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The Vodka Trick That Gets Red Wine Stains Out of Clothing — Even After It Dries

Plus, how to use dish soap or oxygen bleach to get the job done if you're out of vodka!

Whether out sharing drinks with friends o a weeknight, imbibing with family over the holiday or enjoying a glass of red solo on the couch, it almost never fails: you manage to splash, spill or drip some from your glass right on to your shirt, dress or pants. The key to treating a red wine spill, say all experts, involves acting fast (as is the case with most stains). If you can, you want to start working on a wine stain before it dries, easy enough if you’re home and have access to cleaning solutions, but sometimes that’s just not possible, like when you’re out and have nothing at your disposal. So we asked the experts (cleaners and wine drinkers!) how to get wine stains out of anything, wet or dry. Read on for the savvy solutions.

How to get a wine stain out of clothes whether it’s wet or dry

Woman dressed in white spilling glass of wine
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There’s nothing like having a glass of wine splash all over your clothes when you’re far from home, which was exactly what happened to food writer Morgan Goldberg, who shared her experience of a red wine spill that occurred while out enjoying dinner with friends. Goldberg’s mom advised her to pour regular detergent over the dried wine stain when she got home, but not to rub it in. Then when Goldberg washed the clothes through a cool cycle the next day, the stain had faded away. Moms know best!

Goldberg’s mom’s advice was spot-on according to Tanu Grewal, chief cleaning officer at Alen Brands, the manufacturer of Ensueño laundry detergent and Cloralen bleach. “You never want to rub a wine stain on any kind of fabric,” says Grewal who strongly advises to resist the urge to scrub. “Rubbing the stain could actually spread the liquid out more and make the stain larger and more deeply embedded.” 

However, if you find yourself in a similar situation, and want to know how to get wine stain out of jeans, shirts, sweaters and more, there is more you can do to ensure the it will come out. No matter where you are, as soon as the spill occurs Grewal says to take a paper towel and gently blot it to remove any excess liquid you can. Next, if you’ve spilled on a machine-washable garment, Grewal suggests dipping a napkin in club soda and lightly dabbing the stain. “A restaurant or bar will most likely have club soda on hand and it could save your favorite shirt before real damage is done,” she says. You can also add salt on fresh spills. This helps eke out all of the moisture before it can soak into the clothes. 

Then, once you’re home there are several ways you can tackle the stain wet or dry:

Have dish soap? Use this method to get wine stains out of clothes

Green transparent bottle of dishwashing detergent with bubbles to get wine stains out
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Mix together equal parts dish soap and hydrogen peroxide, suggests Grewal, then “lather your cleaning solution up and apply it directly to the wine stain.” Let it sit for at least 30 minutes then rinse through with cold water and wash in cold water.

Have oxygen bleach? Use this method to get wine stains out of clothes

Soak the wine-stained item in a bath of 1 Tbs. sodium percarbonate (aka oxygen bleach) and hot water, a method Patrick Richardson recommends in his book Laundry Love. Let soak, then launder as usual. Richardson says this is safe for any fabric except wool and silk. “It works because a chemical reaction occurs with the wine that causes it to wash right out,” he says.

See the below video that shows how well the method worked when The Wine Sisters tried it:

Have vodka? Use this method to get wine out of clothes

Try fighting alcohol with alcohol. According to Grewal, rubbing alcohol and even vodka have been shown to remove wine stains, but Grewal cautions they can be harsh on fabric, so don’t pour either directly onto the garment. Instead, use a clean cloth or cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol or vodka to blot the wine stain. “If you should see the red color transfer to the cotton ball, it’s working,” she notes.

What if you spilled wine on furniture or a carpet?

How to get wine stains out: Home mishap and domestic accident concept with close up of a spilled glass of red wine on brown carpet
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When a red wine stain is on something like a carpet or couch that you can’t just throw in the wash, Grewal suggests using a dry method is best. After blotting out whatever liquid you can with a paper towel — again, no rubbing! — look for a dry, powdery agent to soak up the liquid like salt or baking soda. Apply the dry powder generously to absorb the stain, leave it to dry and then vacuum up the powder afterwards, she suggests.

Related: The ‘Iron’ Secret To Removing Red Wine Stains From Upholstered Furniture

Whether you’re naturally clumsy or especially accident-prone while enjoying red wine, here’s hoping we can all keep our outfits free of lasting stains once and for all!


For more tips on removing stains from clothes, click through the links below!

How to Get Deodorant Stains Out of Shirts —And the Surprising Pantry Staple That Works!

5 Easy Ways to Outsmart Common Winter Stains Using Household Ingredients

This 2 Ingredient Solution Will Make Stubborn Grease Stains Magically Disappear

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