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How to Get Red Wine Out of Carpet

When most people think about red wine, they may picture a relaxing evening curled up on the couch with a good book and a glass of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, but we’re betting no one pictures a nightmarish red wine stain on carpet.

Red wine is well known for its rich color, which carries the capability to stain light-colored materials and surfaces quite easily. When red wine does spill on a carpet, it can be difficult to remove, even for an experienced carpet cleaning professional.

In this blog, you’ll learn why red wine causes such an unsightly stain, how and what products you’ll need to remove it from carpet.

Why Are Wine Stains So Stubborn?

Removing wine from carpet starts with understanding why it so easily stains surfaces — especially absorbent ones. The composition of red wine includes all kinds of pigments and tannins, which bind to carpet fibers when spilled.

With that in mind, the key factors contributing to stubborn wine stains are:

  • Color compounds: Red wine contains pigments such as anthocyanins, which give it its color. These compounds can bind to the carpet's fibers and create a stain.

  • Tannins: Tannins are naturally occurring compounds in wine, particularly in red wines. They can also contribute to staining as they have a binding effect on surfaces, including carpet fibers.

  • Acidity: The acidity in wine can influence its ability to stain. Higher acidity can sometimes enhance the staining effect by making the color compounds more reactive with the carpet fibers.

How to Remove Wine Stains From Carpet

Before jumping in and trying either of the following cleaning methods for wine stain removal, there are a few key cleaning techniques to avoid that may make matters worse before you have a chance to make them better:

  • Never scrub: Scrubbing sends red wine further into carpet fibers, making it even more difficult to remove than it already is. 

  • Avoid steam cleaners: Using steam, or other sources of extreme heat, on a red wine stain will cause the stain to set, making it harder to remove.

  • Don’t use hot water: Never use hot water when treating a red wine spill. Always reach for clean, cold water.

Method 1: Matrix® Vanishing Act (Preferred)

  1. Thoroughly vacuum to remove all loose soil from the area to be cleaned. 
  2. Spray Matrix® Vanishing Act generously about 12 inches from the stained area. Do not scrub or blot the treated stain. Just spray and walk away.
  3. Allow the area to dry. Matrix® Vanishing Act will gradually break down and remove the stain and remain active for up to 3 days. Additional treatments of Matrix® Vanishing Act may be necessary in cases of severe staining.
  4. On deep pile carpets, gently work Matrix® Vanishing Act deeper into the pile lightly with a clean rag or light brush. Do not scrub or blot.

Method 2: Matrix® Release, Target Tannin Stain Remover, and Advanced Stain Remover

  1. Thoroughly vacuum to remove all loose soil from the area to be cleaned. 
  2. Apply Matrix® Release undiluted to a clean, white spotting towel. Tamp and blot the towel against the stain with a spotting brush. Do not apply directly to the carpet, as this can cause delamination.
  3. Apply Matrix® Target Tannin Stain Remover undiluted. Tamp and blot with a spotting brush and a spotting towel.
  4. Apply Matrix® Advanced Stain Remover mixed in equal parts of solutions A and B.
  5. Cover with a damp towel and apply an iron set at the lowest heat setting. Check the towel every 10-15 seconds for color transfer.

Warnings and cautions: Always test material for colorfastness, follow label directions, and never mix product unless specified in the label directions. Each situation reacts differently and results may vary.

Home Remedies that May Help Remove Red Wine From Carpet

Since red wine can be such a tough stain to deal with, and it’s easy to accidentally make the stain permanent, home remedies should only be used in particularly urgent situations.

Before trying any of the following remedies, remember to test a small, inconspicuous area of the carpet first to ensure that these household products won't cause any damage or discoloration to the fibers.

Home Remedy 1: The Hydrogen Peroxide Method

  1. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot up as much of the red wine as possible.
  2. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water.
  3. Using a clean cloth or sponge, apply the hydrogen peroxide solution to the red wine stain. Blot the stain with the cloth; do not rub.
  4. Allow the hydrogen peroxide solution to sit on the stain for a few minutes. This will give it time to break down the wine pigment.
  5. Blot the stained area again with a clean, dry cloth to absorb the hydrogen peroxide and lift the wine stain.
  6. Rinse the area with clean water to remove any remaining hydrogen peroxide.
  7. Use a dry, clean towel to blot the area and remove excess moisture.
  8. If the stain persists, you may need to repeat steps 3-6. However, be advised that excessive use of hydrogen peroxide can damage certain types of carpets, so use it cautiously.

Home Remedy 2: The Club Soda Method

  1. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot up as much of the red wine as possible. Blot gently to avoid spreading the stain.
  2. Pour club soda directly onto the stained area. The carbonation and sodium content in club soda may help lift the stain.
  3. Immediately blot the stain with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. Press down firmly to absorb the wine and club soda.
  4. If the stain persists, repeat steps 2-3.
  5. After successfully removing the stain, rinse the carpet with clean water to flush any remaining club soda residue.
  6. Blot the area with a dry, clean towel to absorb excess moisture.

Home Remedy 3: The Baking Soda Method

  1. Start by blotting up as much of the red wine as possible using a clean cloth or paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda directly onto the stained area.
  3. Allow the baking soda to sit on the stain for at least 15-20 minutes. This gives it time to absorb the wine.
  4. After the baking soda has had time to work, use a vacuum cleaner or a soft brush to remove the baking soda from the carpet.
  5. If the stain persists, you can repeat the process. However, excessive use of baking soda may leave a residue, so use it judiciously.
  6. After removing the baking soda, clean the area with a mixture of clean, cool water and a small amount of mild detergent. This helps to ensure that any remaining residue is removed.
  7. Use a dry, clean towel to blot the area and remove excess moisture.

Frequently Asked Questions About Red Wine Spills on Carpet

Is Red Wine Hard to Remove from Carpet?

If left untreated, it can be. Make sure to take action as quickly as possible to reduce the chance of leaving behind a permanent stain.

Can You Use Hot Water on a Red Wine Stain?

Exposure to heat can render red wine stains permanent. If opting for a method that uses water instead of a stain remover, always use cold or cool water.

What Neutralizes a Red Wine Stain?

Many stain removers that are specifically formulated for red wine removal from carpets will neutralize the stain. In a pinch, white vinegar can also help neutralize the affected area. But be careful, as too much vinegar can damage certain types of carpet. Use it sparingly and only if necessary.

Enhance Your Carpet Cleaning Skills With Jon-Don

Red wine stains are among the most challenging to remove from carpet, but with the proper training and products, you can face any carpet cleaning challenge with complete confidence. If you’re looking to improve your carpet cleaning knowledge and earn industry certification, we highly recommend attending an upcoming IICRC Carpet Cleaning Technician (CCT) course. To register, visit our course page.

For more spot-removal tips and advice, visit our spotting library.

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