Remove Red Wine Spills From Your Carpet or Rug

Teetering stem glass about to spill red wine.

We previously dealt with red wine spills with Red Wine and Your Rug.

It continues to concern many of us so here is an update.

In our last discussion we emphasized blotting as the way to take care of red wine spills.

Since then we have had many discussions among ourselves and at least one actual incident (another story). We've also asked professional carpet cleaners that we trust. As a result we have arrived at a new best and most efficient practice for getting red wine and any other staining liquid out of floor coverings.

Here is a guiding principle that may save red wine lovers lots of money and frustration.

Get yourself a small, 2-3 gallon capacity wet-dry vacuum cleaner and put it where you can find it quickly near your favorite wine-drinking spaces. Make sure you have an extension cord. Wine seems to know how to spill far from electrical outlets. And have the hose and ideally a furniture wand (upholstery tool) close by and ready to go. (It will also be useful in vacuuming stair runners if you have them in your house.)

Upholstry tool, great for cleaning wine spills
Upholstery tool for your wet-dry vacuum.


Bear in mind that there are countless varieties of red wine and countless ways to spill it. The wet-dry vacuum is the best and most efficient practice, but it may not be enough for every situation.

Here's why the vacuum for wine spills

Wine is red because of tiny bits of red pigment floating within. The pigment is fairly harmless when it's wet, but when it dries, it sticks stubbornly to where ever it lands.

Bright red wine spilled on cream colored carpet.

Like paint, wine is pigment suspended in a medium. The medium is water. It's like water soluble latex.

The best way to remove the pigment is when it's still wet with a wet-dry vacuum.

The vacuum sucks up the liquid along with its pigment. Unlike dabbing (see below), the vacuum does not press into the fabric and force liquid and pigment into fibers and deep into the base of the pile.

Cleaning a carpet with wet-dry vac.

After you have extracted all the wine, be extra cautious. Wet the spot again with clean water, let it sit a minute and suck that up.

Your wine spill troubles are over.

Cover the wet spot with an old towel to keep traffic away from the site until it dries.

Do it immediately. If you don't have a wet-vacuum, put getting one on your to-do list and have it ready for your next get together. It can pay for itself many times over after only one red wine spill.

Why Water

Red wine is red pigment dissolved in the medium of water. Adding more water further dilutes the pigment and keeps it wet.

Some have recommended white wine rather than water. The theory is that wine is actually a solution of water AND alcohol. Therefore, white wine would make a better solvent than water. We've tried both white wine and water and found that plain water was an undisputed winner as a red wine solvent and stain remove helper.

Others have suggested white vinegar. We think that is a carry over from cleaning up pet accidents because of vinegar's deodorizing property. However, we found that vinegar is not as effective as water for red wine clean up.

Last but not least there are those who swear by club soda. It does work sometimes to dilute red wine, but not always. In a Scientific American article, Chemist Pete Wishnok of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains.

The Internet is full of Web sites discussing whether club soda can defeat red wine stains. Some experiments show that club soda does not work very well, whereas others indicate that it is pretty good at removing red wine, so the evidence still seems to be mixed. There's no particularly good chemical reason why club soda should remove stains: it's essentially just water with carbon dioxide dissolved in it, along with some salts. (It is weakly acidic, so it might decolorize stains that can act as acid-base indicators.) Almost everyone, though, seems to have a story.

He humorously noted that probably the best use for club soda as a stain remover is as a conversation topic while enjoying a glass of red wine.

Wool rugs and water are old friends. Hand-knotted rugs are thoroughly soaked, often several times, at the end of the manufacturing process.

Workers wash and squeegie new rug in India.

Ok. So There is No Wet-Dry Vacuum when Wine Spills?

Don't despair. There were lots of wine spills before wet-dry vacuums were available and careful rug owners removed them just fine.

They dabbed up the still wet stain.

Tips for Dabbing/Blotting Red Wine from a Rug or Carpet

Use plain, white, unpatterned paper towels. Colored patterns from the paper towel can transfer to the rug or carpet.

Wine spilled on wool carpeting
The Spill

Dab cautiously. Aggressive pressing into the pile can force pigment into the carpet's foundation where it can dry and be visible and drive you crazy.

Blotting wine from carpeting
Dabbing.

When you feel like you have removed all the pigment, treat at least once with plain water.

Then dab to dry as much as possible.

Stain removed.

Finally, place double or triple layers of paper towel over the spill site and weight it down. Let it continue to absorb liquid until the spot is dry.

What If the Wine Stain has Dried?

