How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Linen

Red wine seems romantic, and is the perfect touch for a special meal. But as you pull out your favorite table linens, you hesitate. What if there is a spill? If so, all is not lost: removing red wine stains from linen may seem intimidating, but there are several stain removal options available for successfully and quickly doing so.

Removing Red Wine Stains from Linen

Background on Red Wine and Linen

Red wine contains tannins, sugars and alcohol that all work together to create a lingering stain. Considered a tannin stain, red wine stains should only be treated with detergents. Bar soaps can set the stain, making it harder to remove.

Traditional remedies recommend using white wine, salt or club soda to remove red wine stains. However, these treatments are not always effective on all types of linens, such as polyester or silk. Basic stain removal using household items has proven most effective in removing red wine stains from a wide variety of table linens. 

While it can seem tempting to just remove the linens and resume the party, it is essential to spend a few minutes immediately treating the red wine stains. With time, the stain begins to set into the fabric.

This makes removal nearly impossible, especially from light-colored linens. Begin the stain removal process while the wine is still damp to increase the chance for  successful stain removal. 

Steps to Remove the Red Wine Stain from Linen

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Cold water
  • Clean, white towels
  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • White vinegar
  • 3-percent hydrogen peroxide

Follow these steps:

  1. Immediately blot the stain with a clean, white towel dampened with cold water.
  2. Place a folded, white towel underneath the stain.
  3. Dip another towel in undiluted dishwashing liquid and carefully blot the stain. Avoid rubbing as this may spread the stain.
  4. Flush with cool running water, taking care to only flush the stained area.

If the stain remains

  1. Place a clean towel underneath the stain.
  2. Saturate a towel with household vinegar and gently blot the stain.
  3. Occasionally remove and refold the cushioning towel so that a clean area comes in contact with the linen.
  4. Keep blotting and repositioning until the stain is completely removed or no more color is transferred.
  5. Rinse under cool running water. 

Certain linens, such as silk, hold red wine stains. They often require a stronger cleaner in order to thoroughly remove the stain.

If the red wine stain persists after treatment with dishwashing liquid and vinegar then:

  1. Mix together equal parts 3-percent hydrogen peroxide with dishwashing liquid.
  2. Gently blot on the stain using the same method as the vinegar treatment.
  3. After the stain is removed, rinse thoroughly with running water and launder using the recommended care for the fabric. 

Table linens are not required to have care labels, so determining the proper care technique based on the fabric often falls on the owner. Use the mildest care possible in order to prevent unnecessary wear to the fabric. Quickly taking the steps to remove red wine stains from linen with cold water and mild detergent usually removes any staining. The key is to act quickly, and then you can forget the stain ever existed.