How to Clean Red Wine from Carpet

Stubborn red wine ain’t got nothing on these methods.

There’s nothing like relaxing with a reasonably large glass of red wine after a long day. On tough days, that’s sometimes the only thing that keeps us going. But, you put the glass down, and unfortunately, it spilled and made a huge mess on your carpeted floors.

Red wine is one of the most feared stains on carpets due to the dark color and acidic properties. However, knowing how to clean red wine from a carpet the right way, you won’t need to worry — or regret your late-night treat.

Do This First

After the unfortunate spill, blot up as much as you can right away. It’s essential to remove as much liquid as possible before it’s absorbed into the fibers. If absorbed, the stain can be tricky to remove entirely.

Use a white cloth or paper towels to blot the stain gently. Start at the edges and work your way to the center. If you start in the middle of the stain, it might spread as you’re pushing the liquids out.

Avoid A Mess

Never rub or scrub a fresh wine spill. This will only work the stain further into the fibers and make it more difficult to remove.

When you can’t get any more wine out of the carpet, pour a small amount of cold water onto the stain. This will help to dilute the remains of the wine that may have dried.

You must use cold water on newly spilled wine as hot water could cause it to set. On the contrary, if the stain is old or dried, hot water works best at dissolving the wine (1).

Fold the cloth in sections and blot using one at a time. Keep wetting and blotting until there’s no more color visible on the cloth.

Once the color of the stain is gone, use a dry cloth or paper towel to blot up excess moisture. When the area is dry, you’re finished.

If this wasn’t successful or you still see traces of the wine, try one of the following methods.

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Baking Soda and a Carpet Stain Remover

1. Make a Paste

After blotting up as much as you can from the spilled wine, it’s time to whip out the baking soda. Make a paste using a three to one ratio of baking soda to water — it should be thick.

2. Apply the Paste

Apply the thick paste directly to the stain and leave it to dry. The baking soda will absorb any remaining liquids from the wine while also dissolving the color.

3. Vacuum

The paste should look and feel quite crusty once it’s dried. Use a strong vacuum to remove any remains of the baking soda and wine stain.

4. Finish With a Carpet Stain Remover

Having a good carpet stain remover, such as ZEP, right at hand can be a lifesaver. Apply as directed after removing the baking soda paste. This will help to remove any remains of the wine and help to recover the fibers.

Some commercial stain removers are applied and left to dry, followed by a thorough vacuum. Others, like the ZEP, are applied and blotted away almost immediately. Read the directions carefully to avoid any damage or discolorations.

Salt for Wet Stains

1. Apply Salt

Start by covering the stain with a generous amount of salt. You can use any salt, and regular table salt works just fine. The fine grains of salt will slowly absorb any liquid lingering in the fibers.

If the stain is dry or nearly dry, pour a very small amount of water onto it first. This will loosen up the stain and allow the salt to work efficiently.

2. Wait

Waiting is key to a successful salt-stain-removal. Keep an eye on it — you might notice the white salt grains are turning pink as they absorb the stain.

The aim here is to wait for the stain to dry. This can take an hour or two, or you might want to leave the salt overnight. It won’t harm your carpet in any way, so there’s no need to worry.

3. Vacuum

Remove excess salt by scooping it away using a spoon. Vacuum the area thoroughly to get rid of any salt remaining in the fibers.

The salt may leave a small residue after vacuuming. This is easy to remove by dampening the area and vacuuming once more.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Soap on White Carpets

1. Mix the Ingredients

In a small container, combine two parts of hydrogen peroxide with one part dish soap. Use clear dish soap and not a colored one. Colored soap can stain or leave a mark that’s difficult to get off.

2. Apply With a Sponge

Start by putting on some rubber gloves. Then, dip a sponge in the solution and wring it thoroughly — it should be wet but not dripping.

Use the sponge to blot the stain gently. Start at the edges and work your way to the center. Keep dipping and wringing the sponge until the stain is nearly gone.

Keep In Mind

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach, so it can cause discoloration. We recommend this method for white or light-colored carpets. But even so, you might want to do a spot test first (2).

3. Blot Dry

Take a clean, white cloth and begin to blot up excess solution. Work in sections as we discussed above to avoid spreading any color. Keep blotting until the area is completely dry.

Take Note

Use a white cloth on white or light-colored carpets when using products such as hydrogen peroxide. The gentle cleaner can cause the color from the cloth to rub off on the carpet, creating an even bigger mess.

Vinegar and Dish Soap for Dried Stains

1. Mix the Solution

In a bowl, combine a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of clear dish soap. Add two cups of warm water and stir well to combine.

Take Note

Never use apple cider vinegar or any balsamic vinegar when cleaning a carpet. These other types of vinegar will create their own stains which can be tricky to remove (3).

2. Apply

Dip a sponge or cloth in the solution and dab it onto the stain. The warm water will help to loosen the dried particles of the stain. If the stain is fresh, replace warm water with cold as this is better for fresh spills.

Grab another clean cloth to blot up the liquid and stain as you go. Fold it into sections and move it after each blot. Keep wetting and blotting until the stain is nearly gone.

3. Apply Cold Water

Grab yet another clean cloth and soak it in cold water. Press it into the stain to help dilute the last bits of the wine. If you feel like it isn’t effective, pour a small amount of water directly onto the stain and then blot.

White Wine and Baking Soda

1. Apply White Wine

It may feel a bit odd to be pouring white wine onto your carpet, but hear us out. White wine works effectively at diluting and lifting the dark red color of red wine.

Use only a small amount to avoid over saturating the carpet. Some homeowners swear by plain old vodka and say that it does the trick perfectly. See what you’re feeling brave enough to try.

Take Note

Don’t use any dessert-type of wines as these can leave a sticky residue behind.

2. Blot

Grab your best sponge and begin to blot up the color of the stain gently. Don’t press too hard as you might push the red wine further into the fibers. Dampen the sponge in cold water before applying for the best results.

3. Apply Baking Soda

For this step, you can either sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the stain or make a paste. Do the latter by combining equal amounts of water and baking soda. Spread it evenly over the stain.

4. Cover

Take a clean cloth or rag, fold it into a square and place it over the stain. Put something heavy on the cloth to help weigh it down. This could be a dictionary, phone book, or even your toddler (maybe not).

Leave the white wine and baking soda combo on the stain overnight. The ingredients will be pushed into the fibers gently for a deeper clean.

Take Note

Be careful what item you place on the cloth as it might become damp.

5. Vacuum

After your morning coffee or tea, it’s time to remove the cloth and inspect the area. The baking soda paste might look slightly pink due to the red wine. Just grab your vacuum and clean the entire area thoroughly.

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Know When to Call the Pros

You might be familiar with the old saying; “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” Well, we say, “Don’t cry over spilled red wine — it can be removed.” By acting fast and knowing how to clean red wine from a carpet, you can save yourself a scare.

Always start by blotting any stain if it’s still moist — you might even be successful at removing it entirely.

When everything else fails, don’t hesitate to call in for professional help. Some red wine stains are simply too difficult to remove, especially if they’re dried and old.

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!