How to clean vintage tablecloths after a holiday dinner

Oh that sinking feeling when you slosh the wine, pour too enthusiastically, or accidentally knock over your glass… Red wine is notoriously difficult to get out of clothes, carpets, and any other form of fabric unfortunate enough to catch it. This is because the pigments in red wine soak into the fibers of the cloth and begin to set immediately. So no matter which method of stain removal you use, make sure your first step is to address it immediately!

We’ve pulled together this list of first steps to treat the stain – and a few extra treatment options if there are still signs of red. If these aren’t working, you may need to have your clothes dry cleaned. 

First Steps/Pre-Treatment

The most important part of a successful wine stain removal is starting clean up as soon as possible. As soon as the wine spills, it’s time to leap into action! The longer the wine sits, the more likely it is that it will stain your clothes permanently. 

Blot 

First, blot the stain gently with a clean cloth or paper towel. Never rub at a wine stain – this just grinds the liquid deeper into the fabric’s fibers and can possibly spread the stain around, making it worse. Blotting transfers the absorption to the cleaning cloth.

Treatment

Once you’ve blotted everything you can, apply a treatment. Which one you choose will depend on the fabric of your clothing and what you currently have on hand in your home. Some of the most popular treatment options include salt, club soda, dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, laundry detergent, and stain removers. We’ll be going over several of these treatments below.

Hang Dry

After you wash the stained item, let it air dry. Even if it looks like the stain has disappeared, there may be a faint outline you need to re-treat. If you put the item in a hot dryer, it will set the stain and make it impossible to fully remove. Instead, air dry and treat the stain again if needed. 

Treatment Options

Kosher Salt

They say everything is better with salt – and apparently wine stains are no different! The grains of salt can absorb the wine and pull staining pigment away from the fibers. Kosher salt works better than table salt because the grains are larger and flat, which gives them more surface area to absorb the wine. After bloating, sprinkle salt on the stained area. Allow the salt to sit for two to three minutes. The longer you leave the salt on, the more effective it will be. You can leave it for several hours – even overnight. But you should be careful not to leave it long enough that the stain fully sets. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Repeat until the stain is fully absorbed – wash according to care instructions and let air dry. 

Club Soda

Club soda is another popular red wine stain treatment. After blotting, pour a little club soda over the stain and allow the clothing to sit overnight. The carbonation and chemical makeup of club soda make it ideal for stain streatment. It’s basically water with carbon dioxide and salt dissolved in it – both of which fight stains. So don’t try to swap out seltzer or tonic water – they’re all fizzy, but the carbonation isn’t actually what’s getting the stain out.

White Vinegar and Laundry Detergent

This is a two-step stain removal process. Vinegar neutralizes the purple and red pigments from the wine. The detergent cleans the fabric. First you should cover the stain with white vinegar – never use apple cider vinegar or another colored vinegar! – and let sit for a moment. Then cover with liquid laundry detergent. Launder in hot water until the stain is gone!

If you’re struggling with a stubborn wine stain, contact Hangers Cleaners! We’re happy to help you renew and revive your clothing to it’s former glory!