resident expert for Fabuloso; email interview, Jan. 5, 2024