Red Wine and Your Rug

Red Wind SpillWe have updated our thinking. Check out Remove Red Wine Spills.

If you've not seen it happen, you've imagined it happening. You are sitting with good company enjoying a glass of delicious red wine. On the floor is a beautiful hand-dyed, hand-knotted wool rug. "I sure wouldn't want to spill wine on that rug," you say to yourself.

Then it happens. The beautiful stemmed goblet hits the floor and a reddish purple stain spreads out at your feet. You are glad that at least some of the wine got on your shoes.

Now what?

Among the most frequently asked questions about hand-knotted wool rugs is, "what do I do about wine stains?"

We have explored this nightmare extensively. And our friend Steve Wilson from Premier Cleaning Systems has explored it even more extensively. Cheer up. The news is good.

First: Extract 

Extract the wine either by blotting, preferably with white, non-patterned paper towels or better, suck it up with a wet-dry vacuum that you keep just for this occasion.

Blotting tends to push some staining deep into the pile. That's why an inexpensive wet vacuum from Home Depot may be the best friend your rugs and your upholstrey ever has. Get one and keep it exclusively for your spotting needs. "1.5 hp. and approximately 2-gallon capacity. Larger is not necessary!" according to rug-cleaning expert Wilson.

Extract the wine and its pigments as soon as possible after the spill.

Second: Add Water and Extract

Get as much wine up as you can. Then apply water. Distilled water if you have it or just tap water. Let the water further dilute the wine. The easiest way to do this is with a spray bottle dedicated for just this purpose. But pouring it on to the stain with a bowl underneath works well too. Then extract the water and wine mixture, preferably using your wet vac, but white paper towels will do.

Repeat until you can't see the pigment any more.

Third: Dry and Extract

Finally, leave a generous layer of paper towels on the wet spot that has been weighted down with something like a pair of shoes or two. Use white paper towels. Printed towels can transfer the pattern to the rug. Let this layer soak up the remaining water.

Experience has shown that water works best for red wine removal if you deal with the spot right away.

If you neglect the red wine and it dries, call an expert like Wilson! There is no other option for dried stains in our opinion.

The Ultimate Test

We decided to test using water to remove a red wine spill under less than optimal conditions. 
  • We did not use a vacuum
  • We did not use a spray bottle
  • We used Tampa tap water and not distilled water
Wine spilled on a wool rug
First we poured a generous dollop of Merlot on to a sample of rug. The rug had been dyed and hand-knotted in Nepal.

Blotting wine from a wool rug
Using a roll of paper towels, we blotted up as much as we could, pressing down hard which is not advisable.

Adding water to stain on wool rug
Then we poured water on to the remaining spot. Then we blotted that up.

Stain removed with water from wool rug
We repeated this treatment several times and eventually the spot disappeared.

Just for fun, we tried other treatments that we found on the Internet. We covered the spot with salt. We tried vinegar instead of water. Finally we poured a heart-breaking amount of Kendal Jackson Chardonnay on the spot. None of these came close to removing the spot like good old H2O.

Even if your don't have a well-appointed spotting kit, blot up the wine as best you can and then add water and blot until the spot goes away.

If you have any questions or comments, please share them in the comments below.

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