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How to Remove White and Red Wine Stains From Carpet

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What can you do about wine stains in your carpet? That depends on the type and color of carpet and whether the offending liquid was white or red wine. It's difficult, but not impossible to get a red wine stain out of carpet, and several methods are explained here. You can try one, and if that doesn't work, move on to the next.

To start with the obvious - act fast. Spills are not really stains until the substance enters the carpet fibers, so you might prevent the worst wine stains by soaking up the wine quickly using any napkins, paper towels or cotton rags available (I would sacrifice a t-shirt rather than have a bad carpet stain). It is best to use white cotton or paper towels that have no colors - just to be safe from further stains - but use whatever you have quickly. Many of today's carpets have stain-resistant treatments, so if you have a red wine spill you might be able to mop it up before the color enters the fibers. A wet-dry vacuum cleaner can work too.

Now, what do we do about the remaining mess, or old wine stains on carpet? Here are several cleaning solutions and methods you can try...

1. Club Soda and Salt - Club soda won't really do to much to combat an old stain, but the carbonation can help lift the red wine up from deeper down in the fibers when you are cleaning a fresh spill.

Some people say that sprinkling salt on the spot at the same time helps keep the stain from setting. It is a relatively safe thing to try (just be sure to rinse well later or the salt residue will attract moisture). Club soda and salt are meant for initial cleaning, and you'll normally have to move on to other methods to finish the job.

2. Vinegar - To start, mix three ounces of white vinegar with six ounces of water. This is best applied using a spray bottle, but you can also sprinkle it over the stained area carefully. Blot it up after a moment or two, and repeat the process.

As long as you still see wine stains transferring from the spot to your white rag (this is another reason for a white one), keep doing this. Mix up more cleaning solution if necessary. Once there is no more transference, you can use the next solution if necessary. Otherwise continue with step 7.

3. Dish Detergent - Mix five drops of non-aromatic dish washing detergent (plain blue dawn or yellow Joy work well) into a cup of warm water. Apply this (spray or sprinkle) to the spot and work it in very gently (no hard rubbing!). Blot it up with clean rags or paper towels and repeat.

This short video tutorial will explain how to get red wine out of carpeting using vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and other household products:

4. White Wine - White wine can be applied to help remove red wine stains. On fresh spills it just dilutes the color, and you have to be careful that you do not spread the spill. Just add a bit, blot it up with a clean white cotton rag, add some more and blot that up, repeating this until you have most of the red out. Then move on to other cleaning methods.

For old red wine stains the addition of white wine recreates the initial conditions, making it like an easier-to-clean fresh spill. Just add a little bit at a time and blot it up. Repeat the process until you no longer see any red color transferring to the white rag. If the stained spot is still noticeable, continue with one of the next methods.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda - After soaking up any excess moisture, add 3% hydrogen peroxide to the spot and massage it into the fibers with your fingers (you can wear plastic gloves if your skin is sensitive). Cover the area with baking soda and work that into the spot. Let it remain there for five minutes or so and then rinse it out several times with plain water. Use a little water at a time, blotting it up or sucking it out with a wet/dry vacuum cleaner between rinses.

6. Specialized Products - There are some stain removal products that may work if all else has failed. Test these on an inconspicuous spot (like in a closet) before applying them to the stained area, because some of them can bleach out or discolor carpet fibers, and the damage will be permanent. There are even some products, like one called "Wine Away," that are specifically formulated for getting wine stains out of carpet. You might want to have a bottle of that around if you have regular parties in a home full of light-colored carpet and red wine.

7. Water - The final cleaning solution is tap water. Use it to rinse out any remaining stain, as well as any remaining vinegar or detergent. Use your nose (get close) to be sure it is all clean.

8. Drying - Blot up all excess moisture with clean dry white rags or paper towels. Place a fan where it can blow on the spot for a few hours. fast drying prevents deep stains from coming back up to the surface and becoming visible again.

You can remove most carpet wine stains in this way, although red wine stains are tough. If any staining from the wine is still there, it might be permanent. Get professional help or see the options outlined on the following page:

Dealing with Permanent Carpet Stains

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