How to get set-in red wine stains off the carpet

Updated February 21, 2017

Set-in red wine stains are among the most difficult stains to remove from home goods and fabrics. Once these dark red stains have dried, they can become deeply embedded in the fibres of a carpet and are often tough to break up and clean away. However, with a few simple tactics and some patience, you can minimise or remove even the most stubborn set-in wine stain on your carpet.

Use cold tap water or sparkling bottled water to hydrate the stain. A stain is always easier to remove when it is wet. Another tactic would be to hold a fabric steamer over the stained area.

Cover the stain with table or rock salt. The salt will actually pull up the liquid from the carpet along with the wine pigments. Leave the salt in place until dry (usually about half an hour), and then vacuum it up. Use uncooked rice in this same manner, although salt is usually more effective.

Spray or pour a small amount of water on the remaining stain, and firmly blot (don't scrub!) the area with a clean paper towel. Repeat several times, using a clean paper towel each time. Blotting is superior to scrubbing, as scrubbing can set the stain in further or even expand the size of the stained area.

Treat the stain with a commercial stain remover. One effective chemical cocktail is the commercial stain remover Wine Away, which was formulated specifically to remove stubborn red wine stains. Other brands include Resolve or Oxi-Clean. If your carpet is delicate, test an unstained portion of the carpet that is not immediately visible to ensure colour fastness.

Things You'll Need

  • Tap water or sparkling water/club soda
  • Salt
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Fabric steamer
  • Commercial stain remover
  • Paper towels
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About the Author

Tucker Cummings is a freelance writer based in New England. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of New Hampshire and is a member of the Association of Professional Business Writers. Cummings is also a food writer and curates the blog, Brave New Breakfast.