Has this ever happened to you? You’re sitting in a restaurant with a spotless white tablecloth and suddenly it happens… The glass tips over and the precious tablecloth is immediately graced with an ugly red wine stain. So what’s to be done?

Wine Carafe

There is no reason for the quite frequent attempts to lessen red wine stains with all sorts of dubious home remedies, such as trying to wash them out with white wine or sprinkling them with salt. One particular bad habit that is often practised but completely ineffective is sprinkling salt on the stain. This only enlarges the chaos on the table.

One study investigated the effects of different remedies

Fifteen years ago the University of California in Davis investigated the effects of various remedies for removing red wine stains. The study compared eight stain removers, including commercial substances as well as classic home remedies, for their effect on various textile fibres. For one thing the result showed that, even among commercial stain removers, there are great differences in efficacy, and not every remedy is equally well suited for every fabric. And apart from this you can skip the widely used home remedies.

Red wine stains: Sprinkling it with salt was unsuccessful

Sprinkling the stain with salt had no detectable effect – and washing it out with white wine had virtually no influence whatsoever. Only with nylon could some effect be detected. For some textiles the home remedies even on occasion made the stain worse which is not really surprising considering that you have to use salt when dyeing textiles in order to help the fabric take the dye.

Tackling red wine stains with liquid soap and hydrogen peroxide

The test winner among the stain removers in the study was a simple mixture of equal parts of liquid soap and hydrogen peroxide. This combination was able to effectively whiten the red wine colour pigments. However this was only suitable for white tablecloths. Therefore the safest and simplest remedy remains the one which is also common in gastronomies: Take the tablecloth to a professional dry cleaner because such everyday stains aren’t a problem for them at all.


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