Red Wine Stains and Romance: Quick Fixes for Valentine’s Day Mishaps

happy couple dressed in white and beige on a valentines day date with red wine

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The scene is set: a candlelit dinner with that special someone. You’ve prepared their favorite meal after spending the better part of a day preparing. Or you’ve saved the trouble, with a romantic night on the town in your finest attire — but then…

Cleaning red wine stains may not be the Valentine’s Day you planned for (and it’s one of the most common issues we treat after most holidays!). Yet with our tips, there’s no reason a red wine spill needs to sour the sweetness of your romantic evening.

The following tips will help you swiftly address red wine stains. It may even show your significant other a certain unflappability under pressure; and in our book, that’s right up there with dressing well.

The Dreaded Red Wine Stain

First, why are red wine stains so challenging? It’s because the same anthocyanin pigments that contribute to the rich, distinct flavors of red wines also creates that unrelentingly deep red hue. In fact, the darker the grape, the healthier it is. Age and pH also affect color, with lower acidity correlated with a more purplish tint and sweeter taste.

While you now know how to impress your date, the downside is, those same pigments make red wine a notorious staining agent. While red wine stains can seem impossible to remove, we’ve proven time and again that it’s simply not the case.

Immediate Actions to Take

Do your best not to fret. You’ll remember the following steps more clearly by remaining cool, calm, and collected (just like the dating advice you’ve been brushing up on).

The key is to act quickly, but gently. Here’s a step-by-step process for immediately handling red wine stains like a pro:

  1. Blot the stain using the absolute minimum pressure. Gently dab the wet stain with an absorbent cloth or napkin, minding the fact that pressure only drives the stain further into the clothing. Do not rub the stain or otherwise cause friction. Simply blot the stain until the majority of wine transfers to the cloth or napkin.
  2. Avoid heat, which causes red wine to set. You actually don’t want the stain to dry at this point, and heated drying is even worse. That’s because heat changes the wine’s chemistry, bonding the pigments more tightly with the fibers of your most stylish attire.
  3. Apply home remedies. Salt, club soda, and baking soda can all help prevent red wine stains from setting or even remove them. Apply a generous amount of salt to the stain. Let the stain soak into the salt before carefully brushing it aside. This could work on its own, and baking soda is a decent alternative.
    If the results are negligible after a few minutes, douse the stain with club soda. It contains minerals that can break up and absorb the wine molecules. White vinegar can contribute to this effect, due to its acidity (but mind the fabric’s care instructions). Wait a moment, then blot the stain once more.

There should be noticeable improvement after the salt and club soda combo. If not, soak the garment in cold water, and consider the following tips for removing more stubborn and older red wine stains. You can also apply another round of salt, this time leaving it overnight before rinsing it off with cold water.

Removing Long-Term Red Wine Stains

If the above didn’t completely remove the stain from your special Valentine’s Day garment, fear not. It’s possible to remove old stains with a number of other procedures. Just don’t run it through the dryer!

Be careful with any solvent described below, and test a small, unseen portion of the clothing first.

  • Soak the stained fabric overnight in white vinegar and liquid detergent.
  • Apply a hydrogen peroxide (HPO) and dish soap mixture in a 3:1 ratio. Wait for 20–30 minutes max, and then immediately rinse it out with cold water. HPO is a bleaching agent, so rinse thoroughly and don’t let it sit for extended periods.
  • Try baking soda and white vinegar. The bubbling action could help break apart the stain, rendering it easier to remove with the other methods just described.

While commercial stain removers could help, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Because they’re over-the-counter, manufacturers often compensate for their lower strength with a cocktail of chemicals that don’t necessarily make them any more effective. At its worst, they could even harm your clothing, especially if they’re made of more specialized luxury fabrics.

If your red wine stain resists all these efforts, don’t give up hope. A professional cleaning can dramatically improve the chances of eliminating that stain once and for all.

Expert Dry Cleaning Services for Even the Toughest Red Wine Stains

For the unprepared, spilled wine can grind Valentine’s Day plans to a screeching halt, but take our word for it; it’s not an automatic showstopper. Most red wine stains are perfectly removable, and the above protocol should either remove or greatly diminish red wine stains (especially if you act fast).If not, a trusted dry cleaner can likely restore your garment back to its former glory. Perhaps the greatest tip we can offer is to have a backup plan for these candlelight dinner mishaps. OXXO Cleaners makes it easy, with convenient laundry pick-up and delivery services for our time-tested and sustainable dry cleaning methods.

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