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How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Your Upholstery

How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Your Upholstery

Much like Olivia Pope from ABC’s “Scandal,” kicking back with a long-stemmed wine glass full of your favorite merlot is a great way to take the edge off of a hectic day. And for any true Thursday Shondaland fan, we have come to associate Kerry Washington’s character’s wine drinking scenes with pensive thinking — but let’s never forget Pope’s Season 4 kidnapping where she spilled red wine all over her (gasp!) white couch. Whereas she simply replaced her stained couch (upon being rescued, of course), we’re guessing you’d rather take a less expensive approach to removing a wine stain from your upholstery.

red wine stain
We think it’s safe to say — watching red wine spill generally garners the same reactions regardless of whom you’re around. The wine falls in slow motion while everyone around you stands there with mouths agape. Panic ensues while you’re either profusely apologizing to whomever’s house you’re in, or you’re trying to hold in your panic and horror (maybe tears?) at your own furniture that seems to be ruined.

But spilling wine doesn’t have to elicit these reactions! No internal panic needs to take place, nor do you need to jump to the conclusion that your upholstery is permanently ruined. With a few simple techniques, you’ll be able to save your upholstery from red wine stains with no frets.

When red wine spills, it spreads as any liquid does on fabric: outward and downward. And this is important to keep in mind since the unfortunate part of being a red wine lover is that you’re basically drinking liquid dye. That’s because red wine comes from red grapes, and grapes contain chromogens. Chromogens are basically highly pigmented compounds that are used in colored dyes. When you couple the chromogens with tannins (another substance that gives wine its bitterness, but also is used in ink production), you’re creating a highly pigmented alcoholic drink. For reference, the combination of chromogens and tannins is what dyes your teeth and lips red after drinking a lot of red wine.

Right about now, you’re probably confused why we a) told you not to panic and then b) explained how potent the compounds are behind the color in red wine. Don’t worry, here’s how to counteract those tannins and chromo-whatcha-ma-call-its.

First things first, if it were possible to write this in flashing neon lights we would: blot; don’t rub the stain! As right as it may seem, rubbing the spot to get the liquid off will only spread your stain wider and, depending on how much pressure you apply, push it deeper.

To successfully lift red wine out of upholstery, we suggest you use a dry powder, like talcum (found in baby powder). Talcum helps lift the stain out of the fabric. If you don’t have talcum on hand, baking soda or even regular salt works. Again, when applying the powder, try your best not to rub it into the material. The purpose of this technique is to let the talcum powder absorb the liquid, so it’ll need to sit on the stain for a few minutes. Vacuuming the powder should reveal a stain free piece of upholstery, once again!

If the powder doesn’t quite do the trick, there are still a few tricks for you to try. While using a blow dryer to dry a wine stain can cause permanent damage from the direct heat, you’ll see the opposite effect with hot water. Though initially you might see the stain spread as the wine becomes more diluted in the fabric, the heat from the water will actually loosen the molecules so they’re easier to lift from the fabric. To clean up the water, simply use a paper towel or clean rag to lift the stain. This is also the best method to use if you find the wine stain the next morning when it’s already dry.

Red wine glasses

Another approach to cleaning up a stain comes in the form of some handy-dandy liquid detergent. This method requires a little cooking (so-to-speak) before application. Combine three parts liquid detergent with one part hydrogen peroxide. Apply to the stain and let it set for at least 20 minutes, depending on the severity of the stain. Blot the mixture up and then clean with warm water. Cleaning the fabric after letting this mixture set is crucial to avoid weakening the fabric molecules.

These techniques should put your stress at ease knowing that, yes, your upholstery will, more likely than not, survive the red wine attack. But, on the off chance these techniques don’t work, you still have one more option before letting full blown panic and dismay set in: Guardsman. Our on-site Care and Repair services and repairmen are just a call away at 800-788-8020 and can tend to erasing your stain while you, well, tend to a glass of wine.

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