Is the stain has dried, you have two choices. The first is to try a stain remover like Host. 

We are not in the stain remover business and refrain from recommending any. That said, we know that many people have had great luck with Host and others. 

Your last option is to find a reliable professional rug cleaner. The company will most likely come pick up your rug and take it away for professional cleaning. If the carpet is stained, the professional will have clean it there in your house.

You don't want to get to this stage. The wet/dry vacuum is exponentially cheaper and easier than this after-action, last ditch effort.

Know Your Floor Covering Product

There are a number of fibers that you are most likely to find in your rug or carpet. You should definitely know which kind is on your floor. You will be better prepared to deal with a red wine event.

For example you will want to act fast if your wine spill is on a natural fiber carpet. But you can relax if it's on indoor-outdoor polypropylene.

Wool

Wool is the toughest, most durable floor covering on the market.

One reason is that its fibers are structured layers, like hundreds of microscopic scales. The scales protect fiber, but eventually they slough off and expose a clean, new outer layer. This is the reason that wool rugs take on a special sheen with age. Its fibers are constantly rehabbing themselves.

Microscopic view of a wool fiber, showing its scaling.
Courtesy of https://www.semanticscholar.org/

Nevertheless, you don't want to let red wine dry in your wool rug!

Best: Use the wet-dry vacuum to get it out when it's still wet. Apply water and repeat. This is the best way to solve the problem!

Second best: Dab it up with white paper towels. See above.

If you have to: If dried, try to treat the stain with a commercial sta in remover recommended by a professional cleaner. Don't forget to test it in a non visible area to make sure it doesn't harm the rug's colors.

Final choice: Have a trusted professional cleaner remove the dried wine stain.

Nylon

Nylon is the most popular fabric for carpet. 

It is stain resistant, but stains can really pop and grab attention because carpet is most often a very neutral color.

Our formula is the same.

First, vacuum it up.

Second, if you don't have a vacuum, dab it up with white paper towels.

Third, if it dries, try a recommended dry cleaning product that you can apply yourself.

Fourth, call in a professional and let him deal with it.

Natural Fiber Carpet

We are talking mainly sea grass, sisal and jute.

Sample of seagrass, 1-2 basketweave.
Seagrass

Natural fiber floor coverings are made from dried organic material. For example sea grass is simply pounded sea grass twisted and spun into yarn.

It's really tough and practical, but you don't want to get it wet. It's like a dry sponge. A sponge will stay dry unless it is exposed to water, which the sponge will quickly absorb. So it is with natural fiber.

Your natural fiber floor covering will quickly absorb red wine. That's why it's crucial that you have the vacuum handy and ready for action. Suck out as much of the spill as you can and then add water until you vacuumed away all of the pigment.

If you don't have a vacuum, dab it up.

We don't know of a product that you can personally apply to remove a dried stain. 

A professional rug cleaner is your only hope for a dry red wine stain on a natural fiber rug.

Indoor/outdoor Polypropylene

Polypropylene fibers are dyed through and through. It's virtually impossible to stain them.

However, red wine should be vacuumed or dabbed up. Why? It could stain whatever is underneath, like unsealed concrete, for example.

If wine dries on the rug, wet it with plain water and vacuum/dab it up.

Polyester and Acrylic

Nothing new here.

First, vacuum it up.

Second, if you don't have a vacuum, dab it up with white paper towels.

Third, if it dries, try a recommended dry cleaning product that you can apply yourself.

Fourth, call in a professional and let him deal with it.

Faux Silks

These are a special case. Faux silk material like viscose give rugs a special sheen that we love, but it is very stain prone. It aggressively absorbs liquids, pigment and all. Our recommendation is to vacuum it up right away or, lacking a vacuum, blot it up and call a cleaning professional as soon as possible. Do not add more water.

Closeout Showroom 

After a lot of planning and rearranging, we have carved out some space in the Tampa showroom to display closeout rugs. 

We are building a display table to raise the rugs up high enough to view them standing up.

 

All Clean and Waiting for the Table
Space for new closeouts showroom.


We hope to have this completed well before the Holidays. Drop into the Tampa Showroom for a premier look and maybe discover a Holiday treasure.

 

Closeouts

Orlando

Hand-knotted 9x12 rug in Oushak style
20-oushak-br
9 x 12
Close out $1900

 

Hand-knotted 9x12 oushak style rug | oushak-itbi

20-Oushak itbi
9 x12
CLOSE OUT $1900


Addison/Dicus & Bailey Close Out Policy

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The closeout offers will begin when we send the newsletter between the 20th and 30th of each month and last for 30 days.
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