There are two main wine-drinking related causes giving people headaches. Hangovers seem to pop into the minds of most readers first, but there’s the even more frequently occurring 'staining' caused by red wine spills. Based on the amount of articles offering stain removal techniques online, clearly I’m not the only one wasting a drop or two of every other bottle of red. So I have decided to list the most common cures for unwanted Pantone samples, besides the fact that "Marsala" (named after a red wine) IS the colour of the year. ;)
The science behind red wine stains dictates that when wine sinks into the material, its colourful particles stick to the fibres upon drying, leaving behind a permanent stain. So as a general rule of thumb, treat a stain right away and soak up as much of the excess spill as possible. Also, avoid scrubbing - it will just makes things worse.
I’ve got quite a lot to spill at the moment thanks to WineMarket’s $50 off voucher at the moment, but lo and behold my precious wines can also be used as “treatments”. According to some of my friends and Cosmo, soaking the spot in white wine for a few minutes before washing will do wonders.
There are plenty of similar, less expensive liquid solutions to treat stains though. One of these is club soda. The tail goes that regardless of the soda being flat or carbonated, when poured over the area you’ll see the stain magically disappear in front of your eyes. I wouldn’t exactly swear by this method, but it definitely helps on less aggressive stains.
A solution which is a littlest more extreme than the others is a mix of hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap. Sounds like something out of MacGyver, but it works very well in my experience and it’s also one of the most popular DIY solutions I have found online. Regardless of the mixing proportions (which vary from 1 - 1 to 3 - 1), this works by bleaching the colour red and lifting it out of the fabric. Many commercial-use stain removers are actually based on this formula, but there are other DIY chemical-free alternatives offered by everyday household products.
For savvy savers, the simplest and cheapest method you can try is stretching the fabric over a bowl or your sink and pouring boiling water through it. It makes total sense based on the theory that moisture not only breaks down the bond between the wine and the fabric, but the boiling water literally ‘washes it out’. This actually works well when it comes to stains on sturdy materials such as tablecloths and cotton clothing.
On the other hand, to counteract accidents on the sofa or the carpet, salt is the first thing most people reach for. Actually, the first time I witnessed salt ‘sucking out’ red wine from the fabric was the day I got my new sofa. Of course, the more you try not to spill, the more likely someone will. So it happened, and although the salt wasn't 100% effective, it definitely helped in reducing the damage and gave me time to try other methods on my new, beige(!) sofa the day after.
What I find particularly interesting is that baking soda is one of the products which appears on virtually every list when it comes to DIY solutions. It cleans almost everything, helps remove sweat stains, smells, etc. Combined with another famous natural cleaning product, vinegar, you can’t go wrong. To get the desired results, make sure you remove as much wine as possible by dabbing the stain with paper towels before you apply your ‘dry solution’. The stain will change colour from red to pale grey (wonder what reaction happens there exactly) which you can then wipe over with a cloth soaked in vinegar. Let the patch dry and vacuum. To be honest I have not tried this method (too many steps, lol), but drop a line in a comment if you have. I’m curious.
Regarding being curious, the strangest advice I've been given and am yet to try was applying shaving cream on the stain. Being a woman, I know it is supposed to work on foundation or general makeup stains, but apparently it removes red wine marks as well if you smear it on before washing.
No wine to spill? As I have mentioned above, there’s an active $50 WineMarket voucher out there at the moment, which will give you the discount on all orders over $120. As always, you can pick up some steaming bargains using it on these white, red or mixed cases for example. Wonder whether the effectiveness of these methods changes depending on the wine grape variety you have spilled… Anyone?