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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Stain of the week – Red wine

By Dr. Laundry December 12, 2006

I love a good red wine, but the spills that result from it are tough! From Two Buck Chuck Merlot to Rosenblum Zinfandel to Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, red wines always find a prominent place in my holiday festivities. When spilled or splashed onto a fabric like tablecloth or, even worse, a shirt or pants, they can put a real damper on the party mood. While tannins help develop complexity to the flavor of the wine, they also add difficulty to stain removal.
Here are some easy tips for saving your tablecloth or T-shirt.

  • First and foremost, quickly blot the spot as soon as possible after the stain occurs with a paper towel or cloth to absorb excess red wine. I like using club soda to bubble up the stain and help prevent it from setting. Treating the fabric immediately greatly increases your odds that the stain will be successfully removed.
  • Bonus tip: Do NOT rub bar soap on a red wine stain. It may set the stain.
  • If the stained item is a white, bleachable fabric, grab a Clorox® Bleach Pen ™Gel and rub the stain gently before laundering. Do not apply to the item while wearing. Wash immediately in hot/warm water with regular detergent and ¾ cup of either Clorox® Regular-Bleach or try our new Clorox® UltimateCare™ Premium Bleach.
  • If the stained item has a color or pattern, the stain removal process is a little different. After blotting the excess wine, apply a small amount of Liquid Clorox 2 for Colors to the stain, gently rub and wait 3-5 minutes for it to start working. Then, wash the fabric immediately in the hottest water recommended for that fabric (check the care label) using regular detergent and Clorox 2 for Colors.
  • Most importantly, before you toss the item into the dryer, check to ensure that the stain has been fully removed. If the stain remains, repeat the appropriate process above until the stain is gone. If you dry a stained item, the stain may be set into the fiber making subsequent removal much more difficult.


Stay tuned for more stain removal tips, and in the meantime, Cheers!